Almost everyone has a pretty good idea of how to paint a room but quality painting is an art. Here are a few tips to help improve your painting skills.
Clean Up Before You Start Up
Make sure the surface being painted is clean. We often utilize a product called TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) by SAVOGRAN. TSP comes in powder form and can be found at most home improvement stores in the paint section. Mix up enough TSP to cover the surface you intend to paint. Use a sponge to quickly remove years of buildup from virtually any surface. TSP does not require rinsing. As you clean, TSP will slightly etch the paint which will help the new paint form a better bond. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and be careful that the TSP does not run down onto your arm (cuff the gloves to catch runs and drips).
Strain the Paint
For truly smooth walls, pour paint through a paint strainer or an old pair of pantyhose. Place the strainer over a bucket and pour the paint through the strainer. This will remove the small chunks and clumps present in even a brand new bucket of paint. Straining is even more important as paint ages and buckets are opened and closed.
Tip: Mix in a paint extender if you intend to store paint for a long time. This will save you time and money when you need to touch up or cover a patch later on.
Learn the Cutting-in Technique
Taping is one of the most time-consuming jobs for the average do-it-yourself painter. Most DIY painters haven’t attempted, let alone mastered, the art of “cutting in”. Cutting in allows you to paint along trim, ceilings and other edges without taping off the area not being painted. Use a high-quality tapered paint brush. The angled bristles should uniformly unload the paint as you follow the edge of the trim, ceiling, etc. Dip the brush in the paint then tap each side against your paint container. DO NOT wipe the brush on the edges of the container. Brush the paint in on the wall about 1/2″ from the trim, ceiling, etc. Make a second pass right up next to the edge. Avoid “pushing” the paint with your bristles or you’ll leave a ridge. Apply just enough pressure to allow the bristle ends to glide next to the edge. To help keep the brush steady, keep your arm straight and move it from your shoulder rather than your elbow.
Tape Only Horizontal Trim
If you’ve mastered the cutting-in technique, you can skip almost all of the taping done by most do-it-yourself painters. Only tape horizontal trim and baseboards to keep roller spatters and drips from getting onto the trim. Remove the tape before the paint dries to avoid pulling off chunks of paint along with the tape.
Groove Textured Ceilings
The best way to get a smooth, strait edge next to texture ceilings is to knock off some of the texture prior to painting. Utilize a putty knife. Hold the knife at a 45° angle to the ceiling and run the blade along the edge. This scrapes away the texture leaving a small groove that can be utilized as a guide when cutting in paint near the ceiling. Be sure to clean out the groove with a dry paintbrush before painting.
Keep a Wet Edge
When transitioning from edging or cutting in to painting larger, adjoining spaces, it’s important to ensure that the edging is still wet. Likewise, don’t stop in the middle of a wall and allow a partially painted wall to dry before returning to finish. Wet paint and dry paint don’t blend. Attempting to paint over a dry edge or continue painting a larger space with already dry new paint will result in a rough-looking paint job with hard edges in places you don’t want them. If you’re working alone, alternate between edging and rolling. Never edge more than one wall at a time. This is why professional painters often work in pairs. One person does the edging while a second person paints the larger areas.
Paint Edge-to-Edge When Doing Large Touch-ups
If you’re touching up a relatively large area (more than the size of a half dollar), paint from edge-to-edge, i.e. paint the entire wall. Paint oxidizes over time, fades, gets dirty and otherwise changes slightly. Painting an area on a wall will leave an obvious spot of new paint. If the entire wall is painted, the transition from new paint to old paint won’t be nearly as noticeable because of the angle of the walls.