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Simple really - add your best tips for painting (a room, that is). Ideally one tip per answer for ease of voting.

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Stack Exchange doesn't handle this type of question very well as there is no one correct answer - which is what the system is designed to produce. However, this is a case where I think we should make an exception as it will be able to elicit a good set of answers. –  ChrisF Apr 9 '11 at 20:23
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it has been a bit slow the last week or so getting good questions, so let's have fun with this one folks! –  shirlock homes Apr 10 '11 at 10:33

15 Answers 15

Take off outlet face plates, unscrew light fixtures, etc. Tape over the outlets and switches. Bag the light fixtures.

I've seen a lot of painted-over receptacles. There's no reason to do that, since it's so easy to do it right.

I've seen edged-in face plates and light fixtures. Again, easy to do it right.

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It is amazing how many times I see painted in covers and devices. You are absolutely right Jay, only takes a few minutes to do it right and makes such a better difference. –  shirlock homes Apr 10 '11 at 10:22

The key to getting a good finish is preparation.

Make sure that the surface you are painting is clean and dry, free from any loose flakes of old paint. Fill any cracks with a suitable filler and prime this before applying the colour.

Sand the surface first, then wash and finally brush.

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PPPPPP. Proper Preperation Prevents Piss Poor Painting. PPPPPP is probably the most important part of the job. –  shirlock homes Apr 10 '11 at 10:30
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To help with this, get a good flashlight or handheld worklight, and shine it at a hard angle on each wall and ceiling. Any imperfections will be easy to see. –  BMitch Apr 10 '11 at 12:16

Don't wash brushes out between coats, and don't leave them sitting in thinner. Wrap them in a plastic ziploc bag. If they'll fit in the bag, then great. If not just bunch the bag around the handle and tighten a cable-tie around it.

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You don't even need a ziplock bag ... we put the rollers & brushes into the roller tray, then put the whole thing in a trash bag, then squeeze out as much air as you can, twist it up a few times, then tuck it under the tray so the end won't pop before you come back later in the evening or the next day. –  Joe Apr 10 '11 at 0:00
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I agree about storing rollers in a plastic bag etc. But we always wash our brushes if we are going to be more then a few hours. We also wash our brushes every hour or two to prevent paint from drying in the heal of the brush and ruining a good $25 Purdy. Even a good "White Cloud" roller cover only costs $3 to $4, so sleave them good and reuse, but if they tack up, it is no big loss. –  shirlock homes Apr 10 '11 at 10:28
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Saran wrap also works pretty good for this. –  Alex Feinman Apr 11 '11 at 13:50
    
So do plastic grocery bags. (Just make sure they don't have any holes in them!) –  Doresoom Apr 11 '11 at 15:00

Keep a damp rag in your pocket for the odd drop here and there. Damp it with the right solvent for the type of paint you are using.

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For crisp lines: after taping, paint along the tape with the color that is under the tape and let it dry. Some will leak under the tape (which is ok, because it's the same color) and seal it. Then paint the new color.

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Whenever possible, try to work into a wet edge. Don't cut in edges too far ahead before rolling. Painting over a dried area produces overlap stripes!

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Any chance you can elaborate upon this? What is a "wet edge?" –  SamtheBrand Aug 1 '12 at 15:42
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I think he is talking about when you paint the corners and edges, don't do so much that they dry before you pant the rest of the wall. If the corners have dry paint then you can get that line when your wall painting meets up. If it is still wet in the corner, they blend in better. –  zk. Aug 2 '12 at 17:27

Use quality materials and professional grade brushes and roller covers. Use the right brush or cover for the job and type of paint you are using. Add in a knowledge of proper techniques, and you will get a good paint job.

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Get a good sash brush and practice edging without tape. (For me) it's faster and there's no chance of it bleeding past the tape edge.

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My sash brush is the only brush I keep and wash out between painting. It was expensive but saves so much time. –  Moyersy Apr 15 '11 at 15:49
    
What's a sash brush? –  Highly Irregular Nov 10 '11 at 2:31
    
@HighlyIrregular, the bristles are cut at an angle. –  hometoast Nov 15 '11 at 12:25
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+1 I used to tape religiously but finally realized that buying a better brush was the better and faster way to go about it. –  DA01 Aug 2 '12 at 16:58

Where carpet meets baseboard, run 2" masking tape along the edge of the carpet.

Then use a broad scraper (or something similar) to push the tape down right where the carpet meets the baseboard. This compresses the edge of the carpet, keeping it well out of the way.

When you paint the baseboard, there's no chance of a) getting paint on the carpet, b) getting carpet fluff onto the brush, and c) best of all, then you peel back the tape (careful, do it by pulling back at a shallow angle, not straight up or you can accidentally lift the carpet) the carpet bounces back up totally hiding the bottom edge of the new paint.

I worked as a decorator for many years, and this was one of the trick that took my work to a whole new level of leaving a room looking crisp.

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Brush and roller care:

If you're doing a lot of painting, get a brush spinner. The spinner both grips brushes by the handle, and can have roller sleeves slid over it as well. That way, when you wash out a brush, you can spin it dry, then wrap the bristle in kitchen roll. When the brush dries out fully, it's kept its shape rather than splayed out all over the place. You can "cut in" - paint a straight edge - with it straight away next time you use it.

Keep a five-gallon bucket on hand for this, btw! Spin inside the bucket to catch the spray.

You can also do this to clean a roller sleeve. I know that they are cheap, but they shed fluff when you're first using them. For a first class finish, wash the roller before you use it, then spin it dry.

For a short break, wrap brushes and rollers in saran wrap, and squeeze it tight.

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Time spent taping the edges is time saved later. You only have to tape once, and you get the benefit for each coat of paint + each coat of primer.

Since you only have to do each edge once, you can afford to do it very carefully.

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I'd suggest the complete opposite. Don't bother taping at all. Instead, invest in quality detail brushes. A quality brush can handle edge work without the need of tape and it's SO much faster if you can skip the whole taping part. –  DA01 Aug 2 '12 at 16:56

Enlist the help of a friend. Pay him or her in beer.

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A vastly underrated technique, IMHO. Some of the most useful advice I have ever recieved was: "Work parties, son, work parties." It works well because it's fun to spend time with your friends (duh!) My experience has shown that it also works for framing, flooring, joinery, stairs, electrical work, or building a basement brewery. –  skiggety Sep 5 at 17:16

Use a power roller. Rolling paint isn't hard for a DIYer but rolling unpowered is tedious compared to using a power roller.

These days, power rollers are not that expensive--less than $60--which is a whole lot less than a full air-compressor/sprayer set up.

Buy a power roller now and you'll save time and also your back.

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See this post's answer for how to put paint on evenly to give a nice sheen.

http://diy.stackexchange.com/a/2151/34

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Maybe this hasn't been mentioned because it's too obvious, I don't know.

If you're trying to get a crisp line without tape (maybe between wall and ceiling, semewhere non-critical, or maybe you have steady hands), orient the brush correctly for best results. Instead of orienting to use the width for a wide stripe, turn it 90 degrees so you are painting a narrow stripe. This means all the fibers of the brush are reinforcing the same crisp edge. You'll get a solid edge that you won't need to go over again, thus avoiding further opportunities to drift off the line.

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