The color of homey

January 28, 2013

WILKES-BARRE TWP. -- Take a moment to think back to a time where you were tasked with painting a room in your home. Odds are, you're cringing at the very thought.

Brian Santos, known as The Wall Wizard, understands that, and has set out to spread the word on how to make painting as simple a task as possible.

As the Home and Garden Show at the Mohegan Sun Arena wound down Sunday, the energy was still high in the back corner dedicated to Santos and his interactive demonstrations. The fourth-generation painting and wallpapering contractor slapped saran wrap on an attendee's glasses to show how she could protect herself from dripping paint, produced a 10-year-old brush that was still in top shape (and swept it across some faces to prove it), all the while spouting knowledge meant for the amateur painter.

Part of the exploration of this class is understanding what the tools do, how you use them, what the goal we're trying to achieve is, and then how to actualize that, he said moments before taking the stage.

Santos looks at things through the eyes of the homeowner, not the manufacturer. He said he feels the manufacturers tend to forget about the people buying the products and the knowledge they need in order to be successful with them.

I use things that are in people's lives, like Chapstick, rubber cement, plastic wrap and fabric softener, Santos said. These are things that are common and we have experience with, understand, and relate to, but I take a little Wizard twist on it and say, ‘Here's how you use these things in a way that makes sense in your world, not the manufacturer's, distributor's, or retailer's world.'

Santos is certainly an expert on the subject. He and his wife, Virginia, have owned their own business for more than 30 years. Santos began painting at the age of 8, has worked for Sherman Williams, is an author for Better Homes and Gardens and has been known as The Wall Wizard for 25 years.

In his presentation, Santos covered everything from prep to finish, addressing common painting myths and misconceptions to ensure that the room could be finished in 45 minutes or less.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that people believe the products do more for them than they think. Eighty percent of the job is in the prep, not the install, so they skip a lot of steps and wonder why it failed, why the experience was terrible.

For Santos, knowledge is empowerment and he wants to make sure those who come to see him understand that.

Your house is a castle, but it takes a Wizard to make it a home, he said. Part of that is giving people the knowledge, the understanding, what I call the ‘why behind the how-to.' That's what makes you a wizard.

Color your world

Tips from Santos' book, Painting and Wallpapering Secrets:

• Pour no more than 1/2 inch of paint into the container you're painting out of. This decreases the chance of spillage, will be a lighter load to carry so that you can work faster with better control, and forces you to refresh paint more often, keeping it in its liquid state for better flow and bond to the surface.

• Instead of spending hours masking off window glass, rub lip balm around the inside of each pane.

• To avoid hand pain while using a brush, take 2-inch diameter pipe insulation, trim it to the right length and shove it over your brush handle to make a soft grip.

• If you don't like the smell of paint, add four drops of vanilla extract to every quart of interior latex paint.