When a client wants us to create a finished surface that is appropriate for the time period of many of Portland’s well-established homes, we hand brush the finish. We recognize the appropriate products and application methods for different situations and have the skilled craftspeople with attention to detail to be able to achieve excellent results that fit each project’s individual needs.
For example, the attached photo is from a project on NW Culpepper Terrace in Portland. We are going through the entire home and hand brushing Benjamim Moore Satin Impervo Oil Enamel on all the trim surfaces. We have to be careful to protect and not damage the existing wallpaper in almost all of the rooms. There are multiple colors throughout this home that need to be matched. The home’s louvered shutters were transported to our spray shop for finishing and will be returned and reinstalled as we complete areas. All other surfaces are being brushed on site. We use a HEPA air filtration unit in each area that we are working in to assist with cleaning the air as we work.
Do we need to strip the old finishes? Not necessarily. If the existing coating is sound, we typically do not remove it. However, it’s not unusual in grand homes with oil-based trim to find excessive build-up of paint layers that cover the detailed beauty of the trim, often with a drip here and there painted over and over. Our prep work restores the sharp definition of painted trim. Alternately, the cost of stripping old finishes can be a huge factor. To safely remove old coatings that may have lead in them requires extensive containment, personal protection and time. Costs increase with the time that is required to properly remove coatings and prep the surface for a fresh prime and finish coat. If old coatings are not sound, however, we do require that they be removed.
If we are recoating over the top of an existing oil-based finish with a non-oil based (Alkyd) finish we will apply at least one full prime coat for adhesion. Alkyd paints are used on specific areas where durability and finish are important. While we still use traditional oil based trim paint on some surfaces, newer hybrid alkyd finishes are available that replace the solvent with water, and therefore have lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and therefore are more environmentally friendly.
Why use brush work instead of spraying? Spraying oil-based trim is very messy and requires extensive covering/air containment. On the Culpepper Terrace job, the fact that we have wallpaper everywhere requires a low adhesive tape that goes up for a very short period of time to protect, and then is removed immediately after brushing near that surface. This tape would not necessarily hold up to the pressure of spraying and the extended amount of time that it would have to be on the wallpaper (and significantly larger amount of surface area that tape would be applied to) would create a greater potential of damage to the existing wallpaper.
There is also an aesthetic difference between a sprayed and brushed finish. Many people prefer the traditional brush finish look and feel. Also brushed work is easier to touch up if there is wear or damage down the road.