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The Pros Weigh In: Best Painting Tips from DIY Bloggers

Thanks so much for your sweet comments on my post about the behind the scenes photo shoot with Better Homes & Gardens. That whole day would’ve been approximately 87 percent less fun if I’d gone through it without you all!

Let’s talk painting! It’s probably the most approachable, instant-impact DIY project to attempt, but who wouldn’t love a few shortcuts and tricks to make it quicker and easier?

You might’ve caught my sneaky painting trick in the video of Andy and me that I posted recently: when I’m ready to paint a room, instead of painting it, I just get pregnant. Andy steps in so I don’t have to inhale the fumes and then BAM! A perfectly painted room. Works every time.
But if you’re a guy, or if you’re not interested in spending nine months growing a human inside your body, then hours of labor followed by pushing said person out of your ladyparts, then 18 years supporting and parenting that human, then the rest of your life bound to that person, all to avoid a two-hour task… (coward) great news! I polled some of the top home bloggers for their BEST painting tricks and shortcuts, they’ve shared them all with us below.

(I’m loving these “Pros Weigh In” posts where we get to round up the BEST of the best tips on different topics. I hope you guys dig ’em like I do.)

Best painting tricks and shortcuts from top DIY bloggers

Let’s check in first with the never-ceases-to-be-amazing Kate from Centsational Girl.


“Cleaning oil based stain, paint, or primer off a good brush is a major pain, so to skip that step in between coats, place your paintbrush in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.
Roundup of the BEST painting tricks and shortcuts from top home bloggers!

The cold keeps the bristles (filled with paint/primer/stain) soft for a few days and you can return to your project at your leisure. Also, you’ll only have to clean your brush once with mineral spirits at the end.” -Kate at Centsational Girl

“Tip 1: Invest in GOOD paint and a couple of GOOD brushes. I have tried to cut costs on more than one occasion only to invest in something pricier to get the look I want. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and Purdy–know those names. 🙂

Tip 2: That being said, cut costs in other areas. For intricate trim work that can mangle a good brush, just use brushes from the dollar store and dispose of them. When using a paint tray, line it with tin foil in order to use it another time.
Roundup of the BEST painting tricks and shortcuts from top home bloggers!

Tip 3: Impatience can get the best of us, and we want coverage right away. It’s important to apply thin layers of paint. It might take a little longer to get the project done, but the end result will always be better. No puddles of paint in crevices, and less brush marks in the end.” -Chris at Just a Girl
“When painting around a toilet cover it with a trashbag then you don’t have to tape or worry about getting paint on the back of it.” -Melissa at Happier Homemaker
“I learned the hard way once that painting dusty walls is BAD, so now before I paint a wall, I take a swiffer floor sweeper and dust the walls.” -Jacque at DIY Village
Roundup of the BEST painting tricks and shortcuts from top home bloggers!

“I have one really good brush for painting trim. Any other brushes are cheap so they can be tossed when I’m finished. The same goes for rollers!” -Ann at On Sutton Place

“I don’t bother taping any more because I am ultra lazy. Actually, I think I am really impatient and would rather prep less and jump right in. Instead of painters tape, I keep a wet rag on hand at all times and wipe the wet paint that bleeds as needed. 
Roundup of the BEST painting tricks and shortcuts from top home bloggers!

I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting in with an angled brush (as it should be because every room in my house has been painted at least three times!). I just fold a section of the rag and wipe with the crease along my trim edge and the wet paint wipes right off. No more two hour taping sessions and touch up for bleed through; I just wipe as I go!” -Jenny at Birds & Soap
“Soak your paintbrushes in a container of water for a few hours or a few days, whichever works for you. When you get tired of looking at them there, take them out of the water, rub a little soap of some kind into the bristles and get out a green scrubby. Rub the green scrubby downward on the bristles to break the paint crust all around and the rest of the paint will just rinse right out!” -Courtenay at Creekline House (See Courtenay’s step by step process here.)
The absolute easiest and laziest way to clean your paintbrushes, from The Creek Line House.

Me again! I have a pinterest board for “Tips for the DIYer” where I save great ideas like this. You can also check out our trick for cleaning paint rollers and my favorite trick for recycling paint trays (Hint: use a grocery bag! Total lifesaver).

