Property 101: Seven tips to paint like a pro

Property 101: Seven tips to paint like a pro
Property 101: Seven tips to paint like a pro

Painting the walls of your home is a great way to freshen up your living space, and add value to your home at the same time.  

Hiring a professional painter means you’ll have an impeccable finish, save you loads of time and means you won’t have to deal with the mess. But it can be an expensive exercise, and may not fit in your budget. If you’re thinking about a DIY paint job, we’ve got some tips to get you painting like a pro.

1. It’s all about the prep

All of the painting pros know that the most important part of a great paint job happens before the paintbrushes come out. To start with, fill any holes in your walls with a filler, and smooth over with a filling knife. Then, use sandpaper to give your surfaces a good sanding, ridding your wall of imperfections and ensuring it is smooth. The next step is to remove dust and dirt from the wall by cleaning the surface with a damp cloth – sugar soap is great for this – and let it dry. The cleaning process is important, because you want your paint to grip to the wall, not dust particles, giving you a smoother finish.    

2. Watch the weather

Yep, believe it or not, mother nature can impact your paint job. If the air in the room where you’re painting is warm and dry, your paint will dry more quickly and consistently. If it’s cold in your room, use a heater to warm the air, and a fan to push the air throughout the room. Humidity is your enemy – it will delay the drying process – however using a fan in the room during and after your paint job will assist with keeping humidity levels low. If the paint is taking longer than four hours to dry, try using a dehumidifier. Make sure you check your paint tin for directions on paint performance and drying times.

3. Use a canvas drop cloth

As tempting as it is to get an old sheet from the linen cupboard, make the effort to borrow or buy a canvas drop cloth to cover your floors or carpet; bed sheets won’t stop paint spills from seeping through to your flooring. ‘What about plastic sheets?’ you might be saying to yourself… While doing a good job of protecting your floors, they prevent paint from drying quickly, and you’ll be bound to step in your spills and spread paint everywhere.  

4. Splurge for the blue tape 

It’s important to tape edges where you don’t want paint to cross, such as the tops of skirting board and door handles. Masking tape can do the job, but the blue painter’s tape will do the job better – with less chance of leaking as well as not leaving a sticky reside that can be annoying to clean off afterwards. To create a good seal and prevent bleeding, use a putty knife to press over the tape. It’s often not worth your while to tape windows – just paint somewhat carefully and use a razor blade to scrape paint spills off the glass when you’re finished. Paint should come off glass easily, and this process is often a lot easier and quicker than taping the window in the first place. 

5. Boxing, without gloves

If you’re painting a big surface, you will probably require more than one paint tin, and often the colour can slightly vary from one tin to another. Painters use a process called ‘boxing’ to prevent this – pouring all of paint from multiple tins into one big bucket to ensure a consistent colour from the first wall to the last. Make sure you give the bucket a good stir with a long stick that reaches the bottom, and you’re all set for an even colour.   

6. 1200 techniques 

Everyone has their own painting techniques that they swear by – chat to your family and friends about their own painting experiences or you can find loads of tips online. Some people prefer to use rollers, others spray; it may take a couple of times before you work out what suits you and your space best. However, good painting technique always begins from top to bottom – starting with the ceiling, cornices and moving on to walls, doors and window frames. Starting with the ceiling means that it won’t matter too much if paint runs down the walls – you can paint over this later – and it’s a good idea to use googles for eye protection (we all know what happened to Michelangelo).     

7. Don’t skip the clean up! 

If you’re not planning to paint ever again and hate the environment, you can ignore this section and just wrap all of your painting gear in the canvas drop cloths and throw them away in a colourful heap. But for everyone else – and hopefully that is everyone – make sure you take the time to clean your equipment properly so that it’s good for you and your family and friends to use next time. Use warm water and soap to wash your brushes (hot water can cause the bristles to fall out), wiping off excess paint and squeezing the bristles with a cloth. Be patient, it will take multiple ‘rinse and repeats’. Store your brushes in newspaper or cloth. With your rollers, use detergent and warm water to lather and rinse paint off. Once the roller is clean and dry, wrap in plastic wrap and store vertically so the roller does not flatten. To rid brushes and rollers of oil-based paint, soak in paint thinner (in a well ventilated room) overnight before the usual rinsing process. 

Ready to get painting? Perhaps the best tip of all is to drag all of your friends to your house to help. Reward them with food and beverages and it can be a really fun way to spend a weekend. 

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