ideas and products will not only
save you time but also eliminate a
lot of hassles—like moving unwieldy
ladders and spreading out massive
drop cloths. All of the products
mentioned here are available at
paint stores and home centers.
Tip 1: Our favorite product for painting up high
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The best way to work up high
We discovered this work platform five years ago—and we’ve
been using it daily in our photo studio ever since. It’s the perfect
height to stand on to reach the top of 8-ft. walls, making it
ideal for painting along ceilings. Truth be told, I spend a lot of
time sitting on it too.
The platform gives you a wider standing space than a ladder
and extends your reach, so you don’t have to climb down and
move it as often. When you do need to reposition it, you’ll find
the aluminum platform lightweight and easy to carry. The legs
lock in place, keeping the platform stable while you work, and
fold up for easy storage. It also costs less than most ladders.
Tricam model (WP-20-B; tricamindustries.com) costs $38 at
Menards, and the Werner version (AP-20-MP6; wernerladder.com) costs $43 at Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Tip 2: Our favorite rollers for a lint-free paint job
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Lint-free paint roller
Sure, you can buy a 99¢ roller cover, but then
you’ll waste time picking fuzz out of your freshly
painted walls because the cover will shed as you use
it. Cheap covers also get matted easily, which changes
the texture of your painted surface. It’s much smarter to
spend at least $5 to get a quality cover that will give you a
consistent texture, without shedding lint. More-expensive
rollers also hold paint better than cheap covers, so you
don’t have to reload as often. Look for covers that say
“woven” or “lint-free” on the packaging, or ask a paint store employee for help picking one.
Tip 3: Our best tip for superior coverage
Some vibrant paint colors, especially oranges and reds,
don’t cover existing paint colors well. If you’re painting over
a light color, it might take three, four or even five coats. And
even then the color might be off. Try a tinted primer instead.
Have the paint store tint your primer gray. Prime the walls
or woodwork with the gray primer,
then one coat of paint (two at the
most!) will cover nicely. It will
also give you a “truer” color, one
that’s closer to the paint chip you
chose at the store. Tinted primer
also works great for covering varnished
woodwork that you want to
Primer is less expensive than
paint, so you’ll save money applying
primer and then paint instead of rolling on
two (or more) coats of paint. Primer also
adheres better to the wall and improves paint durability.
Tip 4: Our favorite tool for cleaning paintbrushes
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Comb out embedded paint
A $5 painter’s comb helps remove
caked-on paint that won’t wash
off your paintbrush bristles.
And after washing, the
comb helps straighten
the bristles so they don’t fan
out as the brush dries.
A good paintbrush will last a lifetime if you
take care of it. Here’s how: After painting, while your
brush is still wet, wipe it on newspaper to get rid of excess
paint. Then stick the brush in a bucket of warm, soapy
water (any liquid soap will do) and slosh it around to
wash out the paint.
Hold the brush under running water and run the
painter’s comb through it, especially near the ferrule, to
remove dried paint and buildup. When the water coming
off the brush is clear, the brush is clean. Comb the bristles
again to get them straight and let the brush air-dry. Finally,
to keep the bristles straight, wrap it with heavy paper (like a grocery bag) and hang it from a hook or store it flat.
Tip 5: Our favorite floor protector
If you’re only painting walls and not the ceiling, don’t bother
spreading a drop cloth across the entire floor. Just cover
the perimeter with a narrow canvas drop cloth (4 x
12 ft.). A 3- or 4-ft.-wide strip provides enough space for
your ladder and materials, and plenty of room to stand on.
It’s easier to set up and move than a large square, and it fits
conveniently in doorways. We use canvas drop cloths
instead of plastic because they’re easy to spread out and they stay in place without tape. And they’re not slippery!
Tip 6: Our best tip for opening paint cans
You can open a
paint can with a
it'll leave dents in
the lid as you pry
it off, making it
tough to reseal the
can to keep the paint fresh. A paint can opener is
designed so the tip slides under the lid and lifts it off
without damaging it. And it costs less than a buck!
Tip 7: Our favorite poly—no brush required!
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Wipe-on poly finish
We're big fans of wipe-on poly and use it in
our studio and shops. It gives you an impeccable finish—no brushstrokes,
drips or streaking—and you can
coat a dresser in
about 15 minutes.
You can also get into
crevices without worrying
about runs. The poly
dries quickly, so airborne
dust doesn't cause bumps in
the finish, and you can recoat
in a few hours. The drawback
is you usually need several
are two brands.)