Painting Tips from the Pros

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I am going to break some rules and share the Pros top house painting tips so that you too can have a home that’s professionally painted. 

We all want a beautifully painted home. Crisp clean lines, no brush or roller marks, and certainly no paint splatter. In my opinion painting is an art form. The professionals are called professionals for a reason! 

house painting Tips

Since Justin was a former painter and now we own WOW 1 Day Painting -Bergen County, NJ and Westchester, NY. I felt the obligation to share with you all the secret house painting tips the pros use to get the job done right.  

Before I dive into the pro secrets and house painting tips to get your home painted like the professionals, I want to go over prepping for the job, the right type of paint to be used and all the supplies you’ll need to get the interior of your home painted perfectly. 

House Painting Tips

First things first, clear out the room you are painting. This includes light fixtures, wall plate covers, and any hardware. This is key to the project. You want to be able to move around freely without obstacles in your way. If there is large furniture in the room, push it to the middle of the room and make sure you cover it tightly with plastic.

Why do this? Well once you move on to the prep and painting stage, you will be protecting everything from drywall dust which gets everywhere, and any paint splatter that may occur. In my book, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

You have a cleared room, now what?

Once you have cleared out the entire room, it’s time to protect your floors! This is one of the pro painting tips you want to take seriously. 

I suggest investing in high-quality drop cloths with plastic backing to ensure all paint is blocked from making contact with your floor. Sure you can use old sheets but paint tends to go right through them causing you more harm than good. 

Investing in high-quality drop clothes will not only save you the hassle of unnecessary messes but, also you will have them to use on your next painting project. Drop clothes are completely washable too!

Another option is plastic sheeting. While plastic sheeting keeps the paint from going through, it’s slippery and it won’t absorb any larger drips or spills. If you ask me, cloth drop cloths are the way to go. 


Suggested Materials

Drop Cloths with poly backing

Canvas Drop Cloths


Prep the walls. 

This is probably one of the most overlooked interior painting tips. 

It’s all about the interior paint prep!

This can be said for a number of things such as makeup (ladies am I right?), food, and even working out which would be warming up. So needless to say the prep stage is an extremely vital stage in the painting process.  Unfortunately, it’s also sometimes overlooked by the average home painter. 

Don’t skip the interior paint prep! 

I know you heard me, but seriously DO NOT SKIP THE PREP. 

OK you REALLY heard me now. 

So why am I so adamant about not skipping the prep work? Well for starters you want a fresh, clean workable canvas to paint. This will make the actual painting process easier and in turn, you will have a better end result with how the paint looks on your walls.

Interior Paint Prep

Start with the imperfections

First, inspect your walls for dents, cracks, nail holes, and nail pops. These are all things that you will need to fix to be able to get your walls looking professionally painted.

Once you know what you are up against, you will need to use the proper materials to fix the imperfections.

Painters Putty works great on the minor cracks, dents and small nail holes on your walls. A lightweight spackle would work just as well too. For deeper cracks, there is the tape and spackle method or you can use Plaster of Paris, which dries quickly.When fixing cracks, dents, and holes in wood such as window trim, don’t use spackle. Spackle doesn’t adhere to wood, so your best option would be to use Painters Putty or a product like Minwax High-Performance Filler.


Suggested Materials

Plaster of Paris

Spackle

Painters Putty

Minwax High Performance Filler

Spackle Knife


Time to sand

Now that you have gone through and fixed all the cracks, dents and holes in your interior walls, you need to sand them down.

For the walls, the pros use a drywall pole sander which will smooth out the walls of any tiny bumps that had been in the drywall as well as sanding down the spots that have been patched.

Don’t worry if you don’t own to a drywall pole sander (not many homeowners do). Good old sandpaper works just as well. 

Depending on the shape of the walls, sometimes the pros will give the entire wall a good sanding not only to ensure a smooth, workable surface but, also for better adhesion.

This house painting tip will definitely make your life easier. When you are sanding molding, it’s better to use a sanding sponge, which is moldable making it easier to get all the details of the trim. The sanding sponges also last a bit longer than the sandpaper itself. 

Suggested Materials

Sandpaper

Sanding Block


Clean the walls

Yet another one of the important Pro painting tips. Sanding creates dust. Cleaning the walls so there are completely dust-free will only help you achieve a flawless finish.

