After we bought our house, we were so eager to make the space our own we had paint samples up on the walls within an hour of closing. We probably should have been Googling “How to paint” instead, but, ah — live and learn.
Luckily, we were fortunate to have two very experienced painters in the family to do nearly all the painting of our main living spaces and they answered every question I had as I learned what to do. Paired with some of the tricks I learned along the way through trial and error, now we have a nice collection of painting tips to share:
- Sample paint on top of primer: No matter how accurate you think a paint chip is, nothing compares to seeing a large swatch samples ON the wall. However, it’s crucial that you not skip the step of putting down some primer.
- Check the sample at in different light: We were able to rule out some deeper gray shades due to east facing bedrooms which gave a much darker effect.
- Know the undertones: I always struggled to determine this until I realized that by looking at the deepest color on a swatch of, say, 3-4, shades of a color, usually makes it pretty obvious what the undertone was.
- Understand white paints: Nearly all light or pale color paint is actually almost always actually “white with a touch of X-tone.” As I struggled to choose really soft, light colors to help open up some of our tighter-spaced rooms, I realized that most colors I’d call “light blue” or pale gray were really whites with hints of color — lilac, or a blue cast. It was always really helpful to keep chip swatches intact so I could easily check their undertone using the method described above.
- How to paint corners: Dab directly into the corner with the flat edge of the brush (for coverage,) working in 4-5 inch sections, then immediately go back and smooth/spread out from the corners.A little related backstory: My mother-in-law, Susan, shared this tip that she learned from her father, Al (whom I adored) with me when she was up to paint. I love that we’ll be able to teach Emilia something passed on from her great-grandfather and grandmother someday.
- How to paint without tape: I think the key here is to use the right-size brush (3/4 or 1/2 inch); to hold it closer to the bristles, near the metal part; to move slowly, and to have a wet rag at the ready to fix any mistakes, like when I hit the baseboard or dripped on the newly refinished floors.
- How to paint smoothly: Work in small sections and roll over any raised, extra paint/edging roller lines before they have a chance to dry. It’s all about smoothing where the edge of the roller has tracked since excess paint tends to accumulate as you roll. Also, remember to keep enough paint in your tray as you work. If you don’t have enough paint, you’ll find you press the roller to the wall more forcefully, resulting in lines and uneven coverage.
- How to prepare to paint a room: Have drop cloths and supplies ready to go. These include: primer, paint, edging brushes, rollers, step stools or ladders and gloves.
- The best paint and paint brushes: After a little online research, it was clear that Benjamin Moore is THE paint to use and there happened to be one within walking distance. After consulting with their paint pro, we went with their Aura line in eggshell for the walls and semi-gloss for the trim and baseboards. Brian’s parents recommended Purdy paint brushes which I really liked using. They feel substantial and well-made and I liked the copper with the wood handle.
- Use primer: Better to needlessly prime than NOT and have to buy an extra bucket of paint. We learned the hard was after we were advised by the same Benjamin Moore expert above that we definitely did NOT need to prime if we planner to use the Aura line. Even on top of a vivid green and deep purple colors. We learned the hard way