Don’t Hate the Ladder

     It is your friend, it is only trying to help even though it is constantly in your way and you will inevitably trip over it, stubbing your toe often. I’m in the middle of painting the kitchen today, taking a little break while the paint dries and before I finish it up with a final coat. With this being the 2nd room I’ve painted this month, I wanted to share some insights and tips while it is fresh on my mind, and on my hands.

  1. Buy small samples of the paint colors that strike you. Using a paint chip/card willwall samples give you some idea but it will likely look very different actually painted on the wall. On a whim, I bought paint that looked bluish/green online. The finished color is more like a robin’s egg blue. Still love it, but not what I expected. Paint your colors in various spots around the room. It’s pretty hard to envision what an entire room or even a single accent wall will look with the color all over it so painting in several spots may help.
  2. We have enough toxins in our lives so spend a little extra $ to get Zero VOC paint. What is VOC you ask? VOC stands for volatile organic compound- basically compounds that emit chemical gasses not only when first applied but for many weeks, months, years after and can cause some serious health problems. Nobody wants that and most paints now boast Zero VOC.  For the guest room, I used Valspar Signature (from Lowes). For the kitchen, I used Colorhouse which is the least toxic paint I’ve found so far but it ships from Oregon, takes a week to arrive, and is more pricey with shipping costs. Read more about VOCs here: Get the VOC outta here
  3. If you can, keep the windows open and a fan blowing while you paint and while it dries. Getting my electric bill this month was super duper since I had the window open during 90+ degree heat and the AC cranked. But, I also didn’t pass out from paint fumes and the paint dried quicker. In truth, the bill wasn’t THAT much more than usual so do what you gotta do to be safe.
  4. Get advice from friends and family. They will have all sorts of tips. One friend advised that I wear a hat. Your head will probably hit the wet wall more than you think and if you’re using a paint roller, it splatters regardless of how careful you are. Speaking of wardrobe, wear clothes you don’t mind getting paint on.
  5. TAPE TAPE TAPE. This is really the worst part of painting. Taking the tape off is very rewarding though. In my painting experiences, I spend several hours day 1 taping and removing outlet covers and other removable wall things. That is exhausting and annoying enough for one day so I spend day 2 actually doing the painting, which is much more fun.
    1. If you are a magical sorcerer like my friend who painted using no tape, then by all means skip taping. I used an edger ($4.97), which is a fancy name for a TAPE BALLsponge that butts up against your trim and ceiling creases and paints nice edges without (ideally) getting paint where it doesn’t belong. Despite using an edger AND taping everything, I still managed to get paint on trim, ceiling, you name it. You may believe you have a steady hand, I don’t doubt you, but for some reason when you paint, all hell breaks loose. You lose hand eye coordination, slip, misjudge where your hands are, etc.
    2. Tape is cheap so I do believe it is worth it. I used Frog tape mostly because itdrip was green and had a frog on the label. You can use a credit card or buy a little putty knife to run along the tape to make sure it is stuck on good and flush to whatever you put it on. One roll of this tape took care of an entire room- trims, windows, outlets and all. Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes : Because it’s a frog ($6.78)
  6. Speaking of tape, remove the tape, pulling slowly at a 45 degree angle towards you, after you’ve finished painting the whole room. If you wait until the paint dries, there’s a good chance the tape will peel the paint off with it.
  7. Get some cheap rags (12pk, $7.98). No matter how hard you try, you might get paint somewhere other than the wall. Keep the rags close by. If you notice rogue paint, you can wipe it off easily while it’s not yet dry. If you miss it and it dries, you can usually scrape it off.
  8. Painting is both the best and worst experience for a perfectionist. If you are a perfectionist, you should consider going this alone unless you have a perfectionist friend. It can get tricky and frustrating painting with more than 1 person especially if they aren’t as careful as you.
    1. Wine and paint is fun on a Friday night but I would advise against wine and painting an actual room. There is enough chaos going on that alcohol will amplify.
    2. Try not to freak out when the paint is drying. It looks like an absolute paint dryingdisaster and you will fear you have made the biggest mistake of your life. Regardless of how it turns out, at least that old, ugly color is gone and now you just have a bunch of pretty colorful streaks everywhere! JK JK– I’m new to painting and I managed to not screw it up. When the paint is drying, you will see streaks and blotches but paint is mysterious and ends up drying nicely without noticeable screw ups. You can do touch ups while it is drying if you see you’ve missed a spot.
  9. A paint and primer combo should do the job in 1 coat, even if you are painting over a dark color with a light color. The key is to make sure that wall gets coated really well. If you buy only a paint, not a combo, it’s possible you’ll have to do a 2nd coat.
