{diy with style} The Best Tips and Tricks for Painting Any Space

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Last year when I finished painting the argyle wall in my son's room, I posted the full tutorial, and then buried down at the bottom, I shared my best tips and tricks for any painting project. Recently, I've received a handful of painting related question from readers, so I decided that my painting tips probably deserved a post all their own.

So here you have it, all the painting wisdom I have picked up {largely through trial and error} over the course of many DIY projects! These tips and tricks will help you paint any space.

Best Tips & Tricks for Painting Any Space

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Picking Paint Colors
This topic clearly deserves a post all it's own {and I have one in the works}, but I will quickly summarize two key things to keep in mind:

  • Colors Look Different in Different Light: Paint colors look different in different light, and are also impacted by their surroundings. Never pick a color in the store without bringing samples home. The way the color looks under the lights of the store, or even outside in the bright light of the parking lot, will not be the same as it will look in your room. Look at the paint samples in the specific room you plan to paint, and look at different times of the day as the light changes, as well as at night.
  • Pay Attention to the Undertone of the Color: The most common mistake most people make in picking a color for their room is not paying attention to the undertone of the paint color. This is just as important regardless of whether you are picking a bold color, or a neutral.

    It can be easy to think that beige is beige is beige...but not so! Beiges and greys are notorious for appearing to change color throughout the day, so it's vital to take note of the undertone of the color, because that's the color you'll start to notice as the light changes in the room. A beige wall can suddenly start to look like a terrible peachy color, or a grey wall can take on an unintended purple hue!

    The easiest way to avoid this is to look not just at the specific color you are considering but at the colors above and below it on the color sample cards. As you look up all the way to the top or bottom of the color cards, you start to notice the undertones. The middle of the card may look like a light grey, but if the darkest color on the card looks like a deep purple, then the lighter shades will take on a purple hue at different times of day!

Painting Supplies

No matter the project you are tackling, you'll need these basic supplies:

  • Paint Brushes and Rollers: You'll want a paint roller for large areas, and a brush for corners and edges. Extendable rollers are a must for us short people like me, to avoid so much up and down on step stools and ladders. The Purdy brand of brushes and roller covers are more expensive than others, but I’ve done enough wall painting to know that a good quality roller can make all the difference, and these have worked well for me. Lower quality rollers will often leave fuzz on the walls {a huge mess!}, just like lower quality brushes will often shed bristles as your painting {also a big hastle!}.
  • Paint Tray and Disposable Tray Liner: See below for tips about storing you paint tray between coats or when taking a break.
  • Paint Tape and Faux Glaze: See tips below for achieving crisp paint lines.
  • Drop Cloth: To keep paint drips off of your floors and furniture
  • Paint Can Opener & Stir Sticks: Be sure you have these two basics on hand, both of which you'll find right at the counter when you get your paint mixed. Always pick up a few extra stir sticks, because if you don't finish the job all at once, you'll need to stir the paint more than once.
Achieving Perfectly Crisp Paint Lines
To achieve perfectly crisp paint lines with little or no paint bleeding under the tape - the secret is to seal along all of your tape lines using faux glaze before painting {we use the Behr brand in the past, but it seems to be hard to find these days}. The glaze creates a seal the prevents paint from bleeding under the tape, and if any glaze bleeds under the tape it dries clear and is totally unnoticeable. Apply a liberal amount of faux glaze with a brush, brushing first toward the tape, and then smoothing out the glaze by brushing in the direction of the tape.

The photo below illustrates how I sealed around the diamonds for the argyle wall I painted, but sealing your paint lines is just as important along ceilings and baseboards and in corners where two paint colors meet.

I've heard others recommend that instead of faux glaze you, can simply seal the tape lines with the color of paint under the tape {for example, when taping to paint a wall along the ceiling line, you could seal with the ceiling color}. This does work, assuming you have extra of that paint color on hand, but I don't recommend it for a couple of reasons:

  • Paint on your walls fades a bit over time, and extra paint that has been stored for a while starts to degrade and change a bit. When you seal with faux glaze, it dries clear, but if you seal with paint, you run the risk the color will dry a bit differently and will leave you with a mess.
  • Additionally, sealing with paint rather than faux glaze might require you to use several different paint colors/sheens {for example, you might need a flat white to seal along the ceiling line, and a semi-gloss white to seal along the door trim and baseboards}. Because the glaze dries clear, you can use the same thing to seal everywhere with no issues!
Keep Baby Wipes on Hand to Clean Up Mistakes
Always keep some baby wet wipes on hand when you are painting.  If you get latex paint anywhere that you don't intend, it will easily wipe away as long as you don't allow it to dry! Well, almost anywhere. Baby wipes are perfect for removing wet paint from ceilings, walls, moldings and baseboards, doors, and wood floors, but won't take paint out of carpets and fabrics. This baby wipe tip also works with acrylic paints when you are working on craft projects.

Use Ziploc Bags to Keep Paint Trays and Rollers from
Drying Out Between Uses

If you take a break from painting before the project is complete, seal your paint tray and roller inside of a Ziploc bag to keep it from drying out. This prevents paint waste and avoids the need to start with a new roller simply because you stop for dinner or head to bed. For my argyle project, I was using mini trays and rollers than fit easily in gallon Ziploc bags, but if you are using a regular sized paint tray, you'll need a Jumbo (2.5 gallon) Ziploc bag {which can be hard to find in stores}.

Working With Sharpie Paint Markers
Using Sharpie paint markers to create unique patterns on your walls has become a big trend in recent years! In fact, I used a white paint marker for the lines on my argyle wall. Sharpie paint makers are a simple and easy way to add pattern and can be a great alternative to wallpaper, but there are a few things you need to know to avoid a mess and to ensure you'll be able to paint over it when the time comes! 
  • Depress the Pen on a Piece of Paper to Get it Flowing Again. When the paint marker seems to be drying out, replace the cap, shake it vigorously, and then depress the tip against a piece of paper to get it flowing again. Do not depress it against your wall or the surface you are painting, or you may end up with a large, unwanted glob of paint.
  • You Can Paint Oil Over Latex, But Not Latex Over Oil. If you decide to add a detail to your wall using a Sharpie paint marker {like I did for my diagonal lines}, be sure its water-based! If you use an oil-based paint marker and make any mistakes, you won't be able to touch it up with latex paint, and you'll have to prime the wall before repainting in the future. By using a water-based paint marker, you'll be able to make any necessary touch ups and can easily paint over it in the future

Measuring and Painting Stripes
Click here for my best stripe painting tips, including how to paint ombre stripes!

Painting Argyle or Harlequin Diamonds
Before painting the argyle wall in my son's room, I read a lot of tutorials, and then I found an easier way! Here is my argyle wall tutorial that requires almost no math!

Organizing Paint and Paint Supplies
I wrote an entire post about how we organized our paint and paint supplies, including lots of tips and tricks, and even a free printable label for your paint containers.

Tips for Proper Paint Storage, Disposal and Recycle

I also have a detailed post about the proper way to store, dispose of, and recycle various kids of paint.

Feel free to leave me a message if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them, or point you in the right direction! And send me pictures of your projects - I'd love to see what you're painting!


  1. Great post filled with practical advice everyone can use!!! Thank you - this one's a keeper for sure!!!

  2. Awesome post. You have shared some important area of painting. Thanks for sharing


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