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29 Painting Tool Hacks To Get Your Projects Rolling

Whether you’re changing the color of your walls, polishing jewelry or ripping a long board, these painting tool hacks will make the job a lot easier.

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Paint brush

Quick Drying Hanger

Here’s a handy way to dry and store paint brushes. Using a hand-saw, cut a slanted slice out of the handle from the hole toward the bristles. After cleaning, hook the brush over a coat hanger and hang it from a ceiling joist. — Paul E. Therrien.

Plus: A trick for storing paint brushes overnight and here’s another cool trick for hangers.

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Make Your Own Stir SticksFamily Handyman

Make Paint Stir Sticks

Forgot to grab stir sticks at the store when you picked up the paint? If you have a band saw and a hunk of 2×4, you can make your own! Take a two-foot-long 2×4 and draw a perpendicular line in the middle. Next, rip several 3/16-in.-thick strips on the bandsaw up to the pencil line. Then, to release the stir sticks, chop the 2×4 at the pencil line. This method keeps your fingers a safe distance from the saw blade. — Les Eastep.

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Bonus: Pro painters let us in on their secrets. Watch the video to see a few of our favorites:


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pre-taped plastic to protect paintbrushes

That’s a Wrap…For Now

This handy hint will keep your paint brushes in good shape after each painting project. After thoroughly washing and air-drying my brushes, I wrap them with a piece of the pre-taped plastic that I use to mask off my baseboards and protect my floors.

When kept folded right off of the roll, the plastic is the perfect length to cover and shape the paintbrush bristles while the tape sticks to the metal ferrule. — Joe Martin.

Plus: Everything you need to know about using masking tape.

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Family Handyman

Shine On Roller

Recently I needed to polish brass parts for a project. I didn’t have a buffing disc, so I looked around the shop for an alternative. I saw several paint roller covers that I thought might work — but how to drive them? I found that they fit tightly on a 1-1/2-in. hole saw.

I cut a three-inch length of roller cover, inserted the hole saw and chucked it into my drill press. It worked great, and I’ve used this method often to buff and polish jewelry and all sorts of other items. You can buy buffing compound at a hobby store. — Bill Wells.

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Family Handyman

Quick Touch-Up Pads

If you have touch-up work that’s not worth dirtying a paintbrush, try makeup rounds. These smooth pieces of cotton are about the size of a silver dollar and they won’t shed. You can use them to apply dabs of stain, oil or paint. We’ve even used them to touch up nail hole patches. You can find them near the cosmetics at drugstores and discount stores. — Jan Olsen.

Plus: Get the skinny on our very best wood finishing tips.

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The Family Handyman

Instant Roller Savers

When the painting job is half done but the day is all done, slide your paint roller off the roller frame and store it in a Lay’s Stax potato chip container. It’s just the right size for a standard nine-inch roller. Once you’ve slipped the roller cover inside, pop on the lid and the wet roller is sealed and ready for service in the morning. Our thanks to reader Kevin Kurucz for this high-rolling discovery. Plus: More painting tips and tricks.

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HH take apart old paint brush

Paintbrush Turned Push Stick

After my paint brushes wear out, I strip off the metal ferrule with a needle-nose pliers and some strength. I use the wood or composite handle for a table saw push stick. Since I am frequently losing or misplacing mine, I figured it would be better to have more rather than less of these handy tools.

I use a square to measure and mark and the angle I want to cut into the paintbrush. Next, I simply make two cuts on my bandsaw to make an angled notch in the bottom of the handle. Now it’s time to get to work! — Austin Garmo. Check out more step-by-step photos of this hack here.

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Family Handyman

Empty Jug Paint Carrier

For small paint jobs, I find a four-inch paint roller works great with an old gallon-size iced tea jug serving as a disposable roller tray. I just cut out part of the plastic to create a place to dip the roller. It even has a built-in carrying handle. When I’m done, I just throw the jug away. — Fred Thies. Here’s another creative way to reuse a jug in the shop.

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hooking paint can opener onto paint can handle

Paint Can Opener on Hand

Always have a paint can opener on hand when you’re ready to start a painting project. Use pliers or a multitool to slightly bend open the loop of the opener. Then hook it onto the handle of the paint can you just purchased.

