Congrats! If you're reading this, you've likely cleared the color hurdle and found your perfect paint color and gloss level. Now for the next step: bringing your vision to life. No matter the scale or scope of your project, any pro will tell you that proper preparation, the right tools, and painting technique know-how are key to achieving the best results.
COMMON PAINT TERMS
Much like there are tricks unique to any trade, there are also terms unique to painting. Here we've compiled some of the most common (and important) terms to understand as you tackle your paint project.
The right paint and the right tools are must-haves for any paint project.
Find everything you need in our SHOP (LINK). From brushes and rollers to tape and drop cloths, we've curated tools specifically designed to work with our coatings.
Not sure how much paint and primer you need? No worries. Let our paint calculator (LINK) do the math.
While painting is a relatively safe and easy DIY project, there are precautions you can take to help prevent accidents and mishaps. It's worth a few minutes of your time to become familiar with practices that will keep you and those around you safe throughout your project.• Work on one room at a time. Remove plants, pets and as much furniture as you can. Cover remaining furniture, carpets and drapery so paint won’t penetrate porous materials.• Wash the surfaces you'll be painting with a solution of water and all-purpose household cleaner.• Wear protective clothing and equipment, including a properly fitted NIOSH-approved particulate filter mask (rated N95 or higher) whenever sanding, scraping or engaging in any activity that generates airborne dust. Previously applied paints, caulks, and patching compounds may contain hazardous substances other than lead or asbestos.• For issues or concerns related to mold, mildew, lead and asbestos, seek professional assistance.• Be sure to keep those who aren’t properly protected out of the work area.• When using a ladder of any sort, always make sure it's in proper working order. Make sure the rungs are secure and the feet are slip-resistant. • When setting up the ladder, make sure all the feet are positioned level and securely on the floor. • Never position a ladder in front of a door that is not locked or securely blocked. • Keep the area below and around the ladder dry and free of clutter. • If using a stepladder, make sure it is fully open and that the two hinged metal braces are in the open and locked position. • Wear nonslip shoes with a tread when working on a ladder. Avoid wearing flip-flops, heels or flat-soled shoes without a tread.• When climbing on a ladder, place your feet in the middle of each rung and move slowly and deliberately.• Always maintain three points of contact when working on or moving up and down a ladder (two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot) to help prevent slipping. • Only climb the frontside of a ladder.• If the rungs become wet with paint or any other substance, immediately clean and dry them before continuing to work on the ladder. • Never stand on the top step of any ladder or on the paint tray. • When working on a stepladder, keep your hips within the two vertical rails. Avoid reaching too far to the left or right, which could cause the ladder to topple.• Never leave ladders unattended; this is especially important if you have kids. When you're done using the ladder, fold it up and lay it down or, better yet, put it away. • When cleaning up, mist drop cloths/plastic sheeting before rolling them up to suppress dust.• Use heavy-duty plastic garbage bags to safely dispose of dust and debris.• Wash all surfaces thoroughly with a detergent solution and rinse with clean water. Because dust and debris travel easily, make sure to wash all areas—including floors, stairs and other horizontal surfaces—even if they are not going to be painted.• Have plenty of sponges, rags and buckets on hand. Use one bucket for the cleaning solution and another bucket for rinsing.• Change rinse water frequently (at least once for each room being cleaned) and rinse or replace rags and sponges often.• Don’t eat, drink or smoke while in the work area.• Wash your hands and face before eating, drinking or smoking. • Shower as soon as possible when done with clean-up.• Make sure to wash your clothes and wipe off your shoes.
Not the prettiest part of any paint project, good surface preparation is critical to making sure paint adheres to the surface and the finish is as smooth as possible. Here are a few tips for doing prep properly:• Gently remove any loose paint with a scraper. • Use sandpaper to lightly rough up the entire surface and smooth out any uneven areas. Be sure to sand out any imperfections from previous paint jobs, such as paint streaks or runs, otherwise they’ll still be there when the new paint dries. • Use spackle compound to patch any cracks and holes, then lightly sand repairs to create a smooth surface.• Sand any glossy surfaces that will be painted, such as trim and doors, to create a rough surface the new paint can grip to. • After patching and sanding is completed, clean the entire surface with a damp rag to remove any dust. • Caulk the corners and gaps between any interior moldings and walls.