  10. It is very wise to invest in one of these things for $2.97: paint can lid, storer and pourer. It pops right on to your gallon paint can and makes pouring paint into the paint tray a lot cleaner and easier. Otherwise the paint gets all over the paint can which makes it a problem for storing the paint, not to mention extra mess to clean up.
  11. Put down drop cloths/plastic cloths around where you are painting. I also cut up squares of cardboard boxes I was recycling to place on top of the cloth itself. This made it easier for moving the ladder around without it getting caught on the cloth.
  12. Paint in sections. It is very tempting to go wild with the paint roller and drag it all over the wall, thinking you’ll get done in no time. Painting in small sections ensures you are covering the wall completely, minimizing streaks, and catching any drips as they occur.
  13. You will probably buy more paint brushes and tools than you need but here are the tools I found to be key:
    1. $2.97: Paint can lid (noted in #10)
    2. $2.98: Plastic drop cloth (might need more than 1)
    3. $13.98: Paint roller kit If you go the paint roller route, a kit is a good option. It comes with the paint tray, a roller tool, 2 roller brushes, a mini roller and an angled brush. Think about getting a roller extender pole to help cover more surface, higher up without constantly going up and down the ladder.
    4. $9.97: Paint pad If you go the paint pad route, (I chose this instead of the roller the 2nd time around), it’ll change your life. I found that the paint pad coated the wall more evenly than the roller, created less mess, less drips and was overall a quicker process. It also doubles as an edger since it’s basically an edger just bigger so you don’t need to buy both.  Because of its shape, it tackles trim and edges really well.
    5. $5.97: Paint tray liners These are KEY! Makes clean up so much easier and all saran wrap9 in this pack will come in handy. A paint liner to go in the tray itself, a paint liner nearby to put down any wet tools not in use such as the paint brush/roller/edger, a paint liner to put the wet paint lid and stirrer stick in, a paint liner to replace the liner used for the 1st coat.
    6. $7.67: Spackle kit Got holes? Get a little spackle kit to fill in any holes in the wall. It comes with spackle, a putty knife to apply it and sandpaper to smooth it out once it dries.
    7. $35.99: Step ladder You may not need a ladder if you’re tall and using an extension pole, but it critical for short humans like myself (5’0). I had to upgrade from a 2 step to a 3 step since I couldn’t quite reach the top where the ceiling meets or see well enough to paint around windows/doors.
    8. Trash bags. Cut open trash bags to double as floor covers/furniture covers. Move out any furniture if possible, otherwise move to the middle of the room or cover in trash bags to protect.
    9. Screw driver with Philips and flathead attachments. Remove outlet covers and tape up. Use the flathead attachment to open the lid on the paint. There’s a tool you can buy to open paint cans but if you have a screwdriver, you can save on that. Screwdriver, flathead attachments included
    10. Saran wrap. If you are putting your brushes down for a lunch break, while waiting to paint a 2nd coat, or using a different brush for a bit, wrap the brushes in saran wrap. This will keep them wet and not dry out, so you can unwrap and use when ready instead of washing, drying, waiting.
  14. Check your hands and feet every time you move off of your cloths. Paint just loveees you and wants to be on you. Before you go stomping around the house when you’ve had enough with painting, check yourself to avoid painting the floors.
  15. Hide yo kids, hide yo pets. Painting is messy enough with one; send the kids outside, set up the pets in a closed room. They will want to get in on the painting action. Keep them away, if possible, until the paint is fully dried. Most paint is dry to the touch within 30-60 minutes and fully dried within 2-4 hours. Plus, paint is a chemical mix after all, so you don’t want anyone breathing that in if it can be avoided.
  16. Watch videos!! This is super important. They will help when you are preparing to paint. For a roller, a best practice is to paint in a W shape up and down, then fill in horizontally. For the paint pad, I’ve been starting at the top and going down; going sideways as needed to thin any paint and clean up any drips.
  17. Prepare for your heart to melt when it’s all said, done and dried. Even if it’s notwine and paint the same exact color/shade/texture of the paint sample, in most cases, it will still turn out stunning and change the entire feel and energy of the space. If it turns out awful, take a few weeks off and tackle it again when your painting tolerance reservoir has filled back up. Or cover it up with lotsa artwork 🙂
  18. MUSIC! Turn up your favorite tunes and get to it!

I wish you much luck and perseverance if you embark on a painting journey. It feels more intimidating than it actually is and is a good exercise for perfectionists to get all intensely crazy about details just to end up letting it go in favor of finishing in less than 7 hours………..

Feel free to contact me with any questions! Check out the before and afters:

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 Paints used:

Bedroom- Valspar Signature- Beach Sparkle Eggshell

Kitchen- Colorhouse- Gustavia Eggshell

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