20 Essential Painting Tools for Your Next Project, According to Painting Pros
We scoured the shelves of paint stores, surfed the internet and picked the brains of painting pros to find the best painting tools and gear.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
If you’re painting a cabinet, bedroom doors, or wood trim, but don’t have a ton of room to lay it all out, grab several pairs of these Stak Racks. Attaching them to doors allows you to paint one side and flip them over without touching the door. Use a couple 2×4 pieces to make a shelf between a pair of these, and you’ll be able to stack a lot of trim or doors.
Sticky Drop Cloth
We like long, narrow drop cloths and tarps. They’re easy to fold and a convenient way to quickly protect the floor alongside the wall, helping you get your painting job done a little quicker. So of course, we were excited to see this improvement over the old standby, canvas.
The trouble with canvas drop cloths is that they don’t stay put. Sure, you can tape the edges, but with a CoverGrip Safety Drop Cloth, you don’t have to. The plastic-like material has a slightly tacky surface that keeps the canvas in place on wood, tile, concrete or carpet. Plus, the cloth is solvent- and puncture-resistant, and slip-resistant even when wet.
Touch-Up Paint Pen
Got some dings, scratches or nail holes to touch up? All you have to do is find the old paint can, pry off the lid, stir the paint, find a brush and you’re all set. That’s assuming the paint hasn’t dried out. Or you could keep a Slobproof Paint Pen in your junk drawer and be done in minutes—learn more in our in-depth review.
When you’re finished painting a room, just load the pen with matching paint and snap on the cap. Later, when you’ve got a ding to touch up, give the pen a few shakes and you’re good to go. They’re a little pricey, but it’s sure hard to beat the convenience.
High-Capacity Paint Roller Cover
Paint Roller Cleaner
This paint roller cleaner tool is compact and easy to use on standard paint brushes and roller covers. Instead of buying cheap roller covers and throwing them away, try top-quality covers and reuse them.
Painter’s Tape Applicator
We’ve tried all kinds of masking tape dispensers and painting tools, but for a simple, affordable way to speed up your masking, it’s hard to beat the 3M ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape Applicator. After you get a few inches of painter’s tape stuck down, hold the dispenser against the surface you’re masking and slide it along the wall. Wheels press the painter’s tape to the surface, and a built-in cutter slices it off at the end of the run. We applied a straight, accurate line of masking tape along the moldings in this room in record time. The little applicator is refillable, too. Here’s how to use painter’s tape like a pro.
How can you go wrong spending a few dollars for a painting tool that simplifies pouring your paint color and reduces a mess? This handy paint spout snaps onto the rim of a gallon or quart can and directs the paint where you want it. It also prevents paint from running down the side of the can and creating a mess on the floor or drop cloth. Add this to best-kept secrets of painting professionals!
Super-Sized Paint Tray
Sure, there are other big paint trays out there, but this one holds an entire gallon of paint. The built-in handles of the Handy paint tray make it effortless to move, and the extra-wide base helps prevent spills. And if you hate paint cleanup (who doesn’t?), you can buy tight-fitting disposable plastic liners.
Our editors love Chinex bristle paintbrushes. But it’s not just us—our set builder doesn’t use anything else, and the pros we talked with agree that paintbrushes made with Chinex bristles are nearly perfect. They work equally well for oil-based and water-based paints. But their best feature is how easy they are to clean. Many of the new formulations of water-based paint dry quickly and stick tenaciously to other types of synthetic bristles, leaving you with a tough cleanup job. Chinex bristles solve this problem. Paint rinses out easily, giving you a brush that’s “like-new” clean. Corona, Wooster and Purdy make brushes with these bristles.
Until we got our hands on one of these Little Giant ladders, we thought they were just another infomercial gimmick. But now that we’ve had a chance to use one, we love it. This one is the brand’s do-everything ladder. As on the original Little Giant ladder, each side adjusts independently to give you the option of a 4- to 7-foot stepladder—ideal for when you’re working on uneven ground. Or you can flip it open to make an extension ladder that extends to 17 feet. You can also take the ladder apart to create two trestles that can support a work plank.
This stain marker is made for quick touch-ups on hardwood floors and wood furniture, cabinets and doors. It comes in eight different color finishes, so you can best pick the one that matches the wood you’re fixing up. If you have kids and pets, a stain marker is a must-have for nicks and scratches caused by daily wear and tear. The marker is about the size of a permanent marker and super-easy to use. Plus, it dries down quickly, so you don’t have to worry about wet stains.
