Many homeowners attempt painting as a DIY project, thinking it does not require a high level of expertise. But there is more to painting than you might think. So let’s get you primed to paint with these professional painting tips.
Consider your furnishings when choosing your paint color. Take fabric swatches or sofa cushions to the paint store or photos of your furniture, carpet and window treatments. Do not fully trust paint color charts at the store. Paint may look different under your home’s lighting than the store’s.
Latex paint is the popular choice for interior walls and exterior painting. Latex can be acrylic or water-based. You can paint trim and baseboards with either latex or oil-based paint. Oil-based paint should be used on cabinets and metals, although acrylic latex can be applied to metals with proper prep.
Calculate how many gallons you need according to the area to cover. Then, buy an empty five-gallon pail for mixing. Rather than opening each gallon can and painting directly from it, stir the gallons together in the pail. The same color formula can differ slightly from can to can, so mixing them all together ensures a uniform look.
Primer paint provides a base coat to which the finish coat is applied. Primer comes in both latex and oil-based finishes. A latex finish paint can adhere only to latex, not to oil-based primer. Oil-based paint can adhere to either latex or oil primer.
Shinier finishes such as semigloss or satin are easier to clean. Flat paint on the ceiling absorbs light, and eggshell on walls hides imperfections better than semigloss or satin.
Basic painting supplies
Do not skimp when buying painting tools and supplies. Quality materials will give you a better result and can be reused for your next paint job.
- Choose quality brushes and roller covers. Skip the $4.95 crude brush; the $25 latex or oil brush with quality bristles will do a much better job spreading the paint evenly. At the end of the job, wash your brush thoroughly. A good brush, well cared for, can last many years.
- Choose a roller cover with the proper nap length. If you’re painting a textured wall, choose a lambswool roller cover for oil-based paints and one covered with synthetic material for latex. A three-quarter-inch nap will deliver paint evenly between the textured wall’s ridges and valleys. For flat surfaces, a foam roller and brushes work best.
- Buy painter’s tape, not masking tape, to protect the woodwork and ceiling as you paint walls.
- You will also need a professional-grade putty knife, a paint roller tray with liners, and a thick, durable tarp for covering the floor.
Prepare properly for a professional look
If you skimp on prep, the look of your paint job will suffer, so spend two-thirds of your time preparing your walls.
- Mask carefully along baseboards, door frames, crown molding and the boundary between ceilings and walls. Use painter’s tape and masking paper to paint a perfect line along boundaries.
- If a wall already has many coats of paint, take time to sand it. Then dust the wall before applying new paint.
- Apply a coat of primer, especially when you’re applying a light color over a dark one.
Proper painting technique
Always “cut-in” with a brush along the edges of walls, door frames and windows before tackling the main body of the walls with a roller. Paint from top to bottom. Dip your brush one-third of the way into the paint, then shake slightly to let drips fall. Apply in smooth, long strokes. Hold the brush like you would a pencil and paint in a single long line to get the best control when cutting in next to masked areas.
Push your roller into the paint until the roller cover is filled to about two-thirds of its paint-holding capacity. Then, roll from top to bottom in long, even strokes, overlapping slightly as you move from side to side. Use up two-thirds of the paint in the roller before replenishing.
With both brush and roller, there is no need to bear down with pressure. Instead, let the paint tool do the work.
Remove the painters’ tape sooner rather than later. If you wait until the paint is dry, removing the tape may peel the paint away. So instead, pull before the paint has dried completely.