Painting Tips

Plan a Day for Prep



G.Hunter Painting

Painting is the last great do-it-yourself project, and there’s no shortage of DIY painters in Kelowna. We’ve all experienced those jobs that seemed to go well at the beginning but didn’t quite have the outcome we had counted on. That carpentry job where you put up all those shelves and had them collapse in the middle of the night. That summer you spent building the new deck and then realizing it slopes to one side, causing the barbecue to roll onto the lawn. Those doors you installed and then discovering they don’t actually close.

But can’t anybody can slap some paint on a wall? We still have a safe perimeter of pioneering frontier staked out in the realm of painting. The rest of civilization can go on being high-tech, but painting will always remain a satisfyingly, soothingly low-tech pursuit.


Things You Will Need

Proper preparation means less time running back to the hardware store. Here’s the list: rollers, two sizes of brushes, a trim or cornering (sponge) brush, paint pan, an unbelievable amount of rags for wiping up – when you think you have enough, double it. Also to help protect your environment you’ll need either newspapers, drop cloths or plastic sheeting, plus a few rolls of masking tape. Protect your skin and clothing with some painter’s coveralls, shoe slip-on’s, and hairnets, and perhaps a few spare sets in case the project will take more than one day to complete. Proper tools are always handy, such as screwdrivers for removing fixtures and any attached wall decor.

Optionally, you may also consider wall scrapers, putty and putty knives, caulking and caulking guns, wire brushes, an extra pail with a rolling grid, painter’s specialty paint pads, ladders, scaffolds, sandpaper, and spackling compound. Oh, and don’t forget the paint.


Preparing Your Work Space

This is where ninety-percent of the difference between the amateurs and the pros is revealed. The key to good painting is spending two days preparing a room that will take half a day to paint. Never tell yourself, “I don’t need to cover that because I’ll be careful not to paint it.” You will. Paint will get into places you never thought possible, no matter how careful you are. Compare the two hours it will take you to cover fixtures and other areas, to spending three days afterwards with a razor scraper, trying to fix your mistakes. Cover and mask as needed.


Masking and Protecting

Everything in the project room that isn’t fastened to it must come out, or at the very least be placed together in the middle of the room and adequately covered. Using either newspapers (less stable), drop cloths (more stable), or plastic sheeting (much stronger) with duct tape, cover every surface in the room that you don’t want paint on. The floor should probably take plastic sheeting, especially if it’s carpeted or you’re going to be dragging a ladder around on it. Windows can be covered with newspaper. Everything can be secured with masking tape. By the way, this is where “masking tape” gets it’s name: you’re using it to apply a mask to the room before you swab paint on it, then removing the mask when done.


G.Hunter Painting

Consider removing metal and plastic fixtures from the room altogether. Hanger hooks, doors, mirrors, light switches and plug socket faces (cut the power to the room first), shelf brackets, thermostat controls, and so on. It’s easier to simply remove them than it is to try to keep paint off of them. If you’re covering smaller items, you can manage by completely covering them with masking tape. Use the cloth, paper or plastic for large areas, and border it with the tape to adhere to the surface area. Never trust covered areas to a single layer; use overlapping techniques to ensure everything is covered, in the event that the protective layer is flawed or becomes punctured. Instead of agonizing over getting the tape border exactly straight, just put it on naturally and then trim any overlapping sections with a razor.

Some exceptions to removing items and fixtures, are the hanging lamps or chandeliers in the room. Ceiling lighting fixtures are both difficult and labour intensive to wrap and mask. A good solution to this challenge is covering the entire area, using heavy duty  trash bags and using duct tape to seal the opening at the neck.



At a very minimum, you’ll need to at least clean the surface you’re going to paint, and possibly patch and prime it as needed. Washing is a simple matter of soapy water and a sponge. Depending on what kind of walls you have, there may be some scraping of old paint and filling in of nail holes and cracks. Make sure, after all surface area preparations you have decided to carry out, that all surfaces are clean and dry.

Nothing is more frustrating than finishing a new paint job, only to have to pick hairs and dirt out of it. So not only should your walls be clean, but should stay clean while the paint is wet. This will mean erecting a protective barrier to protect the finished areas from dust outside the room, keeping pets out, keeping windows screened so insects and outside litter stays out, and refraining from smoking in the room. For instance, if you’re painting a bedroom while somebody else is dry-walling the hallway, you may want to temporarily tack a plastic sheet over the doorway to the room, to act as a dust curtain.


Quality vs. Quantity

As for the kind of paint and quality of tools, a common rule of thumb in the painting trade is that you can do it the ‘cheap way’ and have it to do it again in a year, or the more expensive way and not have to do it again for eight years. It goes without saying that high quality paints and tools only cost a few dollars more than the so-called bargain products, but can save you money and time in the long run. Paint quality isn’t so much a matter of brand as the different qualities of paint each brand is offering.



G.Hunter Painting

Air Out

Painting itself is somewhat monotonous and labour intensive work. It always helps to have more than one person on the job. If you’re doing it solo, an iPod or radio going. Music tends to help keep you relaxed and focused, which is important. Get just enough paint on your roller or brush and apply evenly and generously. While today’s paints don’t have the heavy odours as they did years ago, they’re still harmful if inhaled in concentrated quantities or for significant periods of time. Always keep the area well ventilated with windows or doors open, with a running fan or vent. Occasionally step out of the painted area to get a clear breather.

Good luck and have fun!