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FH13APR_NEAPAI_11Family Handyman

Remove the Fuzz

Some tools need cleaning even when they’re new. Some new roller covers (usually the cheaper ones) have a layer of fuzz that detaches from the cover. The first time you load up a fuzzy roller, the paint mixes with the fuzz and creates small bumps on the wall.
One way to remove the fuzz is to wrap masking tape all the way around the roller cover. When you pull the tape off, the excess fuzz will be pulled off along with it. Learn how to roll on paint like a pro.

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Tuna can jarFamily Handyman

Thinner Extender

Extend the life of your paint thinner with this brush-cleaning system.

Drill 3/16-in. holes in the bottom of an empty tuna can. Place the can in the jar with the bottom facing up, and fill the jar with paint thinner. Clean your brush by rubbing the bristles across the holes in the tuna can. The debris will settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving fresh cleaning solution for the next time. — Daniel Cappiello.

Plus: Learn the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner.

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roller standFamily Handyman

Portable Roller Stand

Ripping a long board on a small portable table saw can be downright dangerous without extra support. If you don’t have a helper to control the board, clamp a short-nap paint roller to a sawhorse as a temporary roller stand. (Tighten the clamp firmly to prevent slipping.) As you move around your work area, carry the sawhorse along (adjust the roller height if necessary). Now you’ll always have support to safely cut long boards. — William A. Goldbach.

Plus: Check out these table saw tips and tricks.

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shoe box paint kit

Shoe Box Painting Kit

For a small paint job that calls for a small roller, I just use a shoe box top as my paint tray! It’s lightweight and I can hold it in one hand as I roll. Plus, it’s sturdy enough to hold the paint! When I’m done I just toss it out. There’s no messy tray to clean up. — Steve Ference.

We decided to take Steve’s handy hint a step further and create a reusable paint touch-up kit with a shoe box. Inside the box, you can keep a small roller and roller cover, paintbrush, gloves, paint can opener, stir stick and anything else that you may need for quick touch-up jobs. Then before using the shoe box lid as a roller tray, as Steve suggests, first cover it with Saran Wrap so you can reuse it time and time again! We’ve got more inventive ways to reuse cardboard boxes.

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Family Handyman

Tomato Cage Drying Rack

An inverted tomato cage makes a great drying rack for rollers, brushes, pads, rags, and whatever is wet after painting cleanup. The stuff dries quickly outdoors, and there’s room for everything! — Tom Anderson.

Plus: The best-kept secrets of professional painters.

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Family Handyman

Easy-Clean Finishing

Forget brushes when it comes to varnishing a ton of trim or big, flat areas like tabletops and cabinets. Use a four-inch disposable roller and a nonstick, lipped baking sheet.

Pour some varnish into the tray and use it just like a paint rolling tray. Keep adding varnish as you need it, but try to plan so you end up with an empty tray. When you’re through, toss the roller sleeve and let the wet varnish dry in the pan. When it dries, just peel the varnish film right out of the pan. Thanks to Aaron McKeever for this tip.

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c-clamp paint can handle

C-Clamp Paint Can Handle

Use a C-clamp as a temporary handle on a quart-size paint can. “Yes, it may get some paint on the clamp,” says reader Mike Watt. “But does that really matter? Not to me!”

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Self-Cleaning Paintbrushes mason jarFamily Handyman

Self-Cleaning Brushes

Just hang your brush in a jar of solvent: water for latex paint, and mineral spirits or paint thinner for oil-based. Using a clamp, suspend the brush in the jar with the bristles fully submerged almost to the ferrule, but not touching the bottom of the jar. The finish will slide off the bristles and settle on the bottom of the jar.

If you’re using paint thinner or mineral spirits, set the jar outside to keep fumes out of your house. Be sure it’s away from children and pets. After a day or two, remove the brush and give it a thorough rinse in clean solvent. — Pat Gustafson.

Plus: Check out our other paint brush cleaning tips here.

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truck bed reach stick

Roller Reach Stick

Loading and unloading your truck can be time-consuming and tiresome, especially when you have to climb in and out of the bed multiple times. Here’s a solution: Use an extension pole with a paint roller attachment to pull or push items with your feet on the ground. This tool takes up little space, so you can keep it in your truck at all times. It’ll save you time, and save your back! — Terry Crawford.

Any roller head with work for this tool, as long as it’s large enough to hook around items that you haul in the back of your truck. Adding a roller cover makes the tool more gentle for pushing and pulling items that you don’t want scratched. Bonus: Here are seven more essential items to always keep in your truck.

