Official Paint Can Opener ? Not a Screwdriver!
While you can pry open paint cans with a screwdriver in a pinch, you're bound to damage the lid and affect the seal of the can when you reclose it. You're much better off ponying up a couple of bucks for a dedicated paint can opener. When the painting day is complete, the bottle opener at the other end of the tool will work on that craft beer.
Use Painter's Tape ? Not Masking Tape
Painter's tape has a less aggressive adhesive than ordinary masking tape. Since it sticks so well it will tear as your removing it and make the simple job of tape removal much more time consuming. And if don't remove masking tape right away the problem is even worse. Even with painter's tape, it's best to pull the tape free as soon as you're done painting to prevent it from tearing or even lifting off your fresh paint. Properly masking off a room for painting is rarely done well by us amateurs. To learn how to do it right check out how to use masking tape when painting.
A Small Putty Knife is a Must
You'll use it for embedding painters tape into woodwork for a tighter seal, which keeps paint from seeping behind the tape onto the wood. But you'll also use it for scraping away grime; paint drips and even cutting clean tape joints at inside corners. Watch this video for some great tips and techniques for applying painter's tape, including putty knife tricks.
Don't Go Cheap on Roller Sleeves
Spend at least $5 on roller sleeves with a nap depth of ? to ?-in. Cheap roller sleeves don't hold paint and will leave roller lint embedded in the fresh paint. They also may have cardboard rather than plastic liners, which make them almost impossible to clean for reuse. Sleeves with naps that are under ?-in. make for more work because they don't hold enough paint. They'll show more roller marks and because the coat is so much thinner, you'll never get away with a single coat. For more on the best ways to roll paint, check out this paint roller techniques and tips article.
Buy a Decent Roller Frame
Like cheap roller sleeves, cheap roller frames are no bargain either. A quality frame will last forever, and hold the sleeves from slipping off the end of the frame while rolling. A 9-in. frame for wide-open spaces and a 3-in. one for areas too narrow for the wider roller are the wisest choices. Here is a video for lots more info on buying the best painting gear.
You will rarely, if ever, spot a pro painter operating a roller frame with using the frame handle. (You'll only see that happen on TV commercials.) Instead, they'll always use a handle to gain leverage, reach, and the strength of two hands and arms. That not only hugely speeds up the rolling, it saves wear and tear on the wrist and hand. You can get buy with an ordinary broom handle but if you plan on doing lots of painting in your lifetime, it's well worth investing $25 on a good handle. If you have ceiling painting in your future, make sure to read this article on how to paint a ceiling.
2-1/2 in. Sash Brush
A sash-brush has an angle on the end of the bristles. It was originally designed for cutting in around window sashes but nowadays is a pro's go-to brush style for any cutting in done at inside corners, against ceilings and around woodwork before rolling the walls. Need to paint a lot of trim? Read these tips first.
Canvas Drop Clothes
Never use plastic sheathing for drop cloths. Canvas drop cloths are easier to spread, and are non-slip so they're much safer. It's well worth investing in at least two different canvas cloths. One that's 10x12-ft. or so for large areas and a long, narrow 'runner' style. That type works great for hallways, stairs and to lay along walls to take care of drips while cutting in and rolling.
Deep Roller Tray for Small Jobs
A conventional roller tray is fine for small rooms. Plastic ones are the way to go. You really don't even need to clean them after the job is done. Just pour the excess paint back in the pail, let the paint dry in the tray and you can start add more paint right over the dry stuff. After a few layers, just peel away the sheet of dry paint and start all over. Learn how to make your roller sleeves and brushes last longer and work better here.
5-Gallon Bucket and Painting Screen for Big Jobs
If you have large or several rooms to paint, those are the tools to get. Pour a couple of gallons of paint into the bucket, mix well and drop the screen over the bucket lip. It makes quick easy work of dipping, screening off the sleeve and applying paint to the wall.
For cutting in you'll want a dipping pail that you can carry around with you to dip your brush in. An empty paint can will get the job done, but we like the HANDy Paint Pail (about $10 at home centers). The hand strap makes it very comfortable and convenient to use. A magnet holds the brush ferrule to keep the brush out of the paint while using and you can even get disposable liners so you never have to clean out the container. Watch this video for tips on how to tape off and prep a room for painting.
If you already have a 6-ft. ladder you're fine. But if you need to buy a ladder, a 4-ft. one is perfect for painting the average room. It's high enough for cutting in 8-ft. ceilings and small enough so you can move it around with one hand (while your other hand is holding the dipping pail). Don't hurt yourself. Read up on ladder safety here.