The Top 25 Best House Painting Tips You'll Ever Receive

25 House Painting Tips Used by Pros

Posted on 24. Jul, 2014 by in Painting Resources

At Chris Bridge Painting, we pride ourselves on being fast, efficient, and technically flawless when it comes to completing residential painting projects. If you’re considering painting your own house, it is essential to follow the 25 tips below. Professional painters have mastered techniques most DIY enthusiasts have no idea about, and these could be the difference between a fabulous result and an outright mess.

Sand the Surface Smooth

For perfectly painted woodwork or walls, you need the smoothest of surfaces. Sanding is a major part of painting preparation, as it removes rough spots and burrs. Sand your walls from the baseboard to the ceiling using fine-grit sandpaper; a sanding pole helps you get the best result. Use a smooth motion, don’t apply too much pressure, and use a sanding sponge to get into crevices.

Woman sanding a wall with sanding block

Use Tinted Primer

Professional painters patch cracks and fill holes with joint compound, but painting directly over it takes away the paint’s moisture and gives it a dull appearance. To prevent this from happening, be sure to prime the walls before painting. Use a tinted primer instead of a white one, as it covers existing paint color better.

How to Avoid Lap Marks

These are the nasty looking stripes caused by paint buildup in uneven layers. They happen when you roll over partly dry paint. Avoid this by using a “wet edge”; you can do this by starting near a corner and running the roller up and down the wall’s full height and move over slightly with every stroke. Ensure the roller is always half-loaded, and keep the open side of the roller frame on the side that’s already been painted.

Use a Giant Paint Bucket for Consistent Color

Believe it or not, the paint color can vary slightly from one can to the next, so if you open a new can halfway through a project, the color difference may become obvious. To prevent this from happening, estimate the amount of paint needed and mix it into a giant bucket, preferably a five-gallon one. When in doubt, always overestimate, since you can always return leftover paint to the original cans.

A stack of paint buckets

Use a Putty Knife to Secure Tape

If you don’t rigidly attach paint tape to a surface, you’ll discover paint has “bled” through. Scraping off this excess paint is a pain, so prevention is better than cure in this instance. Place the tape over the surface and run a putty knife over it to ensure a good seal. Blue painter’s tape is far superior to masking tape for this purpose, hence the name!

Be Patient for the Perfect Edge

Too many DIY projects are ruined by impatience! If you want a perfect edge, simply wait for the paint to fully dry and then remove the tape. If you have sealed it properly, as mentioned in tip Number 5, you’ll have an edge a professional painter would be proud of!

Textured Ceilings Giving You Problems? Scrape a Ridge

When you paint along the edges of textured ceilings, you are almost certain to get paint on the ceiling bumps if you want a straight line along the top of the wall. To combat this issue, get a screwdriver and run it along the ceiling’s perimeter in order to scrape off the texture. You create a tiny ridge in the ceiling that allows the tips of the paint bristles to easily go into it.

canvas drop cloth

Canvas Drop Cloths for Easy Cleaning

Bed sheets should never be used as drop cloths during a paint job as they don’t stop splatters and spills from getting through to the floor. Even plastic isn’t the best option, because paint stays wet while on it and gets dragged throughout the home by your feet, as it inevitably finds the bottom of your shoes. Canvas drop cloths are not slippery and are excellent at absorbing splatters. Unless you’re painting a ceiling, all you need is a cloth that’s a few feet wide and covers the length of the walls.

Paint the Trim First

A basic DIY mistake is to paint the ceilings and walls first and leave the trim until last. Professional painters always follow a certain order when painting a room. First of all, the trim is painted; then the ceiling is painted while the walls are left until last. The reason for this? It is far easier to tape off the trim than the walls, and you don’t want to tape them off together! Additionally, you don’t need to be overly careful when painting the trim, because it doesn’t matter if the paint gets on the walls since you will be painting over them later. After the trim is painted and dry, tape it off before completing the ceiling and finally the walls.

Painting the window trim

Complete One Wall Entirely Before Moving On to the Next

It is normal for DIY painters to begin by doing all the edges and corners in a room before returning to roll the walls, but this isn’t the best strategy. To get that seamless professional look, cut in one wall and immediately roll it before painting the next one. As a result, the brushed and rolled paint blend together better. Always cover your paint container with a damp towel when transitioning between brushing and rolling to prevent your tools from drying out between uses.

Clean Dirty Surfaces

The “quick fix” is to paint over dirty, oily surfaces and hope the paint covers things up, but you’ll be left with paint that easily peels off. Prior to painting, clean greasy areas with a heavy-duty cleaner or a deglosser. Kitchen and bathroom walls are the most likely to be grimy and dirty; when you have a clean surface, the adhesion of the new paint improves.

