20 Helpful Painting Tips

Painting can make all the difference in your home and can greatly enhance your home’s curb appeal, but you have to know what you’re doing. Even some of the most minor things can affect the way the paint looks and how your final project will look. Here are 20 tips on painting from Better Homes and Gardens and the DIY Network.

  1. Go for the more expensive, better quality paint. Cheaper paint will need to be touched up more often, which negates any money you saved in the first place. The best quality paint has a higher percentage of titanium dioxide, which determines covering ability, and other additives that increase durability.

  2. Shine. Generally, the higher the gloss, the better the finish will stand up to stains, abrasions, and cleaning. Easier-to-wash satin or semigloss paints are good choices for bathrooms and kitchens. Use high-gloss paints for trim, cabinetry, and doors that are in perfect condition.

  3. Color. Light colors tend to open up a room, making it seem lighter and larger while dark hues can add depth and warmth. Before painting a room white, pay attention to how surrounding elements will reflect light and alter the color. For example, green furniture or carpeting might make white walls look light blue or green.

  4. Test before buying. Invest in some sample sizes of the paint color(s) you’re considering and try them out on small sections of the wall. Be sure to look at the color during different points in the day and under different lighting conditions to make sure you like it.

  5. Equipment. Brushes with long, dense bristles are best for latex/water-based paint (nylon) and oil-based paint (natural). A 2-inch angled sash brush, a 3-inch trim brush, and rollers are enough for most jobs.

  6. Prepare. Paint sticks better to and looks better on clean, dry, non-glossy surfaces. So, if you want the best results, do the prep work. Scrape off flaking paint, fill holes with spackling compound, and sand your walls before doing anything.

  7. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom of the wall for best results. That means start with the ceiling, move to any crown molding and/or trim around windows and doors, then the baseboards, and finally, paint the walls.

  8. Apply Painter’s Tape in no more than 8-10 inch sections at a time to be certain of a straight edge. Smooth the edges with a putty knife, wait until paint is dry to the touch, and remove the tape slowly at a 45-degree angle.

  9. Use High-Quality Brushes. Just as with choosing your paint, it’s important to invest in your brushes. High-quality brushes apply paint in a thick, smooth film. Examine a brush for a good taper, with bristles in the center slightly longer than those at the edge.

  10. Mix for uniform color. If you’re using more than one gallon of a certain color paint, mix all of it together in a larger bucket. This is the best way to make sure that all of the paint is the same color.

  11. Store extra paint successfully by adding a gasket between the cover and the can using a circle cut from a heavy-duty trash bag. Spray vegetable oil on one side of the bag and set it on the can with the lid on top of the plastic, then tap the lid to seat it in the well. Store the can upside down in a room that maintains a fairly consistent temperature.

  12. Primer first. Primer makes the best surface for paint and allows for the paint’s true color to shine through.

  13. Know how much you need. Professionals recommend one gallon of paint for every 400 square feet of wall/surface.

  14. Don’t save this for a rainy day. High humidity and moisture in the air prevents water-based paint from drying properly.

  15. Tape off doorknobs and other fixtures that you don’t want to get paint on before you start.

  16. Stop painting once an area is dry. Going over it again can leave marks and color streaks.

  17. Cover your floor with a drop cloth before starting to paint.

  18. Remove wall plates (over electrical outlets and light switches) before painting.

  19. Paint as much as you can with a roller and save the brush for small spots.

  20. Be patient. Don’t ruin the paint job by not allowing for things to dry completely before touching.

For more painting tips, check out this DIY Network article and this one from BHG.

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