Top Tips for Wall Painting

With any painting project there is a fair amount of preparation, skill and common sense you need to do the job. To help you get started and also guide you through your paint job, we’ve put together this list of top tips of the trade.

Sand Walls for Smoothness

In order to end up with perfectly painted walls or woodwork you have to start with a perfectly smooth surface. Level out your spackle and joint-compound patches and flatten areas around nail holes before applying any paint.

Using fine-grit sand paper on a sanding pole, start sanding at the baseboard and push vertically to the ceiling. Then sand along the ceiling and baseboard horizontally. Not a lot of pressure is required. Be careful you don’t flip the sanding head over and damage the wall. Use a sanding sponge on woodwork, it’s the best tool to get into crevices.

Buy Good Quality Paint Supplies

Cheap brushes and other supplies lead to poor results. Bristles can fall out into the paint surface and it’s difficult to get a smooth consistent coat of paint. A 2 ½” brush it the best size to use and quality ones can be used over and over.

When is comes to paint, don’t cheap out. Good quality paint is worth the expense. It goes on easy, is durable and resists cleaning damage. If you have kids you’ll appreciate this. A quality paint will make the job go quicker and easier.

Use a Tinted Primer for Better Coverage

Here’s a painting tip from the pros. After you’ve filled and cracks with joint compound and sanded, apply a tinted primer. Tinting will reduce the number of coated needed to reach the paint’s true color and produce a more vibrant finish. Painting over the joint compound is problematic because it will suck the moisture our of the paint. You will end up with what the pros call “flashing”, flat dull spots that stand out from the rest of the wall.

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Use Paint Extender to Eliminate Brush and Lap Marks

If you’re worried about leaving brush marks, use a paint extender. Paint extenders work by doing two things.

  1. They slow the dry time of the paint. This allows you a longer time to overlap just painted areas without getting lap marks.
  2. Paint extender smooths the paint so that brush marks are less noticeable.

Extenders can be used when painting drywall, woodwork, cabinets, and doors. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the correct mix of extender to paint.

How to Edge in Textured Ceilings

It’s not possible to get a straight line edge with a textured ceiling, but there is a trick that works. Run a screwdriver along the edge of the ceiling to create a “crease”. Go slowly when you edge the ceiling and you’ll see the paint flow in to that crease and create a nice clean line. 

Finish One Wall Before Starting Another

Cut in and paint one wall at a time. Doing this lets the rolled and brushed paint to blend together better. When you switch from brush to roller, cover your bucket and tools with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out.

Scraping Windows is Faster than Taping

Don’t tape windows, it’s quicker and easier to let paint get on the glass and scrape it off later.

Combine all Paint for Consistent Color

Cans of paint can vary in color and those color variations can become really obvious on a wall. It’s best to pour all you paint into a five-gallon bucket and mix it well. This will ensure color consistency for the entire paint job.

Wash Roller Covers Before Use

Washing rids the rollers of the fuzz that gets into your paint. Just use a small amount of liquid soap and run your hands across the roll to rinse. Drying is not needed as long as you remove as much excess water as you can. 

Take Off All Switch Plates

This saves time. Use an electric screwdriver to remove switchplates. 

Pride Goes Before a Fall

Position yourself comfortably before you start to paint. Don’t get into physically awkward or even dangerous positions reaching for out of range areas. Only paint what you can easily reach. It’s annoying to move a ladder, but it’s even more annoying to wear a cast on a broken leg. 

Light Things Up – Oops, You Missed a Spot

Seeing areas you’ve missed after you finished painting is really annoying. Light your paint job well and check each section as you finish. Areas where roller meets brush are especially susceptible to missed spots.

Clean Dirty Walls with Degreaser

Painting rooms that are susceptible to dirt can be very problematic. Kitchen walls, mud rooms and finished basements are especially prone to dirt. It’s best to clean them before priming with a degreaser. Be careful to read and follow all manufacturer warning with degreasers, they are potent.

How to Load a Brush

Take a "load and go" approach to brush painting.

  1. Load the bottom 1-1/2 inches of your brush with paint.
  2. Tap each side against the inside of their container to knock off the extra paint.
  3. Start painting.

Avoid a "load and dump" approach. In other words, don’t drag a loaded brush along the sides of a container, you’ll end up wiping off most of the paint.

Pushing your Paint Avoids Runs

You can avoid runs along corners and trim by starting about a ½ inch away from them. Move the brush parallel to the trim, slowly “pushing” paint to meet the cut-in area. Do this a couple times if needed to get complete coverage.