Painting is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to change the look of your home without spending a lot of money. Even if you get the best paint available, a blotchy, drippy paint job can ruin an otherwise gorgeous room re-do. We asked Dave Tait, a DIYer who parlayed his skills into a career as a Toronto-area housepainter and handyman, for the insider tricks to getting a perfect paint job—every time.
Tait's tools of the trade- Painter’s tape (like Scotch masking tape, made from 30 per cent recycled materials)
- 2- or 4- millimetre plastic sheeting, old sheets, or drop cloths to cover floors and furniture
- Rollers (choose a roller appropriate to the paint finish)
- Paint tray
Tait says that choosing the right paintbrushes and rollers is essential for a smooth finish. Angled brushes and other specialty tools are designed to be goof-proof, so really invest in quality tools. “Dollar-store brushes are OK if you’re painting a chair and you don’t care what it looks like,” he says. “But a pro knows how much paint to put on a brush, whereas a DIYer might not. Specialty brushes make it easier.”
Keep it neat
Cover furniture with drop cloths or plastic to keep paint spatter off your upholstery, and lay down plastic sheeting or old sheets to protect the floors, using painter’s tape to secure them. If you are not painting the entire room, tape around the areas that aren’t going to be painted. “It’s even a good idea to cover windows with plastic, to keep them from getting splattered,” Tait recommends.
Remove all electrical plates, wall decorations and light fixtures from the room to be painted; if the walls have any cracks or holes, use a putty knife to fill with spackling compound. “Sand down any rough areas such as baseboards,” says Tait, as well as any glossy surfaces. Wash walls with a detergent solution (such as TSP or Natura's Safe Prep, available at Home Hardware, as an eco-option).
Priming is crucial when making drastic colour changes: “For instance, if the wall colour is purple and you want to make it a lighter colour, you definitely have to prime it with a light-coloured primer or else the purple will show through,” Tait says.
Tait’s favourite time-saver is to always tint primer to match the new colour. Even if you are painting a light colour over another light colour, a tinted primer will reduce the number of coats needed to achieve the final shade. In general, you only need one coat of primer; if you are trying to cover a dark colour or are applying a dark colour, then you’ll need an extra coat.
Now that you've primed, it's time to pick your paint. Once you've decided between oil and latex paint, there are other options to consider, namely finish. Depending on the effect you are looking for, you could pick anything from a matte to gloss finish. Just keep in mind that matte finishes, while good for hiding uneven walls, also show dings and scratches easily and may need to be touched up.