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Paint with a Plan

You’ve finally decided on that paint color that will pull everything together and now you are ready to paint.  If you have the time and want your paint job to be flawless you’ll need a few tips from the pros.

Do a thorough visual inspection and prep.

Any cracked, flaking, or peeling areas need to be lightly sanded or scraped (and then thoroughly rinsed) before applying new primer and paint, because the weight of the new coat will pull the old paint loose. “You’ll just end up wasting your time and money if you don’t tackle that first,” says Juan Salmoran, co-owner of Casa Pintura. Greasy spots may also need a bit of washing with soap, followed by a rinse with clean water. Otherwise, give the walls a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth so that paint will have a clean, dust-free surface to stick to.

Allow for enough prep time

“Lack of proper prep is usually the biggest difference between a professional job and a do-it-yourselfer,” says Edgar Guerrero, co-owner of Casa Pintura. “A lot of 

times a homeowner jumps right into their project because they’re excited 

to see their new color on their walls — it’s an emotional reaction. But keep in mind that professionals spend most of their time on prep.” Make sure you’ve properly cleaned walls, scraped off peels and cracks, applied painter’s tape carefully, and allowed any patching compound to dry before you start.

Don’t skimp on paint, brushes and rollers to save money

“You can have the best paint in the world, but it won’t perform if you go cheap on the brushes and rollers,” continues Salmoran. Good brushes and roller covers give better coverage — plus the brushes will last for years if you take care of them — so they’re worth the splurge.  “But you want to be sure to buy a quality paint or the best brushes in the world won’t give you the finish you are looking for,” continues Salmoran.

Know your nap

The more texture your walls have, the thicker the nap you’ll want on your roller cover so that it can reach into crevices and give complete coverage. But if you go too thick, you might actually create texture where you don’t want it, so be prepared to give your salesperson details about what you’re painting.

Be sure to prime

Primer covers flaws in the surface and gives you a smooth, long-lasting finish. It’s fine to use paint-and-primer-in-one mixes if the old surface was previously painted, is in good shape, and has a flat (non-glossy) finish. But if you’re painting over a more difficult surface such as plaster, wood, concrete, glossy paint, or stained/porous drywall, use a stand-alone primer or a premium all-in-one mix specifically designed to cover unpainted surfaces. Be sure to work on a clean surface. Guerrero says, “We actually use a degreaser and clean the surface with a damp rag, after letting it dry we apply the primer”

Box your paint

Guerrero says to get your salesperson to help you with a realistic estimate of how much paint you’ll really need so that you can buy it all at once. Then, instead of using one gallon at a time, combine all the paint into one large container and mix it thoroughly. This is known as “boxing” your paint, and it keeps your color consistent from beginning to end.

Use real painter’s tape

Spend the money for high-quality tape — you’ll thank yourself later. Use a putty knife or mini scraper — not your finger — to remove air bubbles and seal the edges to prevent drips and ensure sharp lines.

Use the right finish for the area

There’s a basic rule of thumb to follow when choosing paint sheens: The higher the sheen, the higher the shine — and the higher the shine, the more durable it will be.  Flat paint has no shine; high-gloss is all shine. In between are eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss, each with its own practical and decorative job to do.

Paint with a plan

After you’ve cut in your edges at the ceiling and baseboard using a brush, use your roller to apply paint from the ceiling downward. Amateurs often have telltale drips and spatters at the end of a paint job, but pros paint right over their mistakes as they work their way down the wall. Once an area starts to dry, it’s best to leave it alone. Going back over it can leave marks and color streaks in the paint’s surface.

Watch the brush plunge into the paint

Dip it only a third of the way in — you’ll get enough paint on your brush without wasting or pushing the paint deep into the bristles, which is tough to clean.

Wait for dry weather

Salmoran says to watch humidity.  It means drips and slow drying, so avoid painting on a rainy day. If you must paint when it’s humid, take your time — and take advantage of slow-drying paint to correct your errors before moving on to the next coat. He cautions that you don’t overwork your paint, or it will show when you’re finished.

Don’t skip the cleanup

You’re tired at the end of the job, so you put the brushes in the garage and decide to deal with it later — bad idea! Be sure to protect your investment by washing those brushes thoroughly with water and dish detergent, wrapping them in airtight plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and storing them in their original packaging so that they hold their shape.

Does it make sense to hire a Pro?

Be honest with yourself about what you can tackle and how much time the project will take.  You may need special equipment for certain jobs that you will need to purchase or rent.  It may be better or cheaper to enlist the help of a pro.  You can find licensed painters through the HBA at