8 Great Painting Tips
Use these tips to make your painting projects go quicker and stress-free.
Interior painting must be the No. 1 home improvement activity—everyone has to paint a room sometime! To help you master the process, check out these terrific tips from pros and DIYers alike.
1. Self-Cleaning Paintbrushes
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. Click here for more paintbrush cleaning tips. — PAT GUSTAFSON, READER
2. Patch, Prime, Patch, Prime...
You've done a great job of patching and smoothing over all those pesky cracks, holes and dimples in your walls and ceiling, and you've rolled on the primer. So does that mean you're ready for the topcoat? Not so fast. Take a closer look at the surfaces with a portable work light. Chances are, you still have small imperfections you'll want to touch up with spackling or joint compound. Better to take care of these now because they'll really stand out after the final coat of paint goes on. — MATT KARL, FIELD EDITOR
3. Make Your Own 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 2x4, you can make your own! Take a 2-ft.-long 2x4 and draw a perpendicular line in the middle. Next, "rip" several 3/16-in.-thick strips on the band saw up to the pencil line. Then, to release the stir sticks, chop the 2x4 at the pencil line. This method keeps your fingers a safe distance from the saw blade. — LES EASTEP, FIELD EDITOR
4. Baby Wipes for Small Messes
I always have a package of baby wipes handy whenever I paint a room. They're great for wiping up small drips before I accidentally walk through them and track paint all over the house. It beats keeping a bucket of water and rags around any day! — CARL EDOUARD DENIS, FIELD EDITOR
5. Touch-Up Paint 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, TV HOME IMPROVEMENT EXPERT, RONHAZELTON.COM
6. Shelter Baseboards from Splatter
When you're rolling paint onto walls or ceilings, a fine mist of paint settles on unprotected trim. For baseboards, forget about covering them completely. Just cover the top of each one with a "shelter" made from painter's tape. A single over-hanging strip of 1-1/2-in. or 2-in. tape catches roller splatters just like the roof overhang on a house keeps rain off the siding. Tape doesn't stick to dusty surfaces very well, so be sure to vacuum or wipe down your baseboards before masking. Also, press the tape down hard with a putty knife to prevent paint from bleeding underneath. For the best results, use "self-sealing" tape. — MICHAEL WHITING, PRO PAINTER
7. Take Photos of Paint Can Lids
Have you ever thrown away a paint can and later wished you hadn't because you couldn't remember the name of the color you painted the bedroom? Paint can lids usually have labels with color information printed on them. Take photos of your paint can lids, print them and tuck them away for future reference. -GARY WENTZ, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
8. Splurge on Self-Sealing Tape
With regular painters' tape, you run the risk of "paint bleed"— paint creeps underneath the tape, leaving a ragged line where a wall meets trim or another wall or ceiling. We like self-sealing tapes like FrogTape and ScotchBlue Edge-Lock tape because they're specially designed to prevent paint bleed, giving you crisp, straight lines. They cost a lot more than regular masking or painter's tape, but they're worth it. — TOM DVORAK, FIELD EDITOR