Henry Ford said it best: “Before anything else, getting ready is the secret to success.” And it’s certainly true when it comes to painting. This collection of tips will help you prep your room before painting to protect your home against slop, spatters and spills so you can spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your new paint job.
Every painter has stepped in a paint pan or kicked
over a pail while squeezing a ladder past the couch. If
you can’t move furniture and other big stuff completely
out of the room, stack it up. Set upholstered chairs
upside down on the sofa. Cover the dining room tabletop
with cardboard so you can set chairs on top of it.
Then get out your ladder and roller and make sure
you can easily reach all parts of the ceiling.
Cover your furniture stack with plastic to
protect it against drips and splatters.
Cover carpeting with canvas dropcloths.
They’re easy to spread out, and unlike plastic,
they stay put without tape. And they won’t cause
your ladder to slip-slide on carpet. Just bunch them up
a bit along walls and they’ll stay where you want them.
Normal drips and splatter won’t soak through canvas,
but heavy spills will. Pick up the dropcloths and scoop
up spills with a broad putty knife or dustpan.
You don’t have to cover the entire floor. Drag a long, narrow “runner” around the room as you go.
Both canvas and plastic dropcloths are slippery
when laid over wood, vinyl and tile. For
protection that stays put on hard surfaces,
you can’t beat rosin paper. Just tape sheets
of it together and then tape the perimeter
to the floor. Be sure to clean wood floors
thoroughly before laying down the paper;
grit trapped underneath can lead to scratches.
A single layer will protect against paint drips, but
wipe up any spills before they can soak through.
Paint slopped on electrical cover plates, switches and
outlets looks tacky. Don’t try to paint around them.
Removing cover plates takes just a few seconds and
makes for a faster, neater job. Grab a small bucket to
hold all the odds and ends you’ll take off the walls.
Unscrew cover plates and then shield each switch or
outlet with 2-in.wide masking tape. Also remove curtain
hardware, picture hooks, grilles that cover duct
openings and anything else that might get in your way.
Don’t waste time by completely covering baseboard
with several strips of tape. A single overhanging strip
of wide tape will catch roller splatters just as the roof
overhang on your house keeps rain off the siding. Use
1-1/2 in. tape for narrow baseboard, 2-in. tape for wider
baseboard. Tape won’t stay stuck to dusty surfaces, so
wipe down all your trim before masking. To minimize
paint seepage under the tape, press the tape down hard
by running a flexible putty knife over it.
Paint rollers throw off a mist of paint that speckles
everything below. Here’s the quickest way to protect
doors and windows: When you tape around door and
window trim to protect the woodwork, use tape that’s
wide enough to project at least 1/2 in. from the trim.
That way, you can stick light plastic to the protruding
tape—there’s no need to tape the perimeter of the plastic
separately. For doors, slit the plastic with a utility
knife so you can walk through.
A little paint in the wrong place can cripple the connections
that serve your phone, TV or computer. To
protect phone jacks without disconnecting all those
tiny wires, unscrew the faceplate and cover the front with
masking tape. Then mask the terminals on the backside
of the plate. Slip the plate into the junction box. Disconnect
coaxial cable from its plate and tape the cable’s
Painting a ceiling is a cinch—except for the
light fixture. Here’s how to get it out of your
way: First remove any glass parts, including
the bulbs (make sure the power is off). Unfasten
the fixture, usually by removing a couple of
screws. Then hook one end of a wire through
the fixture and the other to the junction box.
Make sure your hanger wire—not the electrical
wire—supports the fixture. Then slip a plastic bag over the fixture.
Speed and lots of water are the keys to removing
spilled paint from carpet. Immediately
scoop up the spill with a wide
putty knife, dustpan or whatever
is handy. Don’t wipe up the spill;
you’ll just force the paint deeper
into the carpet. Then start to
blot the paint with a wet (not
just damp) rag. Keep the paint
wet. Continue blotting, refill the
bucket with clean water and blot
some more until the paint is no
longer visible. When you’re
done, set up a fan to dry out the soaked carpet.
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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