Getting ready to repaint a room or two (or, if you’re like me, three or four) to help spruce up your home as part of your new year’s home improvement resolutions? If so, you’re in the right place. After my many—and I do mean many—years of painting, repainting, and painting yet again, I've compiled a list of my all-time favorite tips to help ensure you get the results you want and save time and money in the process. If this is your first time taking on a big paint project (welcome to the cult), this list will help you get started. If you’ve painted so many rooms you’ve lost count, the list may give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of before to make your addiction—I mean, hobby—go smoothly.
1. Purchase quality tools and paint. By spending a little more up front, you’ll have tools that last through many painting escapades. Make sure to buy a good quality, medium-sized angle brush. This will serve you well for trimming and getting into spots where your roller won’t reach. While you may be tempted to buy cheap brushes, remember that the cheapies often shed their bristles and can leave marks in your otherwise perfect finish. I recommend buying one quality paint tray and line it inexpensively by taping heavy plastic to the inside. When done painting, simply remove the plastic and throw it away. You’ll also want a good roller well-suited for your specific wall surface. I prefer the smaller diameter six-inch rollers. I find they cover just as good as the larger rollers and waste less paint, which saves you more money.
Always clean your tools thoroughly when done to ensure a longer life. If you’re going right back to painting the next day, you can place damp rollers and brushes in baggies to keep them from drying out. Buy quality paint. It may seem more expensive up front but cheaper paint usually means more coats, which is more time, and essentially is just as much if not more money. Check for coupons and special deals before you go paint shopping to help save even more.
2. Prepare your room. This means moving all your furniture away from walls and covering it to prevent any accidents. Wipe down your walls with a damp cloth to remove dust. Skip this step and you’ll probably end up with some weird little dust balls in your paint finish. Remove nails and screws. Fill and repair any damaged areas. Tape off any areas you want to avoid getting paint on. Taking the time to complete these tasks will help ensure the end result you want.
3. To prime or not to prime? They now have so many paints that have primers in them, it’s not usually necessary to prime before your regular painting. However, if you’re changing from a dark color to a much lighter color, priming still may be necessary. If you decide you need to prime, don’t skimp here either. Cheaper isn’t better and probably won’t cover the way you want.
4. No more messy paint can drips. Take a nail and punch holes around the inside rim of your paint can to allow paint to run through and not over the edge, down the can, and onto your carpet.
5. Take your time! Avoid spatters by slowing down your roll. Sorry, couldn’t resist that one! But seriously, slow down and avoid a lot of mess to clean up as you go.
6. Paint in good light. It’s important to have good light in the area you’re painting. It makes seeing missed spots much easier and is also less stressful on your eyes. However, don’t despair if a week after you’ve finished painting, you see some small spots you missed. This is especially true if you have textured walls. Just keep your paint handy and your brush and do your little touchups as you spot not-so-well covered spots.
7. Don’t break your back. Make sure you have a good, safe ladder to reach the high spots, preferably one with wide steps as these feel more stable and are easier on your back. Also consider investing in an extension pole for your roller. If you can stand on the floor and roll the high spots, all the better. When painting low around baseboards, don’t be afraid to take a seat…literally. Kneeling for long periods of time is brutal on the body, and when we get uncomfortable, we make mistakes.
8. Keep clean-up rags handy. You may think you won’t spill, but you will. And you’ll drip or slop or splatter or whatever. Having several damp clean-up cloths at the ready makes things a lot easier and saves time-wasting steps running to the sink to grab a rag before your spill dries.
9. Check paint cans for drying times. If you need to do more than one coat, make sure your first coat is completely dry. If you start to paint coat two before the first has dried, you’ll likely pull off some of the first coat and make some nasty marks in your finish. And remember to account for some extra drying time if it’s humid.
10. Use the right paint for the job. If you’re painting something like the surround of your fireplace or anything else associated with high temperatures, be sure you get high-heat paint. If you’re unsure which paint is right for the job, ask your paint professional. If you’re painting kitchens or bathrooms, usually a semi-gloss is recommended because it will clean up much better than a flat or satin finish. Walls usually call for flat finish paint. Flat finish will better hide marks and imperfections in the wall’s surface.
I hope these 10 tips help you as much as they’ve helped me over the years. Remember, painting can certainly provide the biggest decorating bang for your buck, but only if you invest enough time, money and knowledge to get that great quality finish you want.
Now, what will you do next to love where you live?