The Top One Million Painting Tips of All Time

Okay, I actually don’t know one million painting tips. And no way could you ever read that many, anyway, even if I did. It’s just a humorous and Painting tipscatchy title, so don’t be writing in about how there aren’t one million, there’s only 19 or something. At least it made you look didn’t it?!

Besides, I am planning for the future and I’m sure eventually I will think of a lot more, maybe even a million okay? So here they are, in no particular order except as I thought of writing them down.

PS: I know it’s not one million.

  1. Don’t worry so much about painting. There are more important things in life, like people. You ought to care more about people than painting any day. If the job comes out wrong just paint over it. It’s not that big a deal. You might even like the way it turned out. I think that’s how faux finish was invented. (Wallpaper though, well there’s nothing funny about wallpaper. That stuff is hell to get off when you don’t like it.)
  2. Use the best paint. Always use Premium grade paint. It has more solids to it unlike cheap paint (aka whitewash). The more expensive paint will use fewer coats to cover. It will last longer, be more resistant to scuffs and probably look better too. Cheap paint is no bargain.
  3. Small rollers 4” long and 1” across (called ‘Whizz’ etc.) are a great tool for hard to reach places (like behind a toilet) and also can substitute for a brush sometimes. They are fuzzy around the tube and also fuzzy on the end so you can mush in paint into little tight corners etc. Keep the frame and buy refills for an economical long-term tool investment.
  4. Figure out what gloss level you need on your paint. Shiny is more washable but doesn’t look as good because it reflects all the wall defects. I get the lowest sheen I can for the purpose. I used to use eggshell more but now I use flat if people don’t intend to wash walls. It looks great, like velvet. The better high quality flat paints are also washable to a degree too.
  5. Oil vs. Latex- the age old battle. Latex is soooo much easier to work with and better for the environment, easier to clean up etc. Oil paint lasts a super long time and is the most durable. But it needs thinners for clean-up which is horrible. You have to make your own call on this. Mostly we’re leaning more and more towards latex as is the rest of the world.
  6. Use the computer to paint your house: Many of the paint manufacturers have a program on your website where you can preview colours, either using a picture of your own house (uploaded) or using a ‘sample’ house on the site. It can give you a good idea of what colours would look best and be to your taste.
  7. Sometimes people say “I saw this house and I want the same colours on my house.” When they tell me the address I go look and find it is a completely different style of house. For example a modernist rancher with flat roof and all clean lines will not suit the same colours as a Queen Anne/Victorian. Common sense. So pick colours that work for your house and if you don’t know how to do that hire a designer.
  8. Let me say this about designers. They can make all the difference on your job. If you don’t know what works then you might pick colours that bring about dizziness, nausea or other unwanted side effects in family and friends. These people go to school and learn the basic rules about harmonics and complementing colours and cool and warm tones and mood and so on. A good designer can ask you questions about your tastes and lifestyle and make it look like ‘you’ as in “that paint job is really YOU! darling” even when you don’t know how they did it. They usually know a lot about paint too.
  9. Do you have a concrete basement floor and want a cheap option to jazz it up? Consider using a concrete stain which gives a trendy sort of industrial/designer look. The stain may require a clear sealer coat to keep dust from rising up as the concrete dries out over time. You can throw an area rug over it and create a great look. The stains are specified to be used indoors; outdoors or both, so check that you have the right product. Also when painting a floor it’s very difficult to fall off. Spilled paint may even help too. Start in the corner furthest from the door eh?
  10. When you paint or clean the outside of your house, use ladder stand-offs or elbows that attach to the top 2 rungs. They are available where you’d expect, or go to a ladder manufacturer. They hold the ladder about a foot away from the wall and make it much easier to work at the top of a ladder. Also the ladder becomes way more stable and safe.
  11. Instead of a regular step-ladder for painting or work around the house, consider buying a ‘3-Way’ ladder. This is a ladder that goes straight up like an extension ladder and also can be used as a step ladder. Plus it can be used on stairs and uneven surfaces because each end adjusts to different heights. Check it out on the web or your favorite building supply store.
  12. When you first open a can of fresh paint it’s full to the top. So how do you get a brush in there and wipe the excess? Well, what you need to do is since you’ll be cutting (brushing) the edges of the walls and rolling the middle, you should dump about 1/3 or more of the can into your roller tray. That way you have a can that is much lighter and has room to wipe off the excess. If you’re super smart you’ll wash out the empty can (when you’re done) and save it to use next time as your ‘cutting pot’ meaning you only put about 2-3” of paint in the bottom and its easier to work a brush with.
