Painting is a popular do-it-yourself project; but it’s important to do it right, if you want your paint job to last. Watch this video for painting tips on:

Choosing Paint: Pros and cons of latex vs. oil-based paint, and how to choose the paint and sheen that’s right for you.

Surface Preparation: Find out how to clean, sand, and prepare walls, trim, and siding before painting.

Priming: Learn about the importance of using the right primer for proper adhesion and to block stains.

Topcoat: How to apply topcoats of paint to walls and trim using both paintbrushes and rollers.

Painting Clean Up: Options for drop cloths, as well as how to clean paintbrushes and rollers to make them last.


This week on today we’re taking the lid off great painting tips. At some point all of us are going to have to pick up a paintbrush, so why not do it the right way. We’re about to show you how to paint like a pro.

Over the years I’ve seen and heard hundreds and hundreds of homeowners talking about wanting to do all or part of a renovation project themselves. You won’t be surprised when I tell you that most of the time that never panned out. Lots of stuff gets in the way, lack of time lack of tools lack of skill or sometimes lack of patience. There’s one chore that homeowners seem to follow through on and that’s painting.

It just makes sense you know the tools really aren’t that expensive or hard to come by. The basic skills necessary to use them can be learned by almost anyone pretty quickly. Plus, it’s painting right, so if you mess up you can paint right over your mistakes. For the most part that’s true, but don’t let anyone fool you there is a difference between a professional paint job and the ones done by most weekend warriors. So, this week we’re going to try to correct that by showing you how the pros do it, so you can get results more like theirs.

The place to start is with paint selection. Now I’m not talking about choosing your color. That’s your own personal choice. I’m talking about the type of paint you select and the sheen or the texture of the finish. Inside almost everyone agrees that latex paint is the way to go for walls and ceilings. And when it comes to woodworking trim, the opinions begin to split.

Most homeowners and DIYers prefer to use latex because it produces less odor, and it cleans up easier than oil-base paint. At the same time, I know some old-school pros who would not dream of using anything but oil-based paying for interior moldings and trim or cabinets. That’s because, traditionally, oil finishes were the only way to get a hard, durable, waterproof finish. Though, oil takes longer to dry, it forms a harder outer shell that stands up to nix and scrapes. But, because it dries slowly it continues to flow after it’s applied so brushstrokes tend to disappear more easily.

On the other hand, latex paint tends to resist yellowing and mildew growth better, so there is a quandary. Today there are latex enamel paints but also develop an exceptionally hard finish, so you do have a few options.

Another thing to consider is the sheen of the paint. Gloss and semigloss paints are shiny and easily cleaned, but tend to magnify flaws in the surface. On the other end of the spectrum, flat paints hide surface flaws, but don’t tend to deal well with cleaning or bumps and scrapes. In between the satin, luster, and eggshell finishes, offer a good compromise with some of the benefits of each.

Once you’ve chosen your paint, you will need to prepare the surface before you begin putting it on the walls or the woodwork. The first most obvious step, of course, is cleaning it. If the surface is dirty, there’s no way the paint will stick as well as if it’s clean.

So many people never even think about cleaning the woodwork and walls on inside project. You know it’s not that complicated, you just take it clean damp cloth, and you wipe off all the surface dust. If you have any stains, like greasy fingerprints you often get on door casings, you’ll need to use some mild soap and water to cut the grease.

If the stain is left behind after you clean those greasy spots, you’ll want to coat the area with a stain blocking primer before you can continue. The primer is also a good idea if you’re painting over bright colors or artwork left behind from permanent markers.

If you’re planning to use latex paint over trim that was previously painted with oil, you’ll also need to prime the surface of the new paint will stick properly. The question is, how do you know if the old paint is oil or latex? Well, it’s really pretty simple and a really simple test, where you take a cloth and some denatured alcohol. Put a little on, then wipe the area where you’re trying to determine. And, if it’s latex, it will soften and rub off on the rag. If not, it’s probably oil, prime right over it.

