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July 2006
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Painting Tips

Okay, first you need to get a 1 gallon ZipLock Plastic bag for every room you are going to paint.
This is where the screws, coverplates, door knobs and anything else, like towel bars and toilet holders are going to rest while you paint.

If it has been a long time between paint jobs or you are a smoker, you are going to want to wash your walls. Assuming that is done, take your screwdriver and remove all of the electrical cover plates and put them in the ziplock bag. Take a piece of tape and cover the outlets, switches, cable plugs, phone, etc.

Remove the doors. Close the door, drive the hinge pins up and out, place them in the bag, Get the door out of the room. This does two important things, You will be able to paint that spot behind the hinge on the jamb, and you will be able to paint the jamb without obstruction.

Take your roll of 2” painters tape, and tape off the baseboards at the floor or carpet. So your floor looks like this.

Here is the deal with painters tape. Yes it costs more. It’s not just the color. Painters tape is sold in a number of times, hours or days. The theory is that the adhesive un-sticks itself after a certain time, and does not leave adhesive residue on whatever you taped. I know from experience that it doesn’t leave residue, I can’t say about the time as I never leave it on that long. It also sticks to carpet real well which regular beige masking tape doesn’t. It is worth the money.

I use 3M Scotch Blue, myself. I use 2” tape as it is wide enough to catch the roller oops if you stop paying attention to what you are doing, or there is something real interesting going on outside.

Here is a photo of a door jamb and the wall with the tape masking off the floor and carpet. I use drop cloths, as I want to get the walls painted and not have to scrape or soak spills out of carpets.

Here is a photo showing the outlet covered with tape and a serious cut in job. Notice that I have brushed the area between the outlet and the floor. This is so when you roll, you will not have runners or skips in your paint job as you roll.

If you are painting with latex, get a 3” 100% nylon sash and trim brush. (oil base, China Bristle) It is the angled type. You want a 3” brush so that your cut-in (which is the part where you paint the inside corners , trim and around your outlets, where your roller won’t go)
The other reason is that your standard roller is 2” in diameter, which means the closest you will get to the wall is one inch. When you cut in, we want you to have beautiful walls. The 3” brush allows you to have a generous safe zone to blend the roller and brush work.
You will be surprised how much that ceiling will jump at your roller, if you make your cut in smaller.

What your mission is, is to have a sufficient amount of paint in the corner and a large enough area to blend the paint you apply with the roller, to get a seamless paint job. The best way of doing this is after applying the paint with the brush, we feather the paint edge with our brush. Remember to brush into your work as you go, so that you don’t have big ugly brush marks on your trim or corners. Since the tips of the brush are on an angle, we want to make our final brush strokes perpendicular to the wall to feather the edge. That looks like this:

So you don’t think I am a slave driver, your paint and brush will tell you when it is time to take a break. You can see here that the paint is drying up the brush and the bristles are clumping together leaving voids which will show up on your walls as gaps. Your friends will laugh. You will cry.

Depending on temperature, humidity and your ability, this will take around 2 hours give or take. You will notice that only the bottom half of the brush has been dipped. Don’t try to dunk the brush under the delusion that you will get more paint on the wall faster, you won’t. You will have a mess.

One of the indispensable tools for cleaning brushes is a brush comb. At the paint stores these are pricey items. Go to the pet store and pick the same item with a different brand name for a whole lot less. This is a Hartz dog comb. Besides after buying Good Paint, a Good Brush, and Painters Tape, you will want to save where you can:)

When you clean your brush, use warm water, a bit of soap and the palm of your hand. Wiggle the brush in the palm of your hand, under the water, until the paint is gone. Use the comb to remove the bits of dried paint that will be sticking to the outside of the brush. Repeat until your brush is clean, as clean as it was when you took it out of the cardboard sleeve it came in.
Don’t buy cheap brushes or variety packs. The bristles will fall out, the brush will get gummy and your job will look like crap. If you buy a good brush and take care of it, you will only need to buy one, and can give it to your heirs.

When you are done cutting in, your walls should look like this. No it only looks like you painted half the room. One of the things that I do, your mileage will vary is to cut the outside corners as well. This will help eliminate the paint runs from the roller going over the edge.

Take your time, you can do this and produce a professional job in the privacy of your own home.

11 comments to Painting Tips

  • Good points. A couple things I do differently:

    1) Cut in a wall at a time and use the roller to feather the edge. Maybe this doesn’t work in Arizona because the paint dry fast, but if you are reasonably quick it is easy to do.

    2) Throw out any paint trays. Get a five gallon plastic bucket and a roller screen. Get a 4 foot extension pole. Put the roller on the end of the pole. Go to work.

    3) It may sound basic, but do ceilings first.

    You have inspired me to put up a painting primer on my site. If I only get around to writing it…

  • Jack, Thanks for stopping by.

    I smell professional painter here, which is good. We could go the full monty and mask and use an airless and be out of here in 6 hours.


    This is about passing on tips that folks who want to make changes themselves on their time, and giving them the ability to do so without needing a garage or storage room full of tools that they may only use a copule of times in their lives.

    Keep in Touch and let me know when you get your primer posted!

  • Desia Fount

    Thanks for the info, I painted my apartment walls for the first time! I did have one issue with the blue painters tape, it stuck to my walls so now there’s little patches of blue on a couple corners. Do you have any recommendations for removing that?

  • George

    I have been painting for a number of years and one of the problems I always have is seeing the area, between the cutting and the rolling after finishing. Is there any remedy for this?

  • Desia,
    Use a sharp knife or razor blade to cut the edge under the paint.
    It sounds like what has happened is the tape lifted, allowing paint under the tape, and having drips above. It dried and glued the tape to the paint.

  • George,
    Sounds like you are using an egshell paint. Not a true flat, or a semi-gloss. What happens here is the brushed paint dries in one direction, and the rolled paint dries in a different direction, giving you that weird edge. The only solution I have found that works is to cut and roll at the same time, to get the paint to dry equally. You have to paint pretty fast though.

    If you are using a flat, and this is happening, your overlap may not be wide enough or your brushing or rolling is too thin.

  • methodical001@yahoo.com


    When do you take the painter’s tape off; right after you’re done painting of alow it to dry first?

  • Chris

    Any tips on getting a sharp paint edge? I painted my basement and used the blue painters tape. I painted the ceilings first a nice flat light color then masked off the ceiling edge and painted the walls but I still had a little bleed through to the ceiling.

    Now I’m going back around and masking off the wall side to touch up the ceiling and now I’m geting a little bleed through to the walls. This is turning into a vicious cycle.

    Any tips or helpful hints would be much appreciated.

  • i always to ahve my house remodel or renovate but i dobt have yet the time and enough money to finance the renovation…anyways its great you did to your own house….

  • I needed such painting tips because I am going to renovate and paint my home alone and needed some help for it.Thanks very mkuch for this post.

  • TC

    If you put your painter’s tape up, paint the tape with the color of paint already on the wall. That way, if there is any bleed, it will not show. Now you’ve got a “paint sealed” tape line and can paint your new color with no worries of bleed through.