Ideas & Inspiration

Painting Tips and Tricks

Clean Your Walls
A person wiping a wall clean.

Clean your walls and surfaces before painting with a mixture of two tablespoons of TSP or TSP alternative into 2 gallons of warm water. Wipe to clean, rinse and allow enough time for air-drying before painting.

Remove Dust, Dirt and Lint With a Tack Cloth
A person removing dust from a wall.

Use tack cloths to remove any dust, dirt or lint left on walls and surfaces from sanding and prep work to ensure a smoother finish.

Use a Popcorn Ceiling Scraper
Close-up of a textured popcorn ceiling surface.

Use a scraper tool to remove the popcorn finish from a ceiling if you're repainting it. You’ll save yourself both time and headache.

Get the Perfect Paint Match
A Home Depot Associate loading paint buckets onto a float for a customer.

Take a sample that's at least the size of a quarter or larger to the store to get the most accurate paint match. Also, make sure no other colors show through in your sample from previously applied paints.

Use Daylight Bulbs
A bathroom with white fixtures lit with daylight bulbs.

See more clearly how a paint color will actually look on your wall by using daylight bulbs. They emit pure white light that renders colors more accurately.

Meet the New Neutral
A person painting a wall with grey paint.

Greys are the new neutral, commonly replacing tan and off-white among the most popular neutral wall colors. Not all greys are alike, however. Many contain hints of warm yellows and reds to complement existing decor.

Choose Contrasting Trim Colors for a More Dynamic Look
A red-painted wall with white crown molding.

The architectural details of a room can get lost when the trim and wall colors are similar, creating a space that seems awash in just one color. Vary them for a more striking look.

How to Identify Oil Vs. Water-Based Paints
A white wall with a ladder leaning against it and a red question mark painted on it.

If you don't know if the existing paint is oil- or water-based, wipe the surface with denatured alcohol. If the rag picks up the paint, it's water-based. If no paint rubs off on the rag, it's oil-based.

Not All Sheens Are Equal
A person holding paint swatches.

Paint sheens are not simply a result of a mixture of additives, but are created when solid paint particles of shinier paints are ground into a finer state. When this grounding occurs, the paint solids lay tightly over one another creating a higher gloss and increased durability that can be seen in high-gloss and semi-gloss paints.

Choosing the Right Sheen
A person painting swatches on a wall.
  • Reflective sheens like eggshell and satin clean easily, but show more imperfections on the wall. Non-reflective sheens like flat show fewer imperfections but are not typically as easy to clean.
  • Flat is good for low-traffic areas like bedrooms, while a shinier sheen is a better choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens.
Use an Oil-Based Primer on Glossy Surfaces
A person painting a wall.

Glossy surfaces are great at repelling dirt and stains, but they also repel the next coat of paint. Using an oil-based primer acts like double-stick tape on these hard-to-paint glossy surfaces.

Spend Prep Time for Evenly-Spaced Lines
A person placing painters tape on a wall.

Use a tape measure, level and pencil to created evenly spaced lines before taping. No need to erase the lines — just paint over them.

Use Replacement Roller Covers
A person rolling paint onto a wall over painters tape.

Conserve water by making an extra pack of roller covers part of your painting kit. They're less expensive than the water used to clean them. 

Tip: Only use them on the same paint color for best results.

Choose a Good Roller For the Best Finish
A person rolling blue paint onto a wall.

Use 4 or 6-inch white, dense foam roller covers for the smoothest paint finish on your walls.

Eliminate Brush and Roller Marks
A person using a long-handled roller to roll green paint onto a wall.

Add 8 ounces of Floetrol to water-based paint to promote a smoother finish and eliminate brush and roller marks.

Select Low-Odor and Low-VOC Paints
An entryway painted with tan paint and set with furnishings.

Keep your family safe by using low volatile organic compounds (VOC) and low odor paints. Most paint sold at The Home Depot qualifies as low VOC and low odor.

Stop Your Brushes From Drying Out
Three paint brushes in different widths.

When taking a break, seal your paint brushes inside a plastic freezer bag and store them in a cool, dry place to prevent drying.

Preserve Your Paint
Two open cans of paint.

Cover your paint containers while you are applying the paint to prevent evaporation of the solvent and help maintain the spreadability of your paint.

Allow More Time for Drying for Darker Colors
A wall painted blue with an easy chair in front of it.

When painting navy blue, burgundy or chocolate colors, allow for a minimum of six hours between coats. If you apply a second coat too quickly, it will re-wet the first coat and create streaks.

Removing Painter's Tape
A person removing painters tape from along a baseboard.

Remove painter's tape shortly after the paint dries by pulling it at a 45 degree angle to create an effective release point.

Save Leftover Paint
Three cans of paint with lids.

Keep a little bit of leftover paint in a clean mason jar and put the formula label on top of the lid. Write on the label which room the paint was used in for future applications.