Now, getting rid of surface flaws is another important part of paint preparation. If you are a repainting a room or hallway like this one, the chances are pretty good that you can have some holes to fill in that wall. You know, places where pictures were hung, maybe even some shelf brackets. Now, most everyone will agree that spackling is a good material to fill those holes, but how is where usually breaks down.

Most people just grab a putty knife, glob a little spackling on there, and smooth it out. If they are really diligent, they will come back with some sandpaper and try to smooth out those bumps. The problem is that many walls have some texture to them. And in between that glob of spackle and the sanding you end up creating a flat spot right in the middle of all that texture. And once the paint goes on, this is like this neon sign saying, we filled a nail hole right here. So, when the spackle is still wet, take a damp sponge and gently wipe off the excess spackle. All right? Now, try not to leave the depression, that’s going to be a dead giveaway.

Now, for gaps where two surfaces meet like this, you’re going to want to use caulk, preferably siliconized latex. And it should clearly say on the label, paintable. If it doesn’t, don’t use it. You also have to remove the excess caulk, so keep that wet sponge handy. I like to keep a bucket of water with me to keep the sponge clean in there. Now, if you like to tape off your trim, be sure that this stuff is dry before you apply this, or you’re going to have an even bigger mess.

When you’ve got an oddly shaped object to paint such as this vase, spray paint is definitely a way to go. But to ensure you haven’t even coat all the way around, invest in a lazy Susan. You can pick up these at any hardware store or home center for $10-$12. What you want to do is put the vase in the middle, it doesn’t have to be exactly in the center, but you don’t want it wobbling around so it falls off. There you go, that’s pretty good right there.

Then, slide it in the end of the workbench. Now that’s important because it allows you to bring the can all the way down for a nice even coating. All you have to do is shake it up, very important. Now give it a spin, and spray a nice, even coat. I’ll show you how quickly this works, watch this. If you need to, give it another spin.

So, there you go it’s not absolutely perfect, but for a first coat it’s not bad. It only took a few seconds now most spray paint dries in 10 or 12 minutes, so wait until it’s thoroughly dry. So when you’re ready for a second coat give it another spin.

After the break we’ll take it outside for tips and ideas to paint like the pros.

Now more than ever homeowners are thinking green, and so are we. Each week to see the latest in green products and get tips on saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint on our new segment thinking green. We’ll show you what it means to be green.

This week we’re sharing with you a number of tips so that you can pay like the pros. Now for a talked about the interior painting and how important it is to really clean and prep the surfaces before you start applying paint. Well, the concept is even more important on the exterior, because of all the elements you have to deal with—sun, snow, rain, wind—and everything really works on those exterior paint jobs. You can really see on this house, ware has really taken its toll.

Look at all of the things that need to be done here, the repairing of the wood in the corner. A real commonplace for water damage wood. You have all of the fascia boards will have to be sanded down, because it’s peeling all the way back to the raw wood. And, you have a number of other kind of unique things on this particular house.

Metal windows, at some point someone replaced a broken window pane and they didn’t use the proper glazing. They used a silicone caulk, which will not hold paint. So, that will have to be removed, reglazed, as will some other work that would have to be done on this window before it’s ready to paint.

Now, another thing that they have already done here, which is a really good idea is to keep all of your shrubs trimmed back, not only so that it allows plenty of room to work behind it, but if the shrub’s get up real high the sun won’t be able to keep everything dry, and you’ll end up with a lot of water damage behind it.

Also, many houses have some type of metal on the outside of the house. If you have handrails like we have here, or anything else that metal or steel, this all has to be sanded down and primed properly. If not, that rust will work its way back through.

And another thing, you have to have a clean surface when you’re painting, so a lot of pressure washing will be taking place on the outside of this house. Not only the areas that are being painted some of these old dirty bricks. The look a lot better after a good pressure wash. So, there’s a lot of prep work on the outside of his house.