Don’t Tape Windows – Scrape Instead!

When painting sashes, don’t tape the windows since it takes too long and the paint normally ends up on the windows despite your best efforts. Instead of taping, allow the paint to get on the glass and scrape it off using a razor blade. The paint will be removed in a matter of seconds, but don’t break the paint bond between the glass and wood because moisture can get in and cause the wood to rot.

Painting around a window

Wash Your Roller Covers

Regardless of whether you purchase cheap or expensive roller covers, you need to wash them before their first use in order to remove the fuzz that otherwise comes off when you begin painting. Water and a little bit of liquid soap should do the trick, and you need to run your hands down and up the covers to get rid of loose fibers. You can use the rollers immediately, as drying is not necessary.

Begin With a Loaded Brush

Professional painters dip their brushes into the paint so that the first 1.5 inches or so is covered, then they tap each side to remove heavy drips and start painting! This is a far more effective method of painting than dragging your loaded brush across the sides of the paint container, thus removing much of the paint.

Avoid Runs by Pushing the Paint

When you have a loaded brush, it’s very easy to create runs by adding too much paint to trim or along corners. A good way to prevent this is by brushing ½-inch away from the cut-in area. When you unload the brush, slowly drag it along the corner/trim and allow the bristles to push the paint against the area where the walls meet. It will take a few applications, but it stops unsightly extra paint getting in along woodwork and corners.

How to Save Leftover Paint

It is difficult to determine how much paint you need, so it is always better to overestimate. When this happens, simply add a piece of plastic wrap on top of your open paint can. Spray cooking oil over the plastic and secure the lid tightly. After turning the bucket upside down, you’ll find you have created a new airtight seal.

Weather Tips

Man painting house exterior starting at the top

Don’t paint in direct sunlight, as this causes the paint to dry too fast, thus guaranteeing lap marks. You should also avoid painting on windy days, as again the paint will dry too fast and dirt may blow into the paint. Never apply latex paint in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit unless it is specifically designed for cold weather. Finally, don’t paint if you believe it is going to rain.

Start at the Top

This really is house painting 101! You need to begin at the top and work your way down in order to prevent streaks. This advice actually applies whether you are painting indoors or outdoors.

Use Aluminum Wedges

One of the biggest issues facing DIY exterior paint jobs is the possibility of siding rot. Aluminum wedges can be the answer to your prayers, as they are exceptional at preventing this problem from occurring. Simply slip the wedges beneath the house’s siding to ensure areas with moisture problems have enough air circulation.

Choose Your Paint Wisely

It is all too easy to go for price when choosing an exterior paint, but professionals always look at quality first and foremost. Using cheap, low-quality paint is a disaster for exterior painting, because it simply won’t hold up to the intense weathering it will face. The paint will only keep its color and moisture with adequate protection from sunlight and temperature extremes. A lack of moisture may lead to mildew, and this can cause the paint to crack.

Choosing the right paint

Check for Wood Rot

If you have failed to maintain the paint on the outside of your house and it is peeling, check to see if there is wood rot. Use a wood petrifier if there is; simply get rid of the bad wood by scraping it away and add in the petrifier, as it ensures the wood becomes very hard. Finally, fill in the gaps with resin or proxy adhesive.

Effective Clapboard Surface Painting

If you’re painting clapboard surfaces, work from side to side and reduce lap marks by focusing on a maximum of five boards across the house until you finish. Start by painting where two boards overlap; use the narrow side of your brush and force the paint beneath the lap.

Protecting Brushes and Other Equipment

Man painting house exterior with roller

Always wrap your brushes, rollers, trays, and other equipment in plastic when you plan on taking a break. This will ensure the paint does not become hard and also stop it from developing a “skin.” When looking to remove excess paint from your brush, drag its heel over the lip of the can.

Use Both Brush and Roller

This is the quickest and most effective way to paint the exterior of your home. Use a brush when painting edges or small/narrow surfaces, and use the roller to take care of larger surface areas.

Ladder Safety

Professionals don’t neglect safety procedures when painting outdoors, and neither should you! Much of the job will require you to be on a ladder, so be careful not to overreach to the side or else there’s a good chance you will fall. Always keep your hips within the horizontal ladder rails, and rather than trying to do too much at once, be smart: climb down the ladder and move it to the side. It may take longer to finish the job this way, but at least you won’t end up in the hospital!

Men painting house exterior on ladders

A good exterior or interior paint job will extend the life of your surfaces and also make your home look more aesthetically pleasing. Although you may be tempted to go for it DIY-style, it is usually better to bring in a professional paint team instead. While you should certainly look to finish small jobs yourself, it is normally more sensible on projects of a grander scale to bring in experts who will follow all of the above tips to the letter.

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