9 Secrets the Pro Painters Won’t Tell You

paint pros secrets

There is a distinct difference between the quality of a professional paint job and a do-it-yourself project.  Painting interiors and exteriors are also a lot less painful for experienced paint professionals.  They know all the little secrets handed down through time, from industry professionals to industry professionals.

Most of us can do an okay job of painting a room, but a seasoned professional does an awesome job. They know the techniques and tricks that make them better painters. Many of their secrets won't cut much of the time required to paint; the time it takes to prep, prime, and paint correctly is still a factor. However, they will produce a better finish that is worth it once you see the high-quality results. 

The Best Kept Secrets of Professional Painters

painting room

There’s a reason why professional painters perform top-quality work with every project. They like to employ a few little-known secrets to keep their performance at peak value while delivering on the promises to give the customer a beautifully painted home or business.

1. Clear the Room

Always move or remove furniture, light fixtures, and hardware out of the way to avoid getting dust and paint on them. For larger pieces of furniture, they can be moved to the middle of the room and covered with drop cloths. Label everything that has been moved with masking tape, so you know where to replace it.

Cover any remaining furniture with high-quality drop cloths such as those made of canvas. Unlike plastic, these stay in place without the need for tape and won’t slip off.

If repairs need to be made to the surface to be painted, dust can get on everything in the room. Some professional painters prefer cardboard to protect the floors.  If you need to move around, painters can slide it with their feet as they work their way around the room.

2. Fix All the Imperfections

It’s helpful to use a hand-held bulb to shine a light to detect flaws in the woodwork.  Loose paint, rough edges, small holes, and other blemishes will appear so that you’ll know what needs to be filled.

The area that’s being painted must be thoroughly inspected for bumps, cracks, or dents in the wall before you open the paint. Even the smallest holes need to be filled with a spackling compound or wood filler. The paint will not hide scratches or dents. It will instead highlight these minor imperfections, making them more noticeable.

3. Sand Away Flaws 

Make sure the surface is smooth as possible before applying paint. Sandpaper does a great job of getting rid of chipped paint and rough spots.  If the wall was previously painted, the surface needs to be fully de-glossed with fine-grit sandpaper. For glossy trim, use a sanding sponge rather than sandpaper.

Sponges mold to the shape of the trim and last longer than paper.  When purchasing a sanding sponge look for "non-clogging" or "stearated" on the label. If you are not sure of the original paint finish, follow the hand-sanding with liquid sandpaper to make sure the surface is completely de-glossed to prevent incompatibility problems.  After sanding, vacuum or wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove all the dust.

4. Clean Surfaces Thoroughly

Paint will not adhere to a surface if it is dirty, dusty, or grimy. If walls are greasy like in a kitchen, use a degreaser to clean them.  Wipe clean with a sponge, then allow to dry completely.

painting pros
5. Use the Best Tools

Professional painters only use top quality equipment for all their painting projects. Typical painter tools include a paintbrush, a roller, and a pan or bucket to hold the paint. The equipment used makes the difference between a successful paint job and a drab one.

Paint rollers come in many sizes with a long or short handle. Nap rollers serve two purposes. First, they allow you to cover large areas quickly. Secondly, they apply an even, consistent coat of paint.

Lambswool rollers are best to use because they hold paint well. A roller with a long nap holds more paint than one with a shorter nap. It is recommended to wash a new roller in dishwashing liquid first to remove any stray fibers.

To limit the need for using a ladder, a painter’s rod or telescoping rod aids in painting ceilings quickly. They come in 4 or 8 ft length poles. With this tool, you avoid being splattered with paint because you’re not standing directly underneath the area you’re painting.

Synthetic brushes can be used for most paint projects. The bristles are key when choosing a paintbrush.  Synthetic brushes are made of nylon or polyester, or a combination of the two. Poly bristles are stiffer, which makes them good for exterior or textured work.

For fine and intricate interior jobs, softer nylon brushes work great. Tapered bristles are good for painting edges and flagged tips which help spread the finish smoothly and evenly.  Angled brushes are good for cutting to a line. Brushes are available in 1- to 4-inch widths. Most painters keep a range of sizes on hand to match a particular area.

