7 Tips for the Perfect Paint Job

A paint job can take a lot of your time and effort. To make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, prepare yourself by wearing the right clothes and by preparing your tools the day before.
7 Tips for the Perfect Paint Job

Painting is one of the fastest ways to give your home a whole new look. But let’s face it, not all of us can be trusted with a paintbrush, let alone an entire paint job. What’s supposed to be a half a day’s work often eats up most of the weekend. And besides the work itself, there’s also the cleaning up to worry about afterwards. But that said, there are some things you can do to make the job easier. Here are seven tips that might come in handy.

1. Prepare everything ahead.

You may not notice it, but you spend as much time preparing for the job than actually painting. Think about it: before your can take that brush, you have to move everything out, patch up cracks in the walls, tape the edges, gather your tools, and cover your furniture. It can easily take up half of your day. To save time, do all these preparations a day before you actually paint. Try starting early morning so that you can rest before the actual job.

Alternatively, you can do it a bit at a time the week before painting day. Fix your wall cracks one day, apply your tape the next, and get all your tools ready the following day. By the time you’re ready to paint, half of the work will already be done.

2. Fix problem walls.

One important rule in painting is never to paint over a problem wall. A problem wall is one with a crack, dent, or some other imperfection. These areas don’t hold paint well and will ruin the look of the paint job. Look for any imperfections in your wall and correct them before you start painting. Most problems can be fixed with plaster, fillers, or other similar products. Use fiberglass tape to fix large holes, and spackle for smaller  cracks and dents. If your wall has a textured finish, look for texturizing products that match the surface of your wall.

3. Use the right paints and brushes.

You can’t just mix and match paints with brushes—not all combinations will work together. For instance, natural bristles are designed for oil-based paints, while synthetics work best with water-based and latex. A dense, tapered brush can be used for straight edges, and wide, loose bristles are best for covering large areas.

If you want a smooth, even finish, use a foam paint roller instead. This prevents paint spatter—a common problem with paintbrushes—and doesn’t lay on too thick. However, you can’t use them on a textured wall as they can’t reach the recessed surfaces. Pad painters are also convenient, as they cover a larger area and don’t make too much of a mess. Use a pad or roller for applying water-based paints.

4. Protect your stuff.

Most people just throw a drop cloth over the furniture and paint away. But furniture isn’t the only thing in your room. The floors, windows, cabinets, and little decorations can all catch paint spatter and are often hard to clean up. Before even opening your cans, move everything to a safe spot. The safest place, of course, is outside the room, but if that’s too much work, just put everything in the center and cover with a good drop cloth.

Drop cloth can also be used for your floor, but that can be expensive. Instead, get a large piece of runner cloth and drag it along as you move across the room. For hard surfaces, experts recommend rosin paper. Just tape it over your floor, making sure the surface is clean, and wipe up any spills before they can soak through the paper.

Power switches and outlets are often overlooked during a paint job. You don’t want your paint dripping over your switches, but covering them can be hard since they’re not even with the wall. What you can do is remove the cover plates (turn off the power first, of course) and tape over them before you start painting.

5. Dress right.

This sounds elementary, but people forget about it more often than you think. Painting is physically stressful, so you need to dress comfortably. You want to be able to stretch, crawl, and climb without restraint, and without worrying about staining your clothes. Painting is a messy job. Even if you’re painting just one wall, you can’t be sure you won’t spill some on yourself. Put on an old shirt you won’t regret losing, and maybe an old baseball cap to protect your head.

6. Have a tool bucket.

You’re all set to paint, but you realize you’ve forgotten your brush. So you run across the room, roller dripping, to pick up what you need. Not only is it a waste of paint, it’s also a waste of time and energy. To avoid this problem, put all the tools you need in a large bucket and carry it around with you as you paint. That way, you don’t have to run across the room whenever you need something.

If that sounds too tiring, you can also set up a tool station. This is better for large paint jobs that involve a lot of heavy tools. Instead of dragging it around with you, you can just take what you need for a certain area and put it back when the job is done.

7. Save some for touchups.

When you’re done painting, pour your leftover paint into little jars for future touchups. Smaller containers take up less space and are much easier to work with. Also set aside your pad and foam brushes, as these are the best applicators for touchups. If you’re working with several types of paint, be sure to label them and indicate where they were used.