Back when I was an undergrad, I was a freelance house painter in the summers. I learned a lot about painting-mainly that back then it did not pay very well. These days, painters are somehow able to demand and receive amazing sums. As such, when I started doing home improvements and repairs I got my roller and brushes out again.
While I do not pretend to be Bob Villa or a guru of paint, here are some usful painting tips I have learned over the years.
- Buy good paint. Cheap paint doesn’t cover as well, so you’ll end up doing multiple coats and it won’t look as good as you might like.
- Kilz rules. Kilz is a primer, sealer and stainblocker. It does all three things very well. Priming is when you ready a surface for the actual painting. You’ll want to prime most unpainted surfaces, dark surfaces you are painting with light colors, and any surface that is stained (such as the grease that gets into kitchen walls around the stove). Most of the time, you will not want to skip the priming step. Try to do without it when you need to and you will see why.
- Buy good equipment (brushes, naps, rollers, etc.). You will pay more, but the equipment will work better and last longer. Trust me-you don’t want to have a paint brush that leaves bristles in the paint.
- Clean up thoroughly. You can reuse brushes and even naps (the things that go on the rollers) if you wash and dry them properly. If you reuse them and haven’t cleaned them properly, you can get the old color mixing in with the new. Make sure that they are dry when you use them again-having water mixed into the paint thins it.
- Use latex unless you cannot. Latex paints clean up with water, which is great. Once they dry, they are waterproof. Oil based paints used to be common, but they are annoying to clean up-you need paint thinner/mineral spirits. Unless you must use oil-based paints, steer clear of them. If you must, be sure to pick up mineral spirits and protective gloves for the cleanup.
- Buy more paint than you think you need. Trust me-you’ll need more. It is good to always save a can as well-for touchups later on.
- Save the information for the paint you use. If you get a custom mix, save the lid to the paint can or copy down the mixing info so you can get an exact match. If you use a standard color, save that information as well. Keep in mind that colors will fade over time, though.
- Tape is good. Some of my friends claim to be painting gods and goddesses who have no need of tape. Sadly, I lack their divine painting powers. So, I tape edges and things that I don’t want to get paint on (like towel holders in the bathroom). Be sure to press the tape down firmly so it holds out the paint. Also, try to paint over it as little as possible. If you gob over the tape with lots of paint, it will create a “skin” connected to the paint on the surface that you are painting. If you pull up the tape, it will take some of the “skin” with it. You can reduce that by letting the paint dry completely and then use an exacto knife or similar implement to cut the tape. Be careful not to cut into the surface.
- Drop cloths are good. Again, some of my friends claim to be divine painters, but I’m not. So, I cover stuff before I paint. You don’t need anything fancy-I use trash bags for small areas and keep some old sheets for larger areas.
- Be safe, not sorry. When painting high up surfaces, use stable ladders and/or those extending painting poles. Be careful-if you are on a ladder painting away with one hand and holding a paint can with another, you are ready to fall at any moment. You can get paint holders that attach to ladders-that way you can use one hand to hold on.
- Duct tape is handy. When painting the outside of a house, there is aways some spots that cannot be reached by rollers on poles or by hand from a ladder. I deal with that by duct tapping a brush to the extendable pole. It works fine.
- Glasses are good. If you are painting a ceiling, don’t paint directly over your head. If you must, wear protective glasses to keep the paint out of your eyes.
- Motsenbocker’s Lift Off actually works. This stuff removes paint (I used the Latex version) from various surfaces. It is not intended to strip paint from large surfaces but to get spills and accidents off from plastics, carpets, cars, furniture, clothes and such. It doesn’t work perfectly in all cases, but I’ve used it to get old paint off the sinks, bathroom fixtures and other things. I got it at Home Depot.
- It always takes more time. Even though I’ve been painting for years, I still underestimate painting times. I think it is pure wishful thinking on your part.
- Ventilate. While modern paints are safer than the old stuff, make sure you have plenty of fresh air. Unless, of course, you like problems with your lungs and nervous system.
- Be sure you have the skill. Painting looks simple, but actually requires skill. I’ve seen some horrific, botched attempts over the years. Most people can do it, but if you can’t, then get someone else.
- Help is good. Painting is dull work and it goes faster with help. Plus, it is nice having someone to talk with while you are painting away.
- Watch out for pets. Pets seem driven to get into paint, so be sure that they are not around when you are painting. Also, be sure to keep them away from wet surfaces. Cats will jump on them, dogs will rub against them and fur will get everywhere.
Nope, I won’t help you paint. Unless, of course, you help me paint.