Since there’s no point in prepping rotten wood, the first step is the removal of the water damaged fascia board. A careful cut is made beyond the damage area, so that the roofing can be pried up in the bad wood removed. Then come the new material is cut to fit and slipped into position. This new wood will have to be primed before the topcoat goes on. But the next step is cleaning the entire house to remove any dirt or mildew which would prevent the paint from making a good bond with the old.

Scraping comes next, and this can be very tedious. In fact many pros use a rotary sander to speed up the process. But if you choose to rent or buy one, use it carefully. They are aggressive machines and you can quickly gouge a wood surface if you loose focus.

When the failed paint is gone, flaws in the woods are often revealed. Filling these in will mean a smoother finish after the final coat of paint. It’s also important to fill gaps between boards with caulk on the outside, just as we it on the inside. Here, it’s not just for looks, the caulk keeps out moisture, preventing wood decay.

To replace the silicone caulk around the windows, the guys are using glazing putty, which can easily be painted once it’s dry, unlike the silicone caulk. Prepping rusted metal usually requires a lot of elbow grease or horsepower. A wire brush attachment for grinding tool, like this one, is one of the quickest ways to get the job done. And following it with a rust stabilizer will help keep the rust at bay.

When all the other prep was done, the raw wood and bare metal was all covered with a coat of primer before they put on two coats of finish paint. One of the things about primer that people often misunderstand is that it’s designed for one primary purpose, bonding. The primer bonds to the surface and the topcoat bonds to it. It isn’t designed to withstand the weather over time or be durable all by itself, so leaving a project at that stage for a long time isn’t a very good idea at all. In fact, some manufacturers specify a limited time frame to apply the topcoat. In other words read the label, and don’t plan on priming and painting on weekends that are months apart.

You should also be aware that there are different primers for different applications. The one we used here on all the new woodwork was different from the stain blocking interior primer we talked about earlier. And both were different from the stuff we used on all the metal railings. So, when you go shopping, tell the pro behind the paint counter what you’re painting and where it is, so they can help you find the right primer for the job. By now, if you didn’t already know, you can figure it out, there’s a lot of work involved in painting.

So you can use all the help you can get it right on time. Jody has the Best New Product that might be part of the solution.

I think what really sets the professional painter apart from the amateur painter are the tools they use. If you want professional results, it just makes sense to use a professional tool, right? But not all tools are about applying the paint. Sometimes it’s about making the job more convenient. And that’s what this tool does.

This is the Handy Ladder Pail. And anyone who’s tried to paint using the ladder, it is a difficult it can be to go up and down the ladder or you’re trying to move it, balance the paint, the paintbrush and the rags about all of them falling off. Well, with a Handy Ladder Pail, no worries. It is specifically designed with the bracket here that will any step or extension ladder.

It holds over a gallon of paint, stain, or any other liquid. And there is an embedded magnet right here on the side. So if you’re taking a break or moving the ladder, you can take your brush, attach it right there, and the brush won’t fall either into the paint or worse onto your carpet.

It even has a built-in paint grate here, if you’re using paint rollers. Or, of course, you’re just not limited to your painting chores. You can use it for cleaning windows, cleaning gutters, or even replacing light bulbs.

When we come back, we are back inside to wrap up the job.

This week were trying to give you some tools you can use to make the next project you tackle your house come out looking like it was done by a pro.

We’ve spent a lot of time so far talking about preparation. Because it truly does make a big difference in the quality of paint job. But eventually, to get around to putting some paint on the walls, right? So where do you start? The walls or the trim?

I love to do my own painting, because not only is a cost effective it’s just fun to see the success, the things that you do. We’re just color people, and some people I just prefer white walls, we are deftly not that family. Usually when I start to paint, I usually cut in around the top next to the ceiling, around indoors or windows. After that, after everything is cut in, I go back with a roller.

