Last Updated: January 14, 2020
Some people love to paint, while others hate it. No matter where you fit on that scale, things will go a lot easier if you have the proper tools before you start. We have put together a list of 18 different tools that are needed to help you save time, money and be prepared. We have put them in the order that you will use them.
The tape measure is used first to measure the area you are going to paint. You need to know how much square footage you will be covering in order to make sure you get enough paint. It is important that all the paint is purchased at the same time to ensure that the colors will match.
Blue painter’s tape is used to cover the edges of baseboards, windows, and any other objects you don’t want to get paint on. When painting a ceiling, be sure to put tape at the top of the wall. Likewise, when painting a wall, make sure that you tape the ceiling.
Drop cloths are used when you are painting indoors. Put them down on the floor to protect your flooring. We recommend that you tape them to your baseboards to keep them from moving while you work.
Primer isn’t always a necessary step. Its purpose is to prepare the material of your surface for paint, or to cover up colors that are difficult to paint over. It covers other colors easily since it is much thicker than normal paint. Primer is a neutral color that you can paint over with any color easily. This will save you paint in the long run because you won’t have to paint as many layers.
Tip: Red is a hard color to use. You would think that being a darker color means it would cover lighter colors easily. Not so. It covers dark colors better. If you want to paint something red, we recommend that you either apply a coat of primer or black paint before applying the red paint.
Paint can openers are made with a little lip that fits into the slot at the edge of the lid of your can, making it very easy to get off. You can pick one up at any paint store.
It is very important that you stir your paint before you use it, every time you use it. Paint will separate and the oils will go to the top. Make sure that it is all mixed very well before painting. This will ensure that you get the color you want.
Pouring spouts are not a necessity, but they do help quite a bit. They help you aim at whatever you are pouring into better, and it won’t make as much of a mess on the can. When you pour from the bucket, paint gets into the groove that the lid goes in and can cause it to be sticky. Pouring spouts prevent that.
Five-gallon buckets are needed only if you are doing a big job. If you have more than one gallon of paint, pour all cans of paint into the bucket and stir them together, then pour them back into the one-gallon cans. This will ensure that you get the same color throughout your whole area. While getting all your paint at one time ensures that each can is made with the same formula, they don’t always mix the same.
You will need a roller tray to pour the paint into so you can load your roller with it.
Again, tray liners are not an absolute necessity, but they do make clean-up a whole lot easier. With a liner, you can just pour your excess paint back into the can, throw the liner out, and be done with it. If you don’t use a liner, you have to make sure that the tray is cleaned well after every use so that dried paint won’t come off and get mixed in with your new paint the next time. That would leave lumps on your painted surface.
The standard roller cover is nine inches, so you will want to get a roller handle that it will fit on. These handles usually have just enough room for your hand and are meant to be used on the parts of your surface that can be easily reached. Get one that has a hole with screw threads for an extension pole at the end of the handle. The longer handle is for helping reach higher, out-of-reach places without climbing up and down ladders. You can either purchase an extension pole from any paint store, or use the handle of a standard-size broom that you already have. Power paint rollers are also worth considering.
The roller cover is the part of the roller that holds your paint. We have found that the ⅜-inch nap roller is best for indoor painting, and the ¾-inch nap is best for outdoor painting. The ¾-inch is thicker and fluffier than the ⅜-inch, which helps push the paint into rough surfaces better. Though these are the rollers that we recommend, there are others on the market that you may choose for your job, per your preference.
As far as cleaning the roller goes, you can do it the expensive way and buy a different roller for each individual color. This is usually best for oil-based paints. Water-based paint cleans up easily with soap and water. Just like the rolling pan, it is important to get all the paint out of the rollers when washing them to ensure a nice finish of the next color.
Flat brushes are best when used on flat surfaces, like door frames and floorboards. You don’t want a roller to cut into your walls, or you will get paint where you don’t want it. The two- or -three-inch flat brush will get you to the edge of the wall and still be out enough that you can roll right up to that paint line without touching the area you don’t want painted that color.
Angled brushes are great for cutting in corners and windows.
Hole filler is easier to use than spackling when you need to fill small holes in your surface before painting it. You will want those holes filled, so they won’t show on your newly painted surface.
A screwdriver is needed to remove outlet or switch covers in the room that you are painting. A flat-head screwdriver can also be used to open paint cans in a pinch, if you don’t have a paint can opener.
Mini-roller pans are nice to have when cutting in your walls. It is easier, and lighter, to carry them around the room, and up ladders, than it is to carry the paint can.
A damp sponge is used to quickly wipe your wall before you paint it to get off any dust or other debris. New paint doesn’t always adhere well if there is dust on the walls.
This is a pretty complete list of things that you will need to be successful with your painting project. Though all items listed are not absolute necessities, we included them so that you would know they are out there to make your life easier.
For wide, open pieces of wall, a paint sprayer can do a job in minutes that might take hours with a traditional roller. But if you’re working in towards the edges, you might want a roller for greater control of paint application.
During clean-up, a wet/dry vacuum is invaluable for sucking up dust, paint chips, and other pieces of small debris. If you spill a can of paint, you can clean some of it up; but hopefully. you remembered your drop cloth and have plenty of rags and paint thinner on hand.
Mistakes are a time-honored part of a painting job, so if you spill a bunch of paint on the ground and forgot your drop cloth, you might need a paint stripper to sop up what’s left behind by a wet/dry vacuum.
Necessary to get into those hard-to-reach high places, a step ladder will not only keep you from hurting your back, but it’ll also make your painting job easier. Plus, since it’s easier to control a paintbrush from short-range rather than several feet away, it’ll make for a cleaner, better-looking job.
Certain kinds of paints are easier to clean up with a little heat than chemicals. The heat will soften the paint so that you can scrape it up. It might take a few passes, but it’s much less likely to damage hardwood floors or other delicate materials.
If your paint job is part of a remodeling job that requires a power interruption, a work light connected by an extension cord to a different room will help you see corners and hard-to-reach places in low light conditions.
David Janus is the founder and CEO of Paint Sprayer Magazine. He has over two decades of experience in the spray paint industry and still enjoys writing about new products and technologies.
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