Room Painting: 20 Secrets from Pros

We chatted with a few experts to get their exclusive tips on how to paint every wall like a pro.

Professional painters understand that time is money, so they employ trade secrets to find out how to paint a space faster, smarter, and cleaner without losing quality or making costly mistakes. We reached out to a number of experienced painters and asked them to share their favourite painting methods and tips with us. Continue reading to learn their top 20 professional painting secrets.

1. Use sandpaper to remove faults.

You must start with a completely flat surface to apply a flawlessly smooth layer of paint to walls, ceilings, and woodwork. Because he spends so much time rubbing sandpaper, one pro suggested that “sander” would be a better professional title for him than “painting.”

Sanding with the right abrasive paper helps level off spackling compound and drywall joint compound patches, flattens ridges around nail holes, and feathers out fixes so they fit in seamlessly. Sanding painted wood trim, such as baseboard mouldings and window and door casings, removes burrs and rough spots. Using fine-grit sandpaper to rough en a glossy painted surface allows the fresh paint layer to adhere more easily.

Sand the walls vertically from the baseboard to the ceiling with a sanding pole and 220-grit sandpaper. To avoid missing any locations, make sure each stroke overlaps slightly. Then sand the tops of the baseboard mouldings and the tops of the walls at the ceiling horizontally. If you use too much force on the sanding pole, the swivelling head will tip over and harm the wall. Plus, if you press down too hard on the sandpaper, it can clog.

To sand ornate woodwork, use a sanding sponge, which quickly adapts to shapes and goes into cracks.

2. Use a Putty Knife to Press Tape

Painter’s tape is a must-have for any paint project, especially for masking off wood trim. Nothing is more frustrating than removing the tape only to discover that paint has seeped through it and is all over the trim. Do a good job of applying the tape to the trim before you start painting to avoid the agony of scraping off the wayward paint.

Apply the tape to the wood trim, then firmly push it down with a putty knife for a good seal. This will prevent any paint bleeds. Also, make sure you’re using actual painter’s tape rather than masking tape. Masking tape produces a sticky residue that is difficult to remove. Paint can also cause masking tape to bend and wrinkle, allowing paint to soak through. Painter’s tape may be left on for days (or up to two weeks in certain cases) and still come off neatly.

3. Keep the furnishings safe.

If you’re painting a room, don’t bother removing all of the furniture. Rather, move all of the furniture to the centre of the room and cover it with plastic sheets taped at the bottom. This will shield the furniture from paint splatters and drips, as well as sanding dust.

4. Use a tinted primer.

Joint compound is used to fix gaps and patch cracks before the pros paint the walls. However, if you paint directly over the patched areas, the compound will absorb moisture from the paint, leaving it flat and dull—a phenomenon known as “flashing.” And those areas will stand out in comparison to the rest of the wall. It’s critical to prime the walls first to avoid seeing patched areas through the final coating of paint.

Pros, on the other hand, tint white priming with a little grey paint or the colour of the finish paint instead of using it straight from the container. Tinted primer conceals patched areas and hides the existing paint colour better than plain primer. As a consequence, the final paint coat will be more brilliant, and fewer applications may be required. This is especially true when painting over bright colours like red or orange, which may require three or more topcoat applications if a tinted primer isn’t used beforehand.

5. Invest in the Best Materials

Don’t be stingy with your paint and brushes. Brushes that are too cheap are a waste of money. Purchase the greatest brushes you can afford, clean them well, and your brushes will last a lifetime. It’ll appear like you spread paint on the wall with a rake using a $3 plastic brush. The bristles will also fall off and end up with the paint. Purchase Wooster or Purdy paintbrushes, which are somewhat more expensive than regular brushes but are far more durable and apply paint smoothly. An great all-around paintbrush is a premium 212-inch-wide angled sash brush. It’s multifunctional, and the bristles can be washed and reused until they’re worn down to a nub.