ORRRRR… you can just make millions and millions of babies. You can name them Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams… maybe Purdy for a girl? Just think about it, that’s all I’m sayin’.
Best painting tricks and shortcuts from top DIY bloggers

Your turn now! What’s your BEST painting shortcut?

P.S.: Don’t forget to check out the past “Pros Weigh in” posts, where I collect the BEST of the best tips from home bloggers!

P.P.S.: STOP! Make sure you read this post before you pick up a paintbrush!

Let's connect


  1. I do all of those things already, so I’m good.
    And the pregnancy trick didn’t work at all for me. I was still painting. He did research and bought paint that didn’t have fumes and I painted with the windows open just to be sure 🙁

  2. Great tips Kelly! There were a few in here I didn’t know, super helpful! xo Kristin

  3. i have some brushes that need some cleaning, so thanks for this! instead of cleaning them i am going to go get knocked up, ok?

  4. These are great! We are going to paint the kitchen this summer, so this is really helpful. Pinning now.

  5. Oh dear, I’m not sure I do anything right when I paint. Okay, maybe SOME things. I definitely have getting pregnant constantly covered ;). Thanks for the tips–I know I NEED to start doing stuff like washing my brushes the right way.

  6. Awesome round up of tips! These are all huge time savers!

  7. Well this settles it then… time to get pregnant!

  8. Lots of great tips here! Thanks! I’d try the pregnancy thing…but I’m afraid that ship has sailed lol…

  9. I love all these tips … it’s amazing how long a brush will stay good in the fridge … not that I’ve tested the theory, I’m just sayin’.

  10. Wow. Where in the world did you find all of those super smart ladies? I love the one about the wet rag! Doing that one today!

  11. You know how you get tons of paint stuck in the rim of the can when you pour it out? Annoying, and makes it hard to get the lid back on/off. So, rip a decent-sized piece of tinfoil and wrap it over that side of the can, tucking it under the inside rim with the screwdriver or paint can doohickey you used to open the can in the first place. Once you’ve poured, pull the foil off from the outside edges in, and that extra paint will roll right back into the can where it belongs!

    Oh, I also LOVE to use old cardboard boxes and foam-core boards (think old science project boards and such) to cover the floors under my workspace. No taping of paper, no slippery plastic or bulky dropcloth to worry about.

    • Avoid paint stuck in the rim of the can approximately 50% by ALWAYS pouring the can in one direction. Clean paint that does go in the rim on that one side by carefully running a paint brush around inside the rim and wiping the collected paint back in the can. Don’t think this is an original procedure, just didn’t see anyone else mention it yet. Kelly, thanks for the painting tips from DIY bloggers


      • Little Howard Homestead says:

        My dad taught me to punch a hole in the rim with a screwdriver. The paint drips right back in the can.

  12. Great tips! I buy one of those plastic paint tray liners, but use it over and over. I don’t clean it between paint jobs, just brush as much paint as I can back into the can. It dries and doesn’t come loose when the next paint job comes along. I’ll use it many times before getting rid of it.
    My best tip is to use brown paper bags to “sand” between coats on my furniture projects- it’s like a super-fine sandpaper to take down the nubbies that always end up on the painted surface.

  13. So useful! My mom told me about the paintbrush in the fridge trick, but learning how to cut in with an angle brush has been a godsend… not taping makes everything SO much easier!

  14. I got my whole house painted without me by going into labor on our big “paint party day”. Wahoo! My parents, inlaws, 2 sets of aunts and uncles, and a few siblings all came over while I was in the hospital and did the whole house. I have the best family!

  15. Awesome tips!! I never thought about putting it in the fridge!! I think I’ll save all my big painting projects for when we’re ready to get pregnant, then hubs will have to paint it all! bahahah. But on the real, that’ll never happen. I’ll get way to antsy before that and decide I need to paint the whole house. 🙂

  16. Great tips! Swiffer your walls? I would never have thought of that! Good idea!

  17. Well that explains the problem around here with painting and how I feel about it. After six kids and plenty of time off from holding a brush, I’ve had to paint this last time because I’m not pregnant. Think Brawn finally got wise to me or I got too old to procreate? This would of been a perfect post to include his cut in half antifreeze bottle turned paint tray.


