6 Tips to Paint Like a Pro


Painting is one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to freshen up your home, but it’s one of the trickiest for do-it-yourselfers to achieve – at least as well and as mistake-free as the pros.

1. Test Ahead

“Start out buying a quart of one or more candidates for your paint color,” says Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing at Cleveland-based ICI Paints, whose brands include Glidden. Use a couple of foam boards instead of the wall to test colors in your room, and move the boards around to see how the light affects the colors at different times of the day.

2. Clean, Dull and Dry

“A good paint job is 90-percent prep work,” says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s home expert. Preparing a perfectly smooth surface is the single most important tip to achieve professional-looking results.

Move all furniture first so you don’t miss the hidden spots behind the sofa, bed or in corners, and scan the wall with a very bright light to find imperfections. Clean dirty surfaces and fill small dents and minor cracks in the walls with spackling compound. Once they’re dry, smooth the areas with sand paper from the baseboard to the ceiling. To prime a glossy surface, use a sanding sponge rather than sandpaper. Sponges adjust to the wall’s shape and last longer than paper.

3. Optimal Primer

Don’t skip primer if you plan to make a big color change or if the walls have lots of stains, says Steve Revnew, vice president of product development at Sherwin-Williams. It helps to create a consistent, neutral surface on which the paint can adhere evenly.

Tinted primer does a better job than plain primer. By mixing a small amount of topcoat paint into the primer to make it similar to the finish paint, it could mean having to apply fewer coats.

4. Prepare the Trim

Apply tape over the trim, window and door frames, and then scrape a putty knife over the top to press down the tape to avoid bleeding. Use blue painter’s tape instead of masking tape, which will keep paint from peeling off of the walls when removed. Painter’s tape is easier to remove than masking tape and doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue.

5. A Bucket and a Screen

If using multiple cans of the same color paint, mix the cans together in a 5-gallon bucket, filling it about halfway. This ensures that the color will be uniform as there can be slight variations between different gallons of the same paint color. Hang the screen inside the bucket and simply dip the roller into the paint and roll it against the screen. This will guarantee you have right amount on the roller. It’s a faster, neater, better method.

6. Go for Canvas

Disposable plastic drop cloths are an inexpensive way to protect floors and furnishings from paint spatters, dripping and mess, but pros go for canvas instead of plastic, which can be slippery when splattered with paint. Canvas more readily absorbs paint drips, and the drop cloths can be more easily molded to fit the floor surrounding corners and doorways. Overall, they are more durable and last longer.

Tags: paint, tips, DIY