Painting Tips from the Wall Wizard

Not sure how to choose a color, prepare a room, or clean a paintbrush? Learn some practical and unusual tips from Brian Santos, the nation's favorite painting expert.


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Tips for Painting Novices

    Q. What are three things a novice should know about painting?
    Brian Santos: You might be surprised at the answer! Most of us might guess buying enough paint, priming, or prepping the walls. What do you think?

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How to Test Paint Colors

    Q. What is the best way to try a color before you paint, and why does paint sometimes look different from the paint chips?
    Brian Santos: You probably selected the color by looking at it under a different type or intensity of light than what's in your room. Sunlight, daylight, fluorescent light, halogen light, and incandescent light affect colors differently. So bring the sample card into the room you intend to paint and look at it several times during the day. See how the color looks using different kinds of artificial light before making a final decision.

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Low Sheen or High Shine?

    Q. What's the best paint finish or sheen for my room?
    Brian Santos:
    One factor you must consider is sheen, the degree of light reflection off the painted surface. In other words, how much the paint shines. Sheen affects the finish's appearance, durability, and suitability for certain uses. As the amount of sheen increases, so does the enamel value, which determines the hardness or protective value of the coating.

4/12
Use Color to Solve Problems

    Q. How can I use paint color to trick the eye and solve decorating dilemmas, like falsifying the dimensions of a room?
    Brian Santos:
    Your paint selection will depend on the result you desire. For example, if you plan on painting the walls white throughout your home, use the same value of white in every room for a unifying effect.

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How Much Paint?

    Q. How much paint should I buy?
    Brian Santos:
    If you're not a numbers person, the following steps may sound like gibberish. Just take it slowly and break out each step -- at the end you'll arrive at an accurate estimate for the amount of paint you need.

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Selecting Paint Applicators

    Q. What kind of paint applicators are the best?
    Brian Santos:
    You'll be tempted to buy a cheap, throw-away fuzzy-napped roller, but save yourself the headache! A 1/2-inch foam paint roller works faster, easier, and better. You can load three or four times the amount of paint onto the roller. Such porosity means less dipping into the roller tray, which means more coverage in less time. For smaller jobs consider a paint pad. It's a tool that has everything to offer: The pad's foam core holds three times more paint than a brush, has five times more surface area than a regular brush tip, and has bristles that are only 1/4-inch long, so the paint won't dry out. It splatters and drips less than a brush. Most pads even come with a plastic paint tray and airtight snap-on lid.

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Blue Tape. Now What?

    Q. How do you keep paint from seeping under the edges of masking tape?
    Brian Santos:
    The secret to keep this from happening is to heat-seal the tape. Run a tapered plastic tool quickly over the applied edge of the blue masking tape after you've set the tape. This heats the edge of the tape, the waxy adhesive on the tape melts, and when it resolidifies at the edge, it creates a barrier that prevents paint from seeping underneath the tape.

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Speed Through Cleanup

    Q. What's the best way to clean a paintbrush?
    Brian Santos:
    Taking care of brushes, rollers, and pads will save you time, energy, and money. Don't throw your tools in a bucket or sink and expect them to clean themselves; they'll be ruined, and you'll end up throwing them away and buying new ones. What household item can help you clean brushes and rollers in a flash?

9/12
Wallpaper: Paint or Remove?

    Q. Is it easier to paint over old wallpaper than to remove it? If I have to remove it, what tools do I need?
    Brian Santos:
    It depends! Read more for advice and tips on painting, and removing, old wallpaper.

10/12
Crayon van Goghs

    Q. How can I get crayon marks off painted walls?
    Brian Santos:
    With three children, I've tackled more than my share of crayon marks on the wall. The best way to remove these stains is to fold an old T-shirt into a pad several layers thick and place it over a crayon mark, then set an iron at medium heat and run it over the pad.

11/12
More Painting Secrets from Brian Santos

    Would you like to get more tips from Brian Santos? You'll find them in his book, Painting Secrets from Brian Santos, The Wall Wizard, available in bookstores now.

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