To hold the paint, most pros prefer a bucket rather than a roller pan. Buckets hold more paint and they don’t tip over easily. A bucket also allows for mixing cans of paint.

painting trim
6. Start at the Top

Most painters follow a certain order when painting a room. The ceiling should be painted first and then work your way down. If a room has crown molding, paint that before starting on the walls.  This order allows the paint to drip down without you pushing yourself into the paint as you stand on the ladder.

Pros usually paint the trim first because it’s easier to tape off the trim than a wall. Once the trim is completely dry, tape it off with painter’s tape, then paint the ceilings and walls. Baseboards should be painted last. They keep dust from traveling off the floor, onto the brush, and then up onto fresh paint.

It’s important to double-check work as you go. Before the next coat of paint is applied, check the surface for drips, roller-flecks, and other imperfections. Professional painters always keep a sponge brush on hand for touch-ups. It’s needed to blend in a patch of paint with the walls.

paint pros secrets
7. Use a Loaded Brush

You want as much paint on the brush as you can get without making a blob. Professional painters dip their brushes at a depth of 1 ½ inch into the paint and immediately apply the paint to the surface. Do not wipe it on the side of the paint can before applying paint to the wall; instead tap each side of the brush to knock off drips. This also forces the paint into the bristles.

For more delicate work, such as painting trim or the window sash, you'll want less paint on the brush. Another tip for painting trim or other woodwork is to paint in small sections using short quick strokes to get enough paint on the trim. Blend the paint into the section that was painted before and smooth it all out using long strokes going in the same direction.

8. Use High-Quality Paint

Professionals have access to the best paints and primers. Oil-based paints are available to professional painters which gives a room a high finished look. High-quality paint is not cheap, especially when you need to use at least two coats of paint for each project. Two coats are the universal standard among professionals that results in the best-looking paint job.

The average cost of top-shelf paint will run $25-$30 per gallon. Depending on the square footage of the space being painted, you should know how much paint you’ll need to cover each surface adequately. Don’t forget to keep paint on hand for touch-ups just in case you spread the paint too thin or if nicks and dings occur.

Glossier paints are more stain-resistant and easy to scrub. But keep in mind that these will also magnify any imperfections on the wall or paint job. Flat paints are perfect for ceilings and formal rooms. The most recommended paint type is an eggshell gloss finish. It is good for hallways, kids' rooms, and even kitchens and bathrooms. 

9. Caulk All Cracks

Filling gaps with a paintable acrylic-latex caulk cuts down on drafts and make your trim look better. Too much caulk makes a mess. The secret to using caulk is to cut the tip smaller than you think it should be.

Instead of using a nail to break the inner seal, use a small wire so you don't stretch out the nozzle. Invest in a dripless caulk gun, which will automatically back off the pressure after each pull on the trigger to prevent extra caulk from coming out.

Customer Testimonials

That they did the job quickly, cleanly, and they cleaned up really well.

They did a good job, there wasn't any slopped paint, and they cleaned up well.

Robert F.

They were especially skilled at helping me select colors. They have some kind of color guru working for them that helped me pick a color. I just thought the quality of the work was spot on, and I was very satisfied. They were also efficient. They were professional, they were nice people and they did a great job.

Julie S.

We were happy with everything. Their bid was accurate, they showed up on time, they cleaned up after themselves, and they were pretty much everything you could want.

They set our expectations properly.

Debra C.

That they're very knowledgeable, and they care about doing a good job.

I liked the competence of the painters and their concern for perfection.

Daniel H.

They just did fantastic, quality work.

They were very clean, neat, and the painting was well done.

Claudia G.

They are the best in class. I've used them before and I'll use them again.

Their attention to detail stands out. They really know their stuff.

Richard K.

No Time for DIY Painting?

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Whether it’s your home or office that needs a quality paint job, our painting professionals can handle it. We have all the necessary tools and techniques to get the job done right.

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