Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Painting: Crucial Tips the Home Depot Guy Forgot to Mention

I'm about a week into re-painting the bathroom and, as always, I've learned a few things the hard way. This isn't my first do-it-yourself paint job. I've painted the kitchen, the hallway, the living room and three bedrooms since we've lived in this house. Every time I do, I learn something about what I should do and what I shouldn't do when painting.

Here are my top five, do-it-yourself painting tips:

Primer 101

I've never used primer until I painted the bathroom cabinets. I used it this time because Brooke, at All Things Thrifty, recommends it. I am extremely glad that I took her advice because,  as it turns out, the cabinets really needed to be primed. Even with a coat of primer, there was a bit of old stain bleeding through the first coat of paint.

This made absolutely no sense to me. How could stain that's been dry for 30+ years bleed through fresh paint?

A quick Google search taught me that I should have put two coats of primer on, especially since I used a spray-on primer. There were spots that had shoddy coverage, at best. Also, by dumb luck I had bought oil-based primer, which is what is needed to cover stain. Latex-based primer won't stop old stain from bleeding.  My solution was to spray the areas that were discolored with another shot of the Kilz primer and then re-paint. It worked.

Freeze the Paint Brushes

Painting a room is usually a project that takes at least a couple of days. In my case, it's taking longer than that. But, in between coats of paint, I put the brushes in plastic bags and stick them in the freezer. Washing out a paint brush is a huge pain in the rear. Freezing it keeps the paint from drying out and means I'll only have to wash the brush once, at the end of the job. Just remember to take it out of the freezer about an hour before you want to paint.

Don't Be a Cheapskate with Paint

When you're redecorating and painting, spend the extra cash and get good quality paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams. Nothing spoils the look of a newly-painted room faster than a greasy fingerprint on a cheaply painted wall that won't wash off!  The inexpensive paints tend to absorb stains. They also look less appealing than a quality paint. I've got a couple of rooms painted with poor quality paint, and it shows. The rooms I've painted with the good stuff look much better!  This is not an area that you want to skimp.

Test Drive a Paint Color

There is nothing worse than buying a gallon of paint only to get it on the walls to find out it isn't anywhere close to the color you actually wanted. I've made this mistake before, too. My bedroom is a bright blue, when I really wanted more of a soft blue. Unfortunately, I bought non-returnable paint, so I'm stuck with it (until I repaint). The best thing to do is buy a small sample of paint, paint a small area, then look at it when it's completely dry in good lighting.

If you don't like it, you're only out the couple of dollars for the sample. If you bought a gallon, you're out a couple of days work, several dollars and the cost of repainting the room again when you get tired of living with the color you never really liked in the first place.

Don't Be a Cheapskate with Brushes, Either

Cheap brushes will shed, leaving little paint brush hairs in your beautifully painted surface. If you're lucky, you'll notice them before they dry in place. If you're not, you'll find them a week or two later, when picking them out will leave a scar in the paint job. Good quality brushes are an investment. Take care of them and you won't have to replace them often. Cheap brushes will need to be replaced every time you start a paint job.

If you've done lots of painting, what are your tips? Feel free to drop your link in the comments section if you've got a home decorating blog!  Inspire us!

For more painting tips, read Home Ownership & Painting: It's All Prep Work.


  1. These are great tips. I really appreciate when bloggers share the actual name/brand of the paint they use and how many coats they do. It helps to hear it from "real" people.

    I have several paint jobs on my to do list and I'm not looking forward to it! I hate waiting for the various coats of primer and paint to dry--I'm so impatient :)

  2. Thanks Gina! I'm impatient, too! The Kilz primer is supposed to be dry in an hour. I think I started painting just shy of an hour - lol.

  3. Oops - that was with my second coat of primer. I did wait 24 hours with the first, but only because I didn't have time to paint that day!

  4. I love the idea of freezing the brushes in between. It seems like such a waste of paint, water and time to clean them in between. I have always stored them overnight in plastic wrap but all to often not gotten back to the project in time (say a week or more) and had to toss the brush.......

  5. Tree - That's a good point. It's also a shame to have to throw the brush out if you've spent the money on a good quality brush. That hurts! LOL

  6. I never knew about freezing brushes until we had a painter do it. We usually paint ourselves, but we were rushed getting into our house. I've only used Primer once also. I think it really depends on the situation for when to use it.

  7. Painting a room on your own can be cheaper than hiring others to do it for you. But to guarantee this, you have to make sure you do everything as precise as possible to prevent wasting your energy and cash. Thanks! These tips should be considered.