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10 Painting Tips & Tricks You Never Knew

Updated on June 15, 2013

#1. For easy cleanup use tinfoil on your paint tray. When I painted all of the outdated wooden trim and peachy 80′s walls in our house, I went through about 20 paint trays before I ever figured this out. Before you pour your paint in your paint tray, cover it with a layer of aluminum foil. When you’re done, simply remove the foil and throw it away. Your paint tray won’t have a drop of paint on it and will still be good as new! You’ll never have to wash another paint tray. Ever. Feel free to high five the person to your left. This is a trick I use every single time now and it saves me tons of money and time. It’s simple and it works!

#2. Use a paint pour lid on paint cans.If you’ve ever fiddled with a gallon of paint before, you know what a mess it can be to try to pour it neatly into the paint tray.
I bought a few pour lids for $ 2 each and use them on all my gallon paint cans. Not only does it make the painting process quicker and cleaner, but since the lid is airtight, it makes your paint last so much longer. Now that I use these, I no longer have to awkwardly hammer the lid back on, or stomp on it with my shoe. Don’t pretend like you haven’t done that.
#3. Use vinegar and hot water to clean your paintbrushes.I wasted a lot of money on paintbrushes before I figured this out. Here’s what I do. For brushes that are just kinda dirty, I fill a small bowl with 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 hot tap water and soak for about 30 minutes. If you have a brush that’s really dirty and has dried paint on it, put your brush in a small pot and cover the bristles in vinegar. Bring the vinegar to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool before you remove the brush. Once it’s cool, wash it with water and you should be able to gently clean all the paint off really easily. Check out the brushes in the below pic. The left brush was just soaked in water. The right brush was soaked in vinegar and hot water. This saved me tons of money during the weeks when I painted our kitchen cabinets. I now pardon vinegar for being so stinky. (See my advice on specific painting supplies here).
#4. Use mineral spirits to clean oil based paint off brushes.The vinegar trick won’t work too well if you’re using oil based paints or clear coats. Oil based products are a totally different beast. A really stubborn, oily beast. Instead, try using mineral spirits to clean your brushes. I threw away so many brushes after using them to put varnish on furniture. Now that I know about mineral spirits, I save tons of moolah and can reuse the same nice brush for all my varnish/clear coats. Also, I like to use this Klean-Strip stuff because it doesn’t have a strong smell.#5. Buy a paint sample before buying the gallon.I know how it feels….you’re in the store, looking at all 400 million paint chips with funny names. You’re not 100% sure about the color, but you don’t want to have to come back to the store. I know. I get it. However, it pays to buy the paint sample and take it home to test it on your wall. As tempting as it is just to take the plunge, it’s never fun to realize after you get home that you just invested in a gallon of paint that makes your wall look like a banana…if you weren’t aiming for a banana. Colors have a funny way of changing in different rooms and lights. (See my fave paint colors here). So take it from someone who messed this up a few times, and learned the lesson so hard that I now own a mini-village of tiny paint sample cans. Buy the sample and test the color on your walls first. Otherwise you’ll end up painting the same room 4 times like me.
#6. Make your own chalk paint.I love chalk paint and use it often. It’s a great time saver, as it’s a type of paint that adheres really well, and saves you from having to prime or prep if you don’t want to. I make my own version by using plain interior paint mixed with Plaster of Paris. You can find Plaster of Paris at Home Depot or Lowe’s and it’s really cheap. All you do is mix 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris with 2 cups of paint and 2 tablespoons of water. Just combine ingredients and stir well. It may even be a little lumpy, but that’s okay. Once you brush it on, it evens out. I used my chalk paint recipe on mydresser, vanity, and media console, and they all still look so great.
#7. Use the correct type of clear coat finish.This is something I wish I had known when I first started painting furniture, as I ended up having to redo several pieces due to using the wrong clear coat. For most furniture paint projects, I recommend using Polycrylic as your top coat. It will give you the durable finish you’re looking for, but won’t yellow over time like Polyurethane will. I definitely painted a few pieces back in the day and watched my pretty white paint turn yellow because I used Polyurethane instead of Polycrylic. Also, I like Polycrylic because it cleans up with water. You’ll have to use mineral spirits for Polyurethane.
#8. Make any color paint into fabric paint.Although my glue pillow trick is my fave fabric tip, DIY fabric paint is absolutely my second. You can get fabric ‘textile medium’ at most craft stores. You just mix it with any color acrylic paint and it instantly turns it into fabric paint! I’m kind of obsessed with it and have used it on tons of stuff. I’m currently contemplating creating a new headboard design with some fabric paint.
#9. Try Rub n Buff or a Silver Leafing Pen for metallic accents. I love silver spray paint and have used it on so many things that I consider myself a silvery spray paint expert. However, sometimes spray paint just won’t do. I’ve found that for small projects like hardware, frames, or little knick knacks, Rub n Buff and Krylon’s silver leafing pen are awesome. Both are sold at craft stores. To see some examples of what to use it for, I used Rub n Buff here, here, here, and Krylon’s penhere. The possibilities are kinda endless.#10. ORB it.Have you seen the gorgeous oil-rubbed bronze fixtures that seem to be everywhere, but maybe you are stuck with something else and can’t afford to switch? Well, you can convert just about anything with spray paint. Don’t get me wrong, I love gold and I love silver. But sometimes you just need ORB. For example, I had these great little silver knobs leftover from my kitchen redo, but silver just wouldn’t work on the dresser I wanted to use them on. So, I spray painted them to the color I needed and they look great. I also did this with my doorknobs and a pair of cute end tables.
So, that’s it! My 10 paint tips that just might make life easier, or at least more fun! So tell me, are there any cool tricks you’ve learned along the way that make your life easier?

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