DIY Painting Guide for Absolute Beginners

A lot has been said about painting, colours, right tools to use, the best season and so on. However, nothing can be handier than a guide that lists everything down in the simplest possible manner. DIY enthusiasts often complain about not the lack of information available to them but the excess of it. With painting suggestions pouring in from left, right and center – it can be easy to get lost. In this guide, Ecopainting, your local painting contractor, goes back to the basics and provides tips on what you’d be getting yourself into when you take on a painting project all by yourself. Considering all the talk about recessions these days, painting your own home will save you money during an economic downturn.

Before You Begin: Preparation Work for Painting

  • Begin with patching any holes or dents. Make sure any wet material you may have used has dried completely before sanding.
  • Ensure any cracked or peeling paint is scraped away and sand the area smooth.
  • Some walls can be especially dirty and you don’t want to be painting on a dirty surface. This is definitely true with bathroom or kitchen walls. Take a cloth and start cleaning. Use a damp cloth on the trim or doorways.
  • Caulk will help fill gaps between walls and trim. For any wood-related issues, you can use wood filler & wait for it to dry. Don’t forget to sand smooth!
  • Priming is generally recommended, especially on porous surfaces. If in doubt, you are better off priming. A primer has the ability to hide stains, hide really strong colours and play an important role in letting a new paint job last longer. You will need a primer if there is any exposed wood involved and most primers are good for glossy surfaces as well.
  • Now this one may seem like a no brainer, but make sure you stir your paint before you start! Pour the paint into a roller tray and a bucket to use a brush from. Not only will it make your life easier, the paint will stay clean in the original can.
  • Some industry professionals recommend using painters tape but most don’t. When we train the painters we hire, we don’t use it. However, DIYs may be more comfortable using tape. The way to use it is to apply it in long strips that overlap and press down firmly to ensure you have a smooth line.

What you’ll need: Painting Tools

  • Tools that you can expect to use when prepping any typical room: sandpaper, patcing knife, and a lint free rag. You may need wood filler and caulk that can be painted if you’re also prepping trim.
  • Tools that you may need during painting a typical room: Paint (obviously), stirring stick, a paint can opener, brushes, small container for your brush work, everything related to rollers – roller cover, trays etc. Painters tape, drop cloth are essentials as well.
  • Some individuals like to use 5-in-1 tools – these are nifty little things that can be used to open cans, expose cracks for repair, scrape paint and clean rollers.
  • Great quality brushes – like a 2.5″ angled brush can be used for painting trim or cutting in and a 2” sash brush can be used for windows.

 Decide On: Paints

  • Paint brands are important and while you have plenty of options, Ecopainting has had the best experience with Benjamin Moore (we haven’t received any incentive to promote them but just find the brand to have almost everything we need). If you see a colour offered by a different brand, you can always take the shade to a paint sore and they should be able match and provide the colour in the brand of your choosing.
  • The next question that you may face is – what paint sheen to use? You may want to do a little bit of research on this as there is an appropriate sheen for the type of room. According to the experts, here are some guidelines you can use: flat for most rooms, eggshell for kitchens/bathrooms and a semi-gloss for trim. Glossy finish is very durable and flat sheens are great for hiding flaws. Most sheens can handle a little cleaning.
  • Latex or Oil Paint? Water based paint dries fast, will emit fewer fumes and can be cleaned with water. If you are painting latex over oil-based paint, it should be primed first with an oil based primer. How would you know the difference between the two? Dip a cotton ball in some alcohol and rub it over the paint. If it comes off, it is definitely latex!
  • Being environmentally conscious is no longer a fad, opt for a zero or low VOC paint if you are worried about harmful chemicals and smells. Check for consumer report recommendations, ask friends, or go to the nearby paint store and ask for paints that won’t harm your internal or external surroundings. Any established paint brand will have multitude of eco-friendly options for you to choose from.

Think about: Painting Techniques

  • Painting from dry to wet helps, so you can keep the edge wet. This will help in keeping those brush and roller marks to the minimum.
  • Stretching the paint thin won’t help. Neither will painting globs of paint. Both of these will result in a patchy paint job.
  • How you hold the brush will affect how sharp the lines are when you work on painting trim. (Hint: try holding the brush like a pencil)
  • The best way to go about painting is to first cut in (paint the ceiling, trim and corners with a brush). Once that dries, use a roller for the walls.
  • Some painters think it doesn’t matter whether the trim is painted first or the wall. Ultimately the painting sequence depends on your comfort level and preferences. If you like taping off the edges, it may be best to paint the trim last. If you like clean lines when you cut into the walls, tackle the trim first.
  • Pro Tip: Wet the brush first, get rid of excess water. Why? This will make the brush easier to wash.
  • Avoid the urge to stick your brush deep into the paint can. Dip it about a quarter of an inch, tap it gently on the inner side of the paint can. This will prevent runny paint and still keep enough paint to work with.
  • Paint in long, continuous strokes. Starting and stopping makes jagged lines .
  • With today’s paints, even a single coat of paint may look acceptable to most. But putting on a second coat will make it look excellent. With vivid or dark colours you may end up using more than two coats.
  • An obvious tip – let the paint dry completely between coats. Paint cans come with all these instructions, read them carefully.

Once You Complete: Cleaning Up After Painting

Once you are done with painting, this is what you should do:

  • Close the lid of the paint can, you don’t want it to dry. If you are between coats, the brush or roller can be kept wet by putting them in a plastic bag or covering tightly with cling wrap. You can clean rollers with water and a 5-in-1 tool.
  • Once the paint has dried, remove the painter’s tape. In case you taped off the room’s edges with tape and the paint begins to peel, use a razor along the edges for a clean line.
  • Paint drips are inevitable especially if this is your first DIY paint project. If the drip is wet, you can clean it up with a damp cloth. If it has dried, you will have to do more than that.
  • Clean your brush every couple of hours, otherwise it may start drying up and ruin your brush.
  • The best way to clean your brush is to use dish soap and a comb until the water runs clear. A quality brush will hold a good amount of paint, so squeeze it out gently and while cleaning until the water comes out of it clear. Let the brush dry completely before you reuse.

Painting is not every one’s cup of tea. If you have any concerns about interior painting, be sure to get advice from anyone you trust before embarking on a large scale painting project. Some people are naturally skilled at working with their hands and tinkering around the house, others, not so much. If you are enthusiastic about painting a room or two by yourself, the guide above should help you get a great start. Who knows, maybe with a little training you may uncover a possible painting career.

If not, there is always Ecopainting at your rescue!

Botched up a DIY paint job or want a professional painting contractor to handle it all? Give us a shout on 416-733-7767 and we can take care of your residential OR commercial painting needs!

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