A successful do-it-yourself painting project takes more than the right tools and a steady hand. Follow these tips and tricks to make your walls look like they were painted by a pro.
- Take your time. That’s what the professionals do. Remember that proper prepping and cleanup can take longer than the actual painting.
- Use rubber-backed drop cloths to cover your floors. Old bed sheets and canvas cloths don’t give complete protection.
- Store all hardware from outlets and switch plates in a baggie, and label with masking tape.
- When filling cracks in the baseboard with caulk, cut the tip of the tube smaller than you think it should be. Too much caulk can make a mess.
- Invest in high-quality woven roller covers. The cheap ones will leave fuzz on your wall and need to be replaced more frequently.
- To make a perfectly straight line with tape, invest in a tape machine.
- For an extra-professional touch, smooth down drywall – no matter what shape it’s in – with a drywall pole sander. If your walls are plaster, gently sand the necessary areas with a dry sanding sponge.
- Don’t forgo primer. A good primer will seal stains, establish an even base and ensure that the topcoat goes on smoothly.
- Don’t open your paint can with a screwdriver, as it can damage the lid. Instead, use a lid opener. Many hardware stores will give these away for free when you purchase paint.
- Always stir the paint with a long wooden stick (usually available at the store for free) until all the sediment on the bottom has been mixed in.
- Use a nail to tap four small, evenly spaced holes in the lip well of a paint can. This will allow extra paint that’s trapped in the rim to drip down.
- Don’t submerge a brush into the paint more than one-third of the way, or you’ll clog the base of the bristles, making clean up more difficult.
- Apply a coat of paint to the backside of the light switch plate in the room. After it dries, jot down all the project details – date, paint brand, name, number of gallons required, number of coats applied and any other relevant information.
- Don’t waste time cleaning if you’re going to be painting the next day. Place rollers and brushes in Ziploc or plastic bags and store them in the fridge. Make sure you allow them to return to room temperature before reusing.
- If the store didn’t do this for you, dab some paint on the lid to help you identify the color later. Write the name and number of the paint on the lid with a permanent marker.
- Use a screwdriver wrapped in an old t-shirt or rag to wipe the rim of the paint can clean.
- To avoid damaging the lid, don’t seal the can with a hammer. Use a rubber mallet instead.
- Store cans upside down to create a tight seal around the lid. Because latex paints are water-based, keep them where they won’t freeze.