It’s also critical to choose the highest-quality paint you can afford. It’ll apply smoothly, provide excellent coverage, and last a long time. You’ll also be able to remove smudged fingerprints without removing the paint. And the entire painting project will be completed faster and easier—and will look better in the end.

6. Remove brush and lap marks with Paint Extender.

The presence of obvious lap marks in the completed paint coat is a telling indicator that the room was painted by a beginner DIYer rather than a professional. Mixing a paint extender (also known as a paint conditioner) into the paint, such as Floetrol, into the paint is the key to a finish devoid of obvious lap lines and brush strokes.

This accomplishes two goals:

  • It delays the drying period of the paint, allowing you more time to paint over freshly painted areas without incurring unpleasant lap lines that occur when fresh paint is applied to dried paint.
  • The paint extender smoothes out the paint and eliminates brushstrokes.

When painting walls, woodwork, cabinets, and doors, professionals utilise extenders. To decide how much extender to apply to your paint, read the label on the can. 8 ounces of extender per gallon of paint is usual. More extender can be applied up to 16 ounces if the paint is really thick or if you’re painting in extremely cold conditions.

7. Scrape a Ridge on Textured Ceilings

It’s nearly hard to avoid getting paint on the ceiling bumps while painting at the top of a wall in a room with a textured ceiling. Pros recommend scraping off a little amount of the texture using the point of a slotted screwdriver along the edge of the ceiling. The screwdriver makes a little ridge in the ceiling, which your paint brushes will naturally slip into. You may now cut in around the ceiling without splattering paint on it. You won’t even know the texture is absent.

8. Scrape windows instead of taping them.

Don’t bother tape around the window frame and grill when painting windows. That takes much too long, and the paint almost always ends up on the window. Instead, try this pro tip: while painting the window, let a little paint drip over the glass. Simply scrape it off with a razor scraper once it has dried. Just make sure you don’t sever the paint bond between the wood and the glass. Moisture can leak into the wood and cause decay if this is not done.

9. For Consistent Color, Paint in a Box

Guess what happens when you buy two or more cans of the same colour? It’s rare that they’re the same exact hue. Because the paint colour varies somewhat across cans, this is the case. And if you open a new gallon midway through coating a wall, that slight variation might paint immediately noticeable. Pros combine their paint cans into a five-gallon bucket to assure colour constancy from start to end, a practise known as “boxing” paint. Then, instead of pouring paint into a roller tray, you may paint directly from the bigger bucket (though you should keep in mind that the heavy bucket is harder to move).

10. Complete one wall before moving on to the next.

Most DIY painters cut in all of the room corners before returning to roll paint on the walls, but this isn’t the proper approach to paint a room. Cutting in one wall and then rolling on the paint before the cut-in areas dry creates a seamless effect. The brushed and rolled areas are able to mix together wonderfully as a result of this.

When transitioning between brushing and rolling, cover your paint bucket, tray, or container with a moist cloth to prevent your paint and utensils from drying out.

11. Purchase a second or third bucket.

It’s a good idea to keep a few clean, empty buckets on hand.

When painting, have some on hand because freshly shaken paint doesn’t last long. A stir stick alone will not bring settled paint back to life. As a result, you’ll have to pour paint back and forth between two buckets until all of the solids at the bottom of each can have been blended in. That’s the best (and really only) way to make sure your paint is blended correctly and thoroughly. If you have paint in many cans, mix them all together to maintain colour consistency.

12. Wash the roller covers.

It’s vital to wash brand-new paint-roller covers before using them to spread paint, as strange as that may sound. Pre-washing removes any loose fluff that will certainly fall off once you begin painting. Wash the covers with water and a little amount of liquid soap, then “precondition” them by running your hands up and down the covers to remove any loose fibres. You may also use the roller covers right away instead of waiting for them to dry.

