Painting Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers

In all my years of painting, I can count probably on 1 hand the customers that told me they actually LIKE to paint. I can’t blame people for not liking it. It’s a hard and dirty job that makes a statement about yourself and your project when it’s done. If you do it properly, your home looks nice and your friends and neighbors will say you have high standards. If you mess it up, the project looks bad and so do your standards. Here are some tips to make that painting project go easier. First and foremost, you should always pay the extra price for quality products and tools and don’t be a cheap skate when it comes to taking the necessary precautions to cover things up. A little time and effort spent up front will save you hours and hours in the end……not to mention, perhaps, a new carpet or sofa.


You will need the following items for painting interior or exterior of your home or office. Do not scrimp on the quality. Get the good stuff. You won’t regret it.

– 9″ roller with at least 3 pads. You can use foam or cloth. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. The foam roller pads are easier to work with and, if you’re an amateur, you may want to go that route as foam pads rarely leave lap marks.
– 4″ brush for the large areas and a 2″ brush for trim. If you are using latex, you will want a China Bristle brush. White or black work equally well. If you are using an oil base, you will want to use poly brushes. Consult your paint store manager for specifics.
– Masking tape
– Masking paper
– Plastic Tarps
– 2 plastic 5 gallon pails for mixing paint and cleaning brushes
– Scraper
– Ladder
– Step stool
– Rubber or vinyl gloves (if you are one who does not like to get dirty)
– Sandpaper (latex sanding pad for latex paint)


I have painted my share of homes and offices and stained a lot of decks and fences. I learned some easy ways to get a project done and I learned some of them the hard way.

– Use good quality products and materials
– Cover everything up that you don’t want painted
– Clean brushes at end of each day and even several times throughout the day. A fresh brush does a better job. If you don’t want to clean the brushes, try this. Wet a heavy towel with water (or solvent if using oil base), wrap the brush in the towel and place the towel in a plastic bag and tie the bag shut. This will keep the brush fresh and from drying out for long periods of time. I have seen this last literally for weeks at a time. When you are ready to start again, simply remove the bag and towel and start painting….assuming you are using the same color.


It’s a rare thing to paint an interior or exterior wall and not have to use a ladder. The same thing is true for ceilings.

1. Make sure your ladder is solid on the floor or ground. Do not set your ladder on sloping ground unless you are using ladder levelers.
2. Be sure ladder is square against the wall. Never set your ladder to lean on the overhang of a gable end. Be sure your step ladder is fully expanded and solid.
3. It’s always a good idea to secure your ladder to keep it from sliding out from under you. Ladder Grabber is an excellent tool to do that and it is especially helpful when you have your ladder at a steep angle over a bush, AC, window well, etc.
4. NEVER set your ladder on a tarp, cloth or plastic. If you lean your ladder against
the wall and ascend it, it could slip out from under you. Place your ladder on the ground or floor and then wrap the tarp around the feet at the base of the ladder. Setting a step ladder on a tarp, plastic or cloth is OK if you have the ladder fully expanded and level.
5. Use common sense on a ladder. Take only the tools you will need on top. Don’t
reach beyond shoulder width on a ladder. It isn’t worth the risk. The fall won’t hurt. The sudden stop will.
6. When placing a ladder against a wall, you should never have the base of the
ladder out from the wall more than ¼ of the height of the ladder unless you have
it secured with some type of holder.


– You will want to be sure your surface is clean. It must be free of dirt, grease, dust, etc. I promise you that your paint job will not look good if you don’t and it won’t last long either. Clean the surface with the appropriate cleaner.
– Scrape loose paint and sand/feather the edges with fine sandpaper. This will help a lot to get a really nice finish.
– Bare spots (areas void of primer or paint) must be primed prior to painting.
– Use a paint that provides a low sheen. The low gloss (egg shell) or semi-gloss is perfect. It not only looks nice but that sheen also allows you to easily clean the surface if it becomes dirty.
– Bright colors tend to make a room look larger. The opposite is true with darker colors. The room will seem smaller.
– It’s best to use latex paint for interior work for a couple of reasons. Since it isn’t going to be exposed to the elements, it doesn’t have to be as durable as oil base so you will save money and you won’t have to breathe the vapors of oil base paints which can be harmful.
– If your project is outdoors, latex is still a solid choice but you may want to use an oil base primer as added precaution. Latex primer works well but oil base will give you a better surface for your paint to hold to.
– If you use a brush, the old adage ‘keep a wet edge’ applies here. Paint a 2′ length. Dip your brush for more paint and then go about another 2′ out and paint back towards the wet paint you just put on. Doing it like this will eliminate lap marks.
– If you are using a roller, paint at angles, let’s say….45 degree angle. This will also help to eliminate lap marks.
– You should always ‘cut in’ your edges with the trim brush before you begin painting. It makes it easier and faster to paint the large surfaces and you can be more careful with the trim brush.
– If you don’t have a steady hand, use masking tape and/or masking paper. I suggest using blue or green masking tape. They have easy release glue and it should help to prevent you from peeling paint or wallpaper from nearby surfaces.
– Paint the ceiling first (if you’re painting the ceiling). That way if you drop paint on the walls, it won’t matter since you are going to paint the walls anyway.
– If painting ceilings, use a thick nap roller….at least a ¾”. This will help to keep you from pulling the popcorn texture off the ceiling. You should also consider using a long extension pole so you can paint from the floor instead of standing on a ladder.
– Tarps or plastic on the floor or furniture are a must. Do not use a sheet or blanket. Paint will leech right through them.
– Clean your drips and spills immediately. Even latex is hard to clean when it’s dried.

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