The easiest way to make a big difference in a room is to paint the walls. If you’ve never done this before, painting is easy. If you mess up a little here and there, follow these tips from Blue Fern Homes about painting mistakes and how to avoid them.
This might sound obvious, but if you recall what you were told as a child—”an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”—the best way to minimize painting mistakes is to avoid making them.
A good paint job starts with the right prep.
Clean all of the surfaces. Invest in a supply of Magic Erasers, because these little time-savers will remove even the most stubborn spots, like crayon and marker. Get rid of all dust and spider webs because they become really annoying when you paint over them.
Apply painter’s tape—NOT masking tape, which will take your fresh paint with it—to mask off the edges of the areas, like the trim. When applying the tape, press the edges firmly so that paint doesn’t seep under it.
Remove all switchplate and outlet covers. Tape the screws to the back of each one so you don’t lose them.
Patch the holes. Get a container of spackling paste and a putty knife. Fill in the hole with the spackle and spread it over with the knife. When the paste dries, use a fine-grain (200 grit) sandpaper to smooth it out. For holes larger than an inch, use mesh tape and apply joint compound. Sand it when dry. Be sure all of your patches perfectly smooth because they will become even more noticeable with a color on top.
Pick the perfect paint.
You might be confused by the different paint finishes in the store. Here’s a quick overview.
A primer is used to provide a protective layer. You would use a primer when you’re painting over another color, particularly when applying a light color over a darker one, or over stained wood. However, many paints are available with a primer already blended in.
Satin has a matte finish, but will show imperfections in your walls.
Eggshell is a great go-to interior paint. It has a subtle shine and is easy to clean, perfect for kitchens, bathrooms, and kids rooms. Eggshell paint can also cover with a single coat, unlike satin.
Semi-gloss is very durable and easy to clean. The shinier finish is usually the choice for trim, but you can use it wherever you want a bit more gloss in your space.
Don’t skimp on tools.
The quality of the paint job will depend on more than your skill. The right painting tools are critical. Choose a roller cover that is designed for the surface you’re painting. Take notice of the pile depth (the thickness) of the roller. Use a thicker cover for an uneven or textured surface and a thinner one for a smooth surface. A beveled edge on the roller cover will help to help with smoother blending (no ridge lines between rolls).
You’ll also need a good brush for “cutting in”, which refers to painting the edges of your wall (along the trim, in the corners, and up to the ceiling). An angled brush is great for this task. Again, invest in a good one so the bristles don’t fall off and embed themselves in your fresh paint. For a few dollars more, a good brush will last much longer than an inexpensive one and cause a lot less frustration.
Watch for drips.
It’s inevitable that droplets of paint will sneak in here and there. Pay attention as you work one area. After covering about 10 square feet, go back and look closely for drips. When you catch them before they dry, you can avoid sanding them, which might require a paint touch-up.
Keep a rag or damp paper towel handy so you can remove drips from places where they don’t belong—like the floor, trim, and family pet.
Sample first, paint later.
A paint color that looks great in a photo may be a nightmare on your wall. Light can wreak havoc with your choice. Before you commit to a paint color, buy a sample. It’s only a few dollars and so worth it! Paint the color on a couple of white poster boards. Put these painted samples in various areas of the room. See how the light affects it at different times of the day.
Beware of bumping the ceiling.
No matter how careful you are when painting the top of the wall, you will likely slip at some point and get paint on the ceiling. It’s easy to touch up later with white paint, but you can also do your best to avoid it. Use a wide putty knife and press it in the seam between the ceiling and the wall while you’re painting that area. This acts like painter’s tape, providing a preventive barrier.
Don’t paint out of the can.
An open can of paint is a recipe for disaster. Do you really want to be cleaning up a puddle of paint? Pour it into the paint tray or a smaller container and then tightly reseal the can.
Buy enough paint for the job.
You might think you’re saving money by only buying a gallon at a time. But you also risk having mismatched paint when you rely on this guesswork. Benjamin Moore has a handy calculator for estimating the amount of paint required.
Remove the tape promptly.
When you wait too long to remove the painters tape, it might take some of the paint with it. If you take the tape off while the paint is still wet, you might end up with drips. For best results, remove the painters tape as soon as the paint is dry. Also, pull the tape slowly downward towards you at a 45-degree angle, not upwards toward the wall. In this way, you should end up with a nice, crisp line, without smears.
If your home needs more than a paint touch-up, it could be time for a new one. Blue Fern Homes builds energy-efficient, single-family homes and townhomes in the most desirable Seattle neighborhoods. Start fresh with more than a coat of paint!