Free Tool: Calculate Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget! Calculate Now

Blog Feature
Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on August 29th, 2018

Print/Save as PDF

6 House Painting Tricks to Save Hours of Time


Whether you're taking on a big or small residential remodel, house painting can completely change a room. A new color can make a dark room look cheerful, a drab room look bright, and a childish room more adult. Unfortunately, painting can be a time consuming and tedious process. From the set up to the clean up, painting can take many hours or even days, depending on what is being painted and how many people are working on the project. If you're a homeowner, it helps to know what you're getting into and how you can save time.

At Litchfield Builders, we want all of our clients to be able to complete their home improvement projects quickly, so they can move on to bigger and better things. These six house painting tips can help make the house painting process faster and more successful. Whether you're new at painting or experienced in the activity, these tips make it easier.

Prep the Right Way

Prepping the room helps ensure that the paint will form a strong bond with the walls. Prepping is a multi-step process that involves cleaning the walls, filling in the holes and then removing anything on the walls that should not be painted. If the room is not properly prepped before the painting begins, the final product may have an uneven finish, or may not last very long.

Planning a remodel? With our free checklist, you'll be sure every detail is accounted for before you begin construction.

Download for Free Now!

Clean the Walls

Cleaning the walls is necessary because paint that is applied to a dirty or oily surface will easily chip or peel off. To clean the walls, start by wiping them down with a damp rag. Pay special attention to the corners and the edges where the walls and ceiling meet. In these areas, you may find cobwebs and dust bunnies.

In rooms like the kitchen, where an invisible layer of oil and grease may coat the walls, use trisodium phosphate (TSP) mixed with water to remove the grime. Follow manufacturer instructions when mixing TSP and water together. Take care when mixing and using TSP, because it's a toxic chemical. Use rubber gloves, eye protection and any other protection recommended by the manufacturer. Never leave TSP in a location where a child can access the solution. Wait for the walls to dry fully before painting, or dry the walls with a towel before proceeding.

Fill In the Holes

Remove all nails and screws from the walls, then fill in the remaining holes with spackling. Allow the spackling to dry, then sand it down so they look smooth. If there are sections of the wall that are damaged or bumpy, fill in irregular areas with spackling and wait for them to dry, then sand it down just like you did for the nail holes.

Remove Extra Parts from the Wall

Remove vents, smoke detectors, outlet covers and any other attachments on the wall. Save the pieces of each attachment in baggies to make them easy to re-apply later. Removing these items from the wall before painting allows you to paint the walls more thoroughly, and may prevent you from needing to do touch ups later.

If there are any parts on the wall that you don't plan to remove, line the edges with painter's tape, and then cover any exposed parts with a plastic baggie or tarp.

Have the Right Tools

It's important to have all the right tools at the beginning, to keep you from going back and forth to the store. Here's what you'll need on your list:

  • Adjustable roller with extendable arm
  • Roller tray
  • Paint brushes for the trim
  • Drop cloth (use a cotton one, because paint dries on it more quickly)
  • Paint stirrer
  • Paint can opener
  • Rags
  • Painter's tape

In some cases, you'll need primer as well. Primer is a useful tool if you're trying to cover a wall that's been stained or painted in a much darker color. Primer is also useful if you're trying to apply a water-based paint over an oil-based paint. Talk to a representative at your painting supply store before applying the primer.

Cover Paint to Keep It Fresh

Paint dries fast, even in the roller tray or in an uncovered paint can. If your paint is going to be left untouched for more than 10 minutes, cover it with aluminum foil. If you're going to be leaving your paint overnight, pour what's left in the paint tray back into the paint bucket, then put the lid back on the bucket.

If you're done painting for a while and plan to use the paint again in several weeks or months, cover the bucket with plastic wrap, then put the lid on. Store the bucket upside down to prevent air from leaking into the can.

Don't Tape Everything

Taping off all your trim with masking tape is time consuming and doesn't guarantee good results. In fact, many professional painters will tell you that paint can still bleed under tape. You only need to tape horizontal surfaces, like baseboards and chair rail, where paint splatter can land and be noticeable.

Vertical surfaces like the door and window trim are less prone to splatter. Cut in carefully around those areas with a paint brush, but don't bother to apply tape. To cut in, use your angled paint brush to paint up against the edge of the vertical surface. Make a short, fast stroke, then pull back. Repeat this process over and over again to create a straight line. Cutting in takes practice, so you may have to try this several times before it becomes an efficient way for you to paint the edges.

Cut In One Wall At A Time

It's tempting to cut in the entire trim, ceiling and corners of the room, then paint the center of each wall. However, it's better to cut in just one wall at a time, then immediately roll out the center of the wall before cutting in the next one. This allows the paint on the wall to blend in with the edges while the paint is still wet.

Use Extenders to Avoid Do-Overs

No one likes the ugly lines that occur when you paint over an area that's already been allowed to dry. Keeping the paint wet for longer can help you avoid this problem. Extenders are an additive that can be mixed in with the paint to keep it wet for a longer period of time. If you can keep the paint wet longer, you won't have to worry about those lines at all. Adding an extender can also prolong the "open time" of the paint, so you won't need to cover the paint after just 10 minutes of sitting on its own.

When using an extender, follow all manufacturer instructions. Failure to follow manufacturer instructions could result in damage to the paint.

Contact Litchfield Builders

Are you planning to paint your home in the coming months? Are you comfortable with this home improvement project? Have you painted a home's interior in the past? Leave your comments in the box below!

At Litchfield Builders, we help homeowners paint and remodel their home as needed. To get a quote for professional painting services, contact us for a consultation, or download our free publication, Checklist: 3 Phases to Planning a Home Remodel.

3 Phases to Planning a Home Remodel

About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.