March 28th, 2012

Tips and Tricks & Dealing With Disasters

I have painted quite a lot of rooms and pieces of furniture over my years of transforming houses and painting retail display walls. During this time I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I want to share with you—easy ideas to make the job of painting faster and easier so your results will look like a pro did it. With all the painting I have done, I have also seen my share of paint disasters happen right before my eyes—from an entire gallon spilling onto brand new carpet to a roller flinging out of my hand and landing on an unprotected sofa. Instead of going into “panic-mode,” I learned to go into “action-mode.” Here are a few of my favorite painting tips and tricks.


Spilled Paint

Imagine you just spilled bright orange paint on your rug or the roller slipped from your hand onto a section of the floor that wasn’t covered with a drop cloth. Thinking quickly instead of panicking will lessen the disaster. Stop painting and deal with the spill ASAP. You don’t want the paint to dry.


Do not wipe it at first. Instead, have two pieces of foam board or heavy cardboard (approx. 12 x 12) ready to go when you set up your painting supplies. Use them to scoop the paint spill up, working from the outside of the spill to the inside. Wipe the paint off the cardboard and go back to scooping up the paint with the cardboard until you have most of it picked up. Once the excess paint is removed, you need to work with an absorbent white towel and rug cleaner or a mixture of detergent and water. Pour the cleaner and water mixture over the spill and begin to blot the towel over the spill. Keep doing this, using a different section of the towel to absorb and remove the paint as you go. If the paint is still visible, use a water suction rug-cleaning machine with a cleaning agent over the spill and then blot with a towel until the spill is no longer visible.


You Don’t Like the New Color

Say very calmly: “It’s only paint, it’s only paint, it’s only paint,” three times. That’s all it is—paint! All you need to do is roll a new color over it to change it. I know it means more work for you, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a pretty simple fix. Homeowners face this dilemma all the time. Ask any professional painter how many times they’ve painted the same room twice after the homeowner didn’t like the first color they picked. Their answer will surely be “a lot!”


Sometimes the shock of seeing the new color on the walls makes it seem off or a bit jarring at first, since your eyes were accustomed to the old color. Live with the new color for a few days to see if you get used to it. If after a week you still don’t like it, then it’s time to get your rollers out.


Have the Right Tools on Hand



These are my go-to tools that I start every paint project with:


Paint Can Opener – I have used a flat head screwdriver and even the bottom of a fork or spoon, but an opener made for the rim of a paint can makes the job of opening the can so much easier.


Razor Blade – Use it for scraping excess paint or tape off glass and ceramic floors.


Painter’s Tape – Never use beige masking tape. It rips apart and is too sticky. Painter’s tape has less tack and is made to cut down on the possibility of paint bleeding through. Remove the tape before your paint dries. If you’re rolling on two coats of paint, paint the second coat on as soon as the first one is dry. Then remove the tape. If you let the paint dry and remove the tape afterwards you may see areas where a little bit of the paint comes off with the tape.


Pointy Cotton Swaps – For fast edge clean up.


High Quality Brushes – All paintbrushes are not created equally. Buy the best brush you can afford. If you clean it after each use, you will have it for years, so it is money well spent. Cheaper brushes lose bristles and you will see them drying along with the paint on the surface of whatever you are working on. Cheap brushes also leave brush marks. Another thing to keep in mind about brushes: If you are painting trim or cutting in around the ceiling and floor of a room, use a stiff angled brush. It will make the job much easier since the stiffness and angle of the brush glides right into the edges, corners, and angles with no splaying of the bristles.


Edge Tool – This is the best painting invention EVER! I will not paint a room without one of these handy tools. There is a pad that you load with paint from your paint tray. On top there are two wheels that when placed on the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling the wheels roll perfectly to create a straight line. I use it along the baseboards, door, and window trim, too.


Short Nap Roller – As with brushes, buy the best roller you can afford. I always use short nap rollers—they produce a smooth finish. Long nap or very plush-looking rollers will leave an orange peel texture on your surface. So if you want smooth, always use a short nap.



Test Your Chosen Paint Color
Before you invest in a gallon or more of paint, the best way to save your time and money is to test the color. For around $3 you can get a tester size and try it out on the actual wall. You can also paint a piece of white foam board and hang it up on your wall to help you determine if you like the way the color looks.



Small Drop Cloths

When painting walls I have found that big drop cloths get in the way and bunch up. When I worked in display we used promotional display signs instead. We taped them to the floor. If you go to any department store and ask to speak to the display manager, I am sure they will give or save you some the next time they have a bunch that are headed for the dumpster. Another option is to open up cardboard boxes and line them up. They are thick so they don’t even need to be taped down. I get mine in the “Cardboard Only” dumpster behind my local dollar store.



Keep the Paint Can Rim Clean

Place a large rubber band around the paint can once it’s open. Every time you dip the brush in, wipe it against the rubber band instead of the rim to get rid of excess paint.



Easily Clean Up

Use a pointy-tipped cotton swab. The pointy tips make it easy to swipe right into the crevice along the ceiling line, floor, or trim and clean up the smudge without affecting the wet paint on the wall. Without the pointy tip you would end up wiping some of the wet wall paint off while you’re trying to take care of the smudge. I keep them in my pocket when I paint, as I seem to always get paint where it doesn’t belong.



Easy Window Painting Clean Up

Before painting window sashes, I spread a bit of lip balm right along the edge of the glass with a cotton swab. After painting, any paint that got on the glass is easily wiped away—no razor blade scraping needed. I first read about using petroleum jelly, but I found that was too greasy.