Drips are a part of every paint project. That's why even pros use surface-protection products. Here's a quick overview on how you can keep drip-drama to a minimum. • Remove as much furniture from the room as possible. Position what can't be removed in the center of the room and cover it with a plastic drop cloth. • Use canvas drop cloths to protect the floor instead of plastic to help prevent slipping. • Remove pictures from your walls, as well as their hooks and nails. • Remove electrical cover plates and cover the outlets with painter's tape. • After the walls have been prepped, apply painter's tape around trim, doors and windows to avoid getting paint on them. Run your finger along the edge to create a tight seal so the paint won't bleed underneath; this will also ensure a clean, sharp painted edge.
APPLYING PRIMER & PAINT
We know. You're eager to get your color on the wall. But before you pop open that can, take a few minutes to learn how best to approach your project and pick up a few pro tips for creating a finish you'll be proud to claim you did yourself. To begin with, paint room surfaces in this order: 1) Ceilings2) Trim and doors 3) WallsThoroughly mix all primer and paint using a paint stirrer before application to ensure consistent color and finish.
As with walls, the key to a great-looking ceiling is prep. Be sure to address any uneven or damaged areas. If there are stains, you may want to brush a layer of stain-blocking primer on those areas before painting the entire ceiling to ensure they stay sealed and hidden from view. • If you are painting just the ceiling and no walls, tape off the walls where they meet the ceiling. If you’ll be painting the walls after the ceiling, taping is not necessary. • Because of the overhead nature of painting ceilings, a bit of light spatter is to be expected. Be sure to cover any items and surfaces in the room that need to be protected. And protect yourself by wearing a hat and clothes you don’t mind get a bit dappled with paint, and wear goggles to protect your eyes. • Remove any vents or light fixtures. If they cannot be removed, cover them with plastic sheeting and tape. Kitchen garbage bags are another option, as are large garbage bags for ceiling fans. • Ready your supplies: 2" angled brush for cutting in, cup bucket, ladder or step stool, painting tray, roller frame, 9” roller cover with a 3/8” nap, extension pole (NOT IN SHOP), damp rag to clean up drips or heavy spatter.• Pre-wet your brush and roller cover with clean water to lightly dampen them so they’ll better pick up and release paint. • As with walls, the first step of painting the ceiling is cutting in. Because you want to paint the ceiling in consecutive (HOW BIG?) sections starting in a corner, you only want cut in the section you’ll be painting next. This will allow you to keep a wet edge that will blend the cutting in with the large sections of applied paint. • Pour some ceiling paint into a cut bucket to make it easier to cut in while standing on a ladder or step stool. In addition, pour paint into your paint tray, adding just enough to fill the well but not enough to reach the angled portion of the tray so that you can get right to rolling paint while the cut-in line is wet. • Use a 2" angled brush to cut in along the seam where the ceiling meets the wall. You want to lay down a 2"–3" stripe of paint. Hold the brush near the base of the handle and dip the bristles a third of the way into the paint. Tap (don’t wipe) the brush against the inside walls of the cut bucket. Again, cut in small sections, not the whole ceiling. • As soon as the section is cut in, attach your roller handle to an extension pole and load the roller cover by slowly moving it into the paint in the tray. Roll it back and forth until the roller cover is evenly coated, and just to the point that the light blue lines on the roller cover are no longer visible. If you pick up too much coating, just roll it over the tray’s ridges to remove the excess.• Beginning in a corner, roll out the cut-in section to fully cover it with paint. • Repeat the cutting in and rolling until the entire ceiling is painted. • If applying a second coat, allow the ceiling to dry completely before painting again. • If only applying one coat, allow the ceiling to dry completely before painting the walls. NOTE: Textured ceilings—sometimes referred to as popcorn, orange peel, troweled, knockdown, or lace—should not be painted with a roller because it can't reach into all the divots and crevices. This leaves you with two options: 1- hire somone to spray them or, 2- hire someone to remove the texturing (it's SUPER messy and requires special equipment). After removal, they will add a thin layer of skim coat (aka joint compound) to even things out and then proceed with priming.
