We all want the professional finish when decorating our homes. We’ve put together this cheat sheet on getting your DIY to look like the real deal!
- Use a sander to tackle lumps and bumps before you paint
Painting on a perfectly smooth surface is the first step to a flawlessly finished paint job. Whether it’s painted walls or woodwork it’s always good to sand out burrs, dents, rough spots or blobs of old paint.
Sand the walls from the baseboard to the ceiling with fine grit sanding paper on a sanding pole. Then sand horizontally along the baseboard and ceiling. Don’t put a lot of pressure on the sanding pole or the head can flip over and damage the wall. Sand woodwork with a sanding sponge to get into crevices.
- Tint your primer to save on extra coats
Before you paint your walls you will probably have needed to fill one or two holes or cracks. But if you paint directly over it, the filler will suck the moisture out of the paint, giving it a flat, dull look. This problem is often called “flashing”. Those spots will look noticeably different than the rest of the wall. To avoid that prime the walls before painting.
Instead of using white primer, tint your primer with a similar shade to your final wall colour. Tinted primer will do a better job of covering the existing paint than plain primer, so your final coat will be more vibrant and may require fewer coats. This is especially true with colours like red or orange, which could require three or more coats without a primer.
- Using a putty knife to stick down tape
If you’re using tape to help you with your cutting in around the edges of your painted surface you will need to be careful to avoid the paint bleeding through. To avoid the pain-in-the-neck chore of re-doing bled paint, do a thorough job of adhering the tape before you start.
Apply tape first then run a putty knife over the top to press down the tape for a good seal to prevent paint bleeds. Another good tip is to use blue painter’s tape instead of masking tape. Masking tape can leave behind a sticky residue that’s hard to clean off and paint can cause the tape to buckle or curl up, letting paint run underneath it. Painter’s tape can be left on for days (some up to two weeks) and still peel off cleanly.
- Use a paint extender to remove stroke marks
The secret to a finish that’s free of lap and brush marks is mixing a paint extender into the paint. This does two things: first, it slows down the paint drying time, giving you a longer window to overlap just-painted areas without getting ugly lap marks that happen when you paint over dried paint and darken the colour. Second, paint extender levels out the paint so brush strokes are virtually eliminated. Paint extenders, or paint conditioners, are available at most DIY stores. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on quantities and mixing.
- Create a ridge between walls and textured ceilings
The problem with painting along the edge of textured ceilings is that it’s almost impossible to get a straight line along the top of the wall without getting paint on the ceiling bumps.
One solutions could be running a screwdriver along the perimeter of the ceiling to scrape off the texture.This lets you cut in without getting paint on the ceiling texture as the screwdriver creates a tiny ridge in the ceiling. You’ll never even notice the missing texture.”
- Pick the right kind of drop cloth
Using old bed sheets as drop cloths might seem sensible if you have some kicking about, but don’t be fooled! Thin sheet won’t stop splatters and spills from seeping through to your flooring. While plastic dust sheets can contain spills, but the paint stays wet for a long time and wet paint has a nasty habit of getting onto shoes and hands and then getting transferred just about everywhere.
The best solution is to use canvas drop cloths. They’re not slippery and they absorb minor splatters. Still be careful with large spills as they will try their best to seep through.
Also keep in mind that unless you’re painting a ceiling, you don’t need a jumbo-size cloth that fills the entire room. A canvas cloth that’s just a few feet wide and runs the length of the wall is ideal for protecting your floor, and it’s easy to move.
- Finish one wall at a time
It might seem easy to do all the fiddly corners in an entire room, then go back to roll the walls. Be weary of this trap as this can leave you with a patchy finish. Get a seamless look by cutting in one wall, then immediately rolling it before starting the next. This allows the brushed and the rolled paint to blend together better.
- Don’t get caught out my inconsistent paint colours
The same colour of paint can vary between cans. That difference can be glaringly obvious if you pop open a new gallon halfway through a wall. To ensure colour consistency from start to finish, try mixing cans of paint in a 5 gallon bucket. This process is widely used in the decorating trade and is known as “boxing”
- Wash your roller covers before
Whether you buy cheap or expensive roller covers, washing them before their first use gets rid of the fuzz that inevitably comes off once you start painting. Wash them with water and a little bit of washing up liquid, and run your hands up and down the covers to pull off any loose fibres. Don’t worry about waiting for them to dry completely you can start using them immediately.
- De-grease dirty walls
Paint won’t bond to greasy or grimy surfaces, think kitchen walls above a stove or those spots around light switches come into contact with lots of dirty hands. Use a degreaser to clean grimy or greasy surfaces. It cuts through almost anything you have on walls for better paint adhesion. Be sure to read the label and follow directions. Rubber gloves and eye protection are required.
- Completely load up your brush before you go
The best way to get the most out of your paint brush, whilst minimising trips back to the paint tin, involves loading the bottom 3-5cm of the brushes with paint, tap each side against the inside of their container to knock off the heavy drips, and then start painting. This technique will work a lot better than the “load and dump” approach of dragging the loaded brush along the sides of the container and wiping off most of the paint.
- Push paint to avoid runs
When your brush is loaded with paint, it’s easy to create runs by applying too much paint in corners or along trim. To avoid that, start brushing about 1cm away from the cut-in area to apply the paint. As the brush unloads, move over and slowly drag the brush along the trim or corner. Let the bristles gently push the paint against the cut-in area where the walls meet. You may have to do this a couple of times to get complete coverage, but it’ll avoid excess paint along woodwork and in corners.