Grab a wet sponge and wipe those walls down. Let me elaborate a bit here.

 Grab 2 buckets, fill one with water and one with a mild cleaner or trisodium phosphate (TSP) which the pros often use. Dip your sponge in the cleaning solution then scrub the walls. Don’t dip back into the solution. Dip the sponge in the water bucket to clean the sponge of any dirt and dust that had been removed from the wall.  Once the sponge is clean, go back into the cleaning solution. Repeat the process until the walls, molding, and trim are perfectly clean.  

Suggested Materials

2 Buckets

Sponge or rag

mild cleaner or trisodium phosphate (TSP)


Fill the cracks

Don’t worry we aren’t going back to Painters putty and sanding again. I’m talking about caulking now.

To make molding and trim blend seamlessly into your walls, use paintable caulk to fill in any gaps. Not only will the caulk provide a seamless look but, also it cuts down on drafts around windows and doors. 

Caulk can sometimes be a bit tricky to work with and messy to boot.

Follow these Pro painting tips to ensure the perfect caulk application.

•Use latex caulk

•Choose a high quality caulk gun. Consider a dripless  caulk gun, which will automatically back off the pressure after each pull on the trigger to prevent unwanted oozing.

•Cut a very small amount off of the tip of the caulk bottle. This will cause less caulk to come out and in turn cause less mess. Use a thin wire to break the inner seal to prevent stretching the nozzle. 

•For larger gaps push the caulk into the gaps. Doing this, results in  better odds for the caulk to actually adhere to both surfaces. For flush surfaces pull the caulk rather than pushing it. If you try to push to hard you’ll end up with a unnecessary mess on your hands.

Suggested Materials


Paintable Latex Caulk

Dripless Caulk Gun

Caulk Gun


Painters tape

Painters tape is a useful tool to have when painting a room. It works wonders for fixtures that cannot be removed, such as ceiling lights. A little tape wrapped around the fixture will protect it from the paint.
As for using tape when cutting in, the pros aren’t fully for or against it.

According to the Professionals, some of the cons of using painters tape is for starters, it’s time-consuming. But, if you aren’t on a strict timeline to get a room painted, using painters tape is an excellent idea to ensure a perfectly straight edge.

Suggested Materials


Blue Painters Tape


Paint Types 

Knowing your paint types is another house painting tip that you want to pay attention to.

Speaking in terms of interior paint there are two categories: oil-base and water-based.

Different agents are used in these two types of paint to bind them to the surfaces they cover, and these bases create characteristics.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints are very durable. However oil-based paints take much longer to dry, the cleanup requires turpentine or paint thinner (mineral spirits) and they are terribly high in VOCs. 

 Oil-based paints are made with either alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural) oils. Alkyd paint is more common because it is less expensive and tougher. 

Oil-based paints aren’t recommend for any interior work because of the high levels of VOCS.

Water-Based Paint

Water-based paint also commonly known as latex paint, is easier to work with, dries faster and is far less smelly then oil-based paint. However, water-based paint is more expensive and it lacks in durability compared to oil-based paint.

Water-based paint is the common choice for interior painting such as walls and ceilings.

How do you determine whether your existing walls have oil-based paint or water-based paint?

One of the easiest ways to determine if your existing paint is oil-based or water-based is by using this pro painting tip.

Dip a cotton ball into a small amount of denatured alcohol. Rub it over a small area on the surface. If the paint does not come off, it is oil-based paint and you will need to prime the surface with a bonding primer before applying latex paint.

Can you use latex paint over oil-based paint?

A good general rule to follow here is that an oil-based paint can be painted over latex, but a latex paint cannot be painted over oil-based paint. If you use latex paint over oil, the latex paint won’t properly adhere. Besides,  latex paint may cause the oil-based paint to crack and peel, which would be a risky move to take.

How do you paint over oil-based paint with latex paint?
  • 1. Lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. 180- 220 will work. Sanding will remover the gloss that the oil-based paint has.
  • 2. Clean the surface with a sponge dipped in a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) mixed with water. 
  • 3. Use and clean sponge and water to remove the cleaning solution and all residual dust from the walls. Make sure you allow the surface to fully dry.
  • 4. Apply a coat of a quality bonding primer (oil-based or latex), and allow the primer to dry.
  • 5.  Finish off with your topcoat. Two coats of high-quality latex paint should do the trick.

