Your Guide to Painting Tools

The best way to ensure success when painting is to use the right tools. They will save you time and effort and reduce frustration. Select the tools that feel right in your hand and purchase the best quality you can afford; they will see you through years of successful painting projects.

Putty Knife

A flexible-blade putty knife is useful for filling nail holes or open joints in molding and frames with wood putty or spackling compound.


Use this rigid blade to apply and smooth wall compound on a large area or to re-tape wallboard joints. It also can be used to remove old paint and wallpaper.

Sanding Block and Sandpaper

Keep these on hand for smoothing repaired walls and increasing tooth for the application of a new paint finish.

Drop Cloth

Made of canvas or plastic, a drop cloth protects floors and furnishings from paint drips and splatters.

Painter's Tape

Formulated for easy removal, blue painter's tape protects windows and trims. Use brown tape to protect a larger area.

Stir Sticks

Grab free sticks when you buy paint. Stir paint thoroughly before you start painting and stir frequently while painting to keep the color evenly mixed.

Picking the Right Paintbrush

Along with quality paint, the right paintbrush is crucial to accomplishing a perfect paint job. For oil-base paint, China bristle paintbrushes are a wise choice because they leave few paint marks. However, bristles may break on rough surfaces. For acrylics and high-quality latex paint, nylon paintbrushes are best. Nylon-polyester blends and 100-percent-polyester brushes work with any paint. Expect to spend at least $9 for a quality 3-inch paintbrush.

Artist's Brushes

These small brushes are perfect for detail work and freehand designs on small furnishings and accent pieces.

3-Inch Brush

Good for outlining walls and ceilings and for painting large areas, this brush is a workhorse. One with a bare wood handle provides the best grip. While painting, hold the brush between your thumb and fingers in a relaxed grip.

Angled Brush

This is the best tool for painting door and window frames, moldings, and other areas where you need more control and precision. Hold this brush like a pencil.

Household Brush

This brush is ideal for painting small areas, furnishings, or accent pieces.

Foam Brush

Disposable foam brushes come in several sizes for smaller paint and crafts projects.

Paint Pad

Made of foam or nylon, pads are ideal for painting a clean line, particularly in hard-to-reach spaces and corners where rollers won't fit.

Extension Handle

Use an extension handle to expand the reach of your paint roller, making it easier to paint high walls and ceilings.

Roller 101

Using a roller is the easiest way to apply paint to broad surfaces quickly. Rollers are easily customizable based on your type of project. For a large paint project, try buying a roller that holds paint in the handle and releases it with a trigger. The project will go a lot faster if you cut down the number of times the roller needs to be reloaded.


A roller will spread about three times as much paint as a brush in the same amount of time.

Mini Roller

Mini rollers apply paint as evenly as large rollers and make it easy to paint small areas. They are ideal for getting into tight corners.

Roller Covers

Use a polyester cover to apply latex paints and lamb's wool for oil-base paints. Covers come in various naps. For rough or textured surfaces, get a roller with a 3/8-inch or thicker nap; for smooth surfaces, use a roller with a nap of 1/4 to 3/8 inch.

Roller Tray

The tray holds paint that will be applied with a roller. Look for sturdy construction with a deep well. Also pick up disposable liners to make cleanup easier.

Trim Guide

Try this tool when painting trim edges against walls. It also protects carpet when painting baseboards.

Glass/Tile Paint

Formulated for use on hard, slick surfaces, this paint offers one-coat coverage. If you're using the paint on dishes, they can be washed safely on the top rack of a dishwasher.

Fabrics Paint

Infused with a textile medium, these paints will withstand laundering. Test the paint on a fabric scrap before painting.

Spray Paint

Available for many applications, spray paints come in a variety of finishes.

Trim Paint

This hard, durable enamel finish stands up to constant contact and frequent cleaning.

Interior Paint

Latex paints are the best all-around paint for interiors. Low-odor, fast-drying latex has a water base and is easy to clean up.


Primers penetrate unpainted surfaces, create a uniform skin for your paint, and also can inhibit stains. Tint your primer if you are painting a dark color over light or light over dark.

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