Don’t start your painting project without doing this first.
On TLC’s Trading Spaces, it’s all about speed: Two sets of neighbors swap rooms and work with designers to redo the space in a matter of days. Often, the DIY labor goes all night as the teams work to beat the deadline, painting and moving furniture until the last second.
Trading Spaces host Paige Davis has years of experience working on speedy home updates, and she says the need for home reno speed shouldn’t mean you skip the most important part of any project: prepping your space before you so much as pick up a paintbrush.
“Prep is everything,” Davis, who is joining forces with painter’s tape pros ScotchBlue to spread the word, told Real Simple. “Even though on Trading Spaces everything is just about going fast, the truth of the matter is, if you don’t do correct prep, you’re just trading one headache for another. We learn that over and over and over again. Not just with painting, but with everything.”
Carefully covering baseboards, trim, cabinets, and whatever else you don’t want to get paint on with painter’s tape is key; otherwise, you’re stuck with a sloppy paint job or the hassle of painting over splatters and stray brushstrokes.
“Nobody ever wants to do it because, let’s just be honest, it’s really tedious,” Davis said. “[But] I think that when you don’t do it, [painting] ends up taking so much longer.”
When you’re beginning a new painting project, start by picking the best tape for your space—ScotchBlue has a handy tool to help you find the right one. Carefully tape along all surfaces that shouldn’t be painted (trim, floors, ceiling, built-ins, etc.). Lay the tape down without stretching it and press firmly, so the edges seal. Davis recommends letting it sit for a moment before you start painting. Once you’re finished, be sure the paint is completely dry before you start removing the tape.
“It’s extremely fun to rip painter’s tape, [but] you do want to be conscientious and cautious when you’re taking it down,” Davis said. “It’s important to bring it off on a 45 degree angle, back onto itself.”
Incorrectly stripping the tape off could result in chips of paint coming off with it. Also, standard painter’s tape with paper backing can sometimes shred during removal. If you want to avoid this (and picking off little strips of tape at a time), you can buy something with poly-backing such as ScotchBlue’s Platinum Interior Painter’s Tape (which comes off in one long strip) for a few more dollars.
After properly prepping a room, you should be safe from many major painting disasters, but if tragedy does strike (a paint can tips over, perhaps), all is not lost.
“Cleaning up paint is not fun,” Davis acknowledged. “The best way to do it is a lot of water. You have to dilute it and suck it up [like with a vacuum] and wipe it up. The faster you do it, the more success you’ll have.”
You definitely want to avoid a paint-splattered home, but you probably want the final product to look nice, too. Fortunately, Davis has easy-to-follow tips for that, as well:
- Don’t load your roller up with too much paint, to avoid drips. You can always add more paint, if needed.
- Invest in the right tools. (Think tarps and extender poles.)
- Paint in a “W” shape, so you go over the last line you did with the first line of your next roll. This helps to reduce streaks.
- Use primer when painting over dark colors; tinted primer (when covering red, for example) can make a big difference.