Angle Grinder Dust Catcher
We love using our angle grinder as a paint removal tool, but it is dusty. While it’s nearly impossible to catch all of the dust, this grinder attachment does a pretty good job, and collects dust as it’s produced. It’s sealed to the surface, thanks to the brush skirt around the perimeter and the spring suspension.
Lead paint caution: Houses built before 1978 may contain lead paint. Before disturbing any surface, get a lab analysis of the paint chips. Contact your local public health department on how to collect samples and where to send them so that you can remove lead paint safely.
Several of us on the Family Handyman staff have old houses and spend a lot of time scraping paint. It isn’t fun, so anything we can do to reduce the pain is a big plus. That’s why we love this little carbide scraper. The triangular carbide blade stays sharp and has three cutting edges, so you won’t need to replace it for a long time. It’s ideal for cleaning out corners or small areas that are hard to reach with a larger scraper. You can also buy pear-, drop- and round-shaped blades to fit the same handle.
Caulk Color Kit
Your kitchen walls are colonial green, and your new granite countertop is arctic blue. Which color caulk are you going to use to seal the backsplash: white, almond or brown? Don’t like those options? Pick up Sashco’s eXact Color kit and mix 1 ounce of leftover wall paint into the eXact color tube, shake it up and you’ve got yourself a tube of colonial green caulk.
We tried it with orange paint and it came out a little light at first, but matched great once it cured. There will be an air bubble or two, which could cause a splatter, so you might want to tape off each side of the bead and plan on tooling it.
Better Roller Pole
Some tools you just have to try to believe, and this Shur-Line Easy Reach extension pole is one. Press the button and pull back with your other hand, and the pole extends in both directions like magic, so you can get your paint roller anywhere you need it. We wouldn’t think of rolling paint without a pole, and this one makes the job even easier. With practically no effort, you can adjust the pole from 30 inches to 5 feet to dial in the optimal length.
Pro Masking Tool
Mask off baseboards quickly with a hand-masking tool. It applies the tape to the paper and cuts it to the right length with a twist of the wrist. The 3M Hand-Masker is popular with painting contractors, because it provides a fast, affordable and convenient way to cover trim or walls with masking tape, paper and plastic.
But these masking machines aren’t just for pros. If you do a lot of painting and are looking for a quick way to protect woodwork, doors, windows and cabinets from paint spatters, have a look. These Hand-Maskers hold a roll of masking tape and a roll of paper, and apply the tape to the edge of the paper as you pull it out. Use the blade to cut the paper and tape to the desired length.
Easy-Off Roller Frame
There are a lot of roller frames on the market, but we like this Wooster one the best. Like other premium roller frames, it’s sturdy, so it doesn’t bend when you apply pressure. It also has better bearing surfaces than cheap frames for easy, squeak-free rolling. But the feature that really sets this roller frame apart is the quick-release springs that hold the roller cover firmly in place while you’re rolling—and yet release easily when you want to remove the roller for cleaning.
Simply rap the metal frame against the edge of a bucket or laundry tub and the roller cover pops off. Say goodbye to struggling to get a slippery, paint-covered roller cover off the frame.
Quick-Connect Paint Pole
When it’s time to grab painting tools, this extension pole is what we fight over. Clip on the roller frame, adjust the length and go. In seconds, you’re rolling walls or ceilings with a pole that’s the perfect length. The quick-connect feature easily connects and disconnects the roller frame without having to screw and unscrew the pole.
In addition, the pole is hexagon-shaped to prevent it from spinning, and is super easy to extend. Just push the button to release, and then, pull the top section in or push it out until the spring-loaded pin drops into a hole in the pole to lock it in place.
Brush and Roller Spinner
Our editors don’t like cleaning up painting gear, so it’s no surprise that this brush and roller spinner is one of their choices for best painting tools. A few quick handle pumps are all it takes, but be sure to keep the roller in a bucket or deep sink to avoid a mess.
Older heat guns had just one control—the person using it. You controlled the temperature by how far you held the gun from the surface, so you’ll love the Wagner Furno 700. We did! In fact, we loved it so much that the Wagner Heat Gun is one of our Family Handyman Approved products.
A state-of-the-art heating tool, this electric heat gun features an LCD display, push button controls and six fan settings, including a cooldown mode. Its 1,500-watt heating element puts out 5,100 BTUs with temperature settings from 125 to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. It includes a glass protector and flare attachment, and weighs just 2 pounds.