Professional Painting Tips – Learn From A Pro

family_handyman_logoVeteran painter Butch Zang tells you his secrets for faster, easier and better results.

Steps to Paint Like A Pro

Step 1: Lay a drop cloth and tape floor edges
Step 2: Remove wall obstructions and tape fixtures
Step 3: Sand and clean the woodwork
Step 4: Prime the woodwork
Step 5: Roll the first paint coat on the ceiling
Step 6: Sand, fill and caulk the woodwork
Step 7: Cut-in and roll the second ceiling coat
Step 8 Paint the woodwork
Step 9: Tape the woodwork
Step 10: Paint the walls

What you can learn from a pro

I used to think I was a pretty good amateur painter. That is, until I worked with a real pro, my new painting guru, Butch. Like other successful tradespeople, he has to get the job done quickly and properly to keep his business healthy. The word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers take care of all his marketing needs.

Butch’s shortcuts and methodical, organized approach to painting were designed to save him time, eliminate callbacks and make him more money. Next time you paint, try Butch’s system—you’ll be surprised at the speed and quality of your work. And you won’t get any more testy callbacks from your spouse!

A first class paint job takes time, patience, the right tools and high-quality paints. We’ll show you how to:

Organize tasks so you can move to the next step without waiting
Get prep work done easier and faster
Use fast-drying primers and sealers to avoid downtime
Produce a smooth look with brushes and rollers
Caulk and mask trim for crisp, flawless corners and joints.

Organize your work so you never have to stop
Follow a sequence of steps (as our photos show) that’ll allow you to let one part of the prep work dry while you go on to the next chore. The first few steps will give you the idea: Seal water stains on the ceiling and, while they’re drying, sand, degloss and prime the woodwork. While the primer dries, put the first coat of paint on the ceiling and so on. If you’re the kind of person who would prefer to work your tail off for a weekend rather than stretch the project out over several relaxed days, this story is especially for you. But even if you prefer the laid-back approach to painting, following these steps will yield excellent results with less hassle.

Allow a weekend to completely finish two average-sized rooms. You should try to get through Photo 10 on Saturday. You’ll need to hustle, but you’ll complete the bulk of the work. Saturday’s caulking will dry overnight so you can tape the woodwork and finish up on Sunday. You’ll be done with the whole job in time to have supper and catch “60 Minutes” that night.

Step 1: Lay a drop cloth and tape floor edges


Begin by spending 15 minutes clearing the room. Painting is enough of a chore without having to weave your way through a room full of furnishings. Remove everything you can, including couches and dressers. If something is too large or heavy to move, put it in the middle of the room and cover it with .5-mil painter’s plastic. Complete the paint prep work by taping the carpeting down to the bottom of the baseboards (Photo 1) and running dropcloths over the top of the tape. It’s worth investing in canvas dropcloths to protect your floors. Although you may be tempted to substitute cheap plastic sheeting, canvas stays put and offers a non-slip surface. It’s easiest to buy a couple of 9 x 12-ft. drops, but you could just buy one and move it around to follow your painting.

Step 2: Remove wall obstructions and tape fixtures

 Wall_ObstructionsStep 3: Sand and clean the woodwork

Remove everything from the wall, including picture hangers and outlet cover plates. REMOVE light fixture covers and mask the bases with plastic bags and tape. Then seal old water stains with a spray stain killer.
Caution: Don’t turn on a light if the bulb is covered.

Sand_1Sand_2Sand_3Sanding doesn’t simply smooth out scratches, dents and bumps. It also slightly roughens smooth, hard surfaces so paint adheres better. A deglosser works faster and better on hard varnishes, especially if they are greasy (Photo 4).

Step 4: Prime the woodwork

PrimePrime the woodwork with a fast-drying solvent-based (oil or alcohol) primer, not a water-based latex. Don’t be overly concerned if you slop some primer on adjoining walls, but be sure to smooth out large globs of paint. If you don’t, they’ll show through the wall paint later.

Step 5: Roll the first paint coat on the ceiling


Roll as lightly as possible on this first coat in one direction only. Your objective is to apply a coat of paint to lock in the rough particles so they’ll stay put when you do the second, thicker coat. You’re painting two sides of each texture particle; you’ll pick up the other two sides when you recoat in the opposite direction. Again, don’t worry too much about slopping some paint on the walls, but avoid a large buildup. TIP: Test-roll the textured ceiling in a closet or other hidden area first. If flaking’s a problem, either spray paint it, or use a quick-drying oil- or alcohol-based primer.


Step 6: Sand, fill and caulk the woodwork


Sand the walls with 100-grit sandpaper to remove bumps from the old paint job, rough edges of drywall paper around any gouges and any other imperfections. A drywall sander (photo 13) will make the job easier. Sand primed woodwork with a medium-grit sanding sponge. Fill any wall blemishes such as nail holes and gouges with a non-shrinking spackling compound and lightly sand after they’re dry. Dust all the woodwork with an old, soft paint brush or duster. Then caulk gaps around the woodwork edges.

Step 7: Cut-in and roll the second ceiling coat


Photo 8 shows a simple way to make a flat edge along a textured ceiling. Without that edge, you can’t cut in cleanly along the ceiling with the wall paint. Finish the ceiling before starting the walls.

Step 8 Paint the woodwork


Now brush the first coat of latex trim paint onto the woodwork (primer is now dry) with a 2-in. brush, and roll doors with a 1/4-in. nap roller. Then break for the day to let the paint dry. Depending on coverage, you may need to recoat the woodwork the next day. If so, lightly sand between coats with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth brush marks.

Tip: Add a paint conditioner for a smoother finish when brush and roller marks won’t level out.

Step 9: Tape the woodwork


Day 2: If you’ve been able to push through the first day, your room should be ready to finish on the second, more leisurely, day. It takes too long and takes too steady hand to cut the wall paint in around all the woodwork. You’d have to do it well for each coat. It’s much easier and faster to mask it, making sure that the tape adheres tightly to the edge so paint doesn’t ooze under. The ceiling/wall joint is an exception; you can cut in by hand there.

Make sure the trim paint and caulk are dry at this point.

Step 10: Paint the walls


The key to streak-free wall painting is to maintain a wet edge. The wet cut-in paint should blend with the rolled areas to prevent “picture framing” or shadow lines at hand-painted/rolled junctions. Roll from top to bottom, from right to left, keeping the unsupported side of the roller frame pointing toward the left (Photo 12). Apply slightly heavier pressure to the unsupported side of the roller to eliminate roller tracks.

Using a bucket and screen instead of a paint tray speeds up the work (Photo 12A).


Thanks to Family Handyman Magazine for this great article.  Visit their site for more tips and tricks.

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About lenrapp

I am the president of the International Press Association and the publisher of IMPress Magazine. As a working photojournalist and videographer, I cover many events in the New York and New Jersey area for our publications. I am looking forward to our newest publication the Hazlet Times that will be a publication meant to showcase the things I love in Hazlet and those that might need some improvements.

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