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DIY - How To Paint Like A Pro: My Top Five Painting Tips

Updated on May 29, 2012

Let’s face it, you’re putting a lot of sweat equity into your painting project, and you want professional results. Here are a few tips that will help:

1. Resist the urge to take shortcuts. I know how tempting it can be to just grab a brush and try to get the thing painted, but in the long run you are doing yourself a disservice by rushing. I allow as much time for prep as for painting and am rarely wrong in this calculation. Think of the project as an investment, in money (the cost of paint, roller covers, brushes, etc.) as well as your time. Maximize your investment by doing it well, not as quickly as possible.

2. Stir, stir, stir! Buy paint as close as possible to when it will be used so that it does not sit around longer than necessary—stirring is imperative, but using paint soon after it was shaken is the best of all. Even so, stir before using, then stir often while working. Paint settles very fast, especially dark or highly saturated colors, so keep stirring as you work.

3. Use the right paint. Do some research and ask for advice at the paint counter. Be especially diligent about the finish type that will be best for the job. Paint no longer comes only in flat, semi-gloss and high gloss, there are now many gradations available, and each will give a different result.

4. Learn how to finesse and feather paint with a brush and roller. The most common mistake people make is to load the brush or roller with too much paint. Try to paint more gently, thinking of the paint as a beautiful, delicate, expensive substance with which you are caressing the wall. Seriously. I know that sounds idiotic, but it can help you respect the paint and not be tempted to slather and slop it on, but spread and smooth it on, instead. For delicate work, hold the brush down on the broad part of the handle just above where the bristles start. Likewise, move your grip downward on the roller handle to exert more pressure on uneven surfaces. Vary your grip to avoid repetitive stress injuries, as well.

5. Use the right tools. Brushes are not created equal, nor are roller covers. Most often, it’s not how much it cost as much as what it was designed for that will be the most significant factor. Do a little research before you buy and match the bristle content and texture (soft? stiff?) to the paint you are using as well as the surface and the type of application.

Take your time, do research before starting, choose the best tools and paint, and above all enjoy the experience, because there is nothing like the satisfaction of not only doing it yourself, but doing it well!

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

How well have your painting projects gone?

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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thank you, Peggy, and I admire your stamina with the wallpaper. I have 2 of the 5 wallpapered rooms in this house stripped and painted, and am convinced no one should be allowed to buy wallpaper until they have *removed* wallpaper!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have done a lot of painting in my life and agree with everything that you said. Much of the wallpaper where we are currently living was outdated so I tackled quite a few of the rooms this last year and now they are freshly painted. Voted useful and up.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I'd actually say that choosing the best brush for the job is absolutely critical. I'm hoping to write about just that--the different types of brushes--soon. Thanks for the compliment!

    • Escapes profile image

      Escapes 5 years ago

      Great tips -- painting isn't as easy as it looks. Little things like the right paintbrushes really do make a big difference.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      That's a very common problem, thank you for your comment!

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      All of it so true. I remember buying a big can of paint that seemed a lot lighter than I'd intended and only realizing only at the bottom of the can that that's where all the color was! Thanks for the reminder.