Painting Tips and Tricks
Paint fast – and clean!
Tape Off the Carpet
When painting baseboard, some painters slip masking tape under the baseboard. But this is time-consuming and doesn’t create a seep-proof seal between the baseboard and the carpet. Instead, press the tape against the baseboard, covering about 1/4 in. of the bottom edge. Press down hard on the carpet while you apply the tape. That way, the tape will hold the carpet down while you paint. Later, when you remove the tape, the carpet will rise and cover the unpainted edge of the baseboard.
Use a high-quality tape for this job because it grabs and holds the baseboard better. Add a strip of cheap tape to create a wider shield over the carpet. Finally, spread a drop cloth over the tape. This technique won’t work if your carpet has a very low pile or if you have no padding under the carpet.
Narrow Drop Cloths are Better
Large drop cloths work great if you’re painting a ceiling, but they’re overkill if you’re only painting walls and trim. Drop cloth runners are usually 3 to 4 ft. wide and are much easier and safer to work with because you don’t have to fold them several times. Folded drop cloths are easy to trip on, and nothing good results from tripping with an open paint can in your hand.
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Clean Up Old Brushes
Even though you diligently clean your brushes, they will eventually wear out. Consider saving a couple of different sizes to repurpose as cleaning brushes. An old paintbrush is an excellent tool for dusting off window trim or whatever else needs a light touch.
Set Your Tape
After you apply masking tape, run a putty knife, or a 5-in-1 tool, over it to “set” the tape to the trim. This bonds the tape to the surface and helps stop paint from seeping under the tape and up onto the trim.
Completely Cover Windows and Doors
The masking tape you installed to protect the outside edge of the trim won’t necessarily protect windows or doors. So it’s important to cover them completely, especially if you’re painting the ceiling.
Cut the Paint Before Pulling the Tape Off
When you remove masking tape that has been left on too long, the tape can pull chunks of paint off with it. It’s usually best to pull off the masking tape while the paint is relatively wet; however, if it does stay on too long, gently cut the tape along the line where the paint meets the trim. This prevents the paint from sticking to the tape and coming off the wall.
Don’t Flood the Masking Tape
Masking tape is a precaution, not a guarantee. No matter how careful you are, there may still be a void or two between the tape and the trim. If you expose the tape to a bunch of paint, some is bound to get through. The trick is to pretend the tape isn’t there. Don’t force a lot of paint into the corner at an angle. Instead, lightly load the paintbrush and run it down parallel to the trim.
Create a Smooth Path Along the Ceiling
It’s hard to create a straight line when you’re painting the wall along a textured ceiling. As you move your paintbrush along, the bristles get hung up on the texture, which creates noticeable paint globs. Use your 5-in-1 tool or a screwdriver to remove about 1/8 in. to 1/4 in. of texture, creating a clear path for the brush.
Remove the Fuzz
Comb the Brush
A paintbrush comb is the best tool for cleaning a brush. Unlike other brush cleaning tools, a comb penetrates and cleans deep between the bristles. It also prevents the bristles from sticking together, which helps your brush stay soft and retain its shape longer.
Wear a Rag
Here’s a great way to avoid getting paint on yourself. Before the first can of paint is cracked open, attach a rag to your belt. So when you subconsciously wipe your hand on your pant leg, you’re protected. Use a large rag and unfold it a bit, so the messy side stays facing out.
Run Water Down Into the Bristles
After a few hours of painting, paint can work its way up into the bristles covered by the steel ferrule. If you don’t clean the paint out of there, it will build up and cause your brush to get stiff and misshapen. After you comb all the paint out of the bristles, run water down into the brush. Finally, straighten out the bristles with a comb before you put the brush away. Protect the bristles by storing the brush in the package it came in.
Scrub Your Roller
Don’t neglect your roller. If you don’t rinse off the roller, you’ll end up with hardened paint inside the bushings or bearings, and that will ultimately result in a paint roller that doesn’t roll. Keeping your tools clean doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get great results with a $2 pot scrubber purchased at a discount store.