Painting doesn't have to be difficult or messy. Over the years we've come up with a number of ways to make painting easier. Here are our top 10 tips:
1. Sandpaper savvy
If you’re working on a larger painting project, it will be more economical to buy your sandpaper by the roll, rather than by the sheet. Sandpaper rolls come in different lengths. Keep the packaging on the roll and take what you need from the centre of it. This will prevent the roll from unravelling. Feed out approximately 25 cm of paper, fold it at this point. Insert a putty knife into the fold, using it to slice along the fold as if you were opening a letter. Fold your length of sandpaper into thirds, giving you a palm-sized working surface. When this surface becomes clogged or worn, flip or re-fold the paper to utilise the two remaining surfaces.
2. Handy at height
Making a paint hook Some of your work will require you to paint off a ladder, or step ladder and the use of a paint tin hook in this situation is a lot safer and easier as it leaves one hand free. To make a paint hook, you will need approximately 20 cm of number eight wire or similar (an old coat hanger works too!) Bend this length into and an ‘S’ shape as shown. Hook one end of the hook onto the top of your ladder, hang your paint tin from the other end.
3. Dusting 101
“Dust is the Painter’s worst enemy” Any painting project will require dusting prior to painting. Whether it is a new build, renovation, or doing up a chair, it is one of the most vital steps to producing a good finish. Always wear a dust mask when dusting. Any new plasterboard will need dusting before priming. You can use a soft broom or a vacuum to do this. A purpose made duster brush or hearth brush is best for all other dusting.
4. Straining paint
You may end up with foreign matter (sand, dust, other organic matter etc.) in your paint for a number of reasons. However they get there they will compromise your finish. It’s a relatively simple fix to strain your paint. Here’s how: Old stockings are an effective and eco-friendly material to use for straining paint. One pair of stockings should give you six strainers. Cut to size, making sure to tie a knot at the end of the ones that don’t have a sock end. Suspend stocking strainer into clean paint tin, then roll top over the rim of the tin enough to make stocking secure. Pour the paint into the stocking, then roll it back from the rim, gathering the top into one hand. Using your stir stick or Rolla-wipa, clamp the stocking between it and the side of the tin. Slowly draw the stocking upwards, which will squeeze any remaining paint out of the stocking. Put used stocking onto a piece of newspaper and leave to dry before you dispose of it.
5. Masking tip
Once you’ve placed your masking tape, the edge you’ll be painting needs to be firmly smoothed down to prevent paint from seeping under it. To do this, run the back of your putty knife along the paint side of the tape, on a slight angle so you are not applying pressure over the whole tape When it’s time to de mask, use an NT knife to cut lightly between the painted service surface and the tape. This will in ensure a clean line, with the tape coming off in one go and not tearing paint off in the process.
6. Putty knife maintenance
Your putty knife needs to be clean and smooth to give a good even finish when you are using fillers. To clean a dirty putty knife first use a window cleaner blade to shave the worst of dried paint, old filler, or other gunk off the blade. Then lay a piece of sand paper folded into three on a firm surface and rub your putty knife up and down on the sandpaper. This will give it a good polish. You can finish off any remaining polishing by hand.
7. Towel trick
When painting outside on hot, windy, sunny days the paint in the tin and roller tray will probably start to dry out and form a skin on top if left unattended, contaminating your paint. To prevent this, cut an old towel in half, wet it, wring it out and drape it across your tin or tray. This is also good if you’re working anywhere in a dusty environment.
8. Clean hands
You can have clean hands at the end of the day! This can be achieved by working only from one side of your paint tin, thereby leaving the other side dry to rest your brush on when not in use. At the start of the day stick a piece of masking tape to the top edge on one side of the tin marking it as the ‘dry side’ with the opposite side for wiping the brush.
9. Making a paint tin
You can turn your empty 4 litre paint tin into a very serviceable working tin for painting. It’s eco friendly and so easy to do. You will need to remove the rim, otherwise subsequent dripping and wiping of the brush against it will result in the paint building up underneath it semi drying and dropping back into the paint contaminating it. First rinse out the tin, then using a household can opener work around and neatly separate the rim from the tin, if you are left with any sharp burrs they can be tapped flat with a hammer while likening the tin on its side on a hard surface.
10. Keep the label clean
It is important to keep the label clean and free of paint so you can easily read it and identify the type of paint and the colour in future. Always pour over the back of the tin and wipe the rim clean prior to putting the lid back on.