Tips for Faster, Neater Painting
Save time and cut the mess with these pro tips
Bolt and Screw Holder
To paint the heads of bolts and screws, cut a small ‘X’ in a piece of corrugated cardboard and push the bolt or screw through the ‘X.’ Now you can paint them all at once without touching them.
Cardboard Spray Booth
The plastic-wrapped case that holds 24 bottles of water is a perfectly sealed tray for your paint cans, brushes and trays. Sloshed or dripped paint won’t spill onto a drop cloth and be tracked all over the house. When you’re opening the water bottle package, cut the plastic about 5 in. higher than the top of the box and then fold it in.
Feather Out the Paint Where You Can’t Keep a Wet Edge
You can’t cover large areas like ceilings, extra-tall walls or stairwells in single, continuous strokes, so the best way to minimize lap marks on these areas is to feather out the paint along the edges that you can’t keep wet. The thinner, feathered coat of paint will avoid the buildup that causes the lap mark.
To paint a large section without leaving lap marks, roll the nearly dry roller in different directions along the dry edge, feathering out the paint as you go. After completing the entire length of the wall or ceiling, move to the next section and paint over the feathered edges. For the second coat, apply the paint in the opposite direction. This crisscrossing paint application sharply reduces (if not eliminates) lap marks.
Roll Paint Along Trim and Corners
As you cut in with a brush along trim or corners, roll the paint with a 3-in. roller so the texture will match the rest of the wall.
Scrape Away Ceiling Texture for a Neater Paint Job
A neat, straight paint line at the top of a wall is tough to achieve next to a bumpy ceiling. So before you paint, drag a narrow flat-head screwdriver lightly along the ceiling. You’ll get a clean paint line and no one will ever notice that the bumps are missing.
Use Cotton Drop Cloths Rather Than Plastic
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to prepare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth is about $15). The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard floors, so rosin paper (about $10 for 400 sq. ft. at home centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hardwood. Tape the sheets together and to the floor to provide a nonslip surface.
But even with canvas or rosin-paper drop cloths, large spills still need to get wiped up right away or they’ll seep through. Clean spills with paper towels or cloth rags. Likewise, if you splatter paint on any other surface, wipe it up immediately.
Protect Your Carpet
When you’re staining or painting baseboards or walls, protect your carpet by tucking a plastic sheet under the baseboard with a putty or taping knife. After the paint dries, push down on the plastic to break the seal between it and the baseboard.
Caulk Cracks at Inside Corners
Hairline cracks at inside corners usually signal slight movement between adjoining walls. Choose any type of latex caulk and cut the tip just short enough to leave a 1/8-in. hole in the end. Squeeze a narrow line of caulk directly over the crack. Then mold the wet caulk into the corner with a moistened finger. The caulk will remain flexible and keep the crack from reappearing. Avoid thick layers of caulk, which may look too rounded in a square corner.