Whether you have bought a new house or are planning a home renovation project, it is likely that you may need to do some painting. Many people underestimate what it takes to perfectly paint a room – in fact, it is so easy to end up with patchy, streaky walls that are less than impressive. Luckily, we have prepared this handy guide packed full of tips and techniques to help you paint like a pro.
There is nothing worse than looking at a freshly painted wall and noticing there seems to be bumps and lumps because a painter neglected to sand down the wall. If you want a beautifully, smooth painted wall you must sand your walls down first. Selecting sanding paper with the right level of abrasiveness is key to smoothing out patches, flattening areas around nail holes and removing burrs on trims, for example. Interestingly, when you sand a wall that was previously painted with gloss paint it actually helps the new coat adhere better. One of the most efficient ways to sand your walls, ceilings and trims is to use a sanding pole complete with sanding paper. We tend to opt for 220-grit sanding paper as it provides just the right level of abrasiveness. Start from your baseboards and work your way up the walls applying a gentle amount of pressure, making sure to double up on each stroke so that no spot goes unmissed. If you have any decorative wooden trims that require more care, use a sanding sponge instead.
It’s Not the Time to Be Cheap
Whilst being economic is preferable, when it comes to painting, if you opt for the cheapest of materials, you won’t be pleased with the result. A cheap paint brush will shed its bristles all over your walls – and there is nothing worse than that! We would recommend spending that bit more for a better quality brush that will evenly and smoothly apply paint without leaving bristles stuck to your wall. Additionally, when you clean your brush properly you will get many years of use from it. When it comes to the paint itself, there can be such a huge variety in prices that it can make it hard to determine which price point is best. You should always go with the best paint you can afford, whilst bearing in mind whether you require any special finishes.
Invest In Plastic Sheets
Rather than having to move all of your furniture out of the room you are painting, simply invest in some plastic sheets. It’s much easier to move all of the furniture to the middle of the room and wrap it in the plastic sheets. Be sure to tape down the bottoms of the plastic sheets so that no sanding dust or splatter affects your furniture.
Prime the Walls With Tinted Primer
If you are an inexperienced painter, you may not have heard of a common issue called flashing. Flashing refers to when someone has painted over newly patched cracks and holes, which actually removes the moisture and causes the finished wall to look dull and the patches to stand out. To avoid this, it is essential that you prime your wall first. However, rather than just using white primer, add a touch of gray paint to the primer to tint it. In doing so, it will actually help to mask the patched areas and help to make the coat of paint appear more vibrant, reducing the number of coats that will be needed, especially with bright colors.
Seal Your Painter’s Tape
Using painter’s tape is not a tip or technique, as it seems to go unsaid that it is needed, however, many newbie painters do not seal their tape. As a result, once the tape is lifted after hours of hard work, it can be devastating to find out the paint has leaked beneath the tape. To avoid this, after you have applied the tape, use a putty knife to press it down and seal it to avoid bleeding paint. It is also worth noting that you must always use genuine painter’s tape, not masking tape. Masking tape will leave behind an adhesive residue which can be hard to remove.
Perfect Your Walls With Paint Extender
Failing to use paint extender is a sure sign someone is not familiar with painting as it will leave brush strokes visible on the wall. Mixing in some paint extender, or paint conditioner, in with your paint will prevent this. It helps avoid lap marks and brush strokes as it slows down the drying process, so you can paint over sections without creating lap marks. It also helps to even and smooth out the paint. Always follow the instructions on the paint extender bottle to ensure you are mixing the right proportions, however, a general rule of thumb is 8oz of paint extender per gallon of paint. When working with very thick paint or painting in very cold temperatures, you can use 16oz of extender per gallon of paint.
Run a Screwdriver Around the Perimeter of a Textured Ceiling
When painting a wall that connects to a textured ceiling, it can be near enough impossible to avoid getting paint onto the ceiling. To avoid this, find a screwdriver that has a slotted driver and run it around the perimeter of the ceiling, removing just a little of the texture all the way around. It will not be noticeable that anything has been done and rather than paint going onto the ceiling, your paint brush bristles will go into the crack you have made instead.
Lay Canvas Down
Skip using your old sheets or any old cloth material to lay down on the floor when painting. Instead, opt for canvas which is far more absorbent. You may be tempted to lean towards plastic as it is cheaper, but it does not absorb the paint which creates a slippery surface and potential puts you at risk of an injury.
