Painting secrets from the pros

Need to paint your old or new home to give it a facelift? We’re here to lend a hand. Painting the walls can seem straight forward and self explanatory. Here’s the real scoop: there are a handful of secrets to painting that aren’t always mentioned, and that the pros have filled us in on. Are you ready?



To have a beautiful paint job, you must start out with a perfectly smooth surface. Some of the pros would even call themselves sanders instead of painters because they spend more time pushing sandpaper. Sanding makes the wall level (especially around imperfections) and can take care of annoying rough stops on the trim.

Sand the walls from the baseboard, all the way to the ceiling, with fine grit sandpaper on a sanding pole. Follow by sanding horizontally along the baseboard and ceiling. Caution: don’t put too much pressure on the sanding pole! The head could flip over and damage the wall.



Before painting, it is a good idea to fill holes and patch cracks with joint compound. If you paint directly over it, the compound will suck the moisture out of the paint and give it a dull look. Those spots will be noticeably different than the rest of the wall (trust us). To avoid this, prime the walls before painting and after filling the holes with the joint compound.

Instead of using the typical white primer, use tinted grey or a color that is similar to the finish paint you’ve chosen. Tinted primer does a better job at covering up existing paint color, and your finish coat will be more vibrant and require fewer coats. This is especially true for red and orange, which usually require three or more coats without the use of primer.



It can be suspenseful peeling off the tape. It’s even worse, though, when you discover that the paint has bled through the line. To avoid this, to a thorough job of ensuring the tape is firmly secure before you start. It seems to be the most effective by applying tape over the wood, and then running a putty knife over the top for a good seal.

Make sure you use blue painter’s tape instead of your typical masking tape. Masking tape can leave behind residue that is difficult to get off, and is more likely to allow bleed through. Painter’s tape can be left on for days and still peel off cleanly and without bleed through.



It can be annoying to see lap and brush marks in the finish. Here’s the secret: mix a paint extender (also called paint conditioner) into the paint. An example of one of these is called Floetrol. The addition of this does several things. It slows down the paint drying time, which gives you a longer window of opportunity to paint over dried paint and darken the color. It also levels out the paint so brush strokes are virtually eliminated.



Painting along the edge of a textured ceiling leaves it almost impossible to get a straight line without getting any paint on the ceiling. A pretty simple solution: run a screwdriver along the perimeter of the ceiling. This scrapes off texture and lets you cut in without getting paint on the ceiling. The tip of the paintbrush will naturally go into this ridge, and the missing texture won’t be noticeable when you’re done.



Don’t waste your time using bed sheets. Thin sheets like this won’t stop splatters and spills from ruining your floor. This also won’t absorb the paint, will get tracked onto your shoes, and make its way throughout the home.

Invest in canvas drop cloths. They’re not slippery against the floor and will absorb splatters. You’ll still need to clean up large spills because they will bleed through, but they’ll buy you some time to do so. You only need a piece large enough for the wall you’re working on, so don’t go overboard.



It may seem easier to do all the corners and trim in a room first, and then go back to do the center, but we don’t recommend it. You’ll get the most seamless look possible by making your paint outline, and then immediately painting over it. This allows the brushed and the rolled paint to blend together better.

When you’re switching back and forth between brush and roller, cover the paint bucket or container with a damp towel to keep the paint and tools from drying out when they’re not being used.



Don’t take the windows when you’re painting sashes. They take a long time to paint, and paint usually gets on the glass anyways. It’s alright if you get paint on the glass, so don’t sweat it. Once the paint is dry, simply scrape it off with a razor blade. The paint will peel off in seconds. Just be sure that you don’t break the paint bond between the wood and class, otherwise moisture can get into the wood, which will cause rotting.



A lavender in one can will vary from the lavender in another can. Even a small difference can be glaringly obvious when half of the wall has been completed. To ensure the color is consistent, mix your cans of paint in a 5 gallon bucket, which is called “boxing”.

Some pros even paint directly out of the bucket since it takes away the need to pour paint into a roller tray. Either way works, so do what works best for you.



It doesn’t matter if you buy the cheap or expensive rollers, wash them before their first use so the excess fuzz comes off. Use water and a little bit of liquid soap. Run your hands up and down the covers to pull off any loose fibers remaining. You can use the rollers immediately after, and don’t need to wait for them to dry.



Paint isn’t going to bond to greasy or dirty surfaces. This is the most common in kitchens and mudrooms. Using degreaser in these places can cut through almost anything on the walls for a better paint adhesion. Just be sure to read the label and follow the directions. The product is potent, and you should wear hand and eye protection while using it.



Use the “load and go” method while painting. Here’s how to do it: Load the bottom 1 1/2 inch of the brush with paint, tap each side against the inside of the container to knock off heavy drips, and then start painting. Most amateur painters use the “load and dump” method of dragging the loaded brush along the sides of their container, which wipes off most of the paint. It doesn’t do any good, and it takes more time to finish the paint job.



It’s easy to create runs when applying a brush loaded with paint to the corners or along trim. You can avoid this by brushing about 1/2 inches away from the cut-in area. Let the bristles gently push the paint against the cut-in area where the walls meet. You may have to do this several times to get the area completely covered, but it’ll avoid excess paint along your trim and corners.


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