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close paint can with rag and wood block

Less-Mess Paint Can Lids

It’s no secret that painting projects are messy, especially when pouring paint from the can into a smaller container or roller tray and then re-sealing the lid. Here’s one way to prevent paint from spattering all over the place when you close the lid of the paint can: Cover it with a rag or paper towel. The rag will collect the paint splatters, not your clothes!

To avoid denting the rim and lid of the paint can when you pound it closed with a hammer or mallet, lay a wood block sized just larger than the diameter of the paint can across the rag and hammer the center of the block. Rotate the block a few times, hammering in the center each time to seal the lid.

Plus: Cutting in is tough to master. But these tips will definitely help.

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Touch-Up Paint BottleFamily Handyman

Touch-Up Bottle

When there’s only a little bit of latex paint left in the can and I want to save it for touch-ups, I put a half-dozen marbles in an empty water bottle and pour in the leftover paint. When I’m ready to do a touch-up, I shake the bottle and the marbles mix the paint. A roll of tape with a rag draped over it helps hold the bottle steady while I pour the paint into it. Just be sure to use a funnel or you’ll have a mess on your hands. — Ron Hazelton.

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frog tape to move furniture

Tape Containers for Furniture Glides

Don’t have any furniture glides on hand when you need to move a piece of heavy furniture by yourself? Dig into your painting supplies and use the base of a FrogTape container under each leg on the furniture piece. It will then slide smoothly across the floor.

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FH12NOV_HANHIN_11Family Handyman

Wet Paintbrush Storage

Here’s another way to keep your paintbrush fresh while you take a break in the middle of painting. Snip the corner of a zippered plastic bag. Then slide your paintbrush inside the bag, handle first, and zip it closed. The paintbrush won’t dry out, and the mess will stay inside the bag. Bonus: Check out these 24 hacks for sandwich bags.

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The Family Handyman

Painting Tool Storage Station

Organize your paint brushes, scrapers, roller frames, rags and paint cans with this shelf made from two 1×8 boards screwed together and reinforced with metal shelf brackets ($1).

We built ours 38 inches long to fit three brackets of sliding spring grips ($4 each at a home center) that we mounted under the shelf for tool storage. Build and attach this shelf to a shop or basement wall, and you’ll thank reader Steve Sampson for enforcing orderly storage on all your far-flung painting paraphernalia. Check out these other clever tool storage ideas.

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egg carton painting props

Egg Carton Painting Props

Keep a few empty egg cartons with the rest of your painting supplies. They’re great for lifting a small project off a work surface, making it easier to paint nooks and crannies and along the base of the project.

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FH16JUN_PAINTS_03_04_05Family Handyman

Preserve a Brush With a Glove

I like to wear disposable nitrile gloves when I’m painting. They not only keep my hands clean but also keep my brush from drying out whenever I take a break. I simply grab the bristles with my gloved hand and then pull the glove over the wet bristles. A twist tie around the handle keeps the air out. — Ned Webb.

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FH16JUN_PAINTS_06Family Handyman

A Push Broom Handle Reaches New Heights

You can spend $10 to $70 on an adjustable extension pole for rolling paint in high places. But if adjustability isn’t important or you just want to save a few bucks, try a push broom handle. Most fit perfectly on a paint roller. — Dave Moran.
Long handles are also great for yard tools. Check out these 23 yard tool hacks.

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trimming paint roller

Trim Off Ragged Roller Edges

Those ragged edges and tiny beads of dried paint on your paint roller may seem harmless, but they’ll leave ugly tracks in your paint job. Trim them off, leaving a slightly tapered edge, and your roller will be as good as new.

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chopsticks stirrers for stain

Use Takeout Chopsticks to Stir Finishes

Save unused chopsticks you get with your takeout because they make great stirrers for small cans of paint, stain, varnish, etc. You can also buy disposable chopsticks to have a stash ready to go in your workshop.

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FH16JUN_PAINTS_09Family Handyman

Brush Bristle Saver

Without something to hold them in place, paintbrush bristles will curl or splay as they dry. The best way to store them is in the cardboard wrappers that they came in. They’re not just packaging; they maintain the shape of the bristles as the brush dries after cleaning. If you’ve already thrown your brush wrappers away, use paper and a rubber band instead. — Andy Benke.