If you’ve never painted a room before, you might think at the outset that it’s a very simple job. All you have to do is buy some paint and a paintbrush and go at it, right? You don’t need any painting tips and tricks—it’s easy! But there are so many little details that can shake your confidence: Are you supposed to be using a paintbrush? Would a roller work better? How are you supposed to keep the paint from dripping on the floor? What are you supposed to do with that wooden stick they gave you at the hardware store when you bought your paint? How will you keep your lines straight when you paint around the trim? Should you paint in up-and-down strokes, back-and-forth, curved? Does it really matter? Yes! Follow our painting tips and tricks to ensure a flawless, smooth, and drip-free paint job.
Painting Tips and Tricks
1. Start with a smooth surface. If your wall has any holes, dents, or other imperfections, now is the time to smooth them over. Fill the holes in with spackling paste and, following the instructions on the container, wait for it to dry. If there are any bumps, smooth them with sandpaper.
2. Give your walls a bath. This is one of the most overlooked painting tips and tricks I know. Paint clings best to a clean wall that has some friction, so before you start, wash your walls with a damp cloth or sponge. You might also consider dusting off the trim above the windows and doorways.
3. Prepare the room. Move furniture out of the room or push it to the center and cover it (with a drop cloth, a tarp, a trash bag, an old sheet, whatever you like). Cover the floor as well, to prevent accidental splatters and loose drops of paint from reaching the floor. Apply painter’s tape to any areas you’re worried about, like the trim, the windows, and the doorframe. Remove the plastic covers surrounding electrical outlets and light switches.
4. Prime the wall if you’re planning a dramatic change. Primer ensures a flawless finish when you’re making a big step with your paint color. If you’re trying to hide a dark color, bright color, stains, or wood, primer is essential. It’s also a good idea if you’re painting light walls a very dark color. Your painting technique isn’t as important with primer, but keep it neat and cover the entire wall.
5. Purchase a paintbrush or a roller, or both. Rollers work best for large areas because they cover a lot of area quickly. Brushes are best for detail work. Many home painters choose to use a combination of the two, painting around the windows, doors, floor, and ceiling with a brush, and then covering the big expanses of wall with a roller.
6. Stir the paint well. Using the wooden paint paddle you picked up at the hardware store when you bought your paint, stir the paint thoroughly. If you’re using a roller, pour the paint into a roller tray afterward. If you’re using a brush, pour it into a small bowl.
7. Start painting! It’s best to begin with the detail areas first (around trim, along the ceiling, along the floor) and paint carefully using your brush. Then, come back in with the roller and paint the walls. Paint in long, continuous strokes. When you’ve finished, allow the paint to dry and then add a second coat. Dark or bright colors might require 3-4 more coats. If you’re worried about the actual painting part of this step, just keep reading for more painting tips and tricks . . .
- Wet your brush before you begin and then blot out most of the water. This prevents paint from climbing up into the base of the brush and helps the brush to last longer.
- Dip only 1/4- or 1/2-inch of your brush into the paint and wipe it off on the edge of the container each time you go back for more. This will prevent drips and keep your brush healthy.
- Cover a large section when you’re working with a roller, aiming for about 3 feet at a time, and work in a “W” or zig-zag method, overlapping your edges, to ensure an even finish.
- If you’re worried that you don’t have enough paint, don’t start scrimping on the coverage and try to stretch it across the whole wall. It will become a blotchy, patchy mess. Just buy more paint.
- Always let the paint dry between coats.
- Paint on a dry day so that the paint will dry more quickly.
- Don’t go back over a dry surface (unless you just have a tiny touch-up to do) because you may leave streaks behind.
Follow these painting tips and tricks for a flawless finish and remember them for next time. Good luck!
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