Tuesday, January 28, 2014

House Painting - Tips and Tricks

My trip to NYC was cancelled this weekend (huge bummer :(), but having a whole weekend of unexpected free time made me extremely productive.  I painted our master bathroom, bought the cabinets for our built-in base and started painting the study.  The master bathroom took FOR-EVER to paint because there were so many obstacles to cut around.  As I was painting I got to thinking about how much I have learned since the first room we painted, and I figured I'd share some of the mistakes I've made and things I've learned with you all.  A coat of paint can make such a difference... especially in brand new homes like ours that are completely white.  A little bit of color on the walls is a cheap and easy way to make your house "home-ier".

My step-by-step process for painting:

1. Remove all light switch covers, decorations and other removable fixtures.  In the bathroom, this includes the towel and TP bars.  The builder grade ones come off easily... you just need a tiny screwdriver.  Look under each side piece and you'll see a tiny black "button".  Just push that button in with your tiny screwdriver and pull the piece off.  Some of the nicer fixtures require an allen wrench, but it's basically the same idea.

2.  Examine your walls for any holes or dents and fill them in with spackle.  This is the stuff I like to use because it's sand-able/paint-able within minutes. 

3. Dust off then tape your baseboards.  The first room we painted I taped off everything... the windows, ceiling, adjacent walls.  I quickly found that that was totally not necessary and a waste of time.  I practiced cutting on a few taped areas to get the hang of it and realized it was much quicker to cut in rather than tape everything.  And now I love cutting!  I'm probably a wacko, but it's really therapeutic for me.  It requires just enough concentration that I can't think (worry) about other things, but not so much that it's stressful.

4. Sand your walls.  I found that we have lots of little bumps and imperfections on our new walls, particularly around seams in the drywall and near corners.  Just a light sanding makes a big difference in the quality of your painted surface.  After sanding, use a dustbuster or swiffer to dust off your taped baseboards so you don't get dust particles in your paint.  I like to tape before the sanding step, because the tape doesn't hold as well with even a little fine dust on the baseboards.

5. (Optional).  Some people recommend washing your walls with a damp sponge after sanding, but I have found this not to be necessary.

6. Cover your floors with plastic or canvas drop cloths.

7/8.  Roll/Cut.  The order I do these in depends on the room.  I think it's more efficient to roll first.  This way you can cover as much area as possible, then only cut in where needed.  If you cut first, you'll often cut more than you need to, which wastes time and energy... or you'll cut less than you need to, and then you have to go back with the brush after you roll anyway.  Cutting second also allows you to get up close to the wall to find any areas that might need a little touch up.  My only exception to this suggestion is in complex or small rooms that require you to contort yourself and lean on walls to reach all of your corners (like bathrooms). 

I like to use an extender (i.e. a metal broomstick screwed into a paint roller) and roll all the way from the top of the wall to close to the baseboards as I can so I don't have any lines in the middle of the wall.

9. Look over your room very carefully.  So far every room I have painted I have missed a spot that I didn't notice until I was all cleaned up.  So frustrating!

10.  I typically wait about 24 hours to remove my tape and replace my fixtures and outlet covers.

Tips and tricks:
1. My dad bought me this brush with a really short handle that is awesome for getting in ceiling corners and other tight spaces.  I highly recommend investing $5 and saving yourself some aggravation.  
2. If I need to step away for any length of time, I just wrap my brush, roller and pan in saran wrap.  This will keep it fresh for a couple of hours.
3. In the RH bathroom, I found that I was able to easily cut around the mirror since it is not flush to the wall.  I also found that I could just loosen the two knobs on the light figures, pull it away from the wall a little bit and cut around/under it. 
4. Frog tape is the best.
5. Expensive paint doesn't always = better quality.  My absolute favorite is Glidden Duo (Paint and primer in one) in eggshell finish.  In my opinion this covers better than any of the other name brands I have tried.  I have never had to do more than one coat and the finish is great.  It is sold at Home Depot (for only $27 a gallon) where they can match any color, so you can get a color from another brand if you have the swatch.  They also advertise that it has mildew-resistant properties, which make it a good choice for bathrooms.  
6. Going along with #5, I prefer an eggshell finish for most wall applications because it looks almost like flat, but cleans up much better.
7. I don't paint the inside of window wells... it saves a lot of time and I don't think anyone can tell the difference. 
8. Don't cheap out on your rollers.  The cheap kind leave fuzzies on your walls (I'm dealing with this in the study now :()
And now for a picture of our newly painted master bathroom.  I am so in love with this color... it's Spring Stream in (Glidden Duo Eggshell, of course)  It makes me feel like I am at the beach!  Soooo much better than the all white "before" shot.  Now I don't hate our plain white tiles quite as much!  I still have quite a bit of decorating to do in here, but I'm so happy with the difference a coat of paint has made.


Do you have any tips for painting?  Please leave a comment and share your knowledge!


  1. great tips! I do strongly disagree with one tip, removing tap 24hours after painting. Do this immediately after painting, in most cases the paint WILL dry to the tape and when you pull it up, it will pull some tape along with it. My advice pull tape as soon as you are done to NOT pull away any paint that has dried and hardened around the tape. Sorry Colette..... :)
    Yup what a diff paint makes!!!

  2. Duh, typo above, it will pull some paint with the tape....gesh...sorry.

    1. Haha... I knew what you meant! I'll have to try taking the tape off immediately next time. Thanks for the tip!

  3. i painted the kids rooms over the last two weekends and you are SO right about frog tape!!!! i used frog tape for my daughters room and scotch tape with "paint lock" or whatever it was and the stripes in my sons room came our horrible in comparison. i have way more places to touch up. not happy. but love the bathroom color!

    1. I don't know how that make that stuff, but there is really nothing else like it. I find it comes off a lot easier than the blue stuff too.

    2. right again, the blue pull the paper of the wall in some spots. i want to write my congressman AND the company for such a faulty product.

  4. This is so making me want to start painting everything! It's amazing how different a room feels with color on the walls.

  5. Love the colors in the bathroom! My husband is a painter but i have such a hard time picking out colors! he is the handy one. Good luck with your projects! <3 SITS.

  6. I love the bathroom, so beautiful! Thank you for the tips as well. It's always good to find little ways to make painting a new room easier where it looks better in the end. Thanks! Love from SITS

  7. The last time I painted a room was about three months after my son was born. Lets just say it did not turn out nearly as good as your paint job did. Partially due to lack of sleep and the rest due to not knowing what I was doing. So I plan on referring back to your step-by-step process in the near future in our new house.

    Now I just need to convince the husband to let me paint our bedroom that color. :)
    Stopping by from #SITSblogging!

    1. Just do it when he's not around :). Good luck!


I am so thrilled that you stopped by and I loooove comments! Leave me some love and I will respond shortly. Peace and love – Colette.