  18. Great fridge tip! The only problem is finding room! #operationcleanoutthefridge2013 #longesthashtagsever

  19. Great tips! I can add to the painting around the toilet: use a large paint pad (the ones you can use for corners/edges) to easily paint behind it because a roller does not always fit =)

  20. I put my paint brushed in the fridge and LOVES the time it saves me! i’ve never heard of the swiffer tip – great idea!

  21. I LOVE your Pros Weigh In posts! Trash bag over the toilet?! Genius! Thanks for posting 😉 I’ve heard of using a rubberband across the top of the can to wipe excess paint off of the brush…

  22. i dont have any tips since we hired someone to paint our house since we were short on time before the move…but i will use these for when we do want to repaint…maybe not the getting prego one though..idk seems like a commitment

  23. The more help we can get, the better. I do have to say though that I found the brush in the fridge tip works great for latex paint but I have bad experiences with oil and had to use the freezer for oil.

  24. Here’s my favorite tip: baby wipes are an easy fix for spilled paint. If you drop some paint on the floor….just use a baby wipe to clean it up!

    Have an awesome day!

  25. Love all these tips!!! I do almost all of them but the trash bag over the toilet is amazing!!! Why didn’t I ever think of that???

    Thanks for putting these all together!!!

  26. I’ve been told that soaking your brushes in a soapy mixture of water and Murphy’s Oil Soap will clean them right up. I need to try this next.

    As far as rollers go, I throw them out after each painting session. As they are mostly made of cardboard, I find they get wet and out of shape. If anyone knows how to use them again, let me know!

    Also for trim, I use a very small paintbrush – one of the flat ones used for one-step painting. I go around the trim and the windows by hand so that I get it covered well. I try to use tape, but for me it just never works out!! The small brush and a wet rag are my friends.

  27. I too like the trash bag over the toilet…I think I’ve learned all of the above over the many years that I have painted so, with the exception of the trash bag thing, that’s the only new one. I do have to laugh about learning to wash your walls down…I was painting my bedroom walls a few years ago when I kept noticing these little clogs appearing on the wall. At first I thought it was lint from the paint roller but then I realized it was me painting over the dust on my walls…duh! So now I wash down my walls a few days before I paint…this way I know everything is clean!

  28. Diana Walters says:

    I do A L O T of painting. I love DIY & furniture rehabbing, so I can tell you first hand some great tricks:
    – use an awl (or really small screwdriver) and a hammer to make holes in the bottom of the ring/edge of the paint can. (You know…. where the edges of the top meets the can?). That way, after you pour paint out of the can, it will run back into the can. When you’re finished painting, wipe the edge with a wet rag and BOOM! You’re good.
    – The wet rag is a true life saver, and so is the cardboard to keep your paint cans on.
    – Put some leftover wall pain in a small jar (or buy a specialty pen for it) so quick touch ups can happen in a painless way.
    – A dryer sheet will clean the top of your baseboards better than a Swiffer, so dust the walls with the swiffer, then swipe the baseboards with the dryer sheet. Good old soap and water is best for walls and baseboards, but I’m just to lazy for that.

    Hope these help, they’re just ones off the top of my head! Love your site, keep up the great work!

  29. That pregnant “trick” cracked me up! LOL! I love Kate’s painting tips – I use them all the time now when I paint! Great advice all in one post. Love it! My favorite trick is priming a piece of furniture with a spray paint primer like the Kilz. Even if I’m brushing the color coat on, I love the spray painted primer. It goes so fast and gives a great brush-stroke-free base. I also use a purdy brush and good paint with floetrol in it. Have a great weekend Kellie! Sharon

  30. I thought I knew all the tricks after all the rooms etc. I have painted, but one had escaped me. Now I am like, Duhhh about the bag over the toilet one. Thanks for saving me from future painting around the toilet frustration!

  31. All good tips. I just avoid painting by building a house from scratch, so professionals paint it for me. Although I’m hearing a lot of talk form my 5 year old about her desire for a pink room…


  32. I do most of these, definitely put the brush in a zip lock bag and invest in a good brush, the right brush makes cutting in so much faster and easier.

