Are you having problems with your current painting project? Or perhaps you’re searching for tips for painting to help to refresh your walls and ceilings — as the existing coat looks like it was done by a five-year-old? Look no further. As experts in current paint technology, our tips for painting will help you from the beginning of your project through to the drying process — but we won’t make you watch paint dry, we promise. Well, maybe just primer. Let’s get into it!

Top Tips for Painting

Painting can be an intensive process that requires significant planning, preparation, and the correct techniques. The following 10 pro-tips for painting will help you achieve the success you desire and create projects of which you can be proud.

1. Clean All Surfaces

The first hack in our tips of painting is to make sure you clean the target area first — if you coat over dirty surfaces, the paint will chip off easily, make it more liable to flaking, and will create an uneven final finish. This is particularly important in areas such as:
  • Kitchens.
  • Bathrooms.
  • High-touch surfaces.
  • Rooms with non-water-soluble markings.
  • Above heating registers.
Working from top-to-bottom and using circular motions, clean with mineral spirits and a cloth to remove surface residue, oils, and dirt. Once dry, wash again with trisodium phosphate to eliminate any hydrocarbons left behind by the spirits. This is crucial as if not attended to, these compounds prevent correct adhesion of the new paint layer.

2. Address Imperfections and Prime

Cleaning surfaces for painting
The coat will look blotchy, uneven, and unprofessional if you don’t work to make good and prime the surface before applying paint. Depending on the demands and requirements of your base material, you can utilize:
Fillers Use to fill in small holes, hairline cracks, and minor damage. They’re straightforward to employ, but remember that they shrink during the drying process — so ensure you apply generously, allowing it to protrude above the surface, and then sand it flat when dry. For timber, use wood filler, and for masonry and plaster, utilize spackle.

Skim Coats

For walls that are battered or have large areas of damage — you can apply a thin coat of plaster on top of the existing layer to create an even surface. For a truly smooth finish, use a contractor — although, with a little practice, the enthusiastic DIYer can achieve pleasing results.


This technique is necessary for surfaces with massive holes, large cracks, or lots of loose plaster. As this is a skilled project, it’s worthwhile enlisting the help of a trade pro — unless you’re a proficient home improver.


Primer creates a flat base, emphasizes imperfections, and covers existing paint coats.

A thin sheen of primer — either oil or water-based depending on your topcoat — delivers a basic surface to which your main coat will adhere. For example, water-based paints will be sucked into raw timber — giving an unaesthetic, uneven, and thin finish — the primer promises a flat base on which to begin.

Additionally, by elevating adhesion, this undercoat inhibits chipping and flaking on metal materials, such as automotive bodywork.

Furthermore, most trade contractors utilize primer (typically thinned) to indicate issues in the target material. Providing your project with a swift prime coat reveals where the surface is scratched, flaking, and uneven — allowing you to address the offending areas with abrasive paper.

Ideally, use a paint sprayer to deliver the primer, as the fine atomization provides the smoothest base for painting. However, as a viscous medium, you need a unit with a significant amount of brawn to adequately propel the primer — for example, the turbine Wagner MotoCoat, the compressor-driven Iwata LPH440-181, or the hydraulic Control Pro 190. For detailed info, check out my Priming 101 article.

3. Use Drop Cloths

No matter how careful you are during the painting process, spills and splatters will still occur. Become too carried away with your sprayer, especially if it’s a powerful airless machine knocking out over 3000 PSI, and your living room will look like a scene from a Tarantino movie. Hence, protect your flooring, furniture, and electrical devices by laying down canvas drop cloths or polythene sheeting in the work area. Furthermore, cover sockets and wall/furniture hardware with masking tape.

4. Always Mix Paint Beforehand

The same shade of paint can vary in color — even if the cans come from the same manufacturer. If you have an expansive project and will be using several different cans, it’s crucial that they all match. So, to prevent non-uniform application, here’s our pro tip — mix all the paint from different containers together. This especially applies to paint that was previously opened — because color pigments can separate over time. To successfully mix cans of paint, utilize a pourer to decant the medium into a five-gallon bucket. For the ultimate results, use a paint filter and thoroughly combine the liquids with stirrer sticks.

5. Thin the Paint — If Required

Some sprayers struggle with the more dense mediums of latex, acrylics, chalks, and milks — meaning you need to dilute these liquids before using them with a power painter. Under no circumstances be a maverick — thinning the paint in a carefree fashion using only your eye and gut feelings. Inadequately dilute, and your sprayer will encounter blockages and spluttering — over thin, and you’ll drench your target material, expose yourself to overspray and wastage, and have a coat that doesn’t sufficiently cover your project. Utilize a viscosity cup to analyze the density of your coating medium, and then refer to your sprayers instruction guide for the correct dilution level. That said, you can avoid all this hassle by using a machine that can deliver thick liquids without thinning — such as the Graco X5.

