Painting Tips: How to Get a Professional Finish


Painting an average-sized room can take between two to four days, even by professional standards. Painting a room involves more than just the paint itself; you need to prep and prime the surfaces first. There are some tips and techniques that will help you get a professional finish on any surface you are preparing to paint. Here are some tips that will help you work more effectively and efficiently to get better results.

1. Clear the Decks
Move all furniture out of the room. For furniture that is too heavy to move out of the room, push it to the centre and securely cover it in drop cloths. Remove all wall obstructions, including pictures and hangers or outlet cover plates, and tape up any fixtures.

2. Lay a Drop Cloth
Invest in cotton or canvas drop cloths over plastic ones. Plastic sheeting will work, but canvas stays in place and absorbs spills. Plastic drop cloths, however, are more hazardous because they are slippery and any paint spilled on them will not dry for a long time. Even with canvas drop cloths, large spills need to be cleaned up immediately as eventually they will seep through the material. You can clean spills with paper towels or cloth rags.

3. Prep Your Surfaces
Sand and clean all surfaces. Sanding smoothes out scratches, dents and bumps, and will also provide texture for the paint to adhere to. Sponge-bath your walls with a mild cleaner so you’re not painting over dust. Cleaning off grease and dirt will allow the paint to form a strong bond and will prevent chipping or peeling further down the track. Find and fix any minor cracks or dents with painter’s putty or a lightweight spackle. For deeper dents use plaster of Paris to fill them in.

4. Tape Up the Edges
Use painter’s tape rather than masking tape which can leave a sticky residue. Paint can also bleed behind masking tape. Be wary of tape when using latex paint as these paints will form a skin. Removing painted tape can result in ragged tears rather than a sharp line. Painting tape is easier to remove. To prevent bleeding, use a putty knife to bed the tape. Score the edge of the tape with a knife once the paint is dry to avoid tearing the paint on removal.

5. Prime Your Surfaces
Primers establish a solid and even base. They also seal stains and ensure a smoother topcoat of paint that’ll bond securely to the surface. Avoid latex primers and go for alcohol based ones instead, which will cover almost anything. You can spot-prime ceilings but not walls, as primed spots will show up. Use tinted primer as it will better cover the existing paint colour than a white primer will. This means you may require fewer coats of paint and the finish will be more vibrant.

6. Buy Quality Paint
Glossier paints are more stain-resistant and cleanable, but they will highlight imperfections. Flatter paints are fine for ceilings. Latex paints are good for interior walls and trim if you don’t go for the cheap option. Two coats of paint will give you the best results, so don’t skimp on coverage. Make sure you purchase enough paint to cover the entire painting surface. Mix several cans of paint in a bucket to produce a consistent colour, as paint colour can vary from one can to the next. This process is called “boxing”. Use a paint extender to help eliminate brush and lap marks. An extender slows the paint drying time, making it more workable, and levels out the paint so the appearance of brush strokes is minimised.

7. Have the Right Equipment Ready
Buy appropriate brushes and rollers. Wash rollers in dishwashing liquid first to remove stray fibres. A painter’s rod can help you paint ceilings more quickly. Natural bristle paint brushes are normally preferred for oil-based paints, but synthetic brushes are good for general use. Choose your brush size appropriate to the area you are painting, and have an assortment of brushes ready for use as required for different sections.

8. Paint the Trim First
Then the ceiling and then the walls. When applying paint, focus on uniformity in thickness and coverage. Finish one wall before starting another.

9. Painting Like a Professional
Start painting with a loaded brush. Load the bottom part of your brush with paint and then tap each side against the inside of your paint container to knock off excess paint. Don’t scrape the brush against the sides unless you are doing more delicate work, as this just wipes the paint off. When rolling, to further avoid lap marks, roll the full height of the wall and keep a wet edge. Where this isn’t achievable, feather out the paint to avoid build-up. Roll paint along corners and areas next to trim which have only been painted with a brush, as this will let you avoid differences in texture.

10. Sand Between Coats
Check for drips or imperfections between coats and sand these away before applying the next coat of paint for a smooth and professional finish.

11. Maintain Your Equipment
Keep your paint bucket, tray and/or container covered with a damp towel when not in use or when switching between brushing and rolling. This prevents drying out. You don’t need to clean your brushes and rollers daily if you will be using them the next day. You can wrap your brushes and rollers in plastic bags and put them in the refrigerator to prevent the paint drying them out. Bring them back to room temperature to use the next day. Alternatively, clean them thoroughly after use, especially in warmer weather when paint will dry faster or if there are extended amounts of time between returning to paint.

12. Additional Handy Tips
Don’t tape your windows; simply use a razor blade to scrape away any dried paint. But be careful not to break the paint bond between wood and glass otherwise moisture can get on the wood and rot can occur. Strain your paint into a clean bucket at the start of a new workday to remove coagulated pieces of paint. Never dip a roller so far into the paint that the arm gets wet, as this will cause drips. If you drip water-based paint onto your carpet, don’t scrub it. Instead, keep the area wet and blot it up. If it is a big spill, do as above and keep the area damp, then call a professional carpet cleaner to get the entire spill up as quickly as possible. Expect to need to do touch-ups; keep a cheap sponge brush nearby to blend patches of paint. Dab on paint to mimic the look of a roller.

If you keep these tips in mind when painting, you will be much closer to achieving that professional finish. For additional information, don’t hesitate to call us today.