Monday, March 25, 2013

15 Best Painting Gadgets

The following is a Public Service Announcement brought to you by my friend The Reader. She offered to write a post for me while I was on the road. Which she did. But it was late on the road trip and I was preoccupied with my family so I didn't get it posted. There's some good info here and I agree with 99% of it. I had to chime in occasionally so you will find my thoughts in red.
I hate painting. That’s not actually exactly true. I find rolling on paint tolerable, almost non-objectionable, with really good paint and a really good roller. I hate almost everything else about it – prepping the walls (sanding, ugh), taping, buying paint, picking paint colors, testing paint, wearing painting clothes, cleaning brushes and rollers … the list is almost infinite. I think the most important thing about painting is to make it go fast and smoothly. And to make it go fast and smoothly, you need good tools. To me, the #1 best tool you can have is the card of a good, reasonably priced painter (and the cash to pay said painter.) There is just no way to take the pain out of painting.  Don't let her fool you...she hates doing most things that don't involve reading.

It is unfortunate that my house – yes, the whole thing -  needs painting. It was part of an estate and the kids called in what has to be the cheapest painter ever and bought the cheapest paint ever. This paint had to be imported from some third world country where they mix dust and the run off from chemical plants. I didn’t know they made paint this cheap. It is the color of Band-Aids. It scuffs easily and feels like chalk. It is horrible. And I have been living with it since 2007 because I have lacked the cash and will to get it painted. When I don’t like something I can ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist so I don’t have to change it. I’m one of those,“I’d rather have nothing than not have exactly what I want” people. But there is good news. In the past few months, I’ve had a few windfalls, I’ve paid some bills, and I’ve been given some cash that I was required to use specifically on my house (Thanks Mom and Dad!) I was going to call in the painter and get some painting done. 

But then, you see, I have this friend. She’s quirky and has more energy and desire to improve things than any two people should have. This friend said, “Don’t pay a painter. There is so much other fun stuff to do with the money you’d pay the painter! I’ll help you, you’ll see, it won’t suck! In fact, I’ll paint the ceiling.”(After painting the ceiling of my small dining room I declared NEVER AGAIN! My neck still hurts.) And you know who that friend was. (This is also the same friend who thought it would be a good job to strip her china cabinet … and we all know how easy that was. NEVER AGAIN!)

So my friend and my sweetie painted my living room and did 97% of the work. They road tripped and got the paint (I picked out the color with the help of another very talented friend), Sweetie prepped, Sweetie taped, they both primed and painted – while I was at work. Let that sink in. And no, you can’t have either of them. I did some (very little) painting on Saturday. I did some brush and roller cleaning – a small price to pay. On that last day, I was looking at all my tools and thinkinh “You know, it is so important to have the right tools to make painting go well.” And I told Karen, I need to write a post about the tools you must have to paint. Because, you know, I have painted A LOT in the past – which is how I know I hate it. But I have also learned what makes it suck just a little less. Also, I love gadgets so I’m always getting suckered into buying stuff to try. The stuff that doesn’t work either sits in the basement and gathers dust (because I don’t paint) or gets given away. So, here are the fruits of my gadget buying and painting labor (in no particular order):  

1. As mentioned above, the card of a good painter. (I cannot recommend this enough.)

2. Butcher Paper, Masking Paper, Painter’s Paper. I don’t know what you call it but it is a big 3 foot tall roll of thick paper. The last two times we painted, we taped this paper to the floor to paint. This technique is so much better than drop cloths or anything else I’ve tried. I like the type that is about 3 feet wide. On the safety front, it doesn’t slip if it is taped down and there are no edges to trip on. You can roll it up and use it over and over. It protects floors from paint so well. We had some we got from the paint store and needed more for this job so I bought the Blue Hawk brand from Lowes. It wasn’t nearly as good – it tore much more easily and was harder to work with. It caused a trip hazard because it didn’t tape well. Sweetie taped up the whole floor this time. So much easier than worrying about dripping (or cleaning up drips.) There is no Goof Off on this list because with Painter’s Paper you don’t need it. Except for the paint that is still there from the bad bad bad painter years ago.

3. Stiff (metal) brush to clean off paint brushes. Also a scrubby sponge. Karen taught me how to clean a brush really well. These are both important things for good brush cleaning. My brushes used to make it three or four jobs before they were too hard to use.  Not anymore. These are the toothbrush style metal brushes you can buy in any paint department. The best one I've ever had was actually a golf brush - the ones you clean your golf cleats and clubs with.

4. Good Roller Covers. Until recently, it was my dream to each time buy new roller covers and just throw away the old ones. There is a problem with this dream – good roller covers are hard to find. In fact, I know from experience, you can buy $15 roller covers that leave your walls covered with lint that looks like little body hairs and is practically impossible to then remove from your dining room wall, even if you spend hours with a scraper (See #12) and tweezers picking off each individual lint particle. Even if you use your lint roller on the cover before using it. It turns out, you can buy a roller cover for half that, use your lint roller on it, and it won’t fuzz up your wall. And it continues to work well even after being used for years. I still have a dream about just being able to throw away roller covers. The roller covers we used this time were microfiber and cost 4.99 each. We rolled them with the lint roller and dampened them before we used them. There were no problems with lint. I don't know what brand we used. I did a search and found these Purdy microfiber rollers. They are $15 each. You would have to be the judge if you want to spend that much. Microfiber rollers don't last "forever" (based on reviews) but two or three of them should last through a whole house paint job.

