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Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your space a facelift. Whether you’re a newbie or have been painting for years, there are always painting tips to learn.
We’ll cover ways to save money — from where to buy the most affordable painting supplies, how to paint a room, and full blown painting tips to how to store your materials. These 21 painting tips can help you start and finish a project like a pro and save money while doing it. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area with enough light so you can see the beauty in your work.
(Psst…one of the best ways to stay on top of home improvement deals is to download the KCL app.)
1. Never pay full price for painting materials.
Always purchase paint when it’s on sale or with a coupon. Before you go, choose a color and finish — gloss, matte, satin, flat, semi-gloss. If you’re undecided, you can pick up swatches (these are typically FREE) or paint samples that are peel and stick.
Here are a few money-saving tips before you spend on painting materials:
- If you buy a color sample at Ace Hardware, you’ll get a $5 coupon for one gallon of paint.
- The Sherwin-Williams’ paint calculator helps you determine how much paint you need. Just enter your room dimensions and it will calculate what’s needed.
- Home Depot and Lowe’s both sell mistint — or “oops paint” — that customers return because it’s the wrong shade. These are deeply discounted paints ($1-$5) in pint or gallon sizes.
Still looking for more ways to save on paint?
2. Find budget-friendly painting materials at Dollar Tree.
Dollar Tree carries pallet knives, sanding sponges, paint buckets, and even trays. These are all great items to buy there. But, avoid purchasing brushes and rollers — the quality just isn’t there.
You could also buy a Dollar Tree shower curtain and use it as a drop cloth. Once you’ve covered your floors in brown paper (see Tip 8), use the shower curtain to catch paint drips. It can also easily be moved around the room.
And, don’t forget about your knees! Pick up a gardening pad and use it as a kneeling pad when you paint baseboards.
3. For wall painting, don’t skimp on good brushes and roller covers.
For best results in wall painting, buy high-quality brushes and roller covers. When cleaned properly, they can be reused for years. With cheap brushes, you’ll be picking bristles out of your paint after each stroke. And, with bad roller covers, you’ll find a fuzzy mess (see Tip 16 for a solution) and uneven finish.
Need help on what brush goes with what paint and area? Here are some PRO TIPS:
- Natural paintbrushes = oil-based paint
- Synthetic paintbrushes = water-based paint and acrylic, latex-based paint
- Small brushes = trim, corners, tight areas
- Medium brushes = shelves, cabinets, doors
- Large brushes = walls, ceilings
When you’re painting along detailed spaces like woodwork, I recommend a 2-inch Shortcut Polyester Angle Sash Paintbrush. It’s great for cutting edges and getting a clean line.
4. Should you paint trim or walls first?
When you’re figuring out how to paint a room, plan ahead so that you know which area to begin with first. Confused if you should paint trim or walls first? Or, paint the ceiling or walls first? Let’s break it down.
Once your ceiling and baseboards are painted, work one wall at a time to avoid creating what is called a “halo.” This occurs when paint around the edges fully dries before rolling the wall. Rolling the paint while your edges are still wet will create a more seamless look.
5. Get ready for room painting by filling holes and sanding rough spots.
People often skip the most important painting tip — prepping your walls! Depending on the condition of your wall, here are few things you should do:
- Sand uneven surfaces with a sanding block or sanding sponge
- Fill/repair holes with spackle
- Apply a coat of primer over the repaired areas
Once you learn how to prep walls for painting, you can apply it to each room that you have, and your space will look like it was painted by a pro. Be sure to remove electrical cover plates and doorknobs (if you’re touching up those areas) and cover them with painter’s tape (see Tip 13).
6. Use a microfiber cloth attached to a push mop to make wall painting smoother.
Need to learn how to prep walls for painting? After filling holes and sanding, clean your walls by attaching a damp microfiber cloth with rubber bands to a mop or broom. It will help you easily reach the highest parts of the wall without getting on a ladder.
Just use a mild soap and lukewarm water. The broom will rid the wall of spider webs, dust, grease, and stains. Use an old paintbrush to dust baseboards and window seals.
7. Label the lid of each can with the room it belongs to as a smart painting tip.
This is a huge painting tip when you have similar color schemes in your home and need to easily grab a can for touch-ups. Keep track of the paint used on your walls by labeling the inside of light switch plates.
When it’s time to touch up the paint, you can reference the color, sheen of paint, and the number of gallons needed. Be sure to speak to a painting professional to determine how much is needed to paint a room.
8. Use builder’s paper as a recyclable painting material to protect floors.
Before you get down and dirty into actual room painting, remember to clean the room out or cover furniture and light fixtures. Next, you’ll want to protect your floors from paint splashes. Remember, learning how to prep a room for painting doesn’t have to be complicated!
An inexpensive and easy way to add protection to wood floors is to lay down brown builder’s paper (also known as brown kraft paper). To prevent it from slipping, hold it in place with strips of painter’s tape. If this is too hard to find, a fabric drop cloth, old bed sheet, or newspaper can work too.
