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How to Achieve the Perfect Paint Job

True story: I walk up to the paint counter at my local Home Depot now, and the guy behind the desk greets me with, "Oh, hi, it's you again. What are you painting this time?" haha. That can't be a good thing...

This week I'm finishing up with the living room and stairs. Sometimes I feel like a chronic painter. It just won't end! I remind myself of the story I heard about the Golden Gate Bridge, that it takes so long to paint the darn thing, by the time they finish it's time to start over again! My house needs a permanent "Wet Paint" sign. As I type, the final touches are drying on the walls, I am SO CLOSE!!! and can't wait to reveal the new and improved living room and stairs. So while we wait, and paint, I thought I'd put together a game plan of things I've learned that make for a fabulous paint job.

 I'll be the first to raise my hand and admit to not following these tips all the time myself, and I'm usually kicking myself for it. Ever tried to scrub paint out of tile grout? ha ha, mm hmm, it's not pretty. So here's to, "Alyssa stop being lazy and do things right the first time!", and now you can hold me accountable if I stray into bad habit-ness :).

Step 1. Prep
Ah, the foundation of a great paint job. Also known as the "time consuming" and "unnecessary" part I try to skimp my way out of, then pay for it by cleaning up my mess after. 
  • Remove all face plates from outlets and switches.
  • Wipe walls down with a rag to remove dirt and dust.
  • Putty over any nail holes.
  • Tape lines, molding, and floor. I'd seen wonders performed with Frog Tape. and I decided to try it for this room.  What a difference! It costs a few bucks more than regular blue painter's tape, I think I paid around $6 for my roll, but it's well worth the price! Something in the tape reacts to the moisture in the paint and expands, forming a barrier to leaks. It's not 100% perfect, but made my life a heck of a lot easier.
  • Tarp/ protect furniture and any surface at risk for splatters and drippies.

Step 2. Paint
There's more to this than slapping it on the walls? :)
  • Use primer on dry wall and unfinished surfaces, and over glossy paint. For darker colors like my mystery brown, it's a good idea to use tinted primer to reduce the number of coats needed. I didn't know this was possible, but the guy at the paint counter can mix your paint color into the primer. It will take less coats of paint if it's the same hue. Since I was priming for both my dark and light colors, I had them match it to the lighter one.
  • Pick the right finish. When in doubt, here's a handy guide from eHow. I used egg shell on the walls and trim. I like it because it can be wiped with a sponge, but it's not as shiny as semi gloss. I used the semi gloss on the front door, for easier cleaning, and I like the subtle shine.
  • Paint two coats for full coverage. It's probably possible, but I've never gotten full coverage in one coat. I've even tried Behr's Premium Plus Ultra (paint and primer in one). It costs about $10 more than the regular paint and goes on thicker. It does cover considerably better than ordinary paint, but even then, it still needs a second coat. That's why I go with the regular stuff and save my $10. 
My colors: 
  1. "Mystery Brown" (dark tan) I tried to color match it from an Eddie Bauer color, I think it was called Prince. But we've lost the recipe since, so thank goodness we still have extra!
  2. Brown Bread by Behr (cream)
  3. Polar Bear by Behr (white)
I used a roller for all walls. I used a brush for base boards, the hand rail, stair topper board, and the front door.
  • Cut in everywhere the roller can't reach with a brush.  A small foam roller would work too.

Step 3. Touch up
This is my favorite part, either because I know the project is almost done, or because my OCD is giddy at the thought of an extended period of making straight lines.
  • Remove tape
  • Fill a small cup with paint, use a small brush to touch up. I filled a container with each color, and went around with an artist brush crisping up the lines.

I'm waiting for the paint to dry as I type! I hope hope hope to finish and move us back into the living room by next week!! Wish me luck. I've got some new purchases I've been waiting to share too. :) Can't wait!!!

<3 Alyssa

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