11 Tips for Successful Painting

I may not be a professional, but I come from a long line of do-it-yourself painters who never met a beige they loved.

I’ve often written here on the BuildDirect Blog about the joys of painting and how easily, and cheaply, paint can transform a space. A lot of people get intimidated by the notion of painting their place, or their furniture, and there’s no reason to be.

painting tips

Here are a bunch of things I’ve learned about painting, handed down by my parents, my brother, and other self-made painting experts:

1. Prep-work saves you time

It seems like a pain to go and tape all the trim, get the floor all covered with tarps, and all that, but I guarantee you, painting without always panicking about drips, spills, and more, makes it that much easier to get the job done quickly, not to mention well.

2. Paint sticks better to clean walls

Need to clean your walls? Don’t kill yourself going up and down a ladder, or standing on a chair, to reach the tops of walls or the ceiling. Instead, use a bucket of water and TSP solution along with a well-wrung mop!

3. Paint barefoot

If you’re painting your home and plan to live life during painting, via going to the bathroom, mixing a drink, watching anything, then be sure to go barefoot so you can feel if you’ve stepped in paint. It’ll come off easily with a wet rag (if you’re using latex) and will be a lot easier to deal with than dealing with the a 20-foot trail of quarter-sized paint splotches on your hardwood floor through to the kitchen you didn’t notice until 15 minutes after the fact.

4. An X-Acto knife is critical

There are three reasons.

I. After painting wood window frames, simply cut a long, steady line on the edge of tape so you can pull the painted tape off without peeling your new paint job off too, for a gorgeous, clean finishing line.
II. Removing the blade from the knife and running it almost flat (say a 30-45-degree angle) along the glass or mirror will remove any leftover paint with ease. Pressing too hard can scratch the glass.
III. Gently/lightly scoring along the tape where you mean to have a paint border can eliminate any running or bleeding under the tape.

5. Paint in one direction

This “painting in a W” crap is crap. On walls, it’s up and down. On tables and such, go lengthwise. When wood’s involved, go with the length of the grain. Consistency makes for a great finish. Sometimes you have to go against the grain to ensure coverage, or go on an angle to travel side to side a bit, but then do a finishing sweep the proper direction afterwards.

6. Slower isn’t better

The slower you paint, the more likely it’ll go on too thick, you won’t move it around enough, and you won’t get back to clean up drips enough. Get that paint on, do quick, full, even strokes, and revisit your work every few minutes to clean the drips that ALL painters will get.

Attractive young adult couple painting interior wall of house.

7. Thick coats are better than thin

… most of the time, if you apply it attentively, looking for drips often. All you have to do is make sure it has enough time to dry in between coats.

8. Hot days take longer.

It’s a perfect summer image — hot day, painting, good times. But if you’re painting a room in a bolder color that may need 3-4 coats, that humid weather increases drying time between coats. Painting in the winter tends to be quicker indoors because you have dry heat via the heater, and a constant humidity and temperature to get the job done.

But, yes, painting in the summer is more fun, and yes, it will dry eventually anyhow, so go for it.

9. Wrap those brushes

Can’t get the job done in a day? Don’t clean the brush, just wrap it in cellophane and stick it in the freezer.

This will actually work after a couple weeks, too, if you need to take a trip or live life in between project completion. Simply let it thaw out for an hour or two in a container you don’t mind paint getting on, and back to painting you go. No muss, no fuss.

10. Disposable food containers make great painting party helpers.

Little plastic cottage cheese and salsa-type containers are great for pouring in small quantities of paint for multiple painters to use, so each painter can work without dripping paint all the way from the gallon can.

11. Extra protection never hurt.

Whether you’re wearing bandanas or hats to cover your hair, or throwing old blankets on the sofa for when you want a break, every little bit of paint-proofing you do is time you’ll be happy you spent later.

But the most important step? Enjoy yourself! Painting is fun. Really!

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