10 Tips and Tricks to Paint Interiors Like a Pro
Courtesy of OLFA®
To paint or not to paint a room yourself: That is the question that many
a DIYer asks. When a dingy room needs freshening up, there’s no need to feel
intimidated by the prospect of taping off woodwork, avoiding paint splatters
and tedious cleanup. Armed with a dependable, contractor-grade OLFA utility
knife and some practical, in-the-field advice from a seasoned contractor,
it’s easy to paint with confidence—and achieve consistent, professional
results every time.
John Potter, the owner of Potter the Painter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has
painted professionally for more than 30 years. Potter says an
OLFA 9mm stainless-steel utility knife —featuring OLFA’s hallmark
snap-off blade technology and a
stainless steel blade — is just as essential to his work as paintbrushes
"I use my OLFA knives extensively for cutting tape, wallpaper and
plastic,” Potter says. "I like the slim 9mm model because it fits easily in
the side pocket of my painter’s pants.”
Potter also lauds the innovative snap-off-blade feature, which he says
keeps his cuts accurate and efficient, not to mention improves on-the-job
safety. "You’re 10 times more likely to cut yourself with a dull blade,” he
points out. "Why? Because a dull blade requires more force, which increases
the likelihood of the blade slipping off what you’re cutting and slicing
yourself. And with the OLFA snap-off blades, as soon as a knife starts
tearing tape instead of cutting it, I just snap off the dull end and a sharp
new blade is ready to go.”
Over the years, Potter has picked up some great tricks of the trade. Here
are his top 10 tips for getting the job done efficiently and right:
- LOTION POTION. Before you start, liberally apply hand lotion
partway up your wrists. The lotion blocks your skin pores and
effectively forms a barrier that prevents paint from adhering; it should
come off with just some warm water and dish soap. "It saves a lot of
time,” Potter notes.
- RAZOR-SHARP EDGE. To obtain a clean edge while taping off a
baseboard or other trim work, extend the tape about 1/16″ onto the wall,
and then firmly press it down with a fingernail to achieve good adhesion
and prevent paint bleed-through. When you remove the tape after the
paint dries, it’ll leave a crisp line—especially if the baseboard and
wall color contrast sharply. "If you don’t do it this way, you risk
getting a wavy line because of things like (uneven) caulk or a baseboard
that’s not plumb,” Potter explains. "And no one will notice that it (the
line) is slightly on the wall because it’s so minor; it’ll only be
visible if someone gets down on their hands and knees and views it there
at eye level.”
- TAKE COVER. Use tarps or sheets to cover everything in the
room you’re painting, or remove things from the room. "It’s amazing how
far splatter travels,” Potter says.
- TINT HINT. If you’re painting a wall with a deep color—like
red, for instance—pre-tint the primer paint to a medium-gray color.
"Deep-tone products are mixed with a clear base, so they don’t cover as
well as a paint with a tinted base,” Potter explains. "A tinted primer
will minimize the need for a third top coat.”
- DOUBLE PRIME EVERY TIME: A primer coat of paint is critical
because it seals the surface, which prevents the finish coat from
sinking in and requiring a second coat. Double priming not only ensures
a proper seal, it also provides a flatter surface that promotes a
uniform sheen level when top-coated.
- ROLL MODEL. When you roll out paint, don’t do it in straight
lines; instead, do it in "W” patterns that cross over a little onto a
previously rolled area. That way the top coat won’t look segmented after
- THE GREAT COVER-UP. While a roller with a 3/8″ nap is
recommended for flat walls, using a 1/2″ nap will leave stipple marks
that can mask small wall imperfections. The 1/2″ nap also offers an
easier way to create a textured appearance without the hassle of adding
sand to the paint.
- SHINE ON. If you’re using enamel paint on trim, don’t go back
and try to touch it up after you’ve brushed it out. This will make it
ropy and uneven. If it needs touching up, let it dry thoroughly first,
then lightly sand it before repainting.
- NO DRIPS OR DROPS. To clean latex-paint splatters and drips,
use warm water and dish detergent. But if you don’t get to it for a few
days, use a paint-removal product (though on woodwork, test it on an
inconspicuous area first to be sure it doesn’t mar the finish).
- STAY IN SHAPE. After you clean a brush, vigorously spin the
handle between both your hands over a sink. This removes most of the
water. While the brush still is damp, put it back in its cardboard cover
so it retains its original shape.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
- Wear safety glasses and a dust mask whenever using abrasives during
prep work—even during vacuuming. Dust and small particulates act as an
abrasive in your lungs and eyes.
- For latex paint, warm water and a little dish detergent works best
for cleaning brushes. It acts as a degreaser, which removes the acrylic
or vinyl "binders” in the paint.