Practical Tips for Wall and Ceiling Painting

Alternate title: “What Do You MEAN, ‘My Painting Pants from High School No Longer Fit???'”

Wear a dress instead. I didn’t shave, I didn’t shower, my hair was in the same bun for 3 straight days, then in another bun for 2-4 more days. We were in survival mode, so I don’t remember the details. I may have forgotten to wear deodorant. But I DID dress for the occasion! When it finally dawned on me that my trusty old painting pants were about 6 (yes SIX!) inches too slim, I just had to laugh. In my head, they have totally fit for over 17 years. In my storage bins, these lovely blue canvas pants have been waiting, longing, even, for the moment to be useful again. It never occurred to me that they would be too small! When I realized that this old fly-over state would be broiling hot during the busiest part of our project, I thought of an old sun dress that I love on my body more than those traitor pants. The dress was faded, and it fit. I wore it, and it is now my painting dress. I never knew it was 92 degrees with 60% humidity, and it felt a lot (okay, maybe only a little) less brutish to drop off my kids with sitters while wearing a modest, lovely sun dress, hairy legs and all. WP_20160614_008

Have trades people clean up their own tape. We are very happy with the work that our wall guys did. There were roughly 30 holes to fill due to some electrical work. It was way beyond the scope of our skill. They offered to leave up the protective tape (that blue stuff), and we accepted. I wish we had asked them to take it off, firstly because I prefer to cut in new paint without tape. For whatever reason, I just do a much better job. Secondly, it was time consuming to take the tape off, and when we did, there were some mistakes that we needed to take care of. It would have been part of our trades peoples’ normal clean-up process for them to do it, and would have saved us some time. Lastly, the longer that tape stays on woodwork, the more varnish comes with it when removed. We will have to do some unplanned varnish touch-up to complete the project.

How to pull tape: our contractors showed us that the best way to minimize lifting up varnish from woodwork is to peal at a 90 degree angle, or even wider. Basically, you are pulling it back on itself instead of yanking it at an angle where it can take any edges with it.

Contractor’s discount. Since this was all part of one project, we got the wall repair contractor’s discount for the paint. Score! The ceiling paint, particularly, was a steal at 75% under the retail price. The store guy explained to me that it is not a “DIY product”. I guess that means it’s not a DIY price. In any case, we wouldn’t have bought that paint if we had to pay full price. It was steep!

Paint Shiny-ness Matters. As you may be able to see in the photo, both the ceilings and the walls (the beige color is original), were done in glossy paint, or at least semi-gloss. In the photo some priming over repair work has been done in grey, and the edging in correct (flat) ceiling paint has been done, but you can still see the original finishes on both the wall and ceiling. Aside from the fact that the beige on the wall was too dark and didn’t play well with the natural features of our home, it was entirely too glossy. Our rooms are small, and when light reflects off shiny walls at night, they actually seem smaller. You want your light reflections to come from mirrors, not paint! If the color is egregious, then the wrong sheen is horrific. If color and sheen are playing well together (we chose flat for the ceilings and satin for the walls), the whole effect is heightened. I might add that they now are also much better friends with our varnished natural woodwork.

Caulk. This is by far my favorite time saver! On the recommendation of our contractors, we got white paint-able ceiling caulk from Sherwin Williams. It took time to apply and dry (kuddos to Honey for doing ALL of it!), but it made cutting in the ceiling paint, and then the wall paint that goes up against it, a real breeze. Both went faster and look a lot better than if we had free-handed the line without caulk. What the caulk does is soften the corner, and it seems to widen it too, so that there’s already a nice line/edge that’s made for  you. Also, it’s set into the corner. I didn’t have to worry about getting the ceiling paint right into that corner. This helps particularly with textured ceilings (ours are popcorn). See the photo above for what caulking looks like with only one coat of ceiling paint over it, and no painting yet on the walls.

Hope this helps! Let me know your best practices so that I can have another reason to finally paint the kitchen! …because I need another occasion for which to dress up… 🙂

PS: for what we learned while painting with toddlers, see this post.


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