Painting Ninja-ness Part I: Supplies

I’ve painted a lot of walls over the past two years.  Every room in this house has been painted – that’s almost 4000 square feet of house times at least two coats.  The basement floors and trim were also painted, also more than once.  Every wall in the bonus house has been painted, too, each with a coat of primer and two of white paint – 1500 square feet in total – plus every piece of trim (times three coats).

All by me.

My husband and I long ago figured out we can’t share projects.  I can help him with his for a bit, or vice versa, but both of us guiding, directing, and deciding on one project together? Nope.  So I paint and he does other things.

I like to think of myself as a Painting Ninja finding Painting Zen while painting.  I don’t love it, necessarily, but I don’t mind it… and the difference painting a few walls can make is amazing.

Let’s talk about supplies, easy stuff first.

Roller covers: go cheap.  I bought a big pack of cheap rollers at Big Lots and have used them without complaint.  Then I bought an expensive roller and hated it, so I’m back to the cheapos.  When I’m finished with a particular paint color for a while, I throw the roller away.  If I’ll be using it again in a day or so, I wrap it up in a plastic bag and stick it in the fridge.  If the roller cover dries on the roller and is stuck, whack it against something hard (like the ground) to loosen it up.

Paint roller (this is the actual thing the cover goes on): depends. My beloved roller is cheap — from Big Lots — but awesome.  It’s lightweight and extendable in two places.  You don’t want a heavy handle or your arms and wrists will get tired too quickly.

Paint tray: get a non-gimmicky non-whizbang good-quality plastic one.  The one I like best is bright red plastic, has a wide, stable base, good bumpy things for evening out the paint on my roller and it’s nice and tall.  I can also secure it to a ladder by it’s feet. Don’t bother with the Teflon thing that claims you can peel paint off when it’s dry – you can do that on any tray that’s not paper.  Also don’t bother with the “green” coated paper trays.  If you just reuse one tray forever, aren’t you better off than buying and tossing twenty “green” trays?

When I’m finished I let any extra paint in the tray dry, then I peel it off (when I’m being diligent) or pour the new color on top (when I’m being lazy).

Tape: I don’t use it.  Whaaa?  Right, no tape.  It’s expensive after a while and a PITA to put up, so I just use a 2 1/2 angle brush to cut in along trim and ceiling before I paint.  Quick.  Easy.  Cheap.

Brushes: Spend some money here.  My favorites are Purdy and Wooster.  Purdy brushes are fantastic, nice and thick and solid, but can be a bit heavy.  I use the 2 1/2 angled Purdy when I need a lot of paint at a time and don’t have to hold my arms over my head – cutting in along trim, painting floors, stuff like that.  Wooster brushes are just a tiny bit thinner, so they don’t hold as much paint, and lighter, so my wrists and hands don’t ache as quickly if I have to paint overhead.  I use the 2 1/2 angled Wooster to cut in along the ceiling and paint furniture.

Totally not worth the money: the newfangled brushes with flexible rubber handles (totally suck, hard to control, exhaust my hands), the brushes claiming Teflon makes them better (not that I can tell, and they’re never have enough bristles), and any crazy things promising to make difficult stuff (cutting in along angles, ceilings, whatever) easier.  They don’t; they just give you more opportunities to drop or drip or pay more money.  A good quality 2 1/2 angled brush works in any tight or intricate situation, I promise.

When I’m finished painting, I rinse out the brush with a lot of water and a bit of hand soap (to cut the slickness of the paint), then leave it flat to dry.  If I’ll be using the same color again within a day or so, I put the whole brush into a ziploc bag and stick it in the fridge.

Paint: depends.  I will say that, after using low- and no-VOC paint for a while (for other non-VOC reasons), I painted with regular (seriously-VOC) paint last night and spent the evening miserably stuffed up and queasy.  If you don’t have reactions to paint fumes, you might go for cheaper paint, but between quality and keeping my brain cells, this is what I’d buy:

Martha Stewart paint from Home Depot

People, I’m totally in love with the palette.  Completely.  Head over heels.  It’s carefully curated but still offers fun! and happy! colors in addition to elegant ones.  Not too many options, but just enough.  When I needed a red, I got to choose from three.  When I needed a blue, there were warm ones and cool ones, greenish ones and purply ones, but not fifteen purply ones.  Love.