5. Five in one type tool with the half circle cut out. This allows you to scrape so much paint out of the roller – and given how much paint costs these days (OMG!  I remember when I thought $30 was a ton for Pratt and Lambert) you don’t want to let it get washed down the sink – not to mention the less than great impact that washed away paint has on the environment. It also makes cleaning rollers go much more quickly.

6. A good roller. Yes, this sounds elementary but for years I suffered with a roller that slowly forced the roller covers off the end as you rolled and made you stop to push them back on. It helps if the roller is lightweight. A good roller needs a good rolling mechanism (may sound stupid but that is something I test when I buy them, how easily they spin.)

7. Paint brush and roller cover spinner. This one of those “I had one of these and loaned it to someone and never got it back,” tools. I need to buy a new one. It really gets brushes and roller covers clean faster and more easily. Worth every penny.

8. Paint lid with collapsible spout. It actually works. I used to swear by those little lips that fit in the can to help you pour. This is ten times better. It can be left on until you are done and keeps paint from drying out or spilling. And if you are concerned about these things, like I am, it keeps paint from getting on your paint can. (Also, I’m using the Farm and Fleet link here because when I grew up, I loved going to Farm and Fleet – they had a great toy section at Christmas and Granimals all year long.  This fact amuses many of my friends today who think the existence of a place called “Farm and Fleet” is a great joke from the universe.)

9. Great Step Ladder. This ladder was my birthday gift this year and I love it. Seriously love it. I have lusted after it for a number of years. Coming from a work environment where safety is paramount, having a very safe ladder is extremely important. Also, I may have personally fallen off a cruddy step ladder painting a ceiling at one point in the past. I love the big top step and the handle to lean against. And the work tray is key – so lovely to have a place to safely put things and not have to climb up and down. It is nice to have two heights of ladder so you can use the big step for what you are doing. I’d say a safety must – but it does seem extravagant to have more than one. You may want to get a Little Giant if you need it to hold more than 225 lbs.

10. Handy Paint Cup with Magnet. I’ve used lots of things to hold paint for my brushes but this one is great. It has a great handle that is easy to hold, it is a nice size, deep enough that your brush will not fall out. And the magnet is nice. If you get too much paint over it or on the brush handle, it won’t work as well. Definitely worth $3. Best invention ever!

11. Extension Poles. I painted my first condo (dark red, 4 coats) just with rollers. Five years later, I went to help a friend paint. She used a pole with her roller. It was a revelation! How much easier is it to paint with a pole? So much easier! How had I never known this? You need several different lengths and, IMO, they need to have some nice flex in them. They are great for washing windows outdoors too. I'm a proponent of ones that don't flex.

12. Razor Scraper. My dad gave me this and it has been one of the handiest tools in my tool box for almost any job I’ve had. It seems there are no end of places you need this when painting. For old dried up drips, old caulk, and almost everything else. There are a bunch of different types and sizes, but this red one is very special to me and I will be very sad if I ever lose it or break it. It makes me partial to the ones with the angled out razor blades.

13. Rubber Hammer. I know this sounds silly, but it does a much better job of putting a lid back on. 

14. Paint can opener. No, a flat head screw driver doesn’t work as well. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t.  These things are $0.50 and work better than a screw driver. Just get some and use them. Plus, they look nice and organized hanging on your peg board.

15. Cats, preferably from your local humane or rescue group. When don’t you need cats? While I do not personally recommend dogs, I understand that some people find them to be very useful in about any endeavor. From what I know of my family’s dauschunds, I’d expect them to drink the paint. And then throw it up. And roll in it. While barking. YMMV. I don't know what YMMV means.


16. A sweetie and a good friend who will help you prep and paint. If you can’t get #1 from the list, these two are the next best. When picking out a sweetie, I recommend finding one that has many of the best characteristics of your father.

Things I personally have not found useful – those pad type edgers.  I’ve used them but they don’t work that well for me.  I’m torn on paint tray liners.  I end up cleaning them just as much as a paint tray so I’m not sure they are worth it. I hate paint liners. Love the teflon coated trays.

I didn’t list a painter’s tape here because I’m not happy with the last two tapes we’ve used.  I’m up for suggestions.  We still have over half the house to paint! This will be when we make the full transition to Frog Tape.

 Make something wonderful today! (or read a book)


Partying here:
PJH Designs


Milia said...

YMMV = Your mileage may vary. i.e. Your experience may (and probably will) differ from mine.

Bliss said...

I have never heard of a couple of those products, probably because Brawn is too cheap to ever buy them for me, but maybe I would like painting more if I had them since they do address my biggest complaints.


ANNE said...

you're hilarious! and thank you for explaining what that bizarre circle on the scraping tool is. I couldn't figure it out! lol

Happy painting!

Karah @ thespacebetweenblog said...

I just saw that little cup painter helper thing yesterday and wondered if it was worth it ... I might need to splurge the 3 bucks. And I'm with you on NO flex in an extender pole. Love the tips ... wish I was paiting today. :)

Baye said...

As the family painter in this very large and older house, I strongly agree with most of your advice especially that little bucket with a magnet to hold the brush! It makes doing trim work so much easier.

I am, however, a big fan of real drop cloths--not the plastic kind. I usually use the brown paper on the edges and drop cloths in the middle of the room.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great information on painting equipment. I didn't know half of the stuff existed.

Lisa Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


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