Some women have a lot of shoes, others prefer to spend their hard-earned money on nice purses. Some collect kitchen gadgets, books, hours at crossfit, or cats. Me? I collect paint. My entryway closet holds all my painting supplies and is currently home to nearly eighty cans of paint, stain, sealer, and spray paint. I know, ridiculous…you don’t have to tell me. My point is that over the years I have learned a lot about painting and have some tips that will make painting a room easier, faster, and less messy!
Room Painting Tips & Tricks
1. Skip the tape
Painters tape is great for a lot of things, but when it comes to painting a room painters tape is basically the worst. It takes forever to tape a room and you have to use a lot of it. If you have textured walls and ceilings (like I do), then forget about it…paint is going to leak under it anyway. If you have a steady hand (and even if you don’t) I recommend skipping the tape and using a good angled brush instead, (this one is my absolute favorite) this not only gives you more control but should save you a ton of time (and money).
2. Always get the stubby brush
The type of brush you use when painting actually makes a huge difference.The cheap ones don’t give you a smooth finish, plus they shed like mad and leave behind bristles as you paint. I’ve tried pretty much every brush out there and my absolute favorite is this one by Wooster. There is something about the stubby handle that makes using it incredibly easy. The angle is perfect for cutting in and the bristles are good quality. It’s the only brush I buy now (unless I’m using an oil based product, then I use disposable foam brushes). Also, it’s great for getting into tight spaces, like when you paint furniture.
3. Use Floetrol
This tip is actually more for painting furniture, trim, and cabinets than walls, but it’s so good I can’t not include it. Floetrol is a liquid paint conditioner that extends the drying time of latex paint, which all but eliminates any brush marks and gives you a perfectly smooth finish. It’s fantastic. Also, it’s cheap and easy to find. It’s a must have for any DIYer.
4. You’re not too good to use a dropcloth
I like to take shortcuts. I like to start projects without doing proper prep work, just because I’m want to paint a little bit of my new color to see what it looks like…which of course morphs right into full-fledged painting. Using a dropcloth is not something you should skip though. Even if you have a wet rag to wipe up drips or never even drip at all, you till need a dropcloth. Reason being is that when you use a roller, each time pull it across the wall it spins and sprays teeny tiny flecks of paint all over your floor. Trust me….I have a few speckled floors and a speckled countertop. Proof…
These teeny paint flecks are so small you would never even notice them…that is until you notice them, then you will never be able to unnotice them and they will drive you crazy. They don’t come off easily either, or at all in my case. So save yourself a headache and use a dropcloth.
Also, while we’re on the subject, here is another reason dropcloths are important. Back when Adam and I were newlyweds we lived in a teeny tiny apartment in northern New York. One of the first things I asked when looking at the apartment was if I was allowed to paint the walls, to which I received a very quick “NO, absolutely not.” So later that week Adam and I are in our new apartment, painting. It’s cold and snowy outside and I’m wearing my usual painting clothes and a nice thick pair of winter socks. We’re about done with the first wall in our new (carpeted) living room when the phone rings. I dash across the room to the phone and step directly into the paint tray with my super absorbent winter sock. I made it a couple of steps before I realize what happened, at which point I freak out, hop around on my clean foot, and fall to the ground, slinging paint from my sock sponge the entire time. Adam couldn’t decide if he wanted to laugh or be completely horrified…luckily it all happened over a dropcloth so laughing was an acceptable reaction. Anyway, this is another reason to use a dropcloth, since I’m sure this same scenario plays out in living rooms across the country. (This is where you nod your head in agreement).
5. Put your paintbrush in the fridge
If your life is anything like mine, then painting happens in about five-minute increments over the course of a week or so. It seems that as soon as you get your rhythm and start making progress one of your kids needs a snack, or a drink, help going potty, or a full-on brawl breaks out over a pencil or a rubber band or something else completely ridiculous. When this happens you have a few options, you can wash out your brush and help your kids, ignore your kids and hope that yelling orders/threats will suffice, or put your brush down and hope you get back before it dries out. That is how painting worked at my house until I was reminded of a trick I used to do… put your brush in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. You can put it in there for up to a week and it will be perfectly usable. This saves SO much time (and paint). You can also use this trick with rollers, just wrap them in saran wrap or put them in a grocery bag with a rubber band around the handle.
6. Line your paint tray with tin foil
Here is another tip for easy paint clean up…wrap your paint tray in tin foil before pouring in the paint. Then when you’re done you can just ball it up and throw it away. I’ve also done this with trash bags, but I prefer tin foil since the bags tend to move around a lot.
7. Paint can lids with spouts are amazing
So you’re all set to paint your room. You crack open your paint can and pour the paint into your paint tray. Instantly paint is running down the side of your paint can and also fills the rim. You know you can let the paint sit in the rim or else you will never get it closed, so you run your finger around the rim, causing more paint to drip down the can. “whatever” you think “let’s just paint already”. When you’ve finished painting one of two things happen…either the paint left in the rim is still wet, and when you pound the metal lid back on the wet paint comes flying out and splatters on your face, OR the rim paint is dry and you spend an embarrassingly large portion of time trying to dig it out with a screwdriver so that the lid will close.
I’m here to tell you, there’s a better way. Take three of your hard-earned dollars and buy a paint can lid with a spout. The first time you use it you will realize that your pre-paint lid self was an idiot. The red paint lids by Shur-Line are my absolute favorite because the spout folds down completely flat and you can still stack your 57 paint cans with ease.
8. Any color, any brand
9. Always buy a paint sample first
I don’t know why, but this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I like to think that bringing paint chips home and taping them to the wall is sufficient, but you can’t get a true feel of a color with a teeny tiny paint chip. Samples are $3 each (at least at Home Depot) and are 100% worth it. That’s not all though…once you get the sample home, use the whole thing! Painting a single brush stroke will not give you a good feel for the color, especially there is already a color on your wall. I recently repainted the main hallway in my house and bought three paint samples, painted a small amount of each one in a few places, made a decision, and ended up hating the end result. Hence the reason I haven’t mentioned it on the blog yet.
So there you have it, nine painting tips and tricks that I learned the hard way. I feel like I need a tenth one to round it out but I’m currently drawing a blank. I’m sure next time I paint I’ll figure out another one…that’s the way it seems to go around here. Anyway, go forth and enjoy clean, simple, frustration-free painting!