Primer

What is primer exactly? 

Primer is the base coat that seals the surface before you apply your paint color. The purpose of using a primer is to protect your new paint from any inconsistencies and stains that had previously been on the walls.

When it comes to the color of the primer, you have a few options. The most common would be the off-white primer.

Another option would be to use a primer that has been tinted with the paint color you will be using. By tinting the primer it will eliminate the number of topcoats needed. You can have your paint store tint the primer for you or sometimes the pros will do it themselves by adding some of the topcoat color to the primer.

This house painting tip I found interesting. I learned that the Pros tend to use gray primer often and here’s why. They say that when they apply the topcoat over a gray-tinted primer the color tends to be truer to the color chip. Not only is the paint color truer but, they find the topcoat color is more uniform and its easier to go back in for touch-ups.

Primer isn’t always required for interior walls. For example, if you have a light gray paint color on the walls and you decide to go a shade of gray darker. In this instance, the darker gray will cover without a problem. 

Types of Primers

Oil Based

Oil based-primer is very versatile and it plays well with latex paint. This primer is used most often with wood however, it can also be used on metal and drywall. The primer prevents the wood from releasing any tannins. One example of where to use oil-based primer would be on dark wood cabinets. This primer is ideal for stain blocking such as nicotine, ink, and water.

A few drawbacks to using oil-based primer are the high release of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), the lengthy drying time required and the laborious cleanup.

Latex Based

Latex based primer is the  ideal application for drywall. It’s as effective as oil based primer in covering wall stains and giving uniformity to the wall surface. Latex-based primer is easy to use along with having low or no VOC compounds, making it a healthier alternative to oil-based and shellac primer. Additionally, latex based primer dries quickly and can be cleaned simply with the help of just soap water.

Shellac Based

Shellac primer and wooden surfaces go hand in hand. If you are looking for the perfect wood sealer, a shellac primer is the way to go. Shellac primer is the ultimate satin blocker, better than any other primer. Whether it is a water stain or severe smoke damage, a shellac-based primer is optimal in coating those stains. It’s an excellent choice for covering Wood Trim, Door Frames, and Door Jambs, Plaster, Wallpaper, etc.

Choosing the Right Paint

There a few different types of paint finishes, ranging from matte to glossy. Knowing when and where to use the right one is key to achieving the most out of your paint.

paint sheen guide

Find your perfect Sherwin Williams paint Color or The Best Benjamin Moore Paint Color

Paint Finishes

Flat is a low-sheen paint with a non-reflective finish that touches up well and hides minor surface imperfections. This paint tends to hold on to dirt making it harder to clean. Best Used for low traffic areas and ceilings.

Matte has a low luster reflective finish that is durable, easy to clean, touches up well, and also hides minor surface imperfections. It is great for low to moderate traffic areas. Best Used for bedrooms and interior walls.

Eggshell balances matte and glossiness fairly evenly, though the exact sheen varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. This amount of gloss makes painted walls easy to clean with a damp cloth. Best Used for bedroom, living room, and dining room

Satin Enamel has a soft pearl-like appearance and is a great choice for painting moderate to high traffic areas or areas that have some exposure to moisture, such as kitchens or baths. A satin finish is easier to clean than a flat sheen. Best Used for kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, hallways, kids rooms, mudrooms, family rooms

Semi-Gloss Enamel has a sleek, radiant appearance that is great for cabinets and trim, high-traffic areas, and high-moisture areas. High gloss paint is extremely easy to clean. Best Used for trim & molding, kitchen cabinets, doors, and woodwork

Hi-Gloss Enamel creates a brilliant, shiny appearance with a glass-like finish. Gloss paint is the easiest to clean. This is great for high-use surfaces. Best Used for furniture, doors, cabinets

Pro House Painting TipIf you’re using Hi-Gloss or Semi-Gloss, apply multiple thin coats, rather than one thick coat, to achieve the smoothest finish.


Looking for the perfect paint color?

