Paint tips that will save you money and time

August 17, 2012

Hey there! I’m back with another update on the basement laundry room. When we started finishing our basement in January, we decided to move the washer and dryer to a dedicated room down there. Some people thought I was crazy, but I can now tell you from experience, it’s freakin’ awesome. ;) (You can see the reasons why I did it here.)

I told you about the paint color plan for the basement a couple of months ago, and I knew I wanted to paint the laundry room this Pebble Beach color from Benjamin Moore:

pebble beach, benjamin moore

I got these matched at Sherwin Williams because I’ve fallen in love with that paint, and I got it for a great deal during one of their sales.

Since I was painting the laundry room, I figured this would be a great time to recap some of my favorite painting tips. I use these pretty much every time I paint and they keep the process as cheap as it can possibly be!

First up, the dreaded preparation. If I can avoid this part, I do. :) I showed you how I fill holes in the walls here and that’s still my method. But if there are small nail holes I’ll just quickly fill them with spackle and wipe away the excess (don’t even need to sand) or just leave them alone – paint fills them in if they are small. ;)

I saw an idea in Family Handyman a while back that recommends using nails to make holes in the rim of the paint can to prevent the paint from filling up that area and dripping all over the sides:

preventing drips on paint cans

I have tried it and honestly it didn’t do much good. I used large nails and lot of holes too – it just didn’t drain well. 

So I stick by my easy (but messier) method, which is just wiping the paint from the rim with my finger and onto my paint t-shirt:

painting clothes

I wear that one pretty much every time I paint. If I don’t have it on, I just grab a rag and use that. I always find it’s impossible to keep my hands completely clean while painting anyway, so why not just use them. ;)

Before I paint with a roller, I grab painters tape and use it to clean off the bits of lint on top:

 clean off roller before painting

This way the fuzzies end up on the tape and not your walls! (And the cheaper your roller, the more fuzz you’ll get off, in my experience.)

Here’s another tip – it took me a while to realize this, but even if I’m painting a regular room with normal ceiling height, I put my roller on a pole, instead of holding the roller. It is SO much easier on your body to stand back and let the long pole do the work. My back and shoulders used to ache when I used just the roller. Now it doesn’t bother me much at all because I use the pole.

By the way, please don’t buy a pole at the store just for painting!! Any standard broom that comes apart (and most do) will attach to your roller:

use broom pole for painting

use broom pole for painting 

You can’t tell from these photos but that red broom handle is covered with paint. ;)

As far as trays go, I just use the plastic liners as my tray, without a metal tray underneath. You don’t need it. I’ve tried the metal paint trays where the paint is supposed to peel right off and uh, it did not happen for me. Maybe it was the fault of the operator, but it was ridiculous. Save your money. :)

When it comes to small jobs where I’m just using a small foam roller, I will either just dump some paint on a couple paper plates:

cheap paint tray

Or I will skip the plastic tray all together and use up some of my plastic shopping bags and line the metal tray with it:

plastic bag paint tray

If you do this, make sure to turn the bag inside out if there is print on it. :)

I don’t buy the little handheld paint trays specifically made for cutting in with a brush. Instead I use coffee cups and wash them out after each use:coffee cup as paint tray

If you don’t have any (we don’t drink coffee so we don’t have a ton), you can get them for about 25 cents at Goodwill. They hold just enough and are the perfect size for a paint brush. The handle makes them easy to hold on to and carry around the room.

One more tip I learned years ago – if need to stop mid-painting and have wet brushes, stick them in a Ziploc bag or a plastic grocery bag (tied up) and they will stay wet for days.

Some say to put them in the fridge but I’ve never found it necessary – they stay wet just as long left out as well:

store wet paint brushes for later use

If I have paint left in a tray I’ll wrap it up in a bag and tie it up to keep it till I’m ready – that way I’m not trying to get all that paint back in the can (you’ll always lose some). You can keep used rollers ready to go that way as well! (Although I find they dry out quicker than the brushes.)

And when are ready to wash the brushes – you’ll love this little guy:

paint brush cleaning comb

This brush comb is about $5 but has saved me a TON in new paint brushes. You just brush it through while washing them out. It gets all the bits of paint out and leaves the bristles nice and straight while they dry out. I LOVE this.

So there you go! A few of my favorite painting tools and tips! If you have never painted and are nervous about it, don’t be. I hadn’t put a drop of paint on a wall in my life before the day we closed on this house. And that first day I painted our family room and it’s still the same today…so I did OK. ;)

Back to the laundry room -- here’s the space before we started:

And here it is after the tile was installed, Pebble Beach was painted on the walls, and baseboards and quarter round were installed:

light gray laundry room 

light gray laundry room white tile

I was up at the crack of dawn one morning scrambling to get that trim down so the washer and dryer could be installed! By the skin of my teeth, I tell you.

I thought this color was going to be much lighter than it was – but there isn’t any natural light so I think with that it would read MUCH lighter. I love it though – it’s coming together just as I had imagined! I’m going for a “rustic elegance” look in there – that term came to me after I started the shelves in here and I think it’s fitting. I’ll show you those soon! 

