7 Tricks to Painting Like a Pro

Frank Fontana shares tips to help you give your walls a professional paint job.
Frank Fontana
Frank Fontana's Painting 101
Why are some people hesitant to tackle a home painting job? What typically steers people away from DIY painting are these two things:
  • The fear of making a mess
  • The fact that it takes time and patience to paint well
With a little planning and a few tricks of the trade that I've picked up over the years, you can cast your fears aside and give your walls a coat of fresh and flawless paint.
Prep before painting
Prep First, Paint Later
Set aside some time to prepare the room the evening before you plan on painting.
  • Clear the room of furniture and décor.
  • Sand and patch walls.
  • Remove all switch plates and outlet covers, and place the screws and plates into separate plastic bags. Label the bags to remind you where they came from. I have lost plenty of those tiny screws, and this tip makes it easier and faster to remove and reinstall hardware.
  • Cover the floors with old sheets or drop cloths.
  • Most importantly, tape any areas that need to be carefully trimmed, like around windows, doors and moldings.
Paint brush
Pick Brushes and Rollers Carefully
The brushes you choose to paint your walls are important and you should match your brush to your project. Here are some guidelines to follow:
  • Not all brushes are made equally. For trim painting, use a smaller brush that has an angle cut to the hairs. This will allow you to get into those pesky corners. As for paint rollers, choose a roller that is appropriate to your wall surface. If your wall has lots of pours and an orange peel look to it, you want to you use a large-nap roller. A flat or smooth wall requires a low-nap roller.
  • Buy paint tray liners. They're cheap and will you save on time and cleanup, and you can reuse the paint tray for another job.
Paint station
Create a Paint Station
I can't tell you how many times I've stepped on the lid of a paint can as I step back to appreciate my work! I've left my footprint on a rug and had toss a cool pair of shoes from stepping on paint can lids. To avoid this messy step, open and store your paint cans on a drop cloth in the corner of a room and refill your paint trays at that location. Don't forget to quickly cover your paint can between refills to keep the air out and your paint fresh.

Something else to have at your paint station is vanilla extract. A few drops of vanilla extract in your paint neutralizes the smell of paint fumes and makes painting more pleasant. 
Rolling paint
Keep Rolling
Believe it or not, there's a technique to rolling paint onto your walls. I always cut my ceiling and corners first with a trim brush, then I start on one side of the wall and work my way across, taking long, broad rolls up and down with a roller, overlapping a few inches each time. Be sure to have plenty of paint on the roller after each roll.
Dripping paint
Clean as You Go
Have paper towels and damp rags handy to grab any drips or spills as you paint. Trust me, drips and spills happen to the best of us. Paint comes off of slick surfaces like tile and glass windows when dry if you use straight razor blades. So if you drip on a slick surface, continue painting, let the paint stiffen and scrape later. 

Also, if you're working over a rug, have a rug-cleaning product handy. Even if you have a drop cloth down, paint may seep through and can stain carpet!
Wet paintbrush
How to Store Wet Paintbrushes
Instead of washing your brush out each time you take a break, try wrapping your paintbrush in some plastic wrap or a plastic bag and set it aside. You can even store it overnight if you keep the brush wrapped in plastic and put it in the refrigerator.
Leftover paint
Save Leftover Paint
Once you finish your painting project, don't ditch the leftover paint. A few weeks or months down the road, you may notice a couple of scratches or dirt on the wall and want to touch up the wall. Paint can be stored in plastic containers or small glass jars. Label the container with the color formula label from the paint can, that way if you need to get more of the same color, you have the information at your fingertips!

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