15 Wall Painting Tips and Tools to Make Your Project Easier

Updated on February 6, 2020
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

1. Extendable Paint Brush

Climbing up and down a ladder repeatedly to paint cut-in wall and ceiling corners is very strenuous. In rooms with walls higher than 10 feet, or high walls over staircases, reaching the ceiling corner is only possible with an extension ladder.

Make your project a lot easier by using an extendable paint brush to paint your ceiling, or your walls. The two ways to extend your paint brush, using an extension pole, are either with an adjustable brush holder, or a specialized brush with built-in threading that fastens directly onto your extension pole.

I used a rusty Shur-Line brush holder for several years before switching to the Goose Neck extendable paint brush, which is now my favorite tool for painting ceilings and tricky corners I can't reach with my extension ladder. The Goose Neck brush itself is bendable and screws right onto your painting pole. This tool's a game changer I wish I would have owned years ago.

2. No More Paint Can Splatter

Wall painting tools have evolved and improved over the years, but one thing that remains the same is the design of most paint can lids. Pouring paint from the can creates a mess from the start, since most lids don't have a built-in spout for pouring, so paint ends up dripping down the label, ruining it.

Paint collects in that cavity below the lid too, splattering everywhere when you pound the lid closed. Fortunately, there's an easy way to prevent the mess and make your painting project easier.

Punch several holes in the metal cavity below the lid, using a hammer and a nail, or use a drill with a small drill bit. The holes let the paint drain back into the can without impacting the seal of the lid when closed. You can also buy a cheap paint spout that fastens onto the can for pouring. Punching drain holes inside the can is easier though.

3. Leak-Proof Floor Protection

Protecting your flooring is crucial for any interior painting project. Knocking over a paint can, or splatter from rolling, can make a huge mess without good floor protection.

Canvas drop cloths are only leak-proof at the right cloth weight. Lightweight drop cloths of 6 ounces, or 8 ounces, are fine for protection against dust and over-spray, but do nothing to stop paint and chemicals from leaking through onto a floor.

Heavy duty drop cloths of 12 ounces are what I use, but there are pros and cons of using them for painting. They slide away from walls easily and can't safely be used underneath extension ladders. They're also expensive to buy for one-time use.

A good alternative to drop cloths, especially for spray painting trim, is X-board surface protector. This product is totally leak-proof and doesn't tear. I use this stuff for my cabinet painting projects. In the past, I used Red Rosin paper, but the paper tears too easily and falls apart when exposed to water.

4. De-Fuzz Your Paint Roller

Nothing ruins your freshly painted wall faster than roller hairs stuck in the paint. Prevent hairy paint by de-fuzzing your roller, or buy one that's lint-free.

De-fuzzing a new paint roller is easy. All you need is a paint roller handle and a roll of tape. Put your paint roller onto the roller handle. Unravel some tape, long enough to reach the floor.

Hold the piece of tape down underneath your foot, pull the tape tight with your hand, and roll up and down the tape with the roller to remove the loose hair. Wash off the roller after de-fuzzing it to get rid of any remaining hair.

5. Wrap Your Paint Brush With Plastic

Having to constantly clean your paint brush after each use is annoying and unnecessary if you're using it again the next day. Save time by simply wrapping your brush in plastic to preserve it. Plastic keeps paint from hardening on the bristles.

I've kept my brushes wrapped in plastic for a few days at a time, without comprising them. You can buy a plastic storage case for your paint brush, or just wrap the brush with a plastic grocery bag. It works. You can plastic wrap your paint roller, too or keep it submerged in your paint bucket.

The 3M hand masker makes paint prep easier and faster.
The 3M hand masker makes paint prep easier and faster.

6. Hand Masking Tool for Tape and Plastic

A hand masker tool is a must for any painting project where tape, paper and plastic will be used for surface protection. This tool is a huge time saver when masking windows and trim for spray painting purposes.

My 3M hand masker is, by far, the one tool that's made my paint prep so much faster and easier. I've used the same masker for over ten years.

A masker is awesome for covering anything you want to protect from paint, or over-spray. The tool lets you stick plastic and tape to the surface at the same time. You can use any kind of painting tape with this tool. The rolls of 3M masking plastic are sold online and often in paint stores.

7. Extension Pole for Painting

Use wall painting tools that make your project easier. A painting extension pole is one of them. You can paint any size wall, or ceiling, using an extension pole, equipped with an extendable paint brush for cutting-in corners, or a roller for rolling.