To prime or not to prime, that is the question. As for the answer, it's a solid 'maybe.' Turns out, not all surfaces need to be primed before painting. For example, previously painted walls that are in good shape. The exception to the exception are walls that were previously painted with high-gloss or an enamel paint. The other situation in which it's safe to skip the primer is when the new paint is close or similar to the existing color being applied. If your project doesn't fall in one of those camps, you should consider priming essential. Oh, and before you get tempted by self-priming paint, be aware that, as they say, 'results may vary.' Primer has a specific job to do: make paint stick and look great. So let it do it's job all by itself so that all your work is totally worth it. • The first step to priming is cutting in. Working one wall at a time, use a 2" angled brush to outline the edge of the wall with a 2"–3" stripe of primer. You may wish to pour some primer into a 2-gallon bucket to make it easier to move around the room. • Hold the brush near the base of the handle and dip the bristles a third of the way into the primer. Tap (don’t wipe) the brush against the inside walls of the bucket. • Once the wall is cut in, immediately fill it in with primer using a 9" roller cover. Applying primer to the whole wall while the cut-in portion is still wet prevents 'picture framing,' which can occur when a wet coating is applied atop a dry coating. Working wet-on-wet allows you to seamless blend the two different applications. • As you did with your brush, lightly dampen the roller cover with water before painting. • Pour primer into your paint tray; just enough to fill the well but not enough to reach the angled portion of the tray. Load the roller with primer by slowly moving into the primer in the tray, rolling it back and forth until the roller cover is evenly coated, and just to the point that the light blue lines on the roller cover are no longer visible. This will be the perfect amount of primer to complete each stripe of primer. If you pick up too much coating, just roll it over the tray’s ridges to remove the excess.• Working top to bottom, roll out a vertical stripe. Roll slowly to avoid spattering. Reload the roller then apply a new stripe, overlapping the first stripe by 50%. Overlapping will minimize lap lines for a smoother finish and look. Continue working around the room until it is fully primed, making sure to reload after every pass. Refer to the can label for dry time and recoat time if a second coat is needed. • After the primer dries, lightly sand out any imperfections and wipe the area clean with a damp cloth. • Allow the primer to dry per the label instructions before applying paint.
TRIM AND DOORS
Architectural details—like baseboard, trim, molding and doors—are a bit like the frosting on a cake. When prepped and painted well, they can boost the polish and beauty of your space. But just like frosting, they take a bit a patience and attention. But trust us. The results will be deliciously worth it. Trim and Molding:• Begin by filling in any holes with spackle compound, then sand smooth. -Lightly sand the entire surface to improve adhesion and ensure that you have a smooth surface to paint.• Use a damp cloth to remove any dust from sanding and allow to dry fully. • If there's a gap between the molding and the wall or cracks in the corner joints, fill them in with caulk using a caulking gun. After the caulk is applied, softly glide a wet fingertip over the top of the caulk bead to make it smooth. Wipe excess off your finger and surfaces with a damp cloth.• If you are not painting the walls, use painter’s tape to mask off the wall where it meets the molding. Be sure to run your finger along the edge of the tape to form a seal and prevent paint from bleeding underneath. This will help give you a clean, crisp straight, line.• Use canvas drop cloths to protect the flooring. • Prime any patched or unfinished areas. If your molding or trim was previously painted with an oil-based paint, you'll need to prime it to get good adhesion. If you're not sure if it was painted with oil-based paint, play it safe and prime it anyway.• Once the primer is fully dry, paint the trim using a 2" angeled brush. • If you’ve used painter’s tape, gently remove it Always refer to the packaging of your painter's tape for when to remove the tape for the best results. Doors:• While not absolutely necessary, if you can, remove the door and position it on sawhorses for painting—or stand it on a plastic sheet and lean it against a wall. • Remove the doorknobs and any other hardware. • Clean the door using warm water and mild dish soap, be sure it is wiped clean with fresh water before letting fully dry.• Use spackle compound to fill any holes or repair imperfections.• Sand spackled areas and the entire door to create a smooth surface that will grab paint. • Wipe down the entire door with a damp cloth to remove any dust. • If the door is still attached, use painter’s tape to cover the hinges. • Use a brush or roller to apply a light coat of paint to the edges of the door. • If the door has a smooth, flat surface, use a brush or roller to apply paint from the top to the bottom of the door in long, even strokes. Let it dry fully before applying a second coat. • If the door is paneled, use a brush to paint into the corners and grooves of the top panels. Also, use your brush to smooth out or pick up any excess paint. • Immediately paint the face of the panels using a mini-roller. • Repeat this process on the lower panels.• Next, use the mini-roller to paint the rest of the door, applying with the grain of the wood. Paint in small sections to minimize runs and keep the surface smooth. • If the door is attached, work top to bottom and use a small brush to work in around the hinges.• If the door is attached, you may paint the second side while the first side dries. • If your door is not attached, allow it to dry fully before turning it over to paint the second side.
