Most of us can do an okay job of painting a room. But a seasoned professional does a great job. Obviously, pros have more experience than the average homeowner, but they also know techniques and tricks that make them better painters. We asked six pro painters to share those secrets. They probably kept a few tips to themselves, but they provided us with more than enough to help you work more efficiently and get better results. Some of what you'll read may surprise you. For instance, their secrets won't cut painting time. Painters spend two to four days on an average-size room. That's how long it takes to prep, prime and paint correctly. It's more work, but when you stand back to admire the results, you'll agree it's time well spent.
A good paintbrush is key to a professional-looking finish. "A quality brush costs $15 to $25, but you'll discover that pros aren't as talented as you thought," says Doherty. "The equipment has a lot to do with their success." Most of our pros prefer natural-bristle brushes for oil-based paints, but they recommend synthetics for all-around use. When choosing a brush, pay attention to the bristles. Synthetic brushes are made of nylon or polyester, or a combination of the two. Poly bristles are stiffer, which makes them good for exterior or textured work, but for fine interior work, Doherty uses softer nylon brushes. Look also for tapered bristles, which can help you work to an edge, and flagged tips, which help spread the finish smoothly and evenly. Brushes are available in 1- to 4-inch widths. Most painters keep an arsenal on hand to match the job. "Use common sense," says Maceyunas. "A smaller brush gives you more control, but no one wants to paint a door with a 1-inch-wide brush." Doherty recommends starting with a 2- or 2-1/2-inch sash brush. The angled brush makes it easier to cut to a line and puts more bristles on the work than a square-tipped brush.