9. Hold painting materials with a pool noodle.
To easily secure brushes while room painting, cut a pool noodle to the length of the paint tray. Using scissors, cut along the length of the noodle on one side. On the opposite side, cut slits halfway into the noodle, perpendicular to the long cut. Place the brush handles in the slits.
10. Invest in a store-and-pour can lid as an easy, mess-free tip for painting a room.
A big downside of room painting can be the mess and the cleanup when you need to take a small break from painting. A store and pour gallon paint can lid — which can be found at your local hardware store or online — helps a ton with that! Easily pour paint without the mess, seal up the lid when you need a break, and prevent spills and accidents while you work.
11. Use pantyhose as a wall painting hack to filter rust and dried paint chunks out of old paint.
Over time, paint cans can rust and leave otherwise good paint unusable. To salvage your paint, grab a pair of cheap pantyhose. Stretch them over the top of a new paint can, and secure them with a rubber band.
You can find new cans in the paint supply section at your local hardware store. Carefully pour the paint from the old can into the new one, straining out the undesired bits as you do.
12. Use tape as a guide for how to prep walls for painting.
Painter’s tape is a precaution, not a guarantee. Here are a few PRO TIPS before painting a room:
- Use a flexible pallet knife to press down the painter’s tape where it meets the wall. This prevents leaks under your tape and ensures a good bond.
- Use the side not sticking to the baseboard to guard the floor and board from paint drips.
- Don’t flood the tape! Avoid brushing large amounts of paint where the wall and tape meet.
- If you’re trying to create a straight line without paint spreading to your trim, start by sweeping paint onto the wall with an angled brush, a small distance away from your “line.” Don’t reload your brush. Make a second pass coaxing the paint already on the wall a little closer to the line.
Doing this will help you keep control of the paint and not push too much of it where it’s not wanted. A third pass may be necessary to perfectly cut in your straight line.
13. Score the edge of painter’s tape to keep it from pulling wall paint off.
Whether you’re painting the ceiling or walls first, paint can easily tear away from your surface when you remove your tape. Prevent this by making sure your paint is completely dry then scoring the edge of the tape with a utility knife and pulling it back at a 45-degree angle.
When you’re done painting, peel off the tape for a completely clean surface. For easy cleanup, cover exposed switches and outlets with painter’s tape.
14. Use a rubber band to easily scrape off extra paint.
Paint can be costly, so to save a few extra dollars — and drips — position a wide, large rubber band around the mouth of the can (with the lid off). After you dip your paintbrush, wipe the excess against the rubber band, not the lip of the can. The paint should only cover the bottom ⅓ of the brush so that you don’t have to dip so many times.
Doing this repeatedly will keep the lip clean and save you from wasting more paint. Plus, you can rest the paintbrush on top of the rubber band so that additional drips can go straight into the can.
PRO TIP: Natural brushes hold more paint but result in a smoother stroke.
15. Learn how to touch up wall paint easily with a small food container.
Have a small area to paint or touch up? Use a small food container as an easy wall painting idea. You shouldn’t have to climb up and down the ladder to get paint from your tray or large bucket. Holding a small cup with paint makes the process a lot faster and easier.
16. Prepare paint rollers for wall painting by trimming and lubricating them.
Learning how to paint with a roller is similar to a brush, but there are a few ways to keep the roller in tip-top shape so you don’t have to keep buying them. Use scissors to trim dry crusty edges off old paint rollers to make them good as new. You can also lubricate your paint roller hinge with WD-40 to keep it turning smoothly.
17. Use a broomstick to paint a room with tall walls.
If there’s a screw-top for your broom brush, you’ll find that a paint roller will fit quite nicely on top. Use the broom handle as an extension rod to reach higher places. This tip can save you from having to use a ladder when you’re wall painting.
18. Keep brushes from drying out with a disposable glove.
If you like wearing disposable gloves while you paint, there’s a painting tip you might not have thought of. Keep your paintbrush from drying out when you take a break by pulling the glove over the bristles of the brush and securing it with a rubber band. Don’t leave your brush overnight, as it’s not a permanent solution to washing it.
19. Store a wet roller in a clean Pringles container when you’re finished room painting.
There are many unique tips for painting a room, but who knew your leftover snack can could be so helpful. An empty (and clean) Pringles can is the perfect length for paint rollers, and it allows the roller to stay moist and be ready for painting the next day.
Stick the wet roller in the can, pop on the lid, and store it in the refrigerator. The next day, just slide it back onto the roller frame and continue the project.
20. Invert paint cans as clever storage ideas.
You’ve learned how to paint a room, but what about preserving and storing the paint? By inverting the paint cans, an airtight seal is formed around the rim. But make sure your cans are tightly closed to avoid any leaks!
Another painting hack is to store the extra paint in an old laundry detergent bottle. It’s easy to pour, has a screw-top lid, and has a handle. KCL has plenty of laundry coupons to make this tip a reality.
21. Add heavy paper to your painting materials list to keep your bristles from bending.
When you buy a high-quality brush, it normally comes in a cardboard sleeve to keep the bristles from bending. If you no longer have that sleeve, protect your brush by rolling the bristles in heavy paper and securing it with a rubber band.
An alternative method is to seal the wet brush in a vacuum sealer.