So do you use any of the tips I mentioned? Do you have any painting tips I missed here?  I love hearing new ones so share away!

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  1. I had a professional painter show me the grocery bag trick to line our paint pans years ago when we were painting a whole house. Love that trick. I apply painters tape at the end of the bag that opens up to hold it securely to the tray - otherwise I find it scoots around when I run the roller in it to reload. Makes for super fast clean up too; just untape and pull the bag off, keeping the paint on the inside. Love your blog. It always inspires me. Also LOVE how your laundry room is shaping up.

  2. Wow! Funny to see other people do what I do!! LOL I definitely use my finger to "clean" the rim and yes, my "painting" clothes make for a great rag! I also line the tray with a bag.. saves so much time without spending any extra money! I love the color you used... Lookin' great! Can't wait to see the shelves you mentioned :)

  3. great tips - I didn't know about the brush comb! Pretty room too!

  4. Great tips, Sarah! I never had much success with poking holes in the rim either. I am so getting one of those brush combs...had no idea they made such an animal. Awesome idea! Love how your laundry room is turning out...great color! Looking forward to seeing the shelves you have planned. I so need a whole laundry room makeover!

  5. These are great tips! I've never painted before but am anxious to paint my living room and hallway. You make it seem so easy.

  6. Thank you for great tips! Some I do (wrap brushes, use finger & t-shirt) I know NOT to try the nail-hole-drain idea and I can't wait to buy a brush comb and use Frog Tape on my rollers! I love the Pebble Beach in the laundry room!

  7. It's looking amazing. I love the color and that tile. Beautiful. I can't wait to see more progress.

    I do a lot of the tricks you do. The paper plates for quick jobs and the plastic baggy thing all the time (I've even used it with stains).

    I have 2 sets of painting clothes and I try to wear them so I don't make more, haha.

    I also used the plastic bags over the tray for the first time and that was awesome. I'll have to check out your hole filling techniques since it still looks shoddy when I'm done doing it myself.

  8. When cutting in or doing any small job with a brush, we use a small plastic container to hold the paint. The kind that deli meat comes in is the perfect size, has a lid and is disposable. We make a duct tape handle so your hand can slide in underneath. You can palm the entire container and put a lid on it if you need to stop. I keep several in my workshop already made up.

  9. Wonderful tips! Thanks so much for sharing! And your laundry room is looking gorgeous!


  10. Thank you for sharing, Sarah! I'm getting ready for my first big room painting several years. (I know, right) I am an extremely lazy painter, so I avoid it all costs. But the time has come. I'm going to try some of these tips!!

  11. Love your color choice! I can't wait to see your finished laundry room, though probably not as much as you! I use a lot of your paint tips too. I figured out that the rollers/brushes didn't need to be in the fridge and felt so smart! So, with the paint dripping down the side of the can, I found these cool pourer thingies at Home Depot when we bought our house and painted the whole thing and I LOVE them. They're just $1 and plastic, so I wash and reuse them every time. Here's a link:, but I've always just found them at the paint counter.

  12. Great tips!! We just painted our whole house, and I used press and seal in my metal tray. More expensive than the plastic bag but it stuck to the tray better when using a larger roller.

  13. I was recently talking to a man at Dyco paints and said to not punch holes in the can unless you know you will use the whole can. It will dry out the paint. He said the best way to store it is to put Saran Wrap over the top, then hammer on the lid and store the can upside down! I had never heard that but, according to him, it keeps the air out. I asked about plastic storage, like Tupperware, and he said no to that too. Going to try with my next paint project!

    Like the color, by the way.

  14. Great tips - laundry room looks wonderful so far. I just discovered the pole attached to brush thing too - oh my gosh so much easier. I just kept exclaiming about it until my kids were like "OK mom!"

  15. I use a wide putty knife to get clean lines when I cut in around trim- faster than tape!

  16. I stopped buying paint trays all together. I have one of those 7 drawer plastic storage bins. I use the top drawer propped up at an angle for painting. It just rinses out!

    Love the tips w the coffee mug, definitely going to use that one!

    Love your blog

  17. i have heard to put vaseline around the rim...

  18. Any advise on protecting the floor especially carpet. Do you put down a drop cloth?

  19. I know this post was about paint, but goodness gracious that tile floor is amazing!!! Also, I love the paint color you chose!

  20. Awesome tips! I'll be using these! Love the one about storing the paint and brushes...and using a plastic bag to line the tray. -Rachael@Frugal Faye

  21. Your laundry room looks great already! Love that paint color and the tiles.

  22. I love your
    Paint color. It looks alot like silver sage from restoration hardware. it looks so amazing already. I have a permanent link to your blog on my blog. " my favorite blogs moser recent post" you should check it out Shean you have a moment. :0) can't wait to see the reveal!!!

  23. Good advice here. I'd never heard of the coffee cup trick. I like that.

    I agree about punching holes in the can rim. A better way is to never work out of the original paint can. Use a cleaned, empty paint can or a plastic or metal bucket with handle made for this purpose.

