PAINTING TIPS Load it right
Ideally, you want as much paint on the brush as you can control without making drips or blobs. To do this, Doherty dips his brush about 1 1/2 inches into the paint, then taps (not wipes) each side of the brush against the side of the can. Tapping knocks off the drips and forces the paint into the bristles. "The brush releases the paint just like a fountain pen," he says. Weeks agrees, saying, "Just be sure to keep your brush moving, or it'll start to drip." For more delicate work, such as when you're painting trim or window sash, you'll want less paint on the brush. Doherty again dips and taps his brush, but this time he also scrapes the sides against his can. "The outside bristles are drier and easier to manage," he says, "but there's still plenty of paint on the brush." Cut in close
"Cutting in is an acquired skill, but it's something you can't do at all with a ratty brush," says Doherty. When cutting in on a wall, he loads his brush and spreads out the excess paint, then works the brush up to the line between wall and ceiling. A brush stroke that's too wide creates a hatband, or smooth brushed band, on the very top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. To avoid this, Dixon recommends rolling first and then cutting in with a brush. "A good roller can get within 1/2 inch of the ceiling," he says. "You'll save time by not brushing more then you have to." When painting baseboards, "a wide taping knife makes a good paint guard," says Span. "Just keep the blade clean to prevent drips from working around the edge of the knife." Work top down
After painting the ceiling, work from the top down: Start with the crown molding, then do the walls and then paint the casement molding around the windows and doors. Do baseboard molding last. "Painting the baseboards last keeps dust and grit from traveling off the floor, onto the brush and then up onto the freshly painted casements," explains Weeks. Double-check work
Between coats you'll want to back-prep, or sand off any bumps, before applying the next coat. Use a light to check the surface for drips, roller flecks, or other imperfections. Focus on windows
The best time to tackle windows is in the beginning of the day, when you're fresh," says Doherty. "But it still takes me an hour to do a standard window." For double-hungs, begin by raising the inner sash and lowering the outer sash until their positions are almost reversed. Paint the lower half of the outer sash first, then the entire inner sash. Once the lower sash is dry, return both to their normal position, but leave them slightly open. Finish painting the outer sash. "Windows take too long to tape," says Doherty. When painting, overlap the glass by 1/16 inch to seal the wood. Do doors right
Most painters have no problem painting doors in place, but they recommend you lay the door on sawhorses and work horizontally. If you have a paneled door, start with the panels and work from the outside edges in toward the center. "Watch the corners — paint loves to puddle," warns Dixon. While the paint is still wet, lightly "tip off" the panel with an almost dry brush. (Tipping off is pulling the brush over the surface to level out the finish.) When painting the stiles (vertical) and rails (horizontal) just follow the grain of the wood. When the grain changes abruptly, for instance, where the rail meets the stile, don't stop your brush stroke — you'll only leave a lump of paint. Apply paint across the joint with a full stroke, and then tip off the overlapping section by pulling the brush in the direction of the grain. "Make sure the door is dry before painting the opposite side or rehanging it," says Maceyunas. Skip daily cleaning
Most pros don't bother cleaning brushes and rollers if they are going to use them the next day on the same job. "Latex paint dries slowly in cold temperatures," says Maceyunas. For two-day jobs, he wraps the rollers and brushes in plastic grocery bags and sticks them in the refrigerator. "Just allow the roller to return to room temperature before reusing it," he says. Roller covers are almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Most pros buy new covers for each job. Expect touch-ups
Accidents happen. Keep a cheap sponge brush on hand to blend a patch with the rest of the wall or woodwork. To mimic the look of a roller, simply dab on the paint.
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