13. Use Drop Cloths Made of Canvas

Old bed sheets aren’t used as drop cloths by professional painters, and you shouldn’t either. Splatters and spills will soak through thin sheets and onto your floors. Also, avoid using plastic sheeting. While plastic does keep spills contained, the paint remains damp for much too long. You’ll also wind up trailing wet paint around the house if you tread on it. Wet paint on slick plastic also becomes extremely slippery.

Canvas drop cloths are what the pros use. Canvas is more costly, but it’s non-slip, absorbs splatters, and is long-lasting enough to last a lifetime. You don’t need a jumbo-sized drop cloth to cover the entire room unless you’re painting the ceiling. A few feet wide canvas fabric that spans the length of the wall is great for safeguarding the floor.

14. Turn On The Lights

Here’s a phrase from the world of painting for you: “vacation.” That’s when you don’t realise you’ve missed a place. It’s simple to do, especially in spaces with similar colours or poor lighting. So buy a decent, bright work light and use it to double-check your work as you go or at the end of each part. Holidays are most common along the room’s borders, where you may have used a brush rather than a roller. When you’re still working, fixing the holidays is simple, but once you’ve cleaned up and put everything away, it’s much more difficult.

15. Clean Dirty Walls with a Degreaser

Paint will not adhere to oily, unclean, or dusty surfaces, such as kitchen walls over a stove, mudrooms where youngsters kick off their muddy boots, or places near light switches where dirty hands swat them. Clean the surface with a degreaser before painting in those circumstances. Degreasers, sometimes known as “deglossers,” remove grease and dirt from surfaces to improve paint adherence. Because this substance is strong, read the label and follow the guidelines carefully. Wear rubber gloves and goggles as well.

16. Take Off Those Electirc Plates

This is self-evident. Rather than masking off or cutting around electrical outlet and switch plates, just remove them with a screwdriver. Then you’ll be able to paint around each electrical equipment fast and simply without making a mess. Keep note of all the screws so you can replace the cover plates when the paint has dried.

17. Begin with a fully loaded brush.

Painting is done in a “load-and-go” manner by professionals. They paint the bottom 112 inches of their brush bristles, then tap the brush on the interior of the can on both sides. This clears the brush of heavy drips and prepares it for painting.

Homeowners, on the other hand, frequently use a “load-and-dump” method, in which they dip the brush into the paint and then drag the filled bristles along the container’s sides, wiping off the majority of the paint. As a result, the brush is too dry and has too little paint on it.

18. To Avoid Runs, Push the Paint.

Applying too much paint in room corners or along wood trim can easily result in drips and runs when your brush is laden with paint. Start brushing about 1/2 inch away from the cut-in region to avoid such concerns. Move closer and softly slide the brush along the trim or corner as the paint unloads. Allow the paint to softly brush against the cut-in region where the walls meet. It may be necessary to repeat this process a few times to achieve thorough coverage, but it will prevent extra paint from gathering around woodwork and in corners.

19. Create an excellent set for yourself.

When you’re painting, you’re said to be in a “poor set” when you’re in a physically unfavourable posture. For example, perhaps your ladder isn’t quite close enough, or your brush is in an inconvenient position. The good news is that you can avoid the majority of terrible setups. Simply descend and move the ladder. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it’s not nearly as inconvenient as falling into your paint bucket while dangling from your ladder like an America’s Cup crew member. And changing an obstacle might occasionally help to fix a faulty set. Stop and roll the refrigerator out of the way if it’s getting in the way of your painting.

20. Put it in a bag

Leave the roller cover on the roller frame when you’re ready to call it a day but haven’t completed painting, then soak the cover in paint. To make an airtight seal, wrap the lid in a plastic bag. This will keep the roller cover fresh until the next day’s painting. Pull the roller cover off the frame and chuck it out if you won’t be able to return to painting for several days. Then, the following time, use a new roller cover.

Brushes should be washed in warm, soapy water, especially if you’re working with latex paint, which is water-based. To remove oil-based paint, use paint thinner. Then, using a brush comb, rake the bristles straight and replace the brushes in their original coverings or wrap them in newspaper.

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