Painting 101: recommended supplies

Painting 101: recommended supplies

Hi! This is part two of our Painting 101 series, so be sure to check out part one: choosing paint color. In this lesson we want to talk about supplies. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project and realizing you have to stop and go back to the store for something you forgot, so it’s always a good idea to gather everything together ahead of time. Here’s a list of the things we make sure we have every time we paint a room.

Paint:  First let’s talk about the paint itself, what to look for and the finishes. There are a ton of brands to choose from, and while we haven’t tried all of them we do have our favorites. Lately we are loving Valspar Ultra, which has zero VOC* and nice, thick coverage. We like that this doesn’t “pull away” when we roll over the same spot twice, like some lower quality paints we’ve tried.

When you buy a gallon of paint, you’ll get asked what finish you want, which can be confusing. These are the most common finishes available:

Flat — No shine at all. Tends to show fingerprints and scuffs. Most commonly used on ceilings.

Eggshell — Matte finish similar to flat paint. It’s good at camouflaging bumpy walls, like those in an old house, because the light doesn’t bounce off imperfections. Has a texture similar to an egg, hence the name.

Satin — This is what we almost always use. Colors appear to have depth, but it’s not shiny. Has a smooth feel. It’s easy to keep clean and easy to apply. Most brush marks don’t show up.

Semi-gloss — Shiny paint usually used on trim. Brush marks will show up, as will any bumps and imperfections in the walls. We painted our tiny guest bathroom walls with semi-gloss because we wanted them to have a ton of depth and sheen, but every bump and brush stroke is very obvious. We’re ok with that, but it’s good to keep in mind that this will happen.

This is really a case of personal preference. Some people prefer the look of matte flat or eggshell paints on walls, and with the new easy-clean formulas, there’s no downside to that for them. We always go with satin because we like that little bit of extra sheen and how it feels to the touch. If you’re unsure, there’s almost always a finish sample at the paint counter so you can see how the different finishes compare in that brand’s paint.

*What is VOC? It stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are used as solvents in most paints. They vaporize out of paint not just while it’s wet but for years afterwards in the form of toxic gasses. Exposure to VOCs has been shown to cause long-term health problems, environmental problems, even potentially cancer. There are lots of companies now that are offering no-VOC and low-VOC paints, so just make sure to always request those formulas when you’re ordering. I feel like, even if we can’t do anything about what we’ve already been exposed to, it’s nice to know that we have a choice to bring more environmentally responsible products into our home.

Rollers: We have two basic 9″ cage rollers that we we use for every project, and we’ve been using the same ones for years.

Roller covers: When you look at the wall of roller covers at the hardware store it can be a little intimidating. Why are there so many? It took us a long time to realize roller covers are labeled with both the quality and wall type. For most walls you’ll want the “best” one marked “smooth-to-semi-smooth” (like these). We try to always have some extra on hand so we don’t need to run to the hardware store every time we need a roller.

Brush: We like to use a 1-1/2 inch angled brush for edges and trim. This one by Purdy is our favorite. It’s nice and small so we have tons of control for clean lines. We usually replace the brush after every 5 or 6 paint jobs, so they last a while.

Paint trays and disposable liners: Like rollers, we have 2 paint trays that we’ve been using for years. We buy 10-packs of disposable tray liners to put in them, so we can just pick up all the mess and throw it away after each use. Instant cleanup!

Small arts and crafts paintbrush: I am kind of a perfectionist, so I touch up edges with a small art paintbrush just to make sure the lines are close to perfect.

Small roller: I use my small 4″ cage-frame roller probably almost as much as the full-size one. I love how it can go into smaller spaces and get closer to edges/corners. With replacement roller covers, this is another tool that will last forever.

Tape: Taping is the most annoying part of any paint project as far as I’m concerned. I only use tape when I really have to because I hate putting it up and taking it down. Against trim, ceilings, and wood floors, we use a brush and a steady hand. When I do use tape, I use 1-1/2-inch-wide Scotch Blue, which we prefer for the coverage. We also love this tape/plastic combo from Sherwin-Williams that has tape along one edge and then plastic sheeting that you can pull down. It’s perfect for covering baseboards and preventing the splatters that you sometimes get from rollers. (I think something similar is available other stores as well.)

Patch: We’ll talk more about prep work next week but patching is essential. We use this Dap painter’s putty to fill nail holes and cracks before priming/painting.

Sponge/paper towels: We always keep a damp sponge and/or paper towels nearby while we’re painting to clean up any spills or mistakes, and to wipe the walls down before painting.

Dropcloth: On most projects we don’t necessarily cover everything with a dropcloth, but at the very least we always put one under the paint can to prevent spills.

Paint can lid: This isn’t a necessity, but we love this paint can lid by Aqua-Tainer Company. You can pour paint into a tray without making a huge mess and flip the top open to put a paintbrush inside. It’s also great because you can seal the can for later without having to deal with hammering on the messy metal can lid, but it keeps the paint from drying out. We’ve noticed, though, that this one doesn’t fit on Valspar paint cans for some reason, so that’s annoying. For those we use this Shur-Line paint can lid that we don’t like quite as much.

Plastic wrap: We learned this awesome time- and money-saving trick from Andy’s dad. When you are waiting for paint to dry between coats or when you are coming back another day to finish a project, you don’t need to throw away your roller cover or wash out your brush. Tightly wrap your roller, brush, even your tray in plastic wrap to prevent the paint from drying out. We’ve found that this works best for rollers, which we’ve successfully kept wrapped up for several days. Trays and brushes tend to dry out more quickly, so we usually only do this if we’re waiting a few hours. Otherwise we wash out the brush and throw away the tray liner to start fresh the next time. The last thing you want is dried up globs of paint sticking to your wall when you try to paint, but this is a great tip that really helps!

So those are all the supplies we like to use for all of our at-home paint jobs. It sounds like a lot of stuff, but so many of these things can be used over and over as long as they’re cleaned well. A lot of these products actually help us to save time and money in the long run.

Let us know if you have any questions about what supplies you might need or if there’s any products out there that you love and think we should try.

Next week we’ll finally be talking about putting some paint on the wall, the proper steps to prep your walls, and what order to do everything in. It’ll be fun!

— Kerry

(None of these links are sponsored. These are the products we really use.)

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