The paint itself is fine.  As Nicole noted, it seems a little thin, but coverage is outstanding and it’s not as drippy as I expected.  I hear you can color match to other paints, but I hate Behr and Glidden is too stinky (NOT low-VOC) so I’m sticking with MS.  At about $25 a gallon, the cost is similar to Benjamin Moore and Home Depot is much more convenient.

Other paint from Home Depot

Behr sucks. The colors aren’t bad but the coverage is spotty.  Glidden used to be my paint of choice – cheap, good coverage, not too thick or too thin — but I’ve found better options.  Their new color palette is nice, if often a little too… something.

Olympic paint from Lowe’s

Olympic is awesome. I used to hate Olympic paint, but they changed their formula and are now no-VOC, and I wuv them. Wuv.  Don’t bother with the cheap “contractor” paint.  It’s like trying to paint with milk, it’s so thin, but the Olympic Premium with the green label is super awesome.  I’m not in love with the paint palette, but if you’re better at choosing colors than I am, the paint itself is great.

Other paint from Lowe’s

Valspar sucks worse than Behr.  Ugg.  It’s thick and drippy, dries too fast to get an even coat, and is relatively expensive.  It wears great, I’ll admit, but the frustration factor while painting isn’t worth it to me.  If you happen to like thick, globby paint, though, I recommend the ultra white stock color.  It looks great in my living room.

Other paint

Benjamin Moore: Look, I’m a supporter of BM paints, as are many, many bloggers, but if you don’t already have a color, it can be very, very hard to get it right.  The pigments in BM paint are fabulous in that they “read” differently depending on the light and other colors in a room — so you get depth and subtlety and other neato benefits — but that also means it’s tricky to guess how a particular color will look in your house.  Plus, I have to drive thirty minutes out of my way to the nearest BM location that doesn’t close at 5pm (seriously), so the PITA-ness just isn’t worth it anymore, especially since my husband hates my favorite BM color ever: Buxton Blue.

Please, if you’re in the market for a really fantastic gray-blue-green, try Buxton Blue.  Please.

Dutch Boy from Wal-Mart seemed like a great idea when I bought it yesterday.  The plastic containers are easy-peasy, the price was stupidly cheap (under $20 a gallon) and the paint is made by Sherwin Williams.  Plus, my Wal-mart is 24×7, so I can get paint whenever the feeling strikes.  BUT.  Holy headache, Batman, this stuff has all the VOC’s everyone else seems to have given up.  The paint itself is a little thin so I had to be extra careful to avoid drips, but the coverage was really good — even on the ceiling.  But I won’t use it again, not when I can get no-VOC Olympic for less than ten bucks more.

That’s all I have on supplies.  When I can get my husband to take a break from his projects, I’ll have him take a few pics of things like cutting in along a straight line and/ or bumpy surface, how to handle edges, and the best way to avoid dripping (and the lazy way to clean up drips if they happen).

I know many of you have painting experience too.  Do you have any tips on painting supplies?  Have you tried Martha Stewart paint? Do you actually love Valspar?

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3 thoughts on “Painting Ninja-ness Part I: Supplies

  1. We used Valspar in our kitchen and didn’t mind it. But, it was our first painting project ever and we have moved on to bigger and better things since. We used Benjamin Moore in our bathroom and love it!

  2. Ha ha! I actually wasn’t going to comment until I read “Do you actually love Valspar?” Because we do. We tried using something from Home Depot (Behr maybe?) because we had a gift certificate and it sucked. So we went straight back to Valspar for the second coat and it fixed all of the patchiness of the first non-Valspar layer.

    I’ve never tried Martha Stewart’s. I remember looking at it but we were wanting a really bold red for the laundry room and she didn’t have one we liked. But I hear you on not having 15 of almost-the-same-colors to choose from. I have a terrible time picking the right one!

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