7 “How To” Painting Secrets for Interior Painting Preparations – From A Main Line Professional Painter

How Do The Pro Painters Do It? 

So, you want to paint your Main Line home like a pro, eh? Well, stick around. I think I have a pro painting tip or two that may help you out! ☺

In this blog, I will enlighten you on “7 ‘How To’ Painting Secrets for Interior Painting Preparations,” or professional painting tips for preparing to finish paint, on the topics below. The focus will be on interior painting only, as most DIY painters focus on interior painting, especially on the Main Line. 

The seven areas of interior painting prep we will talk about are – 

  1. How to purchase the right tools for painting
  2. How to prep walls for painting
  3. How to clean walls before painting
  4. How to wash walls before painting
  5. How to sand walls for painting
  6. How to tape walls for painting
  7. How to caulk in preparation for interior painting

Pro Painting Tip #1:  How To Purchase The Best Tools for Interior Painting

Okay. Get out your credit cards and get ready to “go pro.” 

The bottom line when purchasing painting tools is price. You do indeed get what you pay for. As the saying goes in the industry, “You’re only as good as your tools.” 

The go-to products I suggest are – 

  1. For brushes – Purdy. Personally, I like the angled brushes. 
  2. Rollers – Purdy Microfiber
  3. Primers – Any Zinsser brand. We use Zinsser Cover Stain, as our go-to primer for sealing and blocking water damage, or transitioning from a dark color to a lighter color, or for blocking the strong dyes in red that can bleed through new, non-red coatings.

Why Purdy brushes?

Purdy brushes will, in themselves, make you a better painter. Purdy brushes to not shed, they maintain their form well, and they come in different brush hairs and handle styles. When I am painting, my go to brush is a 2 ½” brush for cutting-in ceilings and walls. And when I am painting trim, I may switch to a 2” brush to have better control of line-work.

Why Purdy Microfiber rollers?

TJ’s, as a company quality control directive, uses only Purdy 3/8” Mircofiber rollers. Why? Because they never shed. And I mean never, not one hair. 

They also control better for eliminating roller edging. Roller edging is where a traditional nap roller leaves vertical edges (or lines of increased paint amounts) that you have to roll out. Microfiber rollers, due to their “non-nap” design, do not leave roller edging. 

We also only use 3/8” rollers, vs. ½”, as the ½” roller only causes paint waste. In addition, the 3/8” roller makes quality-control easier on rolling out a smooth finish on walls and ceilings.

Pro Painting Tip #2: How To Prep Walls for Painting

There are three keys to properly prepping walls – knowing how to “study” a wall, using a worklight correctly, and patience. 

Studying a wall starts with realizing that we view things like we read, for the most part. Which means, when studying a wall for painting prep, view it left-to-right, top-to-bottom. And remember, the brain does not see everything in one look. So, you will need to study the wall multiple times, like a true pro or craftsman-level painter would.

When setting-up your work light, make sure it is behind you and parallel to the wall. More specifically, behind you as much as possible, and parallel to the wall as much as possible. You will need to move the light around as your movements change.  And beware, halogen work lights can be very, very hot. There are of course LED and other work lights that are not halogen.

Most importantly, keep in mind, direct light pointed onto the wall bounces back into your eyes. And direct light in your eyes results in poor visual acuity.

Pro Painting Tip #3: How To Clean Walls for Painting

This one is simple. Unless the walls have nicotine on them, or years of dust because you just bought The Adams Family mansion, then don’t even bother cleaning them. Instead, sand! And I mean… SAND HARD and sand a lot! See tip #6 for more info on how to sequence the sanding process.

Pro Painting Tip #4: How To Wash Walls for Painting

This one is also simple, because it is the same as #3. Don’t bother washing the walls. Yep. That’s what I said…do not waste the time. Save the energy for sanding, because you’re going to need it! Instead, we will sand as described below. Then apply a full-coat of primer. Please allow me to explain…see below.

Pro Painting Tip #5: How To Sand Walls for Painting

Now…it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! 

Sanding of the walls is everything in prep, aside of the repairs made with joint compound or other restoration compounds. And since the restoration side of walls is where the pros stand years ahead of DIY’ers, I will save prepping walls for interior painting for a later blog.

Here is the best way to sand your walls… Hire TJ’s! ☺

Okay, just a little plug for one of the best painters on the Main Line.

Now, for you serious DIY’ers, here are the important tips.

Pro Painting Tip #6: How To Tape Walls for Painting

So, you know the 3M commercial where they show a couple taping off a room, while wearing dinner attire, without a crease in the clothing or a speck of dust on their clothes? 

Then the next frame shows a beautifully painted room with the couple lounging in front of the fireplace, drinking wine and romantically feeding each other cheese. 

Well, I always joke that they don’t show you the arguments when the frustration mounts from how all that damn blue-tape pulls off all their fresh paint. And they don’t show you the wife calling the painters, the painters parading through to issue a quote, and the painters making everything right. 

The point is – unless you want to support the 3M brand or maybe you hold their stock in your investment portfolio… don’t tape! 

That commercial has one objective – to get DIY’ers to buy rolls and rolls of blue-tape.

Instead of taping, buy a 1” or 1 ½” brush for cutting-in. The smaller brush is easier to control, slower to operate, and will result in beautiful lines.

Point being, by the time you tape off an entire room. Pull off the tape and make repairs, because there will be plenty of repairs. Well, by that time, you can just work patiently, with a slow and steady hand holding a 1” trim brush. And your lines will be beautiful!

Patience is indeed a virtue, especially during the cutting-in phase of finish painting.

So remember… no blue-tape!

Pro Painting Tip #7: How to Caulk in Preparation for Interior Painting

This is an important topic, as caulk is a wonder material. It hides cracks, hides corner imperfections, holds together smaller profile trim pieces and can be formed to make slightly crooked moldings appear straight.

First of all, let’s talk product. What you want to buy is a siliconized acrylic caulk. The key words here are siliconized and acrylic. The silicone allows for pliability, meaning the caulk will flex some as cracks begin to open or as house settlement occurs. 

Siliconized acrylic caulks are also paintable.

Secondly, do… not… use… your… fingers. You will have sticky fingers in five minutes. And, that makes it difficult to eat a donut while caulking, or to even grab your coffee cup. Though more importantly, it makes caulking a mess, including the caulk you are applying.

So, instead, let’s “wet caulk.” Yes, “wet caulking” is the solution to making caulking an enjoyable and speedy process that results in gorgeous caulk lines. 

Here is how to prepare for “wet caulking” –

  1. Buy rubber gloves or a non-latex type cleaning gloves. 
  2. Using a cut-up lightweight t-shirt, cut-up pieces to approximately 6” squares. Larger rags will drag in the caulk or only cause a mess. Use the smaller pieces, and once they are full of caulk, chuck ‘em.
  3. Wet the rag with warm or hot water, and caulk away.
  4. Caulking always works best from the caulk gun, by applying directly to the surface. And though you will learn how much caulk to apply, keep in mind that less is more. Another factor that causes sloppy caulking is using too much caulk at one time. Better to make 2-3 caulk passes (or coats) than work with too much caulk.

Well, that’s it! My 7 How To’s Painting Secrets for Interior Painting Preparations. Now go show all your friends and family members how the painters on the Main Line make homes look so glamorous and beautiful.

In upcoming blogs, I will go more into detail on each of these operational procedures for interior painting prep. I will also write about how to remove wallpaper, which a lot of homeowners try to DIY all the time. 

So, stick around. You may end-up painting like a pro before it’s all over! ☺