For standard eight foot high walls, an extension pole with a maximum length of four feet is good for rolling walls comfortably. You can buy longer poles for higher walls.

Do you own a push broom? You can unscrew the broom head from the pole and screw it onto your roller handle. The disadvantage though is not being able to adjust the length.

8. Ladder Leveling Tool

Painting walls over stairs might sound scary, but you can do it easily and safely yourself, without having to hire a painter, using a leveling tool for your ladder. You can buy an extension ladder with adjustable legs, but those are expensive. A simple leveling tool is all that's needed.

The best ladder leveling tool I own and use a lot is the Pivit Ladder Tool. I've painted hundreds of stairway walls using this tool underneath my ladder. The tool is a slip-resistant box that serves as a ladder stand. No need to play with scaffolding, or risk your safety using unstable objects under your ladder.

9. Put a Garbage Bag in Your Bucket or Paint Tray

Buckets and paint trays are great for holding paint, but cleaning them isn't fun. One way to make paint cleanup a lot faster is to use a garbage bag as a liner. Simply insert the bag into your bucket the same as you would for your garbage can. Tape the top of the bag to the outside of the bucket so it doesn't fall back into the paint.

At the end of the job, pour your leftover paint from the bucket back into the can and discard the bag. You can do the same thing for a paint tray too, using a garbage bag, or aluminum foil.

10. Clean Your Paint Roller With a Spinner

Paint rollers are difficult and time consuming to clean with water and scrubbing alone. You can scrub the roller over and over under running water, but paint trapped deep inside takes a while to completely wash out. Red paint, in particular, is hard to totally wash out without a roller spinner.

A roller spinner is an inexpensive tool that cuts your cleaning time in half. You insert your roller onto the spinner and pump the handle to spin it. The best way to wash the paint out is to spin it under running water inside of an empty bucket.

11. Spray Gun Extension

Spray gun extensions, also referred to as spray wands, are very handy tools that give you a farther reach when spraying crown molding and ceilings with an airless sprayer. They're also awesome for spraying exterior siding.

With a spray gun extension, you reduce ladder work and having to bend down when spraying. The tool is a long pole that you screw onto the nozzle of your spray gun. Your spray tip and tip guard screw onto the end of the extension pole.

12. Use Frog Tape Instead of Blue Tape

Get neater paint lines with Frog tape. I used regular blue tape for a long time before eventually switching over to Frog tape. The price is a bit higher than common blue tape, but Frog tape stops paint from leaking underneath a lot better.

Frog tape is coated with a powdery substance that rejects wet paint when the two come into contact. That means less touch up work at the end of your project. The tape is also more bendable and easier to work with than other tape I've used.

I use the green and yellow version of this tape for all of my painting projects, including cabinet painting. The yellow tape is low tack and meant for delicate surfaces. I use it for masking kitchen flooring and recently painted cabinets.

13. Spray Instead of Brushing and Rolling

Imagine having to prime and paint multiple coats on dozens of staircase spindles by hand, using only a brush and roller. Why not use a sprayer to get it done faster?

You can get your painting project done in half the time using a good paint sprayer. With careful masking, you can safely spray indoors without damaging furniture and flooring.

I use my airless sprayers for walls, trim, doors, ceilings, and cabinets. On cabinets and trim, spraying gives you a smoother finish than a paint roller.

14. Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive for Masking

This trick is very useful for spray painting purposes. If you've ever tried taping painting plastic together, whether for a spray booth, or for surface protection, you know how annoying it can be to keep the tape from coming loose.

The strength of multi-purpose spray adhesive is similar to super glue. The adhesive is extremely sticky and keeps plastic glued together.

The adhesive I use for my spray booth is 3M Super 77. This stuff is awesome. You spray it on and press the plastic together for a couple minutes until it's dry.

15. Paint Your Ceiling First

Knowing what part of a room to paint first is really important. Should you paint the walls first, or the ceiling? What about the trim? You should always paint your ceiling first. If you paint the ceiling after the walls are done, you would have spend time protecting the walls with plastic.

Once the ceiling's painted, paint your trim next, not the walls. This way, you can get trim paint on the unfinished walls as you work. Then tape off the freshly painted trim with yellow Frog tape and paint the walls. This is the way I've painted rooms for twenty years.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Matt G.

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