filling cracks in the wall before painting
Photo: Geoffrey Gross
Find, then fix, cracks and dents
Most of us can do an okay job of painting a room. But a seasoned professional does a great job. Obviously, pros have more experience than the average homeowner, but they also know techniques and tricks that make them better painters. We asked six pro painters to share those secrets. They probably kept a few tips to themselves, but they provided us with more than enough to help you work more efficiently and get better results. Some of what you'll read may surprise you. For instance, their secrets won't cut painting time. Painters spend two to four days on an average-size room. That's how long it takes to prep, prime and paint correctly. It's more work, but when you stand back to admire the results, you'll agree it's time well spent. Clear the Decks

To begin, move everything out of the room. Every painter we spoke with had a horror story about the time he didn't follow Rule No. 1. Bigger pieces of furniture can sometimes be left covered in the center of larger rooms, but if you are repairing drywall, says Chris Span, of Span's Quality Painting in Mobile, Alabama, "Take everything out. Drywall dust goes everywhere." Remove doors, light fixtures and hardware, and label everything with masking tape. Also, invest in drop cloths. "It's surprising how well a few drops of paint can cover a floor," says Rich Maceyunas, of Maceyunas Painting and Wallpaper in Waterbury, Connecticut. Buy high-quality drop cloths, such as canvas or paper-backed plastic. (Paint soaks right through lightweight fabrics and bedsheets.) Plastic sheeting works, but it's very slippery and doesn't absorb drips.
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