And now for the best part: applying color to the walls! Before you even think about dipping a brush into that color you so carefully chose, be sure to thoroughly mix the paint using a paint stirrer to ensure consistent color and finish. And now to painting:• Apply painters tap to the top of baseboards and along any other molding in the room. • As you did with the primer, you first want to cut in the room. Be sure to pre-wet your brush with clean water to lightly dampen the bristles. Think of this way: you'd never wash your hair by slapping shampoo on dry hair, right? Dampening your bristles will improve their ability to pick up and release paint. Plus, pre-wetting your brush will make cleaning your brush easier later. • When you're ready to cut in, you may wish to pour some paint into a cut bucket to make it easier to move around the room. • Hold the brush near the base of the handle and dip the bristles a third of the way into the paint. Tap (don’t wipe) the brush against the inside walls of the cut bucket.• Paint with enough pressure to bend the bristles slightly, but don’t bear down hard on the brush. • When cutting in is completed, you can begin painting the room with a roller. As you did with your brush, lightly dampen the roller cover with clean water before painting. • Pour paint into your paint tray; just enough to fill the well but not enough to reach the angled portion of the tray. Load the roller with paint by slowly moving into the paint in the tray, rolling it back and forth until the roller cover is evenly coated, and just to the point that the light blue lines on the roller cover are no longer visible. This will be the perfect amount of coating to complete each stripe of paint. If you pick up too much paint, just roll it over the tray’s ridges to remove the excess.• Working top to bottom, roll out a vertical stripe. Roll slowly to avoid spattering. Reload the roller, then apply a new stripe, overlapping the first stripe by 50%. Overlapping will minimize lap lines for a smoother finish and look. Continue working around the room until it is fully covered, making sure to reload after every pass. Refer to the paint label for dry time and recoat time if a second coat is needed. • Continue until the large wall areas are complete. Use a brush to apply paint to tight or narrow areas. • Always refer to the packaging of your painter's tape for when to remove the tape for the best results. • Clean any spills or drips immediately with a damp cloth throughout the entire painting process.
Whether you're taking a break to let the primer dry or you're really, truly done with your project, there's one thing you need to tend to first: clean-up. Read on for tips on how to best wrap things up while also caring for your work area, tools—and the planet. • When resealing cans of paint, use a damp rag to wipe out the rim where paint may have collected. Place the lid on the can and cover it with a rag to avoid any spattering, then tap around the rim with a hammer to seal the can tight. • If you'll be reusing your roller for a second coat, store it sealed in the plastic sleeve in came in to keep it from drying out. • Wash brushes, rollers and other tools with warm, soapy water until the water runs clean ... and keep at it, as both brushes and roller covers can hold a LOT of paint. • Hang brushes by their handles so that water runs off the bristles and not into the handle. • Stand roller covers on their end to dry. • Never dump excess or leftover paint. Spilling, pouring, dumping or discharging any liquid waste intentionally or by accident is illegal. Disposing of paint into the ground or any body of water or storm drain may result in large fines and even jail time. Instead, take unwanted paint to a specialized household waste site, which can be found by searching online. Or, store in an air-tight container indoors for future touch-ups. • Cans with completely dried paint residue may be disposed of in ordinary household trash. Leave the lid off the container so the collector can see that the paint has dried.• When picking up drop cloths, fold them inward so as to collect any trash or debris in the center, then empty them over a waste container. • Allow any dripped paint to dry fully before folding and storing drop cloths for future use.
When it comes to painting, a little wisdom goes a long way. We're happy to sprinkle a little wisdom on you with these pro tips that will save you time and effort. • Whenever you're painting, always have a brush ready to go and at your fingertips.• When you pour paint into a bucket or tray, use your brush to clean out the can rim. This will make it easier to seal the can and open it for future use. • Always pre-wet your brushes and roller covers with clean water prior to applying primer and paint. Aim for lightly damp, not dripping wet. • The best way to clean up a spill is with a paint brush, as it is designed to pick up paint. Simply scoop up the paint as quickly as possible then use a damp rag to wipe up the residue. • To store your roller cover in the plastic sleeve it came in, blow a little air into the bag to get it to open fully. Insert the roller cover, then grip it tightly through the bag and pull out the roller frame. Seal the bag tightly to keep the paint from drying. • Save small amounts of leftover paint for future touch-ups. • To keep the paint fresh, put a layer of plastic wrap over the mouth of the can before replacing the lid securely.• Even if you're taking a short break, always cover the paint tray with a damp rag to keep paint moist and avoid a film from forming on the surface of the paint. • Don't let brushes or rollers dry out between coats. Wrap them with plastic wrap or seal them in a bag to keep the bristles or roller cover wet.• When replacing lids on cans, ALWAYS hammer them down to avoid accidental spills.