  33. Reading these tips makes me realize that my mother-in-law needs to be a blogger. She has lost square footage in her house from painting so many times and taught me everything I know about painting. We always wrap the brushes in tin foil (usually some of the tin foil that covers the tray, we are nothing if not resourceful).

    Great ideas all around! I really like the Swiffer idea.

  34. I’m getting ready to paint our powder room and putting a trash bag over the toilet is a great idea. Now if I can make up my mind on the color…..

  35. This is the most useful roundup yet! I am not the best at painting especially room painting. I am looking forward to reading the different posts. I am sure they will help me do a better job.

  36. Nice post and The UK Art Reproduction Art Specialist Oil Painting Reproductions Company ! Stunning art reproductions handmade paintings & oil portraits handmade oil painting reproduction paintings. Everything we sell is hand-painted onto canvas by professional talented artist.

  37. Those are all very helpful. Some of them I do use already. I love the one about putting a trash bag over the toilet. Totally doing that next time! I love that my husband loves to help me if he thinks it’s his idea. So I’ll get everything out and start to paint and he swoops in and takes over thinking he’s helping. I can sit back and have a glass of tea. All in the master plan =)

  38. How I keep the paint from collecting and drying in the paint can rim is to use a ice pick or a small screw driver will work. put the ice pick in the paint can rim and punch holes all the way around the inside of that rim. Now as your paint gets in that rim it will drain back into your paint can. no more dried paint keeping you from sealing the top of your paint. the lid will seal your holes.

  39. My best tip has already been posted above, but for those who don’t read ALL comments 😉 here ’tis: Use a flat-tip screwdriver and a hammer to punch 3-4 holes a couple inches apart in the rim of the paint can and always pour on that side of the can. Paint drips back into the can through those holes, and a simple swipe with your paintbrush will clean out that groove. The lid covers these holes when you close everything up so don’t worry about any remaining paint drying out. I use grocery sacks and a rubber band around my paintbrushes to keep out as much air as possible and store them in the freezer for months if need be. (I’m really good at procrastinating) Instead of cutting in your joints all at once and then going back and painting the walls/large surfaces, cut in (with angled brush) only about twelve feet or so and then roll the walls. If you let the edges dry before rolling, you’re much more likely to see streaks, or a “hatband.” Also, go ahead and get paint on your baseboards when cutting in the bottom of your walls. Overlap by about an inch. That way you only have to cut in that line once, when you paint the baseboards.

  40. Use a hammer & large nail to punch holes inside the rim of the paint can. This allows any paint that pools up ( from pouring ) to drain back into the can. Also, soaking the brushes in vinegar helps to remove lingering paint, sometimes even after its dried!

  41. Glenda Smith says:

    I’ve been painting other people’s houses for 15 years and have a few tips. I hate wasting brushes and rollers; I use two trays, one for the first coat/color and put it out in the sun or by a heating duct to dry while I use the other. They will dry off in about an hour and I can keep rotating them. When the job is finished, the paint will peel off in one big sheet leaving the tray spotless. I keep a paint scraper handy and always scrape the paint back into the tray. You will be surprised how much paint comes out of what seems like an empty roller! Then I put it into a rectangular mop bucket of water to soak while I brush the remaining paint out of the tray back into the can, wipe off the brush well and rinse the brush properly. The roller will rinse off with water quite easily. Always take the roller cover off the roller handle and wash both. I usually put them back together again to dry, and usually work with two rollers. One is soaking or drying while I use the other. Always clean the can properly. Tip from one side (leave the label side clean so you know which paint you’re using next time!!), tip into a small paint pot for cutting in, like a honey pot, OVER the tray first. And clean up the pouring side and rim with your brush and put the lid back on! You’ll save at least two cups of paint if you scrape your roller before you wash it and that can be the difference between having enough paint to finish a wall or not. I never tape anymore unless ill be rolling a wall over stained skirtings, just be neat and careful and your speed will improve with practice. Keep a wet rag handy. So you don’t need to throw those rollers and brushes out. Shake them dry and store them hanging or upside down. Have a painter friend who periodically gives his a shampoo and condition! If you look after your stuff you will save heaps in the long run.

