Paint Tips from Laurie March

Painting is one of the fastest and most impactful changes you can make in your home. Here are a few of my favorite tricks to paint and prep like a pro and end up with a perfect paint job and a space you love every time!

Don’t Ignore Prep

Prep work is rarely fun, but, man, is it important! Before you begin a paint job, collect all the right tools and materials, dust all the cobwebs out of any corners, brush off or wipe down walls, and, for the most flawless trim paint job ever, bust out an unlikely household hero: baby wipes. Use them to wipe down all trim surfaces and remove built-up grime before you begin painting; you’ll get sharper paint lines in the end.

Great Debate: Plastic vs. Drop Cloth

If you’ve ever seen a professional painter prepare a room, chances are she’s standing on a drop cloth. While plastic can serve many purposes in protecting surfaces, a painter’s drop cloth is really your best friend. While both protect your floor from drips, the fabric of a drop cloth soaks up any spills, making you less likely to track paint across your floor. Thin plastic also can often be slippery, especially if you’ve spilled any paint on it, making the job a lot more hazardous. Plus, plastic tends to be a single-use product and ends up in a landfill; a drop cloth is a much more flexible, eco-friendly and affordable option.

Verdict: Drop cloth for the win!

Is It Prime Time?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Not every paint job requires a coat of primer first. My rule of thumb on primer is to always use it when you’re painting over smoke damage or walls you’ve patched, when you’re changing the sheen of your paint, when you’re painting "new" walls or wood that has never been painted before, and when you’re painting a light color over an existing darker color.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning on painting a dramatic, dark wall color, consider tinting your primer while you’re at the store. You can often cut down to one finish coat at home, and gray primer is especially helpful if you’re trying to achieve a deep, true red color.

Don’t Skimp on Paint

There are lots of places you can cut a few corners to save money on a home improvement job, but when it comes to purchasing paint, aim high! The end result of your project is the paint finish on the walls, so it’s vital to get the very best quality paint you can afford for your interiors.

Lower-quality paint typically has less pigment in it, which is most noticeable in vibrant colors and, surprisingly, neutrals. With both deep and lighter neutrals being all the rage, consider graduating to a more pigment-rich paint to ensure your subtle paint color carries a true hue and isn’t "muddy." If you really must save money somewhere, save it on white paint. With fewer pigments (if any), white paint for ceilings and trim can be a place where you can get away with a less expensive product.

Ninja-Level Touch-Up Tricks

With all your excellent prep, careful paint choice and skillful application, the paint job is complete! Professional painters suggest scribbling the paint color and brand on the back of your light switch cover, before you put it back in place, assuming you took your switch plate covers off to paint the room.

Before you pack up the paint (or while you’re shopping at the beginning of the job!), do yourself a favor and hit the paint store, or the web, and grab a few half-pint-size empty metal paint cans with lids. Stir up that leftover paint and fill up a half-pint for each paint color you’ve used. This tiny can makes for the easiest touchups ever! Label it with the paint color, date and room, then nab a few tiny brushes from the dollar store (or an art supply store) to complete your professional touchup kit. The next time you spot a nick or scuff, you won’t have to drag out all the messy supplies — you’ve got this. 

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