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Finishing Up

Thankfully, every painting job eventually comes to an end. After all the effort of preparation and painting, though, there are still a couple of things left to do.

Once the paint dries, a thorough inspection is called for. Before removing any masking, look for areas near the edges or corners that are not quite covered. Be prepared for a little touch up here and there to ensure that the new paint was applied everywhere desired. Old paint may be the same color, but new paint is always a different shade, even from the exact same can of paint used a year earlier. All paint fades.

Then, keeping any drop cloths in place, remove all masking and covering from the trim or walls. Inspect again, looking for streaks, blotches and uneven or irregular areas. A final, professional look is only achieved by attention to the small details.

With a steady hand, touch up those areas where the lines aren't quite straight or there's unwanted overlap. Be prepared to scrape a little paint bleed off windows. No masking job is perfect. In some cases, it may be necessary to do a little sanding in small areas. If paint was applied in excessively hot weather there may be some bubbles to smooth out and re-do, for example.

Now for the part no one enjoys: clean up.

There's no getting around the fact that cleaning up after any but the smallest painting projects is hard work. But knowing that you've done a great job and that you're almost finished can lighten some of those dark thoughts.

If the project used latex paint, the job will be simplicity itself. Just rinse thoroughly with soap and water and before long tools, containers and you will be relatively paint free. Sometimes, small amounts just have to wear off.

For oil-based or alkyd paints a little more effort is required. But that work can be minimized if good preparation techniques were employed. Laying down drop cloths and plastic or paper covering is one method that's effective for large areas. But for tools and body parts different techniques are required.

Unless you're satisfied to let paint wear off your hands and face over a period of weeks, wearing a pair of gloves and a good mask and head covering during the job are essential. At the end of the job you just throw them away or save them for next time.

For quick jobs, or if you've torn a glove or run out, hand and face lotion can be pretty effective at keeping paint off the hands and face. Paint adheres to the lotion, then you wash normally and most of the paint will come off.

To remove excess oil or alkyd paint at the end of the day or after the final work, a good solvent is needed. Use gloves to protect your hands from it and clean up in a well ventilated area. Throwing away rollers and brushes is an option, but a very expensive one. With a little solvent and some elbow grease they can usually be reused several times.