About Paint & Painting: Info, Tips and Tricks

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A technical definition of paint would be something like this: A combination of emulsified pigments suspended in a liquid, applied to a surface as decoration or protection. Paint is simple in theory -- after all, cave dwellers invented paint some 30,000 years ago and evidence of their work still shows on the walls of their rocky dwellings. It's doubtful, however, that cave dwellers gave much consideration to formulating their paints with precision.

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Even though paint has been around for a long time and its essential definition hasn't changed much over the years, its colors, ingredients, and methods of manufacture have undergone extraordinary changes -- a little at a time.

Early colors were ground from iron oxides, then from natural sources -- plants, soils, bugs, and seashells. It took about 25,000 years for the first synthetic pigment to appear, and the Egyptians did that with finely ground blue glass. Ready-mixed paints for the consumer didn't show up until the 1880s when paint manufacturers figured out how to keep pigments suspended in linseed oil.

Of course, along with each major change in what went into the paint were changes in how it was applied. Fingers and hands (still employed for decorative effects) were augmented with flat sticks, then brushes, then sprayers, rollers, powered rollers, paint pads, and more kinds of sprayers.

The remarkable thing about paint and painting today is how little attention they often receive. Yet without paint, the world would be a drab place. And everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to a child's chair would succumb to rot and rust because paint provides primary protection against the environment.

Applying the right coating using the right tools and techniques is not a complicated endeavor -- today's paint and painting products are designed to make the job easy. This chapter will show you what makes a good paint, how to clean and prepare the surface for painting, the tools you can use, and techniques that will help you make sure your paint job looks good and lasts a long time.

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