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Tips for Faster, Neater Painting

Save time and cut the mess with these pro tips

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Bolt and Screw Holder

Bolt and Screw Holder

To paint the heads of bolts and screws, cut a small 'X' in a piece of corrugated cardboard and push the bolt or screw through the 'X.' Now you can paint them all at once without touching them.

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Cardboard Spray Booth

Cardboard Spray Booth

Prevent paint "overspray" with this clever spray booth made from a cardboard box. Cut a hole in the top of the box. Cover the opening with plastic wrap and position a shop light above to illuminate your project. You can use coat hangers, poked through the cardboard, to hold and rotate the objects as you're painting them. Not only will your shop be neater, but your paint projects will now be thumbprint free.Click here for more spray painting tips.
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Mess-Proof Painting

Mess-Proof Painting

The plastic-wrapped case that holds 24 bottles of water is a perfectly sealed tray for your paint cans, brushes and trays. Sloshed or dripped paint won't spill onto a drop cloth and be tracked all over the house. When you're opening the water bottle package, cut the plastic about 5 in. higher than the top of the box and then fold it in.

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Feather Out the Paint Where You Can't Keep a Wet Edge

Feather Out the Paint Where You Can't Keep a Wet Edge

You can't cover large areas like ceilings, extra-tall walls or stairwells in single, continuous strokes, so the best way to minimize lap marks on these areas is to feather out the paint along the edges that you can't keep wet. The thinner, feathered coat of paint will avoid the buildup that causes the lap mark.

To paint a large section without leaving lap marks, roll the nearly dry roller in different directions along the dry edge, feathering out the paint as you go. After completing the entire length of the wall or ceiling, move to the next section and paint over the feathered edges. For the second coat, apply the paint in the opposite direction. This crisscrossing paint application sharply reduces (if not eliminates) lap marks.

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Roll Paint Along Trim and Corners

Roll Paint Along Trim and Corners

As you cut in with a brush along trim or corners, roll the paint with a 3-in. roller so the texture will match the rest of the wall.

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Edge-Trim Your Paint Roller

Edge-Trim Your Paint Roller

Those ragged edges and tiny beads of dried paint on your paint roller may seem harmless, but they'll leave ugly tracks in your paint job. Trim them off, leaving a slightly tapered edge, and your roller will be as good as new.

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Scrape Away Ceiling Texture for a Neater Paint Job

Scrape Away Ceiling Texture for a Neater Paint Job

A neat, straight paint line at the top of a wall is tough to achieve next to a bumpy ceiling. So before you paint, drag a narrow flat-head screwdriver lightly along the ceiling. You'll get a clean paint line and no one will ever notice that the bumps are missing.

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Use Cotton Drop Cloths Rather Than Plastic

Use Cotton Drop Cloths Rather Than Plastic

When wall painting and trim painting, spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It's a lot easier to prepare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area. The thick canvas stays in place, so you don't need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don't stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard floors, so rosin paper is better over vinyl, tile and hardwood. Tape the sheets together and to the floor to provide a nonslip surface.But even with canvas or rosin-paper drop cloths, large spills still need to get wiped up right away or they'll seep through. Clean spills with paper towels or cloth rags. Likewise, if you splatter paint on any other surface, wipe it up immediately.
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Paint Tray Liner

Paint Tray Liner

Glad Press'n Seal plastic wrap is meant to seal food containers. But it also makes a great paint tray liner. When you're done painting, just peel the sticky plastic off the tray and throw it away— no paint-caked tray to clean up.

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Protect Your Carpet

Protect Your Carpet

When you're staining or painting baseboards or walls, protect your carpet by tucking a plastic sheet under the baseboard with a putty or taping knife. After the paint dries, push down on the plastic to break the seal between it and the baseboard.

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Caulk Cracks at Inside Corners

Caulk Cracks at Inside Corners

Hairline cracks at inside corners usually signal slight movement between adjoining walls. Choose any type of latex caulk and cut the tip just short enough to leave a 1/8-in. hole in the end. Squeeze a narrow line of caulk directly over the crack. Then mold the wet caulk into the corner with a moistened finger. The caulk will remain flexible and keep the crack from reappearing. Avoid thick layers of caulk, which may look too rounded in a square corner.