How to: Paint like a Pro

How to: Paint like a Pro

Hello! I'm Rebekah from Potholes and Pantyhose where I share and photograph detailed tutorials of my DIY projects, recipes, photography tips and remodeling endeavors. I am in the middle of remodeling both our living and dining rooms.

My husband an I own a few rental properties along with our own home, so I have learned a lot about painting - what works and what doesn't. Today, I'm excited to share a few tips on how to paint like a pro. Though, I'll warn you, once you learn how to paint properly, you will begin to notice shoddy painting and want to talk about it with husbands and friends....who usually aren't that interested in the subject. Unless they're freaks like me.      Here's all that you'll need in order to paint like a pro:

  • Lightweight Spackle
  • Wood Filler 
  • Fine Sand Paper 
  • Primer 
  • Paint (can opener, stir stick) 
  • Painter's 2" Blue Tape 
  • Masking Tape Plastic 
  • Drop Cloth 
  • Brilliant White Acrylic Latex Painter's Caulk-no Silicone and Caulk Gun (I recommend buying one with a tension release lever) 
  • Roller, Roller Cage, Roller Pan & Plastic Liner 
  • 2.5-3" Paintbrush-I recommend Purdy brand because they don't fall apart or leave bristles in the paint   

First things first. Lay out the plastic dropcloth and use the masking tape to tape seams together.
1. Fill nail holes and low spots on the wall using your finger to spread lightweight spackling into the hole.
2. Let the spackling bubble over the surface of the wall a centimeter or two. Once dry, lightly sand the spackling by hand with the sandpaper.
3. Brush a thin coat of primer on all the spackled spots. Let dry.  

Next, use the blue painter's tape to help create a perfect line between the trim and the wall color.
1. Apply the blue painter's tape onto the trim leaving a 1/16 to 1/8" gap between the trim and the wall.
2 (& 4). Using a box knife, cut a slanted tip on the end of the caulk tube. Insert the tube into the caulk gun and begin squeezing out a line of caulk along the edge of the blue tape. Do this process in 6' increments to avoid letting the caulk dry out.
3. With each 6' increment, use the index finger to run along the line of caulk, removing excess caulk. The goal is to create a seal between the wall color and the trim (that the blue painter's tape is protecting). You don't need a huge line of caulk, just enough that the blue tape shows through the caulk and a seal is formed. Have a wet rag handy to wipe your fingers on. It's going to get messy.
4. Continue this process until all windows, doors, crown moulding and floor trim are taped off and caulked.  

Once the caulk is dry, it's time to load your brushes and rollers in preparation to paint.
1. Label the can of paint before you start with a permanent marker. (This will save future headaches of not knowing which paint goes to which room-Lowe's also offers the option to keep track of your paint colors online.) Slowly open the can using a paint key (given to you free at the paint counter) by going around the entire rim of the lid. Lift the lid straight up to avoid drips.
2. Use a stir stick to mix up the paint (even if it's already been mixed in the store). The pigment will settle at the bottom. Pull up from the bottom with the stir stick and then stir in a circular fashion one or two times. Repeat this process until the paint is thoroughly mixed.
3. Properly load a paint brush by dipping into the paint about 1/4" and scraping the brush against both sides on the paint can.
4. Properly load a roller by pouring paint into the paint tray (with liner), using a paint brush to catch drips from the can. Begin by lightly dipping one side of the roller into the paint and dragging the roller back towards you in the pan. Do this several times until the roller is fully loaded all the way around.  

Now that we have our walls prepped, the floor protected and the trim ready to receive paint, it's time to slap on the color!
1. First, you "cut in" the trim before rolling the walls. With your loaded paintbrush, give the brush a slight angle as you "cut in" along the trim. The "cutting in" should be one motion, pulling the paint from left to right (if you are right handed). You shouldn't be brushing back and forth-this will create thick spots and lines in the paint.
2. Some of the paint will be seen on the blue tape-this is exactly why we have the tape and caulk protecting the trim.
3. Next, roll the walls with a loaded roller. Use a "W" pattern as you roll in the walls. This will help avoid lines being formed in the paint.
4. Once the first coat is dry, apply a second coat if need be. Also, scan the walls for "holidays" which are formed by air bubbles in the paint finally popping and leaving behind tiny see-through spots. Touch up where it is necessary.  

