Painting Hacks from Makes the Job Easier

Are you considering a paint job in the foreseeable future? Before you pick up paint can and brush, consider these time-, labor- and money-saving tips from the pros, presented by and written by Lee Wallander. Additional painting tips are available on the website.


1. Hate to Clean Brushes?
Avoid cleaning brushes by wrapping your brush tightly in plastic and placing in the freezer. Before using it again, let the brush thaw for a couple of hours.

2. Save Money on Paint Roller Covers
If you need a break but expect to get back to the job within the same day, wrap your roller cover in plastic and then place it in a Pringles can. There’s no need to remove it from the roller assembly. If you’re stopping more than one day, do the same thing and then place the can in the freezer.

3. Stop Buying Paint Tray Liners
Place your paint tray in a plastic kitchen trash bag and push down to expel the air. Use the trash bag's built-in drawstring to seal it shut.

4. Easily Clean Latex Paint that has Dripped on a Wood Floor
Don’t panic! As long as your floor has a glossy surface, let the drips dry. Once they’ve dried, you can easily pick them off with a fingernail.

5. Need To Paint in Tight Spaces, Such as Behind a Toilet Tank?
Glue a paint edger pad onto one of those complimentary stirring sticks that paint stores give away.

6. Why Pro Painters use Canvas Dropcloths
The pros don’t just use canvas dropcloths because they’re reusable. Plastic dropcloths are slippery to walk on; canvas ones are not. Invest in a canvas dropcloth early in your home remodeling process, and you’ll never regret it.

7. The Best Way to Clean Brushes
A $4 device called a paintbrush comb effectively pulls latex paint out of the brush when you hold it under running water. Water alone will not clean the brush well and will result in a brush lifespan of only three or four uses.

8. Ensure Color Consistency from Gallon to Gallon
Pro painters know that multiple-gallon projects require paint boxing, which is the process of combining all the paint you will be using into one large container. Buy a cheap 5-gallon bucket and combine your paint in it. (Benjamin Moore & Co.)

9. Use Wet Newspapers as a Substitute for Masking Film or Tape
When painting around windows, carefully run water over a sheet of newspaper and stick the newspaper to the glass. Now you can paint around the window while keeping the glass free of paint.

10. Fill Holes by Hammering Them?
It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you need to fill small holes in your wall with spackle, start by gently tapping a hammer one time on the hole. This creates a smooth indentation that allows the spackle to better stick to that area. (Benjamin Moore & Co.)

11. Don’t Wipe Excess Paint on the Can Rim
The classic method of wiping excess paint from your brush onto the can rim will only add gunk to the can. Instead, loop a rubber band lengthwise over the can and wipe the brush against the bottom of the rubber band. (Coldwell Banker)


Painting interior spaces is as much about avoiding areas as it is about laying down paint. Doors, door casings, crown molding, baseboards, window trim, light fixtures and countertops are just a few examples of areas that you may not want to paint. Learning how to precisely avoid these areas will make your paint job look crisper and cleaner. In order of effectiveness, here are the top five ways to mask off or avoid these areas:

1. Painter’s Tape
Forget the beige masking tape your dad used when he painted the house. The industry standard now is painter’s tape, a super-low-adhesive tape that never leaves residue behind and will never pull off paint. Popular painter’s tape brands include Frog Tape, ScotchBlue and Duck Brand Clean Release.

How to Use It: Press tape firmly onto the surface with your fingernail. Failure to do this may result in paint bleeding under the tape. Wait until the paint is dry before pulling off the tape at a 90-degree angle. As long as you use only one or two layers of paint, the tape will cut the paint upon removal. For more layers of paint, ScotchBlue recommends using a putty knife or five-in-one tool to score (but not cut) along the edge of the paint to aid removal. (ScotchBlue)

2. Cutting In
“Cutting in” is a painting term that means painting freehand along an edge, no masking tape required. Like a trapeze artist who performs without a net, this one takes a lot of practice.

How to Do It: For your first attempt at cutting in, use an out-of-the-way location where errors will not be so noticeable. Use a tapered trim brush that you have pre-moistened with water. Shake the brush several times to force the water out. Thoroughly load up your brush with paint so about 3/4 of the bristles are covered in paint. Draw a thick line of paint, called a “reservoir,” about 1 inch from the edge. Then push the brush so the bristles flare out and draw a line exactly on the edge. (This Old House)

3. Masking Film
Rolls of masking film combine painter’s tape, sheet plastic and static electricity, giving the ultimate cover-up for large windows, especially when using a paint sprayer. Painter’s tape allows you to mask precisely up to the edge of a window, while the pre-attached plastic film unfolds to cover the window. Static electricity helps the film stick to the window.

How to Use It: Keep the roll of product unfolded to begin. Roll out the film and attach the painter’s tape to the edge of the window. After you have completed a side, unfold the film and pull it down. Tape the other three sides of the window with conventional painter’s tape. (Trimaco)

4. Paint Trim Guard
Simply put, you hold this 22-inch strip of metal against an unpainted area while painting against it with a brush. Though this seems like the perfect masking tool, drips and stains can result, no matter how vigilant you are.

How to Use It: You will need plenty of rags for this one. Place the trim guard on the edge. Pull your brush along the trim guard. Remove the guard, wipe off all the paint with a rag, and then move to the next section. (

5. Edging Tools
Many rollers and brushes have been designed to help you automatically maintain an edge. The only problem: they don’t work very well. You’re better off using painter’s tape, masking film and/or the cutting-in technique rather than relying on a pricey, gimmicky tool that will just end up in the trash can.

More tips from Lee Wallander's article, including how to select the correct brush and other tools for the job, are available at

© Copyright, 2014, Your Decorating Resource. All bylined material on this site is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced without express permission of the authors. However, limited excerpts and links are welcome.


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