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6 Genius solutions to common house painting problems

6 Genius solutions to common house painting problems

3 min read

From mixing paint the right way to getting the perfect straight edge with masking tape, these tricks fix your house painting problems with a flawless finish

I always spill paint when I stir it

Mix paint by pouring it between containers

According to many painting pros, paint cans were never meant to be stirred or dipped into with a paintbrush. Cans are only for transporting paint from the manufacturer to the retail store and then to your home.
To stir paint, they suggest a method that they call “boxing”:
  1. Take two clean plastic containers that will each hold more than the amount of paint you’ll be mixing.
  2. Pour the paint into one of the containers, scraping as much of the thick stuff off the inside of the can and into the container as possible.
  3. Now pour the paint back and forth between containers several times, as a method of stirring.
If you’ll be using more than one can of paint, box all your paint together to achieve a uniform colour. Even the colour of factory-mixed paint can differ between cans.
boxing technique to stir blue paint and paint can for decorating

Whenever I paint or caulk, I wind up smeared with the stuff

Keep a bucket of water nearby

Not only is this messy for you, but chances are the paint and caulk are also landing on other things you don’t want them on, such as floors and furniture.
You can use a rag to clean up the paint and caulk, but rags soon get coated themselves and wind up smearing everything.
If you are using water-soluble latex paint, a better approach is to start your painting job with a rag in a bucket of water.
Keep the bucket near you. When your fingertips get caked with caulk or coated with paint, dip them in the bucket and wash them. If paint drips on the floor, grab the rag, wring it out, and wipe up the paint before it has a chance to begin drying.
With this method, the paint or caulk dissolves in the water, giving you a fresh wipe for every spill.

My paint touch-ups always stick out like a sore thumb

person using artist's brush to touch up house paint

Dab paint on with an artist's brush

The trick to a good touch-up is in the touch. Say you’ve spackled over a nail hole in drywall. Instead of brushing paint on the white spot—a perfectly natural impulse when you’ve got a brush in your hand—lightly dot the spot with the paint-dipped tip of your brush.
Repeat: make dots, not brush strokes. Use the smallest brush possible. An artist’s brush is best. If the paint job (and leftover paint) is no more than a year or two old, it should blend right in.

Painting cabinet doors and shelves gets paint everywhere

Tap nails in at top and bottom to rest them on while drying

You’ve removed a door or shelf from a cabinet to paint it. The problem is where to put the wet piece once you’ve brushed on the paint.
Lay it across a pair of sawhorses, and you mar the paint job. Lean it against the wall, and you leave a thin line of paint on the wall and floor.
The sure way is to paint one side at a time, but if you’re painting several coats, this could take forever.
Try this clever trick to speed up the job:
  1. Tap a couple of finishing nails—the size of the nail depends on the size and weight of what you’re painting—into the ends of each shelf or into the tops and bottoms of each cabinet door before you paint it. 
  2. Drive them firmly into the wood, but not too firmly, since you’ll be removing them later. Leave them sticking out an inch or two. Paint the shelf or door. 
  3. Lay a drop cloth or newspaper alongside a wall, stand the freshly painted shelf or door on one set of nails, and then lean it at an angle so that the top set of nails is against the wall, with only the nails touching.
  4. Once the paint has completely dried, carefully pull the nails out using a pair of pliers or a nail puller. If you use a nail puller (or the back side of a hammer), lay a cloth under the tool so that it doesn’t damage the painted surface. 
  5. Now you can quickly putty the holes and touch them up with a dab of paint.

Paint keeps getting under the masking tape

person painting wall green with roller and masking tape

Seal the masking tape

When you’re using masking tape to protect wood trim during a painting project, firmly press down the edge of the masking tape with the edge of a flexible putty knife. This seal will prevent paint from seeping behind the tape.
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