“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” Attributed to legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, this famous rhetorical question could apply to nearly any type of task. That being said, we’re pretty sure Wooden was talking to anyone getting ready to paint like a pro.
Painting interior walls is one of the most common DIY projects. Not only is it more cost-effective than hiring a pro, but with some good music and the right painting partner(s), it can actually be fun. What’s not fun is looking around your freshly painted room and realizing, too late, what you should have done differently—which is why we invite you to check out these pro tips before you start.
Invest in Quality
When shopping for paint and supplies, it can be tempting to put price above all else. Some may reason that paint is paint, or that freshening up a small or low-traffic space isn’t worth the higher price. Others are willing to spend top dollar on paint itself but believe any brush or roller will do.
The fact is, quality matters across the board. From primer to paint to painter’s tape, better products will make for an easier, quicker job and help ensure an optimal result that lasts. Our experts are here to help you choose the right supplies for your specific project.
Inspect and Prep
Most painting mistakes occur before paint even enters the picture. Before you open that can:
- Clear the walls. Remove all outlet and switch plate covers, wall hangings and sconces.
- Check for imperfections. Thoroughly check all walls for holes, cracks, bumps or other visible issues. Patch these areas with spackling putty and/or sand as needed for a smooth surface. When finished, wipe away dust and residue with a damp cloth.
- Protect floors and furniture. No matter how cautious a painter you are, drop cloths are your friend. Cover furniture (once you’ve moved it away from walls) and floors with canvas drop cloths. Canvas is the operative word here, as plastic sheeting, even when dry, poses a serious slip-and-fall risk.
- Take the time to tape. As with covering large surfaces, protecting edges with high-quality professional painter’s tape (not masking tape) is a critical prep step. Apply tape firmly and neatly around door and window frames, baseboards and any other non-removable structures to ensure clean lines where surfaces meet.
Use Time-Tested Techniques
How do the pros get it just right? It may be easier than you think. Once you’re ready to break out the brushes, remember these simple tips:
- Line your trays. Use plastic tray liners (or even foil) for easy cleanup and reuse of your paint trays.
- Don’t forgo primer. Starting with primer reduces the chances of needing multiple coats of paint. A wise idea in any case, this step is an absolute must if the new color is lighter than the existing one or you’re covering a glossy painted surface.
- Start with edges. Back when your goal was to color inside the lines, you probably started by coloring just inside them. Using this same basic strategy, start by using a brush to paint carefully along the edges you’ve taped, such as where the ceiling meets the wall.
- Paint in “W”s. Ever notice that pro jobs never seem to show clear roller marks? The secret is to never keep it straight—up and down or side to side, that is. Painting overlapping “W”s creates a repetitious zigzag pattern that appears seamless once dry.
Hopefully, our take-home message is clear: You can paint like a pro. Stop by the store to find everything you’ll need, and for more specific guidance from our experienced home improvement staff. You can make John Wooden proud. We can help.