It’s amazing how a fresh lick of paint has the power to completely transform an underwhelming room. Painting your walls is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to give your space a facelift. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely foolproof, and it can also be time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing. But don’t mean you have to throw in the painters’ towel just yet. With just a little pro-level know-how, you can achieve next-level results on your next DIY paint project in no time.
Properly prepping your walls before you begin painting might take a little time, but you’ll get much better longer-lasting results. Paint doesn’t stick very well to dirty, dusty surfaces, so make sure you clean them thoroughly and allow them to dry. Remove loose paint and sand glossy surfaces dull, then wipe clean. And while removing wallpaper is never fun, painting over it can lead to a DIY disaster, especially if the paper starts peeling underneath the paint.
Unless you want to keep buying new trays every time you paint, it’s a good idea to line your tray before using it. Those plastic tray liners they sell at the hardware store work in a pinch, but they’re notorious for sliding around as you load up your roller. Instead, save a few bucks and line your tray with aluminum foil. Tear off a sheet that’s a little longer than your tray. Then, press it into all the nooks and crannies and secure it around the edges, and you’re good to go. Once you’re done painting, simply throw away the foil. Voila! Your paint tray is as good as new.
You might be tempted to stretch your budget and go for the cheapest wall paint on the shelf, but this could cost you in the long run. Instead, be prepared to spend a little more money and invest in the highest quality paint you can afford. Sure, it might be more expensive upfront, but in the long run, you’ll use less of it, and you’ll actually save more money. High-quality paint goes on more smoothly, covers more evenly, and it will be much more durable than cheaper varieties.
Paint finish can often feel like an afterthought once you’ve chosen your colors, but it’s more important than most people think. Using the wrong finish can make or break a paint job. A flat finish, for example, is the most forgiving on surfaces with a lot of imperfections. The matte texture will give your walls a rich, velvety quality. However, flat finish paint is also very hard to clean and will show every scuff mark, making touch-ups inevitable. A glossy finish is ultra-durable and easy to clean, which makes it ideal for high traffic areas and kids’ rooms. The downside? It highlights every flaw, meaning you have to work much harder to prep your walls beforehand. An eggshell or low-luster finish is the perfect middle ground. It looks flat when viewed head-on, but has a subtle sheen when viewed at an angle.
It may seem time-consuming to stick painter’s tape along every trim and baseboard in the room. If you’re short on time, you might be tempted to skip this step altogether and dive right in. But the reality is, you’ll spend even more time painting very slowly and carefully around the areas you’re trying to avoid. And, if you do inevitably get a swipe of paint where you don’t want it, having to retouch later will be even more of a time suck.
Always start painting at the top of the wall and work your way down to the bottom. This will give you a chance to catch any splatters or drips that would have otherwise ruined your fresh paint job below. If you’re painting the ceiling too, the same rule applies — do it first.
Two thin coats will give you much better results than one super thick coat. If you load up your brush or roller with too much paint in an effort to avoid a second layer, the paint will go on unevenly, and you’ll get drips everywhere. A sloppy paint job won’t save time — it’s a waste of time. To avoid overloading your brush, make sure you’re only dipping it about a half or a third of the way up the bristles. Don’t worry if the first coat looks a little too thin — that’s what the second coat is for! It will cover anything you might have missed the first time around.
Some pros prefer to paint the trim before anything else. The walls cover a much larger surface area, and it’s easier to paint around the taped off trim than the other way around. However, if you’re a novice painter like most people, it’s almost a guarantee that a little wall paint will splatter on your trim and baseboards, no matter how carefully you tape them. Simply wait for your walls to dry thoroughly, so the colors don’t mix. Then, grab a small angular brush and carefully touch up the trim.
If you want to take a break for a few hours — or even a few days — seal your brushes and rollers in an airtight ziplock plastic bag to keep them from drying out. Dried-on paint can render rollers and brushes unusable, so this simple two-second step is a serious time and money saver. If your roller is too big to fit in the bag, a few snug layers of plastic wrap will do the trick. When you’re ready to get back to work, simply unwrap your tools from the plastic and dispose of it. Your brushes and rollers will be ready to roll again whenever you are.
Brushes, rollers, and other tools are expensive. Thankfully, with proper care and cleaning, they can see you through many projects down the line. Make sure you wash your equipment immediately after you’ve finished painting. Latex paints can usually be scrubbed off in your sink with a little soap and warm water. Oil-based paints need to be cleaned with mineral spirits before washing. Never soak your brushes, or the bristles will loosen. Once your brushes are washed, use a brush comb, and then hang them up to dry.
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