6. Address Wood Trim First

sand trim
If you’re repainting a room, always attend to wood trim such as moldings, dado rails, cornices, door frames, and baseboards before attacking the walls. Typically, these decorative areas will require an oil-based medium such as gloss or varnish — whereas the walls will likely be covered with a water-based paint such as latex. Trust me, it’s much easier to wipe off stray latex from gloss, than it is gloss from latex. Follow the instructions in Tip #2 — Address Imperfections and Prime — to prepare the trim before painting. As these areas typically need a little finesse, use a small brush or alternatively a sprayer with a fine tip designed for finishing work — such as the Wagner Control 250. Again, protect any sockets or wood hardware with masking tape. However, should some stray paint make it onto unwanted areas that you’ve forgotten (or couldn’t be bothered) to shield, you can remove these errors with: Most of the time, the right cleaner and a small putty knife can remove any paint mistakes that you make.

7. Avoid Lap Marks

If you’ve ever painted a wall and noticed unsightly lines on your finished project, you’ve been the victim of lap marks. These stripes are due to uneven layers of paint buildup — occurring when you roll over paint that’s already starting to dry. It can also happen when:
  • There’s too much heat or draft during the drying phase.
  • No primer is applied.
  • There’s insufficient paint stirring or thinning.
  • Trying to paint an area too large at once.
  • Using low-grade economy paints.
Hence, always maintain the wet edge by overlapping the previous roller pass before the paint dries. Apply the medium in small sections, from top to bottom, so that there isn’t enough time for the paint solvent to evaporate — plan for breaks that will occur at windows, doors, and corners. If you’ve accidentally created a lap mark, add another finish coat using the same technique, which will hide the lap marks and create a more uniform look. The speedier you address these areas, the lower the chance of the paint drying mid-project. Using an airless machine — for example the Wagner Control Pro 170 — will provide faster coverage than a turbine or pneumatic gun. airless machine — for example the Wagner Control Pro 170 — will provide faster coverage than a turbine or pneumatic gun.

8. Spray Like a Pro

Painting, especially with a sprayer, is akin to playing a musical instrument, throwing a baseball, and satisfying your partner in the bedroom — technique is crucial.

Sure, the appearance of your mighty tool may induce gasps of admiration, but if you use it incorrectly, the results will be disappointing.

So, these are my ultimate hacks for pro-level spray painting:

  • Address your target material from a distance of 10-12 inches.
  • Ensure that each pass of the sprayer overlaps by around 30-50 percent.
  • Use long, sustained, continuous passes.
  • Avoid applying wet paint onto dry — as outlined in Tip #7.
  • On narrow projects — such as railings and fences — use up-and-down strokes.
  • When addressing wide areas — like walls — use side-to-side movements.
  • Select the ideal fan style for your strokes — vertical for side-to-side passes, horizontal for up-and-down motions, and circular for fine finish areas.
  • Maintain a parallel action with your base material — never use sweeping ‘arcs,’ which will lead to feathering.

9. Use a Paint Shield on Edges

Where walls meet, or where wood trim abuts plaster, it’s wise to use a paint shield or guide wheel. Not just for manual painting, you can purchase these useful and inexpensive tools to fit onto your sprayer, ensuring that edge-work is both hassle-free and accurate.

10. Expect Touch-Ups

Once you’ve finished painting, you might think that you’re officially done with the whole process, crack open a cold one, and switch on the ball game.

Slow down buddy, it ain’t quite over yet.

Once the paint has had sufficient time to dry — check it over for mistakes, missed areas, and wayward splatters. For small touch-ups, you don’t have to bring out the power painter, just use a small handheld brush. And, for stray paint flecks, use a little mineral spirit to remove oil mediums, and water with a gentle detergent for latexes, chalks, and acrylics.

Closing Words on Tips for Painting

Follow these 10 tips for painting, and your next project will be a success.

While you can use a roller or brush for your home renovation jobs — a sprayer delivers a finer finish, a more even coat, and prevents brush strokes, lost bristles, and stippling. For small projects, consider a turbine unit, and for more expansive jobs, check out the mighty airless machines.

Follow up with us if you have any questions, any painted projects that you would like to show off, or any tips for painting that you would recommend to any DIY novices out there.