We've received hundreds of painting tips from readers and painting contractors over the years. We culled through them and came up with this collection of painting basics that will make your projects easier, faster and give you superior results.
Step one in any painting job is to establish
a spot for your stuff. Think through
the whole project, gather up all the tools
and supplies you'll need and pile them
just outside the room. All the gear will
be out of your way but within easy reach.
And you won't be tripping over it, constantly
moving it or hunting for it during
You've filled in the dents and dings, and now it's time to paint, right?
Wrong! All those patches, even the tiny ones, must be primed. The
unprimed patches will absorb paint and leave noticeable dull spots (called “flashing”).
When you apply primer, don't just brush it on. The tiny ridges of
brush marks will show through the paint coat. Instead, “stipple” it on
by dabbing your brush against the wall. The
bumpy texture will better match the texture of rolled-on paint.
Plastic sheets are great for protecting
woodwork or furniture,
but they're a bad choice for floors.
They're slippery on carpet and
they don't stay put. Even worse,
plastic promotes tracking. That's
because spills and drips sit on
the surface and dry very slowly,
giving you plenty of time to step
in the paint and track it around.
Fabric, on the other hand, lets
paint dry fast, from above and
below. Canvas drop cloths are
best, but a double layer of old
bed sheets works well too.
Rolling paint on the ceiling
showers you with a
fine mist. A baseball cap
is essential and safety
glasses let you watch your
work without squinting.
To make skin cleanup
easier, rub lotion on your
face, arms and hands. At
the end of the day, your
paint freckles will wash
If that “quick” painting
project didn't go as fast
as you'd hoped and you need an extra
day, seal your brushes in a freezer bag.
As long as it's airtight, you can store
brushes for up to a week without cleaning.
But don't push it; any longer and
they'll dry out and stiffen up, making
cleanup that much harder.
Static electricity makes dust,
lint and even pet hair stick
to walls. Rolling paint without
cleaning the wall will
enshrine them Pompeii-style
for all to see. Plus, paint
adheres better to clean walls.
So wipe down the walls with
a damp sponge and warm
water before painting. Add
a smidgen of dishwashing
liquid to the water. A couple
of drops is just enough to cut
through oil and greasy fingerprints
suds that you'll have to wipe
Those labels on paint can lids are like
the paint's DNA. They contain all the
information needed to duplicate the color and sheen.
The next time you buy paint, ask the clerk to print
out a second set of labels and make sure you keep the
color chips. Keep them together in a folder so that
matching the color later will never be a problem.
Forget about paint roller
trays. They're inconvenient
and easy to kick over
or step in. Instead, pour
all of the paint you need
for the entire room into a
5-gallon bucket and stir
the paint together. This
ensures a consistent color
throughout the room. If
you switch gallons in the
middle of a wall, the
paint may look different—even if the color is
made the same at the
paint store. Hang a $2
roller screen in the bucket
to use with your paint
You can't keep a wet edge when painting ceilings—they're
just too large—but you can minimize lap marks by feathering
out the edges. Roll the nearly dry roller in different
directions along the edge, feathering out the paint. Once
you complete an entire length of the ceiling, move to the
next section and paint over the feathered edge. If you need
a second coat, apply the paint in the opposite direction.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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