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Paint your house like a pro with these tips — and save some money
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Paint your house like a pro with these tips — and save some money

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Painting one or more interior rooms is a (relatively) simple and often cost-effective means to spruce up the look of your home without major remodeling.

Since painting is a labor-intensive job, it tends to be somewhat costly. If you’re willing to invest your own time and sweat, you can paint your rooms yourself and save some cash.

As home jobs go, painting is one of the better ones to approach as a DIY job, but take care with the planning and execution. Mistakes can pile up early on, and you might end up having to hire a professional to fix it anyway.

Painting

Painting can be an effective DIY job, but take care during the process not to waste time or money with simple errors.

Follow these tips to do the best possible job.

1. Take preparation seriously.

Measure twice, cut once, as the old carpenter’s saying goes. Thoroughly examine the walls for cracks or imperfections, then spackle and sand them. Use painter’s tape rather than masking tape to separate baseboards and floors and anywhere else that shouldn’t be painted. Don’t skimp on the primer. Even a smooth wall will benefit from a good coat of primer, and you’ll spend less money on paint overall.

2. Select your paint carefully.

This is one point where you get what you pay for. Higher-quality paint tends to be thicker and stronger, so it requires fewer coats to reach the optimum shade. This alone more than justifies the higher cost of good paint. Low-quality paint also damages fairly easily, so you’ll be making more touch-ups to scuffs and marks.

Pay attention to the finish. Flat and eggshell finishes are excellent choices for most home interior purposes, especially high-traffic areas. Semi-gloss and glossy paints create a beautiful look, but be cautious: The sheen will bring out every imperfection in the surface and paint job.

3. Paint in order.

Start with the border, then the edge of the wall, and then paint the rest of the wall. Use long vertical strokes, which will look more professional. Use a paint roller as much as possible, which creates a smoother, straighter look and stays consistent across the job. For the trim and edges, use a small 3-inch roller.

4. Make sure you have sufficient light and ventilation in the room for you to work properly.

It’s also a good idea to replace the lid on your paint can after you fill your tray and put it out of the walking path when you’re not using it. It’s very easy to absentmindedly trip over a can and make a huge mess (as well as waste a can of costly paint!).

5. Take your time.

Rush jobs are the bane of painting work. Apply the paint evenly and patiently, and let each coat dry completely before starting a new one.

6. Know your limits.

If you’re getting in over your head, call in a professional painter to guide you. If things are going wrong, quite often you can make it worse.

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Q: My boyfriend’s mother died several months back. He wants to either buy his sister out or sell the property, but his sister has refused his verbal requests to buy her out and things have gotten quite strained between them. It is their home and they both live there and now own the home jointly.

Q: Tim, she who must be obeyed (SWMBO) has informed me that the two flat-screen TVs in the unopened boxes must be installed in days. One TV will end up on our bedroom wall, and the other is to go over a living room fireplace. There’s a huge window there. Fortunately, the TV is wider than both the window and the wood trim surrounding the window. How in the world do I attach the flat screen bracket to glass? Do you have any other tips to share about how to get this right the first time? It’s best not to anger SWMBO. Next time you’re near Houston, I’ll gladly take you out for some superb seafood. —Chris M., Tomball, Texas

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