Jason Robie: Purposeful painting perfection

By Jason Robie

As I've mentioned before, painting a home's interior is not only one of my favorite "remodeling" tasks to do, but it also has a huge impact on how you feel about your home. Painting the interior allows you to give a room or even a hallway a whole different look and feel without ever picking up a hammer or having to call a contractor. I will admit, ceilings are not my favorite things to paint, but aside from that painting is cost-effective, comparatively quick and offers a huge bang for the buck. Let's explore a few tips and tricks that will get you excited about your next painting project and help you do it like a pro.

Something I learned a long time ago is to invest in good-quality brushes. I'm a Purdy fan, but you can pick anything you prefer. Once you've made that investment, it is important to keep them in tip-top shape. Primarily you need to rinse them thoroughly (just warm water for latex paints), but you can also soak them in some warm water with a splash of fabric softener. Then just let them dry overnight. You won't need to rinse them before your next painting project and you'll love how soft the bristles remain use after use.

Another secret of the pros is to use plastic wrap to protect those items you don't want paint getting splashed on. Toilets and other immovable items are perfect for this trick. It clings to most surfaces and is quite inexpensive. It gives you the confidence of protecting the item as well as the freedom to poke and prod that paintbrush all around to make sure you get complete coverage where you want it.


I tend to like the smell of a freshly painted room. It screams renewal and refresh to me. If you can't stand the smell of paint or you're doing a large-scale job where the odors may be a bit overpowering, turn to vanilla and lemon extract. Depending on the color of your paint, since you don't want to taint that, pick your poison and add a few drops to each can. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the more palatable smell and it tends to linger for a few weeks after application. You can also now buy scents specifically made for paints if you don't want to raid your spice rack.

An ever-present challenge with all painting jobs is keeping the paint off of those places where it does not belong. One of my favorite painting jobs was when I built my house and we were painting all the walls before the flooring went in. Never was there such a carefree task of painting. Besides the ceiling, which was painted when the walls were primed, nothing was off limits and there was nary a drop cloth in the house. Most painting jobs require a lot more discretion than that. Use petroleum jelly on a cotton swap to dab onto hinges and screws that you don't want painted. You'll still want to be careful, but this will speed up the cleaning process a ton.

"Q-tips and cotton balls are two of my favorite tools for interior painting," Badger Realty agent David Cianciolo said. "They are both great tools for tidying up small mishaps and drips without wasting a whole rag or paper towel."

Using old T-shirts (get permission first, ladies) is another great way to save money and waste. I like to cut them into smaller pieces or strips ahead of time so I'm not using a whole shirt for one little mess.

As far as "design-based" tricks of the trade, color plays a huge role in your perception of a room or area. The experts are Sherwin-Williams (on their website) note that with a long narrow room you can paint the end walls a darker shade than the long walls to create a sense of width and expanse. If you have shorter walls, painting the ceiling color about a foot down from the top gives the sense of a higher ceiling. And if there's a particular feature of a room that you want to highlight, be sure to create a contrasting vision behind it with the color you choose. If you match the color of the feature too closely, it will simply blend into the room.

The last tip for today is to be sure about your color choices. Although painting can be fun, especially if you include friends, pizza and beverages, you don't want to have to re-paint a room weeks after you finish because you realize you hate the color. You can now buy small cans of paint and apply it to a large area of the walls. It's also important to use this strategy on multiple walls of the room. Light and sun will impact the color and texture of paint in a big way so don't be afraid to paint a couple different walls with big swaths of your new paint. You'll appreciate the end result. As carpenters always say (at least the smart ones) measure twice: cut once. Now get out to your local paint store and start re-imagining your interior.