I am in the process of painting...well...all of Ugly House. Luckily the Ugly House wasn't painted in ugly colors. I have primed over forest green, electric blue and hot pink during my long painting career, so having white walls was a welcome change.
I have painted probably 50+ rooms over the years. I started out pretty standard using tape, a roller and paint tray. After a while I attempted to avoid any taping (ugh..it's the worst!), so I started using those handy paint pad edge roller. I still love those. They do a great job, especially where a wall meets a ceiling. Knowing I have many many hours of painting ahead of me, I decided to research any "short cuts" I could take. I ended up finding all sorts of tips that professional painters use. (Including this BuzzFeed article with 47 tips and tricks) Why in the heck did it take so long for me to try these?
10 Painting Tips & Products I Should Have Known About
1. Pay a little extra for a quality brush.
I used to be the queen of the $0.99 paint brush. I found the cheapest paint brush available and tossed it after I was done. I almost hate cleaning painting supplies as much as I hate taping. When I started painting furniture, most bloggers suggested getting a high quality brush to minimize the brush strokes showing. I decided to take the plunge and get a Purdy brush. I am a convert. I don't mind cleaning the brush when I know it's going to produce such great results. Pretty Handy Girl has a great tutorial on why she picks a quality brush (including a picture of a 8 year old Purdy still going strong!) and how to clean the brush properly.
Various sizes available at authorized retailers.
2. Use a small wire brush to clean your supplies.
Once I started using a higher quality brushes, I needed to learn how to properly clean the brush. I used several different tutorials, but one thing I found that worked the best for me was using a small wire brush to clean out the dried paint and reshape the brush. I found my brush in a 3 pack at the dollar store. They work great on other paint supplies as well. I read a blog where they used a flea comb as well. Using a wire brush on your paint brush really feels like an extra set of hands.
3. Lose the paint tray.
I hate paint trays. I usually grabbed a liner so I wouldn't have to clean them, but it seemed so tedious to dump out all the paint (or freeze it) each time I was done painting. During my research (specifically this post at This Old House), I found that pros don't use paint trays when they are painting a large room. They have a five gallon bucket with a paint grid inside it. They simply lower the grid down into the bucket when they are done for the day and put the lid on top. Sold. Five gallon buckets are relatively cheap and seal so much easier than those paint can lids.
4. Use Cling Wrap.
So, sometimes you may need to use the tray (i.e. if you're going on a ladder). In those situations, you can pay for tray liners like I used to or try a little Pinterest tip I modified. I saw a tip a few years ago about lining a paint tray with foil as a cheap liner alternative. I tried that and failed. All the paint just seeped through the seams of the foil (since one roll wasn't wide enough). I also tried grocery sacks, but all mine seemed to have hidden holes or got too sticky. I could have bought wider foil, but I didn't really have a need for it. What I did have on hand was some of that Press & Seal Cling Wrap. That worked like a charm! The seams press together and also press to the side of the tray. I didn't have any leaks when I tried it the first time! Spendier than the foil, but it works so much better, the extra couple of bucks is worth it.
5. Invest in a large and small paint guide.
Since I am anti-taping (it's a new political movement), I needed something to protect my carpets when I went to paint the trim. The paint edger (below) I love doesn't work great for this type of edge. A paint guide works wonderfully though. I have a 24 inch long one made by Hyde and a smaller one (meant for drywall). They work great together and keep the project moving quickly!
Hyde Paint Guard. 22" Inch currently $5.46 at The Paint Store.
6. Using a paint edger.
I wasn't sure if these would work. They are pretty inexpensive and seem flimsy, but after doing one room, I was sold! I didn't realize that some models also screw into a paint extender, making cutting in ceilings even easier. (Totally using that trick when I go to do ceilings!). The only tip I have is make sure you have something to keep the rollers clean (spare rag on stand by...or your shirt), otherwise all your hard work will be for nothing.
Shur-Line Paint Edger available on Amazon for $5.16.
7. If you're just using a brush, use a Handy Paint Pail.
As I started to paint trim, I was finding that it was difficult to manage either the paint can or the paint tray. I usually dripped paint on me...which usually trailed to the next seat I sat on, a dog's paws or a children's hand. I picked up the Handy Paint Pail during one of my obligatory weekly Lowes trips, and it's been a great time and mess saver. It's light and easy to carry, plus it has a little magnet on the side that keeps your paint brush from falling into the paint (and getting more paint on the brush leading to more cleaning when you're done).
HANDy Paint Pail available on Amazon for $9.59.
8. Learn how to properly cut in.
I didn't really know much about cutting in when painting when I did my first couple of rooms. I followed a tutorial like this one, and I can say it really does save time and create a cleaner paint job. Just make sure that you have a nice brush, or you'll have random bits of paint on your trim or ceiling.
9. Clean up wall or trim blemishes easily.
I remember when I was a freshman in the dorms and we would use a little bit of toothpaste to cover up flaking paint from removing posters. In my first rental we would roll up a bit of Kleenex and stuff it into holes to avoid losing some of our deposit. Now that I'm an adult and home owner, I want to make sure it's done right. If you have a blemish from a screw or nail (or a ladder falling into the wall because your dog is blind and knocked it over....not that has happened to me), use some of this awesome product. It's a patch and primer in one. You can't get any easier than this product for patching little to medium size holes. If you have a ding in your trim (or if you have nail holes or trim seams showing), use a bit of wood filler. Both products dry very quick and the wood filler only requires minimal sanding (and the hole filler usually requires none). Hint: The lids do not seal very well on these products and if they dry up, they are no good. Throw each in a zip lock bag to ensure freshness.
3M Patch Plus Primer. Currently $13.06 on Amazon.
Elmer's Wood Filler. Currently $11.55 on Amazon.
Like any new skill, you are going to have to practice it before you get good at it. Cutting in is an exercise in patience. Getting just the right amount of paint on your brush is also a learned skill. (I read that you should always pat the brush on the side of the bucket not scrape. You end up scrapping off too much paint.). I also had to learn what size brush worked best for me. I was told that a 2.5 inch brush was good for trim, but I found with my trim (and little hands) a 1.5 inch brush works better. The 2.5 inch brush is perfect for furniture projects. Good news though. I have an entire Ugly House you can practice those skills on! Come on over! I have beer and friendly dogs.
PS: Products I'd Like To Try
1. I hear that using a paint conditioner makes your paint job that much smoother and extends the square footage of your gallon of paint.
2. These paint brush cases are pretty much my dream. Something I can use to keep a brush wet and avoid washing? I'm in!
Amazon for $5.49.
3. I am a bit worried about painting over our stairs, but having a ladder like this one might be the solution. It configures to different settings so it's stable even in different sizes.
Amazon. Different sizes and features have different prices.
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