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Painting Perfectly: Tips for Making Your DIY Look Professionaly Done

Painting Perfectly: Tips for Making Your DIY Look Professionaly Done

If you thought that picking the perfect paint color for your project was the hard part, think again.

There are a lot of tricks to the trade and a professional paint project compared to DIY painting is usually pretty easy to spot. You can get closer to paint perfection by following just a few technique tips that will give your project a smooth & clean finish. 

  • Everyone knows about painter’s tape, but have you heard about Frog’s Tape? It is a little more pricey but uses tape treated with paint block technology that leaves you with straight lines rather than those medley dot runs  
  • Fresh white moldings - Paint your first coat on the molding, let it dry completely and sand it with a sanding sponge. Then you can smoothly apply your top coat and will get an extra shiny look from the sanding done in the previous layer 
  • Never underestimate the work of a quality brush. It’s tempting to buy the $0.98 brushes but the overall result shows when you go the cheap route and brush strokes can haunt you forever 
  • Maintain your brushes - You can buy a simple brush cleaner that will increase the lifespan of your nice quality brushes and give it the soft flexibility that you need for the perfect stroke every time 
  • Protect your floors - There is nothing like spending two weekends on the perfect paint job and then spending a third weekend cleaning up the mess you made on the floors instead of sitting beside the pool. Take time at the beginning of every project to protect your floors or it will only cost you more time (and even worse, money!) at the end.
  • When in doubt caulk it out - Using caulk for cracks and imperfections in your molding is icing on the cake. 

So you’ve picked your color, you’ve done your research and now it’s time to pick up your can. And when you hand your paint chip over to the mixing agent, they ask you their favorite question, “What finish would you like?” Here you are, stuck with another decision on the spot. 

A few homeowners have their special preferences, but overall there are a few general rules of thumb for paint finishing. When you’re painting trim, it’s most common to use semi-gloss paint in white or ivory because the semi-gloss paint offers a sheen without being “shiny”. If you like bold clean lines and shine, you may prefer to use a high-gloss on your trim but beware that high gloss paint highlights every imperfection in the surface it’s painting. If you have crown or base molding with a few nics and bumps, I would suggest staying with semi-gloss, but if your trim is brand spanking new and you want the world to know it, show it off with high gloss paint. Ceilings are easy because they make a basic “ceiling white” in most brands that you should have shaken by the mixing agent and then you’re all set. If you’re looking to paint the ceiling in a color other than white, I recommend using a flat paint. Then there’s always a “player’s choice” on the wall finish, but most commonly used is satin (or also called eggshell) for an easy-to-clean sheen-but-not-shiny surface. The alternative to satin could be using flat paint, which comes out dull, and chalky, flat paint is most commonly used on walls in commercial spaces such as offices or apartment buildings. It would also be perfect for walls that have a lot of imperfections.

Complimentary colored accent walls were a huge trend in the early 2000s but have faded away like gold door knobs & wooden spindles. For the intermediate painter, there are still ways to accent a focal point with paint rather than painting it a secondary color. One common option is broad stripes using a neutral color alternating the primary color. One of my favorite options is a play on texture by alternating paint finishes in the same color; start with high gloss and alternate with flat paint in the same color to create a contrast of texture for your accent wall. 

Last & most importantly, practice patience before painting, it is not a speedy process but it is a permanent one. Take your time to use your best craftsmanship, and the results will make you smile each time you walk into your new room. Painting is one of the least expensive improvements you can make to your home. If it’s done properly, it can also be one of the most rewarding.

- Samantha Taylor is an interior decorator living in Hagerstown.

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