July DIY - How To Paint Like A Pro!

Hard to believe it's July already!  Even this die-hard skier loves summer time, sitting at the cabin sipping cold drinks on the hot sand, spending time on our back deck and hiking the trails in the mountains!  If you're like me, you may also have a few 'to-do' items you want to check off around the house.  If one of them is painting, and you don't have the budget to hire a pro, check out these tips to create a "pro-looking" paint job!

#1 - Selecting your paint brand and colour

It may be hard to believe but this can be the toughest part of your painting project.  How do you know which brand to buy?  And if you have a 'go-to' brand already, how do you select the best type of paint (ultra, premium, premium plus, low voc, no voc, etc etc)?

If you want to do a bit of reading, check out this Consumer Reports entry with their top listings, or, go to this Consumer Search link where they researched the reviews for the paint brands.  If you don't, you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that Behr's Premium Plus Utra is among the top listed.  It's the paint I used to paint our entire home, and it looks great!  Two properly painted coats covers fabulously and the eggshell finish is my go-to for homes that work.

 My Behr fan decks

My Behr fan decks

In terms of colours, I work in both Behr and Benjamin Moore colourways.  In my experience, Behr colours have a warmer base tone, where BM has a cooler base tone.  I find the lighter shades in BM can 'wander' a bit during the day, meaning that the colour can change from a little to a lot off the original.  Behr, and in truth, all brands, will have the same issue with lighter colours but I notice it most in the BM colours.  This may be due to the cooler base tone, I don't know for sure.  If you find a colour you love in a brand different than what you will be painting with, you can have the colour matched.  I do forewarn my clients that lighter shades are more difficult to match, again due to the base tone in the paint.

DO NOT go with the cheapest paint.  If you're painting a large area you may be tempted to save some money up front; I've heard interesting stories from reps and pros where a cheaper paint was used and required multiple coats to achieve a proper finish.  In the end, the client spent way more money trying to use a cheaper paint.

Also, durability is a key factor to keep in mind.  To that end, I don't like the trend towards matte or flat finishes.  As soon as a spot is wiped off, you see the cleaning marks permanently.  It is the least forgiving of all the finishes.

#2 - "Just Add Water"

This is a tip I picked up from the pro painter I've worked with on my Calgary interior design projects.  If using a water-based paint, add a little bit of water to the paint to smooth the finish.  When I tried it, I added water into the gallon bucket and slowly stirred it in.  Because there isn't much more room in a brand new can of paint, you truly can't add that much water (and you don't want to!).  But the difference in the finish was amazing!  Still durable, still great coverage, but just a little smoother.  (This is a tip I wish I'd had before I painted our whole house!)

Be careful not to add too much, and don't start splitting the paint out and adding varying amounts of H2O.  If you have more than one can of paint, make note of how much water you added to the first so you can replicate it in the second - use a measuring cup if it helps.

Before you pour the paint, check that you are pouring off the French side of the can, unless you speak French, in which case feel free to pour off the English side.  This leaves the English side visible if you need to go buy another can.  Trust me - this seems silly but is super helpful.

#3 - Tips for Cutting or Edging

Most people I talk to say the hardest part of painting is the cutting or edging.  This is where a steady hand and a lot of patience will make a world of difference.  Read this blog here to have a great step by step breakdown of how to do your best cutting work.  My key tips to you:

  1. AFTER adding water to your base paint, split a portion of the paint out into a smaller container - we used small yoghurt containers since you can easily hold them in your hand.
  2. DON'T start right at the edge you're cutting.  Tip #7 in the link above shows this perfectly.  Draw your paint a 1/2" or so down from the ceiling or out from the corner/edge you're cutting, then, fanning the brush out so only the tip reaches the cut line, draw the paint back up to the cut line.  If done well, your paint will bead along your brush until it fades to the edge of the brush tip.  This gives you a nice strong line, with the least chance of overrunning the edge.
  3. ALWAYS fan out the bottom/outside edge - poor edging jobs are obvious when you can see the line where the paint brush ended and the roller started.  Paint begins curing the moment it hits the wall and since it generally takes more than 2 mins to edge a room, you don't want a hard line along the bottom of your edge line.  Fan it out baby!
  4. ALWAYS clean your brush properly after edging and DON'T reuse a dirty brush period.  Make sure you have a good quality soft bristle brush (I like this one), and clean it thoroughly as soon as you finish your cutting.  A little Sunlight dish soap, warm-ish (not cold or hot) water and, if you have tough, dried paint halfway up the brush, use an IKEA scrub brush to gently work the paint out of the bristles.  Be sure to step outside and 'swing' the brush in a downward stroke to get as much of the water out of the bristles as possible, and hang the brush to dry (I used a pencil or a screwdriver across two cabinet pulls with the brush hanging in between).  When it's dry, run your hand along the bristles once or twice to soften them again and store properly so the bristles don't get bent.

#4 - Store your leftovers properly

If you have leftover paint and you want to keep it "just in case", follow these tips to store your paints so they last the longest.

#5 - Give your paint time to cure

Because we think of paint as a quick and easy fix, many people do not account for proper drying or curing time for paint.  Always read the instructions on the can for recoat times (and do not recoat your walls under the time suggested) and give your walls a good 48 hours to properly cure.  This will depend on your weather conditions - if it's muggy/humid, you'll need more than 48 hours.

Curing and paint colour - when you paint your first coat, you'll notice the colour you're seeing is not the same as that which you selected.  Wet paint is often lighter than the selected colour, this is why it's important to let the paint cure.  I always suggest clients leave the paint a full week to allow the paint to wholly cure into the colour it will be, and give yourself time to get used to the change.  This is also important if you've painted a wall to prep for wallpaper.  Don't create a mess by putting wallpaper over partially cured paint.

#6 - Removing edging tape

I didn't cover how to apply edge tape (we could be here all day if I did), but I will cover REMOVING edging tape.  First of all, DO NOT remove right after painting - the paint needs to cure first (wait at least 2-3 hours, depending on your paint & conditions).  Secondly, CUT the edge of the tape line with a fresh, sharp knife blade.  Do this carefully so you don't cut into your newly painted wall and make sure you break the paint layer if you goofed and painted onto the tape.  This takes a bit more time but trust me, it's time well spent when you consider that you're avoiding having paint peel off your newly finished wall.

#7 - Pat yourself on the back!

When you're all done, give yourself a high five or pat yourself on the back for a job well done!  I love painting because it's instant gratification (well, a few hours or days 'instant').  You see the change immediately and it has such a huge effect on the mood and energy of a room!


I hope these painting tips make a huge difference to your next painting job and if you have other tips, share them in the comments below!  I'm dedicating July to DIY tips to help you create a home you love!  Next week we're chatting removable wallpaper so if you haven't already, sign up for the blog so you can get the tips as soon as they're out!

Need help selecting colours?  Check out our Calgary interior design services to learn how we can help.  Located elsewhere?  Check out our edesign packages and if you don't see what you're looking for, message us directly to see how we can help you.

  - Dutch Touch Interiors

- Dutch Touch Interiors

Gratitude Heart | Interior Design Calgary, Edesign & Virtual Interior Design | Dutch Touch Interiors