By Jay Harris
Although most of us won’t re-roof our own home or install our own HVAC system, interior painting is a project almost anyone can handle. Whether you’re updating a new purchase or rental or just overhauling drab colors or repurposing a room, getting out the paint rollers and brushes can be a memorable bonding experience for couples and families.
When it’s all said and done, painting is as simple as picking out your colors, throwing down a drop cloth and putting brush to plaster. Knowing a few tricks of the trade, however, can make for a more pleasant experience that avoids the potential headaches that can arise from any DIY home project. Here are five handy painting tips to make your home improvement project a breeze:
1. Use Rosin Paper Instead of a Drop Cloth
Although a large, old sheet has long been the traditional floor covering for room painting, it’s easy for the thin fabric to get bunched up and kicked out of place. Even worse, spilled paint can quickly leak through and stain carpet or hardwood.
Eliminate that potential problem by using a roll of heavy rosin paper. Tape it to the floor along the edge where it meets the wall, layering with a slight overlap across the room. The paper blocks moisture, prevents stains and stays firmly in place.
2. Ventilate Your Room
Many people forget to protect themselves before cracking open a can of paint in their homes, leaving themselves with a potential headache (quite literally). With our houses sealed ever-tighter to improve energy efficiency, it’s important to open windows and ventilate before painting, especially when not using a low-VOC paint. A fan can also be used to suck fumes out of the window. Finally, if you’re using a chemical to clean your brushes, take that chore outside.
3. Patch Before Painting
Chances are that your walls bear scars punctured by years of hanging pictures. Although it’s tempting just to paint right over these holes, your final result will look much better if you patch them first. Get a tub of spackling paste and use a putty knife to fill the holes, and then scrape away the excess with the knife. Once it dries, sand the wall until the filled hole is level.
4. Wet Your Brush
The cost of quality paintbrushes can add up, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the feeling and result that a great brush produces. Instead, take care of your brushes by getting them wet under the faucet before dipping them in paint. Squeeze the water out and then dip your brush only about a third of the way up the bristles into the paint. Following this process will keep paint from seeping up into the ferrule (the metal part the holds the bristles to the handle), which can quickly ruin a brush.
5. Freeze Your Brushes
If you plan to paint over the course of several days, you’re tasked with cleaning your brush at the end of each session to prevent the paint from hardening within the bristles. Skip this step (and save the paint you’ll wash away) by wrapping your brush in plastic wrap and storing it in the freezer. Within 15 minutes of removing it the next day, your brush will be ready to use, preloaded with paint. The same trick works for paint rollers.
Painting should be fun. It’s a project anybody can handle and the end results are always rewarding. With a few of these tips in your back pocket, you’ll be painting like the pros.
Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in Palatine, Ill., and is a regular contributor to Home Depot’s blog, where he provides advice on products such as standard light bulbs and LED light bulbs.