Painting Tricks for Professional Results

Equipment

Ladders Painting Tricks…

If you have properly prepared the area, painting can be really fun. However, you need to have the right tools to get the job done, so before we jump into actual painting, let’s review the tools you will need. First, you need to have a ladder (or ladders), that are capable of getting you safely to the heights you need reach with your paint brush. If the ceilings are 8 feet, a four foot step ladder is usually adequate. If the ceilings are 18 feet, then you will need at least a 24 foot extension ladder. Always make sure you can safely reach all areas and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the highest rung of the ladder you can stand on is. Never outreach in an unsafe manner.

Paint Brush Painting Tricks…

The other piece of equipment I see people skimp on is the actual paint brush. Don’t buy a throw-away brush and expect your lines to look great. We use cheap brushes for certain applications and incidents, but buying a good quality brush for cutting in the ceilings, trim and baseboards will make the job go quicker, it will give you a smoother, straighter line, and it will last for many painting projects. Depending on your skills and preference, the shape and size is up to you. Invest in a great brush and I promise you will be much happier with the results.

Rollers & Extension Handles Painting Tricks…

The roller is maybe the biggest bang for the buck as far as efficiency goes. If you think about it, about 90% of all the paint you put on the walls will be applied with a roller. So…get a good roller! Purchase one that will not bend under pressure and rolls smoothly. We like to use the Wooster Shurlock roller handles. If you clean them well, they last a long time and they work really well with an extension pole, which is the next critical piece of equipment. I recommend you have several sizes, but the two key sizes would be at least a 2’ to 4’ extension (used for smaller spaces) and a 4’ to 8’ extension (used for larger areas). It makes me laugh when I see homeowners try to use a roller handle without an extension, because it will 1.) wear out your wrist, and 2.) make it impossible to get a smooth consistent coat of paint on the wall. So without one, you will end up with short little choppy strokes and a sore wrist. Don’t do it.

Paint Container Painting Tricks…

Painting-suppliesMost homeowners (and many contractors) use little paint trays. Ugh! This is horrible. They don’t hold much paint, they easily create spills, and they are SUPER easy to step on. Not a good combination. There is a simple and inexpensive solution: grab a 5 gallon bucket (you know you have a big orange one in the garage) and buy a $2 metal paint screen. If you rinse these both out after every use, they will last forever too. You can put more paint into a 5 gallon bucket without the fear of spilling as it is a lot harder to spill paint out of, and you can move a 5 gallon bucket much easier than a paint tray. This one is a no-brainer for me.
Just say NO to the paint tray!

Paint Hook Painting Tricks…

The last piece of equipment I will recommend is only needed if you are working on an extension ladder; a paint hook. This will hold your paint can for you so you can hold onto the ladder and not fall. Okay, now on to painting… for real this time.

THE FUN PART: PAINTING!

Cutting In the Edges Painting Tricks…

Always cut in your edges first. Fight the urge to roll because you want to see faster progress and how the color will look on the wall. It doesn’t matter if you cut the ceiling or baseboards first, cutting in the ceilingbut if you are doing a small room, and are worried about drying time, I would recommend starting on the baseboards, as the edge between the wall and the trim takes the longest to dry. If all your trim is taped and caulked, you can go around fairly quickly with the brush, and you can be pretty careless. Hold the brush firmly like a pen and apply a good amount of paint, but not so much that it runs. Use long brush strokes, and wipe out any excess paint in the corners with a dry or drier brush (just not one recently loaded with paint).

The hardest thing to cut in is the ceiling. If fact, it’s a hard technique to describe without the use of a video, but I’ll do my best!

If you are not an experienced painter, I would suggest you start by practicing on the taped off trim to get the technique and hand coordination down. The best painter I have ever watched used long and fairly quick motions with the brush, had just a little bit of paint out in front of the bristles, and pushed it across the wall. The slower you go, the shakier your hand tends to be. If you brush is too dry, you will not have enough paint to push, and you will have a lot of skipped areas, especially if you are working on a sprayed texture wall. Many people will tape and caulk the ceiling, but going that route usually ends with paint bleeding under the tape, or lines that are not very straight. They do make a painting pad that will glide the paint close to the ceiling, but it is very difficult to get a line that is actually right at the crease of the wall and the ceiling. If you are unable to get a nice straight line, you can always paint your wall and ceiling the same color, and thus eliminate the need for cutting in the ceiling. However, practice in this area is truly the best way to get great results. And if you are totally new to it and do a poor job, just make sure you have ceiling paint to touch-up.

Rolling the Walls Painting Tricks…

Rolling-Walls-CorrectlyAfter you have everything cut in, you are ready for the magic…time to roll! Rolling is always fun because you cover a bunch of square footage in a short period of time, and it finally feels like you are getting something accomplished. When you roll, completely dip the roller into the paint and then roll down on the roller screen to offload any excess paint. You do not want the roller to be dripping with paint. Start with the roller about three quarters up the wall and roll down in a very tight “W” pattern. Working left to right, make long swift up and down passes from top to bottom (if possible), and as the roller starts to dry out, move back into the first area to spread out the paint. You should hit each inch about three times; one moving right, one moving left, and one moving back to the right until the roller is dry. Turn the roller so you can work it into corners and as close to items (like trim, windows, and cabinets) as possible. Work left to right around the whole room until you are back to the starting point.

Once you have completed rolling the room, wait long enough that the original area you started cutting in is dry. Then you can start your second coat. YES, I said second coat. To produce a professional result you must paint the walls with two coats of paint. The only exception is if you are painting the wall with the exact same color and sheen that was originally on the walls. Otherwise you will have missed spots or “white dots,” which can only be avoided by applying two coats. Also, if you are applying a thin paint or a bright color like red or yellow, it may require a 3rd coat. If you can see a color difference between your cut in areas and your rolled areas, like it or not, you will need another coat.

Once the paint has dried, you can remove the tape from the baseboards, and re-install all wall plates. After you have removed the tape, check your edges for any areas that the tape may have pulled up paint or bleed under the tape. Fix these areas prior to removing the drop cloths.

Clean-up Painting Tricks…

If you use good equipment then clean-up is not bad at all. Buckets can be rinsed out, or left to dry and then you can peel out the dry paint.  Good rollers and brushes always clean easier. The biggest tip is to cover all the surfaces with drop clothes, plastic, and paper (applied with a masker). If you cover properly, you will have less paint in the areas you don’t want paint.

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