  42. I just started doing this tip out of frustration with pouring paint from the can into another smaller container, mostly for the small projects like chairs or furniture. I hated the paint to get stuck in the rim and the idea about poking holes is brilliant, but for the smaller projects I bought a cheap turkey baster and suck up the paint from the can and transfer it to the other container. Take the bulb off and soak both in a container of hot water and Murphy oil soap while I paint and it cleans up easily! Just my simple tip!

  43. My Dad and Grandmother were both painters so I’ve been raised with a paint brush in my hand and these are all good tips. Best tip I can say is buy good brushes!! Keep them clean and they will last you a lifetime!! Another tip that most people don’t know about when painting trim or a straight line…push your brush to fan it out, run a bead of paint using your arm to move and not your hand. Your hand will naturally curve but your arm won’t, start your bead away from your line and work into it…you’ll never need tape again!

  44. Tired of looking for the screws from the switch plates you took off to paint? After removing the plates, just place the screws back into the holes in the switches a couple of turns. No more lost screws!

  45. These are great tips! I have one to add….although I confess, I didn’t read all the comments so someone else might have already mentioned it, but oh well. If you are going to tape and then paint a design onto your wall, like stripes or whatever, this little tip will save you hours of touch ups and hair pulling. Tape, then “seal” the tape edge with your base wall color. That way any leaks under the tape will be your wall color, and you will get beautiful, crisp lines to your design. It works for baseboards too, tape, “seal” the tape with the baseboard color, wait for it to dry, then paint your walls. Or the other way around. But you get the drift. Yes, you have to add a step of painting the tape before you paint, but it is so much easier to slap a quick line of base paint on the tape than it us to touch up a gazillion little paint leaks. Happy painting!

    • Oh, and use baby wipes instead of a wet rag. So much easier, and thinner, too, so you can twist but around the end of a pencil to get into tight spots 🙂

  46. I’m still looking for tips on how to paint a wall when you have popcorn ceilings….. One can never get a straight line because of the ceiling.

    • I just posted this below, I have cottage cheese ceilings, and a painter taught me to paint the ceiling first, and bleed down some of the ceiling paint on the top walls and therefore you have a good crisp edge already in your fresh ceiling colorr. instead of trying to get the wall paint all the way perfectly up to the juction of the ceiling meeting the wall, a little bleed down of the white is not noticeable.

    • To reach that perfect cut-in look with a popcorn ceiling, take a screwdriver and knock down (scrape) about 1/4″ of the popcorn texture away where the ceiling meets the wall. It will be messy, but your cut-in work will look sharp for years!

  47. Great post! A lot of great tips there. Thanks for sharing!

  48. Rosemary Watson Burritt says:

    I use Murphy’s Oil Soap for cleaning brushes. I keep it in Ketchup containers so can apply to the water and to brushes. I first rince the brushes or maybe soak in water. Then I slightly dry the brushes and apply the Murphy’s oil soap to the bristles laying them pretty flat like in a paint tray. I normally let item soak at least an hour with the Murphy’s oil soap laying on a horizontal surface. After soaking them in the soap I clean them with a nail brush. I find my brushes are so clean and soft and makes them last a long time. Really minimizes the paint buildup. I many times am cleaning 2 or 3 brushes in this way at a time. At the end, I tip them up and let them stand on a dry cloth for a bit before letting them dry horizontally. Works so good for me I wouldn’t change anything!

  49. I have cottage cheese ceilings, and a painter taught me to paint the ceiling first, and bleed down some of the ceiling paint on the top walls and therefore you have a good crisp edge already in your fresh ceiling colorr. instead of trying to get the wall paint all the way perfectly up to the juction of the ceiling meeting the wall, a little bleed down of the white is not noticeable.

  50. Thank you so much for this post! Your blog has really helped me over the last couple of weeks while I’ve been doing a lot of touch-ups in my house. Keep up the great work!

  51. I like your tips here for making painting easier. I can see how keeping a wet rag on hand all the time would be helpful. I have never been good at painting straight lines, so it would be nice to use a rag to create nice lines.


  1. […] doing a little more painting these days and found these painting tips […]

  2. […] Decorating 101 posts right here! P.P.S.: Ready to take the plunge? Make sure you check out these awesome painting tricks and shortcuts […]

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