  13. By the way, the real pro’s don’t wipe off the excess. They slap the brush a couple of times against the interior walls of the can, and that knocks off the excess paint, allowing them to remove the brush and use it without dripping on the floor. When you get this technique down, people will think you’re a real pro.painting ladder
  14. You can paint kitchen cupboards with a paint called Melamine, like the counter-top material. It is strong and washable. It says you can use it for counters too. I don’t because it does rub off over time. Do it right and get a new counter-top if you need to. Or learn to live with the old one. Melamine is kind of stinky as an alkyd based product. You’ll need thinners. But it’s a pretty cheap solution to old ugly cupboards.
  15. Blue painters tape is for more delicate surfaces, like ones recently painted. Green tape is a bit stronger. I normally just use green. If you are using the tape to make straight ‘cut’ line then after you get the tape in place go along the edge to make sure it is making firm contact with the wall. This ensures no paint bleed under the tape. You’ll get a nice clean line.
  16. When you fill in wall defects with mud or filler, you should dab a little paint over that before you do the topcoat. Obviously the new filler is very porous. So you want to ‘spot prime’ it, sealing up the filler before you paint so all the surfaces absorb an even amount of paint. If you don’t do this you will still be able to see all the spots where repairs were done after you finish painting.
  17. When you paint glossy walls or trim, sometimes the new paint doesn’t stick so well because shiny and slippery are synonymous (well not really synonymous, but they tend to go together). Anyway you need to do something to increase the adhesion. You have 2 choices, you can sand lightly (called scuff sanding) or you can apply a bonding primer. That’s a flat paint that makes an Oreo cookie out of 2 layers of paint with the bonding primer being the white sticky stuff in the middle. It will make the job last longer. Do not eat the primer – it only acts like an Oreo.
  18. Another kind of primer is a blocker primer. This is manufactured as ‘Kilz’ or ‘Zinzer’ or any names with lots of ‘Z’s in it. They are basically a shellac. Usually white. They keep things like crayon and ink stains from coming through. They also block tobacco smoke and other greasy stains. Use them and avoid doing 23 topcoats where the old stains keep coming through. You can spot prime or do a whole wall. Some stink terribly. Others are sold as ‘odorless’.
  19. Let’s talk about touch ups. These are often a myth. Sometimes if you have the same can of paint that originally painted the wall you can do a touch up that doesn’t show. A roller is better than a brush for this. Try to feather the paint out meaning gradually release pressure on the roller toward the edge of the stroke until you lift it off the wall. But often you can see the touch up spot. The reasons are various. The new spot may be cleaner than the old paint. The old paint may be faded. There may be a sheen difference due to wear and tear or due to additional build up from the extra layer.Usually on a touch up the best way is to repaint that whole wall or ‘plane from corner to corner and your touch up will then be virtually invisible.
  20. When painting deep colours like reds or bright colours like oranges or yellows, they won’t cover with 1,2 or even 3 coats. The paint is too transparent due to the amount of colour tint in a Clear Base. So you need a special basecoat to go on first. These are grey or white and when applied they suck up the new bright colour evenly and give a good appearance in minimal coats. You may think these are more money but it’s not. It can be cheaper than skipping that step. I’ve seen 5 coats of yellow applied and look terrible. It is like using a Hi-Lighter 5 times. You’ll never cover up what’s beneath it.
  21. Can you paint latex over oil? Yes, in many cases. The biggest concern is that the new paint sticks to the old paint, as covered in #17 above. But normally the flexibility of latex base allows it to stretch and move, even over old brittle oil paint. Mainly when people would say you couldn’t paint latex over oil it was because of the shininess of the enamel, not because “oil and water don’t mix’. Of course you can’t mix latex and oil paint together and expect good results. That would only apply with cans of wet paint.
  22. Did you read our FAQ’s page? That gives another eleven great Tips.
  23. Another good way to learn about painting is to watch the design shows and renovation shows on TV. Also go to the home improvement fairs. Finally many Paint stores and Building Centers offer classes and seminars. They all help.
  24. Paint ceilings in flat paint because it looks best and doesn’t get much traffic or walking on. Use semigloss in a Kitchen or Bathroom where you may wash it or to give resistance to water. Also for a designer look, paint the ceilings the same colour as the walls, unless it is a dark colour. Then it looks a little too Goth.
  25. If you don’t know how to spray paint you may not want to try it on your first important job. Volunteer to paints somebody’s barn first for practice, or a government building, or something else unimportant.
  26. NINE-HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE THOUSAND NINE-HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE:If it really seems all too much and you just can’t be bothered with all these details then hire us to do it! We already know all this stuff. We wrote the book on it. Plus we do all the work and guarantee the results. You can go to a movie or go on vacation while we do it. All you have to do is write a cheque. That’s not so hard is it?
  27. Spend less time on the home improvements and more time with the people you care about.