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15 Wall Painting Tips and Tools to Make Your Project Easier

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Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.


1. Extendable Paint Brush

Climbing up and down a ladder repeatedly to cut-in wall and ceiling corners with a paint brush is very tiring and time consuming. In rooms with walls higher than 10 feet, or high walls over staircases, reaching the ceiling corner is only possible with an extension ladder because a step ladder isn't tall enough.

One of the best ways to cut-in ceilings and hard to reach areas is with an extendable paint brush that attaches to a painting extension pole. Instead of using an adjustable metal holder for your paint brush, the brush itself is the extender and can be adjusted simply by bending the flexible brush handle.

The one I use for ceiling corners is the Goose Neck extendable paint brush. This an awesome tool I highly recommend for painting ceilings and hard to reach areas. The Goose Neck brush handle is bendable and screws right onto your painting pole. This tool's a game changer I wish I had owned years ago. Before using the extendable brush, I used the Shur-Line adjustable brush extender, but the problem with that tool is the metal parts loosen while painting and always need to be tightened.


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 making it unreadable.

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

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 for a few dollars that fastens onto the can for pouring.

3. Leak-Proof Floor Protection

Protecting your flooring is very important when it comes to interior painting projects. Knocking over a paint can, over-spray, or paint splatter, will ruin your floor if you don't use the right material to protect it.

Canvas drop cloths are good, but paint can still leak through onto floors if you don't use the right thickness. Lightweight drop cloths of six or eight ounces are great for protection against dust and over-spray, but they do nothing to stop paint and chemicals from leaking through onto a floor.

Heavy duty 12-ounce drop cloths are what I use, but there are pros and cons of using them for painting. They can't be used safely under extension ladders. They're also not the greatest choice for spray painting. Thicker drop cloths are also quite expensive.

A good alternative to drop cloths, especially for spray painting projects, is X-board surface protector. This product is leak-proof and doesn't tear. I use X-board 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

Cheap paint rollers usually aren't lint-free, and if you roll paint onto walls without removing the loose lint first, the debris will get stuck in the paint. You can prevent this problem by de-fuzzing your paint roller before you start painting or use one that's lint-free instead.

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 lint.

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 ruining them. You can buy a plastic storage case for your paint brush, or just wrap the brush with a plastic grocery bag. 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-have for any painting project involving masking, especially when it comes to 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 hand masker for over 10 years. I use it a lot for my cabinet painting projects.

A hand masking tool is awesome because it lets you stick plastic and tape to the surface at the same time instead of having to do one at a 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

One of the most important ceiling and wall painting tools for brushing and rolling paint is a painting extension pole. Extension poles allow you to cut-in corners and roll walls and ceilings in rooms of all sizes. Don't paint a room without using an extendable pole.

The best pole length for typical eight foot walls is four to eight feet. For painting ceilings, I use an eight foot pole. You can buy longer poles for painting high walls and ceilings.

For cutting-in ceiling corners, extension poles are big time savers too. You don't have to climb up and down a ladder all day. I use the Goose Neck extendable paint brush with my extension pole when I paint ceiling corners. The brush handle itself screws right onto the pole.

A ladder leveling tool helps keep you safe

A ladder leveling tool helps keep you safe

8. Ladder Leveling Tool

One of the challenges of interior and exterior painting is safely reaching high walls and ceilings with an extension ladder. Whether you're painting walls over stairs, or the exterior trim on your house, you can reach tricky areas using a ladder leveling tool. One option is to buy an extension ladder with adjustable legs, or a leveling tool.

The best ladder leveling tool I own and use for painting walls over stairs is the Pivit Ladder Tool. I've painted hundreds of stairway walls using this tool underneath my extension 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. No more scraping and scrubbing paint from your paint tray.

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 it takes time to completely wash out paint residue trapped deep inside the nap of the roller. Red paint, in particular, is very difficult 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 from ladders.

With a spay 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 switching over to Frog tape. The price is a bit higher per roll, but Frog tape stops paint from leaking underneath a lot better than cheap tape.

Frog tape is coated with a chemical powder that blocks 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 rolls 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 freshly painted cabinets.


13. Spray Instead of Brushing and Rolling

If you're staining a large fence, painting kitchen cabinets, or even window shutters, using an airless paint sprayer is the way to go. Airless sprayers are very versatile because they're powerful enough to be used for multiple coatings and at higher pressure settings.

The main benefit of spraying is the ability to finish painting and staining projects a lot faster than doing it by hand. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good sprayer. You can even rent an airless paint sprayer if you don't want to buy one.

I've used my airless sprayers for different painting projects including walls, trim, doors, ceilings, and cabinets. I have also stained cedar fences with my sprayer, as well as window shutters. I can't imagine doing these projects without my sprayer. For kitchen cabinet painting, paneling and other areas indoors where a finer finish is desired, you can equip your spray gun with a fine finish spray tip to get a smoother finish.

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 the 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 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.