Using the Right Painting Tools & Equipment

Room with Painting Supplies

Using the right painting equipment is just as important as using the right paint. If you choose a low-quality paint, chances are you won’t get an extremely high-quality result. The same goes for the painting tools you use. 

Brushes

So do you really want to the Pros number 1 secret? 

High quality paint brush. 

A high-quality paintbrush is a secret to a professional-looking end result. For a top of the line paintbrush, it will coast you anywhere from $15- $28. But don’t let the price scare you. Investing in a quality paintbrush will certainly be worth it in the long run.

Types of Paintbrushes
  • Natural-bristle brushes made with animal hairs are used for applying oil-based paints, varnishes, shellac, polyurethane, and other oil-based finishes. The natural “flagging” (splitting or fuzzy tips) of these brushes creates split ends in the bristles that hold more paint and help assure a smooth paint release and finish.
  • Blended nylon/polyester brushes are easy to clean and work well with all types of latex paints. The combination of nylon’s durability and polyester’s shape retention is the mark of a high-quality brush – one that also produces a high-quality paint finish. What’s more, these durable brushes are built to handle numerous projects. So, with proper care, nylon/polyester brushes should last for years.
  • Polyester brushes are best for latex paints. These brushes hold their shape and stiffness in any paint and apply paint smoothly and evenly.
Brush Sizes
  • 1″ to 2″ – window and other small trim
  • 3″ – glossy paints for doors and cabinets
  • 4″ – large, flat areas
Brush End Types
  • Chisel Trim Brush – slanted bristles produce a good, straight line for trimming in corners and edges.
  • Square Trim Brush – the ends of the bristles are cut square and used primarily for applying paint over flat areas.
  • Angled Brush – bristles are cut to make it easier to apply paint to window trim.
Brush Styles
  • Thin Angle Sash – slanted bristles and a thin profile produce a good, straight line for trimming in corners and edges.
  • Angle Sash – features slanted bristles and holds more paint than its thin counterpart. Excellent for cutting in at the ceiling or painting trim.
  • Flat Sash – bristles are straight across and used primarily for applying paint over flat areas.
  • Trim – a flat brush ideal for painting large flat surfaces, especially exterior siding.
  • Wall – a thick flat brush that holds a larger amount of paint. Excellent for painting larger surface areas.

Source – Sherwin Williams


Suggested Materials

Wooster Paintbrush

Purdy Paintbrush


Paint Rollers

There is no such thing as a perfect paint roller however, the pros have a few tips and tricks to offer when choosing a roller. 

Consider the nap length of the roller. The longer the nap is the more paint it will hold as well as the more texture it will create. 

Pro Painting Tip

You can use an inexpensive roller, just wash the roller with a little dawn dish soap before you use it. This gets rid of any stray fiber the roller has.

In terms of paint roller length, the pros opt for the 8 inch over the 18 inch. The 8 inch roller is easier to manage and is suitable for my cases. And 18 inch roller works best for every large room where there is a lot of square feet to cover.

Pros rarely use paint trays. Instead, they opt for 5-gallon buckets with roller grids. Reasons being, the larger buckets are harder to knock over and you tend to be more visibly aware of a bucket over a  tray.

Another key reason the pros prefer roller buckets is that they hold a larger amount of paint, which in turn saves you time from stopping to refill the paint often.

Finally, when you are using more paint coming from multiple cans, it helps keep the color consistent, avoiding any potential discrepancies. 

Suggested Materials


Paint Rollers

Paint Bucket


Paint roller pole

A paint roller pole will help you easily paint ceilings and walls. You won’t need to use a ladder as much which will save you time.
Roller poles range in lengths, but the Pros prefer a telescoping roller pole to easily adjust to any room situation when necessary.

Suggested Materials


Telescoping Painters Pole


Pro Painting Tips

Loading you paintbrush

It seems like a simple concept, dip the paintbrush in the paint and wipe off the excess on the side of the paint can. Sure it’s a perfectly acceptable way to load your paintbrush but, is it the best way to do it?

Pro Painting TipBefore using a paintbrush, wet the brush with water if latex paint is being used, or mineral spirits for an oil based paint. Remove the excess liquid, you want a damp brush not wet. This step will help the paint transfer better to the surface, and make it easier to apply.

