18 Professional Tips From a Top Quality Contractor to Help Anyone Paint like a Pro!
We all know the more you do something the better you get at it. The pros also know tips and tricks. So why not learn from the pros at the start. You can adopt a couple of these tips to make your next DIY paint job much improved. Or you can just call a pro to do it!
Take your time
1. Painting like a pro isn’t fast!
Pros spend a lot of time prepping the room to be painted. They fix all the nicks and dents and they protect everything we do not want paint on at all! And the prime!!! With prep, prime and paint an average size room can take 2-4 days! But the results!
The pros usually use a tinted primer as it does a better job of covering the existing color.
2. Empty the room!
An empty room is the best choice. If something is too big to remove, then move it to the center of the room…away from the walls…. and cover it in plastic. The best drop cloth is canvas because it does not move and does not require tape. These are available at paint store or on Amazon. Another suggestion is rosin paper. It is easier to manage than a drop cloth and is not slippery like plastic. Spread it out and cover the edges with wide blue masking tape.
Then remove doors, light fixtures and hardware. Make sure to label everything you remove, do not rely on memory and tape all moving parts together i.e. screws, wires etc.
3. Put a light on it!
Before you start on the trim, determine all the flaws that need to be addressed. Shine a handheld bulb of at least 60 watts or an old lamp with a bare bulb to detect blemishes, dents, nail pops and rough edges. You can fill these and then apply your paint.
4. It matters where you start!
Pros paint the trim first! What is next? The ceiling! …. And then the walls.
Why? It is easier to protect the trim then to tape off the wall and after all the hours of painting to make a mistake on the wall…heartbreak! You don’t have to be so neat, painting the trim. You can get paint on the wall and cover it later when you are painting the walls.
Wait 24 hours, after trim is completed, and then tape it using easy release, painter’s tape. You can find on Amazon.
When you paint the wall you start from top to bottom! If you are really a pro you have cut in your edges if you are less practiced you have taped. You are then able to paint right over any drips or splatters as you paint down the wall.
5. The secret is Liquid Sandpaper!
You can use the normal sanding and vacuuming to clean surfaces; then follow up with a product used by the pros is to wipe the woodwork with liquid sandpaper or deglosser…. And it is easier and faster. Another product found at the hardware store or at Amazon. This step ensures a good bond. Follow the deglosser with a coat of bonding primer.
6. No holes left unfilled!
Nothing looks more unprofessional than dents, scratches and holes left unfilled and assuming the paint will cover them. It won’t! It actually highlights them!
Use Spackle on scratches and epoxy wood filler on deeper “stuff”. Caulk every intersection between moldings and walls and ceilings. You will be glad you did as the finished job with have no dark cracks showing. When you cut the tip of the caulking tube, keep the hole tiny at about 1/16 in in diameter. Now you can do small to medium cracks. For larger cracks just make another pass.
7. Paint around windows
The pros cut in with a brush effortlessly. As a layperson it is better to tape the window and allow you room for error. Or you can tape plastic around doors and windows thus protecting the glass and the woodwork!
8. Tip for corners
You are ready to paint your trim, your brush is loaded and you have to avoid sticking it in the corner to start painting. If you do, you will end up with too much paint in the corner where it is actually very difficult to spread out the excess. Instead start painting about 4 inches from the corner and then spread back in.
9. What about all the light switches?
Remove the cover plates. It is just easier and faster without them. Drop them all into a small bucket with the appropriate screws etc. taped to each plate. Shield each switch or outlet with some 2-3 inch masking tape. Remove grills covering duct openings and anything that might get in the way! The thermostat is one exception…just tape it!
10. Build a Shelter
Takes too long to completely cover the baseboards…so instead use a single overhanging strip of wide tape at the top of the baseboard. This will catch drips and splatters like an eave on the roof. Make sure the trim is clean and dust free then add the masking tape with a putty knife to assure there is no seepage under the tape.
11. Aluminum foil is a great!
Sometimes it is easier and quicker to use foil, especially on door handles. Just wrap the in foil vs. taping.
12. Now for the roller…
Too important to buy a cheap one. The roller cover or the sleeve makes all the difference. The cheap ones do not hold enough paint to do a good job and therefore will double and triple the time it takes to paint a room. Buy, instead, a ½ inch lamb’s wool blend roller cover. With the correct care and cleaning it will be your last roll cover you will have to buy.
They do have “shed resistant woven” roller covers and although they are a little more expensive the lint-free finish is worth it.
If you buy a new wool roll cover use making tape all over it to remove the loose fibers before you paint with it. Or wash it first in dishwashing liquid to remove stray fibers. Do not use too much pressure while rolling on paint and the roll cover will not get matted down. No matter what cover you use…. let the paint do the work! Pushing hard on the roller will cause the problems of lap marks and streaks.
You can even consider an 18-inch roller! This will allow you to paint twice as fast.
13. Keep your tape at hand
Have you noticed that masking tape is used for everything! So it is imperative to have it close at hand! Protect your wrist with the ankle section of an old cut up sock and then wear the tape dispenser as a bracelet. Your wrist in protected from the hard tape cardboard and you tape is readily available while your hands are free.
14. And for the Paint
Once you have carefully chosen your color, realize that every can of that paint will vary slightly. Determine how many cans of paint you will need. Use a paint calculator for an estimate. Here is one from Benjamin Moore:
After purchasing your paint also buy a large 5-gallon bucket to mix all the paint together and get a consistent color throughout the room.
15. Paint conditioner
For cabinets, doors, trim and furniture add a paint conditioner. It makes a huge difference in paint build up on brushes, drying time, creates a smooth finish and eliminates brush marks. Who would not want that! The finished paint job looks sleek, smooth and uniform even if you are painting over paint.
16. Say no to the paint tray!
If you do much painting at all, you inevitably step in or spill the paint tray paint. They are also very awkward to move once they are filled with paint. Instead use a paint pail. First it has a handle for easy moves. It holds more paint. With a painter’s plastic to line the pail…the clean up is minimal.
17. Yes to wire hangers!
When you are using a brush instead of a roller you need to wipe off excess from the brush when you load it to paint. Instead of wiping the brush on the edge of the paint can; add a wire coat hanger bottom over the top of the open can of paint and tape it to the sides to keep it in place. Then wipe your brush here. You can even clean the wire hanger bridge and reuse the next time!
OR…you can use a large rubber band around the can the same way as the wire.
18. Storing leftover paint
You want some left over paint for touch up etc.
First make sure the seal is clean and that you have labeled the exterior of the paint can with all the information on color and the room in which it was used in this house. The enemy to soring paint is airspace, so use old golf balls in the can to take up any unused space and the paint will store so much better. When you are ready to use just pour it out and remove and clean the golf balls.