My best 20 painting tips
Before I begin I must admit that I was totally in awe and super excited when the lovely Miss Mustard Seed gave me the opportunity to guest post in her Workshop Series. That is until panic set in and I realized that I am just a fumbling amateur when it comes to painting and that I have no business writing for a professional painter’s blog, let alone one as awesome as Miss Mustard Seed.
But I guess most of you are amateurs too and maybe you will find it reassuring to talk about painting from one klutz to another (not that I want to accuse you of being a klutz, it’s just I am!).
So I thought let’s share some beginner’s painting tips. I am sure many of you will go “Duh, I knew that already”, but I hope a few will also make you think “Duh, why didn’t I think of that”. All tips are gathered, discovered, thought up and used by yours truly.
1. It’s all in the preparation
If you are anything like me, you will forever procrastinate starting a new project and when you do decide to get on with it, you will want to dive in head first and start painting right away. Not a good idea. Always and I repeat always start with cleaning, degreasing and sanding your piece first. It makes the painting so much easier and looking better. Trust me on this, I have regretted not following my own advice more times than I wish to remember.
2. Prepare your paint
If you store your paint in the garage, garden shed or basement. Try to remember to bring it in to warmer temperatures at least a day before you start painting. Cold paint doesn’t paint very well.
Stir the paint really well! You could sing ‘Paradise by the dashboard light’ (the radio message included) completely while stirring to give you an idea of how long you should be doing this.
3. Think layers.
If you are going from dark to light, be prepared to do multiple light/ thin layers. Start with a primer. If that isn’t covering it completely mix a bit of your lack in with the primer for the second coat (works great for bright colors too). And then brush or roll on two light layers of paint. Never start using thick layers to cover things up quickly. You can thin the paint a bit for easier striking (think spoons of added water or thinner not splashes).
4. Sand and dust.
Between layers lightly sand the paint. I really do mean lightly just enough to bruise the paint. Usually only takes a few minutes. No need to use muscle power for this. And then dust!
5. Get some room underneath
Before you start painting small objects think about where and how you are going to put it down to dry. You don’t want the wet paint to stick to the surface, so create a little stage for it that leaves the edges free.
And yes those are ProSecco corks. A girl needs some bubbly when she is working hard.
6. For big surfaces use a roller.
To get a smooth finish, using a roller is much easier than using a brush. So whenever your surface is big enough reach for the roller.
7. Prepare your brush for painting.
When you use your brush for the first time you need to prepare it for painting. First strike it across a piece of sandpaper a few times to get the loose hair out. Then dip it halfway into your paint, saturating it completely and strike the excess paint off over a stir stick. Repeat several times. You can check whether the paint needs thinning now too.
8. Painting panels next to glass 1 (the easy way).
Ever painted a window frame? Or the frame around a mirror? Getting the painter’s tape exactly straight on the glass is really difficult. I always ended up with little gaps where I got paint on the glass or pieces of wood left unpainted. This is the quick way to get that painters tape on there:
Simply stick the tape roughly over the glass and frame. No need to get it straight, and you can simply overlap smaller pieces (so that you don’t end up sticking yourself in there trying to entangle long sticky pieces of tape). Work the tape into the edge between glass and wood with your fingernails. And then use a craft knife to cut away the excess tape. Voila! Simple, fast and perfectly straight taped-off glass.
9. Painter’s tape friend or foe.
When using painter’s tape NEVER let it sit overnight, especially not when you have painted over it. The glue on the tape will dry out and it is a pain to remove. We once used painter’s tape to cover a window with newspaper and let that sit there for several days. It took me hours of scraping to get that tape off again. (Updated to prove to you I really don’t always follow my own advice: look what happened when I painted stripes on my guestroom wall. But I ended up with some good painting tips onHow to paint striped walls too.)
10. Painting panels next to glass 2 (the lazy way).
Painting the wood next to a glass panel is challenging. Taping everything off takes forever and is really hard to do right. Having to do it several times if your paint project is extended over several days (or often weeks in my case) is a major pain in the bud. I discovered a better way when painting my glass cabinet.
See that! that’s 8 glass panels that would have to be taped! Several times! No way. I just painted carefully, let the paint dry completely and then with a craft knife scraped the paint off the glass. It still wasn’t easy but better than taping it.
12. What to do with the brush.
Any of these real life images look familiar?
Paint stuck to the brush, the bristles of the brush all bent and curvy and the brush rusting? I did not have to look hard to find this evidence of paint brush abuse in our home. But recently I came up with a better way.
Drill a hole in the handle and stick a wooden BBQ skewer through it. My brushes will live happily ever after.
And when I start painting again I just twirl the brush around to get the excess water (or thinner) of.
13. If possible reuse.
When using tip 12 in combination with paintbrushes that need to be dipped in paint thinner for cleaning and storage (as opposed to dipping them in water), you will find that paint will gather on the bottom of the jar (see hopeless paintbrush picture 1). You can reuse that thinner. Just let all the paint sink to the bottom and then carefully pour the thinner through some old pantyhose in a new jar. Good for another round of paintbrush cleaning.
14. What to do with the roller?
You can use one roller for a project even if that project takes up to a few days (I have managed to extend it to a week). At the end of the painting day put a thin layer of extra paint on your roller. Tightly wrap the roller in aluminum foil and put it in your fridge. Next day, roll off the extra paint on a piece of paper or wood and you are good to go.
15. Runners strike them down! This was one that made me go duh! When you get runners in your painting (you know drips that run down) the impulse is to strike them away in an upward move. Wrong move! Strike them down. If only I had known this years ago.
16 Take the stress out of distressing. Distressing a piece of painted wood is all the rave now. Here is how I do it. Use coarse sandpaper to take the paint off at the edges. Follow up with fine sandpaper to make it look all natural.
And when in doubt distress some more. You can never distress too much, but if you don’t distress enough it will simply look like a bad paint job.
17. Make your paint last.
When storing the paint can away, put it the wrong side up for five minutes. That way the paint will seal the lid airtight.
18 (Spray) painters alert: watch out for the sun! Spray painting outside is a very good idea. That stuff is not good to inhale. Leaving your (spray) painted treasure outside to dry is usually a bad idea. Dust will stick to it like flies to sugar and the sun will make it dry too fast which might cause the paint to crackle. So go into the shade.
19. Keep water at hand.
Keeping a bucket of water at hand while painting is always a good idea. You can wipe away drips and spots as they happen. But it is the secret to a good whitewashing too.
For whitewashing a water based paint is best. Water the paint down and slash it onto your object. Don’t panic if it looks way too painted. Just grab a cloth, wet it thoroughly and wash away the paint. Keep repeating this: adding paint and washing it away until it looks good.
20 Remember this is fun! We are all ladies with good manners, most of the time. But DIY is the best excuse to get into the comfy jeans and baggy shirts and play and get dirty. So go on, paint something!
I want to give a HUGE thank you to Miss Mustard Seed for allowing me to share some of my hard earned painting tips with her wonderful readers. I am so honored that I was a part of Miss Mustard Seed workshop series, and I hope you all heard at least one useful tip!
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