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Painting By The Numbers: Eight Steps To A Successful Painting Project

So you want to spiff up your place a little bit, maybe add some color to the walls, a few accents here and there? Painting is a great way to give a room a fresh look, so pick out your colors and get ready for a fun weekend project. But before you start, here's a list of tools and supplies you're going to need.

  1. Drop cloths. Paint looks great on the walls, not so good on the carpets. Pick up some clear plastic drop cloths to keep paint off things that don't need painting. Get a heavy enough gauge that you can walk on it without tearing it.
  2. Masking tape. Prep work is the most important part of the job. Get some wide (2 inches or wider) masking tape and use it to attach your drop cloths to baseboards and to mask off light fixtures, electrical outlets, etc.
  3. Spackle, putty knife, and sandpaper. You will need these for filling holes and cracks prior to painting. Sand the Spackle smooth when it dries.
  4. Tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) for washing down the walls before painting. This gets rid of oils, cigarette smoke residue, and other things that prevent paint from sticking well. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when you use this.
  5. Paint applicators. There are lots of different tools for applying paint; brushes, rollers, edgers, foam brushes, and more. Rollers are great for large wall and ceiling areas. Brushes are good for door casings, baseboards, and trim. Pick several good quality brushes in different sizes from 1 inch to 5 inches in width. And foam edgers and corner applicators work well for wall and ceiling intersections.
  6. Paint tray. You'll need one of these if you are using a roller. It's hard to get the roller into a paint can.
  7. Mixing paddles. If your paint sits for a while after you bring it home, you will need to stir it up. The paint store will probably give you a few of these for free.
  8. If you are overcome with ambition and decide to tackle your home's exterior, you may want to invest in an airless sprayer. For large outdoor areas, this will cut your painting time by a factor of ten.

When you are through, make sure you thoroughly clean all your brushes and other tools. If you are using water-based paint, cleanup is easy. Oil-based paints require the use of paint thinner for cleaning, and you should dispose of the residue in an environmentally safe manner.