Until I am 100% certain that there will be no further touch up, I bag up my brushes and my rollers.
1. Pour all excess paint back into the can, using the brush to make sure you have removed as much as you can from the paint tray liner.
2. Wipe the rim of the paint can so that it can be sealed properly.
3. Tap the lid on with a hammer, going around the entire rim.
4. Bag up the liner, the roller and the brush with plastic bags, sealing them off as much as you can from outside air. This will keep the paint wet in case you missed a spot.  

If you are certain that there will be no further touch up, it's time to clean the brush and roller. 1. Use lukewarm water and a mild soap to clean the brush. If there is stubborn stuck on paint, use a wire brush pulling lightly from the handle towards the edge of the brush.
2. Squeeze the excess water out of the brush or roller.
3. Lay flat to dry (either outside or on a paper towel to protect the surface it's laying on-there often is excess paint that dribbles out over time).  
Now, the reveal!
1. Once the paint is dry, it's time to pull the blue painter's tape from the trim. Do not wait more than 2 days to pull the painter's tape from the trim. Grab one end of the tape and pull towards you with a 27 degree angle (in between a 45 and a 90 degree). Pull slowly allowing the caulk to tear it.
2. If the caulk was applied too thick, it may begin to pull the paint from the wall along with it. If you notice this starting to happen, use a box knife to help create a clean line. If the caulk was applied properly, you will have a beautiful clean line between your wall color and your trim.  

Now that the brushes are clean, the tape has been pulled and everything has been put away, stand back and enjoy the brand new color on your walls. And the fact that you just painted like a pro.  

Thanks again for having me here today. Feel free to stop by my site, Potholes and Pantyhose, for more recipes, crafts and remodeling projects. I would love to hear from you! Love-Rebekah.

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Brandy on May 09, 2014:

Why do you not use caulk with silicone in it?

Erin @ The Great Indoors on Aug 21, 2012:

A few tips in there that make sense but I hadn't thought of before-- thanks for sharing!  And I love that "holiday" is in there; some pro painters I know had mentioned that term before, but I thought it was just a joke between them.  Good to know that's an industry-wide term.  :-)

Julian Cassell on Aug 15, 2012:

Great advice Rebekah, and plenty of it! Regarding your bagging up brushes and rollers tips, I just wanted to add that clingfilm (i hope it's called that in the US - basically the clear thin plastic you use to stick over food in the fridge to keep it fresh) is also a really good option as you can literally get it completely airtight around the roller or brush head.



C.C. on Aug 13, 2012:

Re: the caulk around the trim: Do you remove it next time you paint? Put more on top of the old? 

KILZBrand on Aug 13, 2012:

Great tips here Rebekah!

Rob O. on Aug 11, 2012:

Glad Press n Seal works miracles for sealing up your paint can, cup, or tray when you've gotta take apotty break, grab a glass of tea or rescue a kiddo (or spouse!) in distress. And be sure to toss your brush into a Ziplocl baggie to keep it from drying out during those little breaks that often become extended "away" times. And you can stash your roller in a plastic grocery bag too.

val on Aug 09, 2012:

Two tips to help keep your paint cans "tidy".  (1) When you open a new can of paint for the first time poke 3-4 holes in the bottom  of the channel that the rim of the lid fits into.  I just find an old nail and "nail" holes.  The holes will allow paint that gets into the channel -- and it will -- to drip back into the can but doesn't impede the seal when to tamp down the lid to close the can.

(2) when you're finished with the project lay a double layer of plastic wrap over the top of the can then tamp down the lid.  The plastic wrap will prevent any rust that forms on the lid from falling into the paint when you open the can again in a couple of years. 

Mike on Aug 09, 2012:

If you happen to be painting the trim at the same time (and lets face it unless you just painted the trim and it's pretty clean, it could probably use some freshening up as well) you can forgo the caulk and just use a coat of trim paint to seal the tape then paint your wall color over that.  Works the same way as the caulk and in some cases is a little easier to do.

This technique works well when you are painting two shades of paint on the wall, ie, diamon pattern or stripes etc.  Paint the base coat, blue masking tape the straight edges, paint another cooat of base paint to seal the edges, then paint the alternate color.  When you remove the masking tape you should have a nice crisp line.

Anonymous on Aug 09, 2012:

Can't remember where I read this tip but - Stretch a rubber band vertically around an open paint can so that the band runs accross the open top. Scrape extra paint off the brush using the taut rubber band rather than the edge of the can, so much cleaner.  

Anonymous on Aug 09, 2012:

cover your paint pan with heavy duty foil. when done painting, roll up the tin foil and no pan to clean up

M on Aug 09, 2012:

This is fabulous! 

It's good to have a simple location for the all the info I've accumulated but might not remember when the day comes.

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