Once you have prepped your paintbrush, you want to dip your brush into the paint about halfway up the bristle. Do this a couple of times to ensure you have the brush full.

Now here is the Pro painting tip, do not wipe the brush on the side of the bucket. Instead, tap the bristles on the inside of the bucket. 

Wiping the bristles on the side is doing exactly that, wiping the paint off the brush. By tapping the brush you are keeping the paint on the brush, but just removing the excess.  This is one of the Pro painting tips that I really saw a difference with.

Paint the room in order

The Pros suggest you paint from top to bottom. So this would be starting with the ceiling first then, working on any crown molding. From there, paint the walls. After the walls, move on to casement trim around the doors and windows. Finishing off with the baseboards last.

Pro Painting TipsCheck your work in between coats and sand down any bumps or imperfections that may happen. Using a light to inspect the walls will help you spot these imperfections.

Cutting in

Cutting in is usually the trickiest part of an interior paint job. Luckily, these Pro painting tips are here to help.

To cut in, start brushing about 1/2 inch away from the cut-in area to apply the paint. As you go along and the brush unloads some of the paint, move over and slowly drag the brush along with the trim or corner.

Ideally, you want the bristles to gently push the paint against the cut-in area where the walls meet. This may have to be done in a  few passes, but it will avoid any excess paint along with the woodwork and in the corners.

Paint One Interior Wall at a Time

It may be tempting to do all your cutting in at once but don’t. Cut in and paint one wall at a time.

By doing this you will be able to blend the rolled paint and the brushed paint seamlessly. 

Textured Ceiling

Painting a straight line along a textured ceiling is near impossible. You’ll usually end up with paint all over the texture bumps on the ceiling.

The Pros have a simple fix for this issue. They run a screwdriver along the perimeter of the ceiling to scrape off the texture. By doing this interior painting tip, it creates a small ridge in the ceiling where the tips of paintbrush bristles naturally land, rather than on the ceiling texture.

Wrap Your Paint Rollers

If you plan on continuing a job the next day, rather than washing the rollers clean, soak them in paint then wrap them tightly in plastic. This is a great time saver. However, if you are unable to continue the job within a few days it’s recommended you wash your rollers to ensure they don’t dry out.

Pro Painting TipsWhen you aren’t using your paint bucket or paint can cover them with a wet rag. This will keep the paint from drying out.

Dealing with Interior Paint Lapping and Brush Strokes 

What are lap marks?

paint roller

Lap marks are where the wet and the dry roller layers overlap during application. The key to avoiding lap marks is to move quickly while keeping a wet edge. This will allow for a seamless transition to freshly applied paint. 

What are brush strokes?

paint brush with paint

Brush strokes are where you are able to see the bristle marks in the paint from the paintbrush.

Another great Pro painting tip to avoid lap marks, as well as brush strokes, is to use a paint additive to your latex paint. Using an additive like this will slow down the drying time of the paint making it more workable.

Suggested Materials


Floetrol 


*Pro Painting Tip* – Accidents happen. Keep a cheap sponge brush on hand to blend a patch with the rest of the wall or woodwork. To mimic the look of a roller, simply dab on the paint.

By following these awesome pro painting tips from the prep to the actual painting process, you’ll be able to have your home looking like your hired a professional painter.

To sum it up, there are a ton of house painting tips here you can use next time you plan on painting a room. 

Don’t start painting until you have the right tools!

SHOP MUST HAVE PAINTING TOOLS

Be prepared to swatch!


BUY SWATCH BRUSHES

Don’t forget, when it comes to paint colors it’s always a good idea to paint large swatches where you intend to use the color. Lighting will change in the room so pay attention and be observant. You want to make sure you will love the color in every lighting situation.

Use Samplize Peel & Stick Paint Samples for a mess-free way to test paint colors!

Before you go, Grab your FREE Interior Painting Checklist!

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3 thoughts on “Painting Tips from the Pros”

  1. My daughter’s tenth birthday is coming up next month, and I want to redecorate her bedroom as her present because she has been asking to paint it a different color for a while now. You make a great point that I should think about the nap length of a paint roller before purchasing one. I think that my daughter would prefer that the wall look more textured, so a longer nap length would probably be best.

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