When we paint if we do have to paint the trim or the baseboards, we do that second. So we get all the wall color on, and they go back and clean up any drips or messes and then tape off and paint our trim and are baseboards. Just to see all the walls clean and brightly finished just gives you a feeling that you can do it yourself. Well, they’re probably as many ways to approach this as there are people who own paint brushes.

So, there are no real definite answers to every situation, but here are a few things to think about. Most painters due paint the walls first, then they’ll tackle the trim. Now, there are plenty of reasons for this, but some of them revolve around the fact that they are pros.

For example, most pros don’t depend on any type of painter’s tape to mask the line between the trim and the walls, because they have the skill to quickly cut a clean line with a paintbrush freehanded. On the other hand, many do-it-yourselfers don’t have that skill, so taping makes a lot of sense. If you fall in that category, the question to ask yourself is whether you want to put tape on a recently painted wall or recently painted trim.

Even if you don’t want to use tape, you might want to cover the trim first, here’s the reason. Most trim paint is gloss or semigloss, where walls are somewhere between flat and eggshell. If you make a mistake, and you probably will, random drops of paint will wipe right off gloss or semigloss surfaces easier than a flat one.

In new home construction or major renovation, the pros sometimes reverse the order, because they use sprayers to cover the trim first without masking it. Then, they can cut the wall paint in around it.

OK, so you have some different perspectives on how to get the painting job done. The decision making process is up to you, but once you get it done no matter what approach you use, you are going to have to do some cleanup. That’s the part of painting everyone hates, including the professional painters. But since they do it so much, they do have a few tricks that are worth using. To start with, they minimize the mess up and cleanup is a lot easier.

The ticket there is plenty of god drop cloths. Not those lightweight plastic kind, the heavy canvas ones. The problem with the plastic, besides the fact that the lightweight stuff tears so easily, is that it does not absorb any of the paint. So, if you have a spill, you are more likely to track it all over the house if you walk through it. An old vinyl tablecloth, like this one with the felt backing, is a good substitute if you don’t want to spring for the real painter’s drop cloth. The felt will absorb the paint, and the vinyl will keep it from soaking through to the floor. Before you move that drop cloth, be sure to fold it over onto itself, so any wet paint is covered before you carry it through to the house.

The pros will also spend a lot of money on their paintbrush, so it is no surprise that most of them are pretty religious about cleaning them. But, whatever you pay for it, a brush will always work a lot better then next time around if it is thoroughly cleaned after each and every use. A quick dunk in a bucket of water won’t get it either. It takes time with running water and mild soap. The trick is to get all of paint out from between the bristles, and there is no way to do that with your hands. But, running a wire brush through the bristles will usually do the trick.

For roller covers the pros use curved edge on the five in one painter’s tool to force out the excess paint. You don’t have to be a pro to own one of these, so it might be a good investment if you plan on painting very often.

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking into living green, then you have heard the term volatile organic compounds. These VOCs are gasses that are omitted from things like paints, cleaners, furniture, certain shelving, and adhesives. VOCs can cause some pretty bad health issues, and unfortunately these pollutants tend to be two to five times higher inside the home than outside.

If you have to use some things around your home, be sure you have plenty of fresh air circulating around the room and read the instructions carefully on how to use them. Better yet, when it comes to adhesives, paint, and cleaners, look for labels that say low or zero VOCs. You will usually pay just a little bit more for these things, but it is just a minor inconvenience for a major step towards greener living.

Don’t go anywhere, these is still more to know to paint like a pro.

Painting is one of those chores that almost anyone can do, but almost no one likes to do. Still, it is one of the most common and useful home improvement projects, because the right paint combination can bring a room to life with a minimal investment of time and money.

This week have covered some painting tips to help you weekend warriors make your projects look more like the ones done by professional painters. If you start by making good decisions, do careful prep work and exercise a little patience you can get some pretty good results. In fact, you may even find that doing the job right makes the work go more quickly and easily.

Hey, thanks for watching. I’m Danny Lipford, see you next week.

Going green is all the rage, but can you do it on a budget? Next week we will show you how.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More