    Doing this means you'll always have the original can to store your leftover paint. The rim won't be clogged with dried paint, and the lid can seal well. And your label will be totally clean, giving you important information like the finish, brand, and whether it is latex, acrylic, or oil paint.

  24. Thanks so much for the great painting tips. I tend to get my paint out, the paint applicator and go for it. If I do all the other steps they say you should do I'd never get any painting done at all. One day in KY I wanted to paint our living room, got paint out, the flat applicator since I didn't know where the rollers etc. were. Mixed up some acrylic browns with my white semi gloss and went for it. Turned out great and I had a gorgeous beige color in a big living room. I was really sick of white everywhere.
    When I paint small things like my signs I use a container from a taco salad/Taco Bell that has ridges in it, good size for rolling on the paint. I keep the lids too so I can cover paint if I need to stop. I keep any small container that has a lid to put small bits of paint in. The containers from Colonel Sanders work great also. Talk about recycling. I even wash the containers out to re-use.

  25. I am so in love with these tips (esp the one about the picking up the fuzz on the roller). I am even more in love with that color though! I have been looking for a grey, blue that still reads as warm for my livingroom. Do I have that description about right: warm, grey-tone, with bluish hue?

  26. If I could add to the tips....instead of running a finger around the rim of the paint can, use a paintbrush. And instead of a plastic bag in the tray (because that ends up in the landfill) buy a teflon tray. Spray it with Mossberger's Latex Off, wait 60 second, and it will rinse right off. I'm a pro painter, so I guarantee these tips. I LOVE the color you chose, brilliant.

  27. Is there a certain method you use for cutting in? It always shows where I have cut in. Any tips?

  28. Thanks for the tips. I have to repaint my boys bathroom and I have put it off. I hate painting and seeing your tips might just do the trick to get me started. And the brush comb? I am going to get one of those.

  29. The Laundry room looks good..I never heard of the plastic bag trick and just brought liners...I will have to give it a try! I use paper bowls for my small paint jobs and then slip them into the ziploc bags to save.

  30. Glad Press & Seal on the painting tray is my favorite painting trick...although I have a million plastic bags so maybe I should start giving that method a try too.

  31. Hadn't heard of the plastic-bag-for-tray-liner tip before. Will give it a try. When I have to clean brushes with turpentine, I use an old coffee can or glass jar to soak them in overnite. Cover the top of the can/jar with alum. foil or plastic lid (cut a hole in the top for the brush handle). Brush comes clean & you can re-use the can or jar.
    Love your laundry room color. Been searching for a color like that. Thanks for the tips!

  32. As a paint color specialist, you did the right thing going darker. A light color will NEVER come to life in a dark room. Love the color!

  33. I am SHOCKED! Not at anything posted here, but that you do not drink COFFEE much :0). HAHA. Your site has moved to my top 10 blogs! As a home owner of a house the hubby and I are CONSTANTLY working on this will be a great resource!
    Like Rob above, we bought 3 of those can "thingys" (yes, you can tell I am a pro :0)!) and love them. Had them for years and they do make life easier for e. I am the painter in the family.Happy painting!

  34. I use many of your tips as well but the Glad Press n Seal works awesome over the wet roller and brushes. I've let them set for as long as 2 days and they are still fully wet because you wrap them tightly with the plastic wrap and no air gets in at all so it works much better than a zip lock or plastic bag.

  35. Sarah: Love,love,love the wall color and tile you chose for your laundry room. I have always decorated my laundry room with framed pics from previous years' calendars (usually flowers) and I change them out frequently. It makes me happy look at the pics when I'm doing a chore like washing or folding.
    For Melissa above: to protect your carpet while you paint, use clear plastic sheets & secure them to your carpet with packing tape. It will come off easily. Or you can use Glad Press 'N Seal or clear Contact Paper, but those are more expensive.

  36. Couple of things I've learned about painting: if you punch holes in the rim of the can with a nail, the paints drips back down into the can instead of collecting in the can rim, wasting and making it hard to get the can open later.
    Also, putting a slit in a paper plate and then pushing your brush through it helps keeps spatters off of your hands.

  37. Great tips - love the grocery-bag one. Good idea with the Frog Tape on the roller too. I am a HUGE fan of Frog Tape. I was always a cheap-tape buyer until I tried Frog Tap - ohmygosh was a difference and TOTALLY worth a little more $$.

  38. I bought a 5 gallon bucket and extension pole in 1987 when we bought our first house and always use them to paint. Every time I watch HGTV shows I wonder why those people don't do the same thing. As you discovered, it's so much faster and easier and saves your wrist and back. I also take the roller cover off at the end of a painting day and store in a plastic bag sized to hold newspapers and then go ahead and wash the roller. The next day (and even weeks later!) all I have to do is plop it back on and continue on my way.

    Your tip about the coffee cup is so simple and yet so smart. I'm taking that one and running with it.

  39. We just bought a house 1 August of this year and are getting ready to paint the WHOLE 2100+sqft! Your tips and the tips of your followers are greatly appreciated!
    LOVE the paint color. I tried the Analytical gray for my living room but it was tooooo gray!


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