Ten top painting tips from the pros - and some rookie mistakes to avoid

  • 12/04/2021
  • Sponsored by - Resene
Ten top painting tips from the pros - and some rookie mistakes to avoid
Photo credit: Getty

Painting is one of the best ways to transform the look of your home, but there’s a lot to learn. Here’s a roundup of ten tips the professionals swear by – and some rookie mistakes to avoid.

1. Read the back of the can

Understanding the paint you are about to use can be the difference between getting it right and getting it very wrong, so read the instructions. Ben Solly, National Commercial Accounts Manager from Resene says: "It’s much easier to get it right from the start than to try and fix it later and make it look good."  If in doubt, ask your local Resene ColorShop staff for more advice or use the free online help service, www.resene.co.nz/techexpert.

2. Have the right gear

Solly says having the correct brushes and roller sleeves is vital, and will depend on the surface you are painting and the job you are using it for. The same goes for having the right type of paint and the right equipment for prepping your surface. 

3. Test for lead

If you’re painting the exterior of an old villa or bungalow get a lead test kit from a Resene ColorShop to test for lead paint. Solly says lead presence will change the way you can prepare the surface for painting as it needs to be contained as it is unsafe to humans and pets.

4. Check the weather

Don’t start painting unless you know the weather will be suitable. Solly says a good rule is if your washing isn’t drying then your paint won’t dry. "If the paint doesn’t dry then you could have issues like surfactant leaching occurring where streaks appear on the paint film if moisture comes in contact with a under cured waterborne paint coating. The same can occur when it is very humid so make sure there is air flow to help the paint cure."

5. Protect before you paint

Cover everything you don’t want paint on by using drop cloths and masking film. If you have a paint spill on a drop cloth it will soak through to the carpet, so add extra protection here. It’s much easier to prevent paint spills or spots than it is to remove them after they’ve dried.

Styled by Lou Barker, Resene Seeker + Alabaster + Smitten + Hive. Photo Kate Claridge
Styled by Lou Barker, Resene Seeker + Alabaster + Smitten + Hive. Photo Kate Claridge Photo credit: Resene

6. Sand, then dust, thoroughly (when needed)

Having a smooth, even surface is vital to how your paint job looks in the end. "Sand the walls to take off any lumps and use a filler to filler any cracks," Solly says. "Make sure you prime the filler before applying any topcoat to stop the filler showing through."

For many interior projects, if the walls are already in good condition, often all you need is a quick clean of the walls and you can start painting on your topcoats – no primer needed.  Check with your Resene ColorShop team for the right prep for your project.

Then, dust thoroughly. Make sure any sanded surface is free from dust. "You can use a tack cloth or a damp rag for this," Solly says. "Some people even vacuum the walls!"

7. Tape it up
Freehand 'cutting in' is tricky, so use a quality low-tack painters' tape to get a clean, straight edge between your painted surfaces, especially if you’re new to DIY.

8. Roll as close as you can
While the cutting in is still wet roll the walls as close as you can to the corners and ceiling. Solly says this will eliminate as many of the brush marks from cutting in as possible.

9. Get good advice
If you’ve never painted before, Solly says it’s best to go into a Resene ColorShop and talk to a paint professional. "Sometimes painting is seen as an easy job but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. To get the best job you need to know the right products to use for the different job."

10. Wrapping up

Wrap your paintbrushes and roller in a plastic bag or clear clingwrap between coats to save washing up.  You can do this many times even for large painting projects to save a lot of time and water.  Reuse the same plastic bag or clingwrap for each colour.

Once you’re done, return your empty cans and pails to the Resene PaintWise service for recycling.  Any old paint from previous paint jobs you don’t need can be returned at the same time.

Styled by Vanessa Nouwens, Resene Duck Egg Blue + Raindance + Slipstream + Unwind + QuarterTea. Photo Bryce Carleton.
Styled by Vanessa Nouwens, Resene Duck Egg Blue + Raindance + Slipstream + Unwind + QuarterTea. Photo Bryce Carleton. Photo credit: Resene

And some mistakes to avoid-

  • Don’t shake the paint

If your paint has been sitting around in warm weather it may have formed a skin. "If you shake it you will shake skin all the way through the paint and you will need to strain it or pick it out of the paint while you roll it," Solly says. Instead, he recommends stirring the paint thoroughly before you start painting to make sure it is evenly mixed.

  • Don’t paint in dim light

Your paint job might look fine in dim light, but in bright daylight patchiness or mistakes can show up. Avoid this by applying paint in bright light to begin with. 

  • Check your colour

Always test a little bit of the paint out to make sure it’s the colour you want. Wet paint looks different to dry paint so let the paint dry before checking it is correct. Solly says: "Mistakes happen and often aren’t picked up until the time of application. You will not want to paint again if you accidentally apply the wrong colour to the walls

  • Don’t paint a large area all at once

Painting a large surface area means some parts might dry before you finish, leading to patchiness. Solly says: "When you are cutting in wall, cut in one wall at a time so you can keep a wet edge. If you try to cut in a whole room and the cutting in dries it is likely you will end up with a picture frame effect."

  • Don’t attempt a marathon.

Painting is good exercise, especially for those who might normally do desk jobs.  Make sure you take regular breaks, drink lots of water and pace yourself.  You’ll paint better when you feel fresher and more alert.

This article was created for Resene