6 Tips I've Learned About Painting

You would think for as much art as I have painted that I would be a pretty awesome house painter, but I'm not. I'm actually very slow and meticulous, like I'm painting a painting, and that does not always work in my favor. However, considering I've painted more walls and trim in the past few weeks than I've painted in my entire life, I have gotten better and learned a few tips along the way. Some of these may be "hello obvious" to you all, but some may teach you something new as well. Note: I am definitely not an expert, nor am I pretending to be one.

1. Use sponge rollers for painting smooth surfaces like built-ins and shelves. Jeff has turned me on to these suckers, and I love them. I've used them for my closet shelving, my bookshelf makeover, window sills and living room built-ins. Home Depot has multiple sizes to suit your specific painting needs.

2. Test to see if your current paint is oil-based by swabbing it with alcohol. If the paint comes off, you're in luck because the paint is latex. Why is this important? Painting latex paint directly over oil paint can prove disastrous, as the new coat will have difficulty adhering and will easily chip off. Make sure to test first, so that you can take extra preparation measures as needed if your current paint is oil-based. Apparently oil-based paint is more common in older homes (70’s and earlier).

3. Help smooth out brush strokes by mixing a paint additive into your acrylic or latex paint, such as Floetrol. You should be able to find this product at any of the standard home improvement stores. Brush strokes are definitely annoying, so add a little flow extender into your paint to help eliminate the problem. This will also help tremendously when using a spray gun (reduces clogging).


4. Line your paint tray with foil for easy clean-up. This can be especially useful if you only have one tray and will be painting with multiple colors back-to-back (or if you’re just OCD about having clean paint trays). This was definitely handy when Jeff and I only had one or two trays. (We've developed our collection since.)

5. When painting trim or along the ceiling, it's better for the paint color to extend onto the trim/ceiling rather than have the trim/ceiling color extend onto the wall. This creates an illusion of a perfect line and relieves the stress of actually trying to be perfect. Who would have thought that that getting paint on the ceiling (or crown molding), would be preferred. The top picture below is an example of what not to do.

6. Save yourself from rinsing paint trays and buckets by letting the paint dry and then peeling it right off. Yes, if you have the time to spare, you don't need to line anything with foil or waste your time rinsing and cleaning. Simply give the paint coat time to dry and peel it all right off. The thicker the coat, the easier it is to peel off (but the longer it takes to dry)... Not sure if this trick works on metal, and Jeff says it doesn't work with oil paint.

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