11 Little-Known Painting Hacks from Our Expert Field Editors
We asked for real-world painting pointers—and got hundreds of great tips from our Field Editors. Here are 11 of our favorites.
No More Splashy Paint Can Lids
Preserve a Brush With a Glove
A Push Broom Handle Reaches New Heights
Slap It On, Then Smooth It Out
When painting trim or other woodwork with a brush, I’ve found it’s best to load my brush with paint and then lay it on heavily in small sections using short, quick strokes—just to get enough paint on the trim to work with. I then blend the paint into the section I painted before and smooth it all out using long finishing strokes in one direction.
Brush Bristle Saver
Cardboard Protects Floors Best
I don’t like drop cloths. They’re usually too big, slippery, clumsy and just downright messy—especially when I need to move them around while they’re still covered in wet paint. That’s why I prefer cardboard. I set it tight to the wall and slide it with my foot as I work my way around the room.
No-Maintenance Paint Tray
Don’t bother cleaning or putting liners in your paint trays. Just pour any excess paint back into the can and let the paint in the tray dry completely before using it again. I have paint trays with a 1/8-in.-thick paint buildup in them. I like them better than clean trays because they’re a little heavier and don’t slide around when I’m loading the roller.
2/3 Prep, 1/3 Painting
A good prep job often takes more time than painting, but it pays off. The more time you spend prepping a room for new paint, the better your finished paint job will look. Washing, patching, sanding and vacuuming walls, ceilings, trim and doors before you pick up a brush or roller are time well spent. If you don’t take care of small imperfections now, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb once the paint goes on.
Do the Ceiling, Then the Walls
Skip Brush Cleaning Between Coats
Whenever I take a break from painting or if I’m done for the day, I toss my brushes into a 5-gallon bucket of clean water to keep them from drying out (make sure all the brushes have the same color paint on them). Then, when I’m ready to start painting again, I swish the brushes around in the water and spin the excess out with a paintbrush-and-roller spinner. Do the spinning inside a second empty bucket to protect surrounding walls from flying water drops.