One at a Time
Many newbie painters tend to hand paint the walls at once then proceed to use a roller to paint the walls. However, this does not give a clean finish. Pro painters know that they must finish one wall at a time. So, cut your walls first, meaning use your paint brush to get into areas that are too tight, then roll on the paint right away before moving onto the next wall. This creates blended walls that have an attractive finish. Always cover your paint and rolling tray with a damp towel to prevent anything from drying in between uses.
Avoid Taping Up Your Windows
Not only does using painter’s tape to protect your windows take up time unnecessarily, it also does not prevent paint from spattering onto the window. To really step up your painting game like that of a pro, ditch the painter’s tape! When painting, you can allow just a little of the paint to touch the glass; afterwards, you can use a razor scraper to remove it. Take care to not slice the paint between the wood and the glass as it can allow moisture to seep into the wood, which can be damaging.
Blend Your Paints
You may or may not have learned this the hard way previously, but it is so important to mix your paints. The reason for this is that when you buy multiple cans of paint, even though they are labelled as being the same color, they are not! The difference is only subtle sometimes, but it is still enough to ruin what you have done. To avoid this, pro painters use a technique called boxing. Boxing is simply pouring all of your paint into a 5-gallon bucket and mixing it, so that any inconsistencies in color will not be noticeable.
Double up on Your Buckets
Always buy an extra bucket or two when preparing to help keep your paint fresh. You might think stirring it with a stick will suffice, but to truly revive paint, you need to pour it between two buckets so that paint from the bottom that has begun to harden smoothes out.
Rinse Your Paint Rollers Prior to Use
This is a real pro trick! You may not realize this, but brand new paint rollers can be full of fluff or little pieces of lint that can ruin your wall when painting. Painters refer to the washing of paint rollers before use as preconditioning. They simply wash them in a little bit of water soap and they are ready for use – even whilst damp.
Remove Electrical Outlet Covers
Far too many newbie painters tape around electrical outlet covers, but do not realize that it will not always have a clean finish. Instead, spend a few extra minutes (if even that!) to remove the covers; keep the covers and screws safe and once the wall has dried you can refit them.
Find the Best Position for Painting
Painters refer to bad positioning while painting as a bad set. When there are obstacles in the way or you are uncomfortable while painting, you won’t be able to paint to the best of your ability. Instead, spend some time moving things out of the way so you are not struggling to reach any areas. Sometimes just simply repositioning your ladder can work wonders, so play around with positions before settling in and getting started.
Avoid Holidays With Light
You are probably wondering what on Earth that means! You are not alone – unless you are a pro, you won’t know, and that’s why we are sharing this tip with you. Holidays refer to missing a spot or an area when painting without realizing it. This is a very common mistake, especially in poorly lit rooms. To avoid this, invest in a good working light that you can turn on to check a wall before moving on. Pay close attention to the edges of a wall or any areas where you may have used a paint brush rather than a roller, as these are typical holiday areas.
Prep Dirty Walls
When it comes time to paint a kitchen, for example, oil and grease are common factors that can affect how well paint is applied. Any dirty areas should always be cleaned thoroughly before painting, but simply wiping with a damp cloth is not enough in many cases. A good tip is to use degreaser or deglossers, to effectively remove grease, grime and dirt. Always read the instructions before use and wear safety protection.
Load and Go
You are soon going to be a pro with all of these tips! Load and go refers to how you load your paint brush when painting. It is common for people to dip their brush into the paint and wipe it on the sides of the can or bucket, thereby removing a great deal of the paint and essentially drying the brush out. To avoid this, load and go! This means dipping your brush into the paint, about an inch or two, and gently tapping either side of the brush onto the sides of the bucket/can to remove the larger drips of paint; then proceed with painting, you will get a lot more out of your brush when using this technique.
Don’t Start Too Close to the Bottom of Your Wall
When using a paint brush that is loaded and ready to go, do not start right at the edges of the wall! This will cause the paint to collect and it will be quite thick, making it hard to smooth out and look clean. Instead, start at least a half inch above where you are intending to paint and slowly push the paint towards that area. The only downside of this is that you may need to do it several times, but the finish is far nicer than pooled paint that is hard to work with!
Clean up the Right Way
If you have not finished painting, it is important to clean your roller correctly. To do this, place the roller cover into the frame and pour paint over it, followed by wrapping it in a plastic bag to keep it fresh for the next day. If you are not painting again for a few days, throw out your roller cover and use a new one. Rinse paint brushes that have been used in latex paint in warm water and soap; brushes used in oil-based paint can be cleaned with paint thinner. Use a stainless steel toothbrush comb (found in hardware stores in the paint section) to straighten out your brush’s bristles. You can then place the brushes into their covers or wrap them in newspaper to keep them protected.