8 Professional Painters Share Their Top Painting Tips

Steal these genius tips from the experts to give your next painting project a flawless result.

benjamin moore paint
Photo: John Bessler

Are you doing some interior painting but don't know how to reach tall ceilings? Or maybe you're wondering how to remove painter's tape? No doubt pro painters would rather you just leave the job to them.

But we managed to pry some secret painters' tips from our favorite experts. They told us how they handle both of these issues. Then they spilled even more painting tricks of the trade so that you can achieve a flawless paint joball on your own. If you're set on painting yourself, go ahead and read their tips. Otherwise, consider whether or not you should hire a pro.

01 of 08

Use an Extension Pole

The cost of painting supplies can start adding up, but resist the urge to save money by going without this essential tool.

"Most people think they're only for reaching high places, but if you have a lot of wall surface to paint, an extension pole is a must," says Nicole Gibbons, founder of Clare Paint. "It will give you greater leverage so you don't have to keep bending down to load your roller, which reduces strain on your arms and back."

The standard size is an extendable two-foot roller extension, but you might want an even longer one if you have very high ceilings. Another reason an extension pole is a necessary painting tool: "With better leverage and less physical stress, you'll be able to paint faster and more efficiently," says Gibbons.

02 of 08

Protect Doorknobs

You know you need to put painter's tape around doors and baseboards. But professional painters also cover every doorknob. How do they keep them from splattered or dripping paint?

"Slip a small plastic bag over your doorknobs," says Mike Mundwiller, Field Integration Manager at Benjamin Moore. "And tape the edge to avoid getting paint in places it isn't supposed to go."

03 of 08

Choose the Right Brush

Don't skimp when choosing your paintbrush. Look for one from a trusted brand like Wooster, Purdy, or Benjamin Moore. "Investing in a good paintbrush is the first step towards a professional-looking finish," says pro painter Brian Bedenbaugh. "Plan to invest $20-$25 on your brush."

The size and material of the brush will depend on the paint job. "As a homeowner, stick with synthetic or polyester brushes for exterior work and soft nylon for interior work," Bedenbaugh says.

"The smaller the brush, the more control, but selecting a brush that's too small would make a project take longer." For painting trim and cutting in, go with a 2 ½-inch angled brush.

04 of 08

Don't Forget to Caulk

Before the painting, it's time to bring out the caulk gun. "Don't forget to caulk around the trim work, crown molding, windows, and door frames," says Rick Watson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams. "This makes your trim and wall finishes stand out and look like a professional took their time in providing quality work."

Plus, it can help keep down your heating and air conditioning bills. "Caulking could add the benefit of keeping unwanted cold air/draft from sneaking into the room," says Watson. Just make sure you caulk before you paint, especially if you opt for contrasting trim.

05 of 08

Use a Box Cutter to Remove Painter's Tape

You use painter's tape to protect the look of your paint job—not to ruin it. But beware: "Latex paint can have an almost elastic-like "stretch" before it fully cures, so when you remove the painter's tape that was protecting your floor or door trim, be careful not to pull the paint off with the tape and ruin your perfect finish," says Anne Treutel, Sr. Product Manager at Valspar.

Her trick to avoid this? "Simply use a retractable utility blade or box cutter to score the place where the tape meets the wall so you get a clean edge when you pull off the tape," Treutel says.

06 of 08

Put Your Roller in the Fridge

Big paint jobs can take several days to complete, and you don't want your brush and roller to stiffen overnight.

"If you're taking a break from painting for the night but plan to add another coat in the morning, prevent your brush and roller from drying out by wrapping them tightly with a plastic shopping bag, using a rubber band to secure them, and placing them in the fridge (not the freezer)," says Lou Manfredini, Home Expert at Ace Hardware.

(You can also wrap rollers in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.) "In the morning," he says, "take it out of the fridge and get to painting!" Once done, make sure you clean your rollers thoroughly, so you can use them again and again.

07 of 08

Use the "W" Method

If you paint a wall straight up and down, you essentially paint over the area you just painted. This can result in lifting off the paint you just applied. How to avoid this? "Many pros swear by the W method,'" says Jessica Barr, Behr National Sales & Development Trainer.

This paint-saving technique works exactly as it sounds. "When painting a room, roll your paint onto the wall in a W shape, then fill in around and inside the W to create a square and repeat until the wall is covered," says Barr.

"Each W should be about arm's length, with 12-inch strokes or longer, to evenly distribute the paint for a beautiful, professional-quality finish. Don't forget to reload your roller before starting the next W section."

08 of 08

Keep a Wet Rag in Your Back Pocket

At some point in the process, some paint will drip or splatter on something that isn't supposed to get painted (like your clothes). That's why pro painters are always prepared.

"When paint hits your trim, grab your closest wet rag," says PPG senior product marketing manager Jenny Burroughs. "Wiping the unwanted paint with a wet rag will help remove paint better than a dry cloth or paper towel."

And if some paint makes its unwelcome way onto your window panes? Burroughs has a pro tip for that, too: "Use a razor blade to remove unwanted paint from windows."

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