Be a DIY Da Vinci: 12 Tips to Take the Pain Out of a Perfect Paint Job

Painting is the most underrated trade in the building industry – it’s easy to do poorly and difficult to do well. Here are our 12 house painting tips on how to take the pain out of that perfect paint job.

1. Avoid painting in winter

If you have the option, paint in summer. Paint will be touch-dry in minutes on a hot day. Cold and damp conditions make for very long drying times and can even make the paint ‘lift’.

2. Use drop sheets and masking tape

When it comes to interior painting tips, number on is to put drop sheets wherever you don’t want paint. Mask along cornices, skirting boards and around power points. Regular beige masking tape will rip off existing paint after a day, while low-tack green tape lasts for three days and blue tape for four days. Edge tape will leave a perfect line.

3. You get what you put in

There aren’t many short cuts with painting. Putting effort into surface prep is the only way to get a perfect finish and also ensures the paint lasts longer. So, sand existing surfaces back a little to maximise adhesion and remove imperfections. Fill holes and cracks and use topping compound. Your local hardware store will have everything you need. At the very least, wipe down all surfaces.

4. Cut in first

‘Cutting in’ means painting the corners, skirting boards, cornices, windows, window frames and returns. It’s one of the most tedious painting techniques, but get it out of the way prior to ceilings and walls.

5. Go acrylic

Very hardwearing oil paint has a longer drying time and very strong fumes. What’s more, you need turps to clean it. Acrylic paints aren’t as hardwearing, but dry much faster, have much more bearable fumes and wash out in water.

6. Buy ‘one coat’

Most brands have a ‘one coat’ paint product. It’s pricier, because it contains extra pigments and binders, but it’ll spare the need for multiple coats.

7. Stay neutral

Feature walls date quickly (and are harder to paint over when you change your mind). Keep colours neutral and save the personality for wall hangings and artwork.

8. Invest in quality brushes

When compared to high-quality brushes, cheap ones leave streaks, hold less paint and don’t hold their shape for long. A happy compromise is a couple of quality edging brushes for detail work, with cheaper, broad brushes for larger areas.

9. Ensure good paint application

A quality brush ensures more even paint application and is therefore less prone to overloading – a leading cause of drips. Don’t let your brush or roller dry out, either. When it comes to your painting technique, be diligent about keeping an even coating of paint on the brush to maintain evenness and reduce streaking.

10. Use paint tray inserts

Save time on cleaning up with paint tray inserts. This allows you to dispose of paint quickly and means you’re less likely to dispose of the paint tray itself.

11. Wrap up

Keep unused paint and wet brushes fresh overnight by wrapping them in cling film. When you come back to the job in the morning, they should be ready to go.

12. Clean brushes properly

To clean brushes you've used with acrylic paint, first remove excess paint from the brush. Then add half a cup of fabric softener to four litres of water. Swish the brush in the solution and the paint will come off in seconds. Rinse in fresh water.

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