Try these “life hacks” to make your next painting or decorating project quicker and less expensive.
By Diane Franklin
Saving time is like finding money in your pocket. There are so many things you can do with your unexpected treasure. In the case of painting or decorating your home, imagine what you can do if you work so efficiently that you’re able to save an hour or two or three. You can go to the movies, visit an art museum—or stay home and binge-watch a TV show in your freshened-up surroundings.
With that in mind, here are some “life hacks” to finish your next paint or decorating project quicker than you thought possible.
Measure up. Before you head to the paint store, measure your walls so you know what square footage you are covering. That will ensure you buy enough paint or wallpaper at the outset of your project without having to reorder or make a return trip to the store.
Take stock. Take an inventory of the project-related products you have around the house. Do you have enough painter’s tape? Are your drop cloths in good shape? Do you have paint rollers, paint brushes, roller tray, spackling compound and all the other things you need? Make a shopping list so you’ll remember to buy everything you need when you go to the paint store. That way, you won’t have to stop what you’re doing and head back to the paint store because you forgot a trim brush, for example.
Use a kit. Manufacturers have taken the guesswork out of project purchasing by grouping the products you need into one handy kit that saves you both time and money. Do you want to apply a metallic effect to a mailbox? There’s a kit for that. Chalk-paint a piece of furniture? Likewise, there’s a kit. Homeowners also will be able to find kits for repainting cabinets, countertops and other surfaces. For standard painting projects, you can buy paint tray kits that include roller covers, roller handles and paint brushes. With such products and an expert staff to help you, you’ll be in and out of the paint store in no time.
Mask efficiently. If you keep the area well masked off, you will avoid cleaning time later on. There are a few neat products to consider to make the masking process efficient. For instance, pre-taped drop cloths are a time-efficient way to keep the drop cloths in place. You can also use masking tape guns to dispense masking products efficiently as well.
Right-size your paint applicator. You’ll save time and energy if you make sure you have the right brush or roller for every aspect of your painting project. Use long-handled mini-rollers to get into hard-to-reach places like behind toilets or small areas like above doors and windows. Want to get into corners efficiently? Use mini-rollers with fabric wrapped around the edges. Use extension poles to extend your reach upward or from side to side—it will minimize and possibly even eliminate your need for a ladder. Use stiff angled brushes or paint-pad edgers to paint around trim and minimize the need for touch-ups.
Use a tinted primer. Want to eliminate the need for an extra coat of paint? Ask your local paint store to tint your primer. This is especially a good idea for new drywall or if the colour you are painting is dramatically different from the current wall colour. This is even a good idea when using a paint-and-primer-in-one as your topcoat, since a primer by itself will be less expensive and may save you an extra final coat.
Keep your roller moist. You can do this by putting your roller in a plastic bag. A great idea from Specific Love Creations (specificlove.com) is to put that bag inside of a sealable potato chip canister. This provides an airtight seal that will keep the roller pliable for reuse without having to take the time to clean it at the end of every day.
Use multi-purpose tools. Your local paint store carries versatile 5-in-1, 6-in-1, 8-in-1 or even 9-in-1 tools so that you don’t have to take the time to search for a different tool for every task you need to perform. These tools will typically have a scraper, putty spreader, roller cleaner, can opener, nail setter, nail puller and a utility knife. Attach it to your utility belt to make sure it doesn’t walk away.
Use the power of magnetism. Magnets are amazing little items. Having trouble finding a wall stud? Use a magnet to locate the screws behind your walls, and voila! There’s your stud. Use magnetized toolbelts—or sew a magnet into a non-magnetized belt—and you’ll be able to keep metal tools like paint scrapers or screwdrivers within your reach.
Let us spray! Aerosol paint is a great and efficient way to do small jobs like picture frames, patio furniture and planters. There are even high-heat spray paints that you can use to touch up your barbeque grill or woodstove as well as aerosol primers you can use prior to your topcoat. Always remember to thoroughly mask the area around which you are spraying and be sure to use in a well-ventilated area with proper respiratory and eye protection.