Painting Tips — October 5, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Painting Advice & Tips


Paint finishes

Before you begin to paint, consider wall imperfections, frequency of traffic and other factors such as whether or not kids and pets are present. High-gloss paint offers greater durability and is very easy to clean. If the room is frequented often by kids or pets, gloss or semi-gloss is a good idea. If your home has older walls with many imperfections, a flatter paint can help hide them. Eggshell is a good middle ground option too.

Paint colors – Don’t let the fear of color make your home end up all white. Painting is a relatively inexpensive way to change up the look and feel of your home. Explore all the different feelings color can bring to a room with our article on choosing colors.


Check with your local paint provider to see if they offer smaller paint color samples so you can test on a small patch of wall before you buy full gallons. Be sure to look at your colors at different times of the day.  Colors can change significantly with sunlight vs. interior evening lighting.

Even if you’re not using paint samples, tape swatches to the wall and look at them in various types of light.


How much paint to buy

Obviously sq footage is important to know, but also make note of additional factors such as:

  • Texture of the wall. More texture = more paint needed.
  • Color: Darker colors tend to require more coats.
  • Painting a lighter color over a darker color can require more coats as well. Consider tinting your primer to help with this.


Paint won’t stick to the wall if you haven’t taken the time to prep. The surface must be clean, non-glossy and in good condition. Washing your walls from top to bottom is always recommended because paint sticks better to a clean surface.

Pros use lots of painter’s tape—mainly to protect surfaces, but also as a guide for cutting in walls or ceilings. With older houses, flat surfaces can be so uneven, it’s better to use the tape as a guide than an exact edge. Cut in up to the edge of the tape, but don’t cross over it. Bring your fully loaded brush within about 2 1/4 inches of the tape, but go very light on that last 1/4 inch closest to the tape.

Primer / Tint

Whether your painting inside or outside, priming is the key to more professional results. Primer serves three main functions:

  • Blocks stains and resinous knots from bleeding through
  • Provides one-coat coverage for the paint topcoat
  • It improves adhesion, which greatly reduces blisters and extends the life of the topcoat

To further enhance the coverage of the topcoat, try this pro tip: Tint the primer toward the finished color by mixing a small amount of topcoat paint into the primer. (Be sure the primer and topcoat are both latex-based or both oil-based; never mix coatings with dissimilar solutions.) This will greatly enhance the ability of the topcoat to hide the prepped surface completely, especially when painting a lighter topcoat over an existing darker color.


Types of brushes / rollers – link

For most home owners painting the interior of their homes, latex paints are the go to paint. For latex, select a synthetic brush instead of the more expensive natural hair brushes which are more for oil-based and alkyd-based paint.

Quality brushes share the following characteristics:

  • They have split or “flagged” ends and are flexible at their tips, which helps produce a finer finish;
  • They are tapered such that the bristles in the center are slightly longer than those at the edge, which helps lay the paint down smoothly and evenly;
  • They typically are at least half-again as long as they are wide (for example, the bristles on a 2″-wide brush should be at least 3″ in length).

Synthetic roller covers should also be used for latex paints. To select the length of nap, the general rule is the smoother the surface the longer the nap. Experts at the Paint Quality Institute offer these guidelines:

  • On wallboard, smooth plaster, wood, or metal, use a short nap of 1/8″ to 1/4″;
  • On light-textured stucco, concrete, or rough wood, use a medium nap of 3/8″ to 1/2″;
  • On heavy-textured stucco, concrete block, or brick, use a long nap of 3/4″ to 1″.

Canvas vs. plastic

Canvas drop cloths are more durable, reusable, fold easily around corners, are more environmentally friendly and absorb more paint, thus keeping it from getting all over your feet.  Very worth the extra expense!

Cut in first w/ brush, but roll it while its wet

Professionals suggest cutting in with a brush first, then finishing off with a roller to provide a smoother finish. However, it’s also best to go over the brushed area while it’s still wet, rather than letting it dry and rolling later.

Rolling with a pole and grid

While most home owners use the old paint tray with plastic inserts, professional rely in paint grids and a 5 gallon bucket. A paint grid is a rigid metal screen that hooks onto the rim of the bucket, allowing you to roll against it to remove excess paint more efficiently than paint trays. The bucket holds more paint and is much less likely to get kicked and spilled.

For even more speed, add a pole to your roller to eliminate bending over to add more paint to your roller and also allows you to skip the step ladders. Don’t want to spend the money on a paint pole? Unscrew the pole from your kitchen broom and screw it into the bottom of your roller handle. Works just the same!

Remembering your color

I used to rely on the little stickers the paint centers would put on top of my cans which indicate the exact color combination used in my paint, only to have them fade in as little as 6 months or get covered up with dripping paint.

The best technique we’ve seen is simply writing the vital information (brand name, paint color, paint number) onto a piece of masking tape and stick it to the back of a wall switch plate before putting them back on after painting.

Cleaning ideas – storing brushes

For latex-based paints, any mild bar soap or dish washing detergent along will warm water will work to get most paint out of your brush.

Using a brush comb to clean the paint from the inside of the brush will increase the life of the brush. To get the outside of the brush clean try using a stiff nylon bristle brush. This will be less destructive on the ends of the filaments.

Sealing your paint cans

When saving leftover paint, place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the open can. Spray cooking oil over the plastic and tightly secure the lid. Turn the bucket upside down, and you’ll have a brand-new seal. Air won’t get in, and the paint will last longer. Click here to watch a video on sealing your paint cans.