Professional painters are fast and efficient, and they have mastered techniques that produce top-notch results while making it all look easy. Each painter has slightly different methods and preferences, but the pros all know the trade secrets.
1. SAND AWAY FLAWS
You have to start with a perfectly smooth surface to end up with perfectly painted walls or woodwork. One pro says that “sander” would be a more fitting job title than “painter,” since he spends so much time pushing sandpaper. Sanding levels outs spackle or joint-compound patches and flattens ridges around nail holes. Sanding also removes burrs and rough spots in your trim.
Sand the walls from the baseboard to the ceiling with fine grit sanding paper on a sanding pole. Then sand horizontally along the baseboard and ceiling. Don’t put a lot of pressure on the sanding pole or the head can flip over and damage the wall. Sand woodwork with a sanding sponge to get into crevices.
2. USE TINTED PRIMER
Before the pros paint walls, they fill holes and patch cracks with joint compound. But if you paint directly over it, the compound will suck the moisture out of the paint, giving it a flat, dull look (a problem called “flashing”). Those spots will look noticeably different than the rest of the wall. To avoid that, pros prime the walls before painting.
3. PRESS TAPE WITH A PUTTY KNIFE
Nothing is more discouraging when you’ve finished painting than to peel tape off the woodwork and discover the paint bled through. To avoid the pain-in-the-neck chore of scraping off the paint, do a thorough job of adhering the tape before you start. “Apply tape over the wood, then run a putty knife over the top to press down the tape for a good seal,” a painter with more than 16 years of experience says. “That’ll stop any paint bleeds.”
Use blue painter’s tape instead of masking tape. Masking tape can leave behind a sticky residue that’s hard to clean off. Plus, paint can cause the tape to buckle or get wavy, which lets paint run underneath it. Painter’s tape can be left on for days (some up to two weeks) and still peel off cleanly. And it stops paint bleed without buckling.
4. PUSH PAINT TO AVOID RUNS
When your brush is loaded with paint, it’s easy to create runs by applying too much paint in corners or along trim. To avoid that, start brushing about 1/2 inch away from the cut-in area to apply the paint. As the brush unloads, move over and slowly drag the brush along the trim or corner. Let the bristles gently push the paint against the cut-in area where the walls meet. You may have to do this a couple of times to get complete coverage, but it will avoid excess paint along woodwork and in corners.
5. START WITH A LOADED BRUSH
Pros take a “load and go” approach to painting. They load the bottom 1 1/2 inches of their brushes with paint, tap each side against the inside of their container to knock off the heavy drips, and then start painting. By contrast, homeowners often take a “load and dump” approach of dragging the loaded brush along the sides of their container and wiping off most of the paint. “It doesn’t do you any good to dunk your brush in paint, then immediately wipe it all off,” says that same 16-year veteran painter.
6. WASH ROLLER COVERS
Whether you buy cheap or expensive roller covers, washing them before their first use gets rid of the fuzz that inevitably comes off once you start painting. Wash them with water and a little bit of liquid soap, and run your hands up and down the covers to pull off any loose fibers (a practice called “preconditioning covers”). You can start using the roller covers right away — you don’t need to let them dry.
7. SCRAPE (DON’T TAPE) WINDOWS
Don’t bother taping windows when painting sashes—it takes a long time and paint usually ends up on the glass anyway. Go ahead and let paint get on the glass. Once it’s dry, simply scrape it off with a razor blade. The paint peels off in seconds. “Just be careful to not break the paint bond between the wood and the glass,” a pro cautions. “Otherwise, moisture can get on the wood and cause rot.”