Cover-ups for painting: 12 clever tips

When you're painting it can be a challenge to keep the paint on the walls and off of everything else. But, some preparation will help keep fittings and furnishings paint-free. Here are 12 clever tips.

  1. Before painting, remove or loosen all fittings, including electrical cover plates, handles and latch plates. If you can't remove them, rub them with a thin smear of petroleum jelly to keep them free of paint splatters.
  2. Professional painters use heavy canvas drop sheets. These sheets absorb paint spills and provide a solid, non-slip footing, but they're too expensive for DIY work. Plastic drop sheets, on the other hand, are relatively cheap. To make them function more like canvas sheets, cover them with a thick layer of newspaper. And try to remember to hold onto old plastic shower curtains: they make handy protective sheets for small areas.
  3. For a really thorough job of floor protection, lay plastic drop sheets on the floor, tucking the edges under the skirting boards using a putty knife. If the gap is impregnable, apply masking tape around the perimeter of the floor.
  4. Move heavy furnishings such as tall cupboards to the centre of the room and cover them with drop sheets. Plastic sheets will need to be taped in place so that they won't slip off.
  5. When priming or painting, leave your landline telephone in an accessible place and cover the handset with a plastic bag. If the phone rings you'll be able to grab it without smearing it with paint. Similarly, wrap your cell phone in plastic wrap.
  6. Strips of old carpeting can make great drop sheets when you're stripping, painting or making surface repairs. The weight of the carpet strips keeps them in place, and they can be used over and over again. If you don't have carpet scraps on hand, ask around at your local carpet retailers and installers; they're usually glad to give away carpet remnants.
  7. Have you ever peeled away masking tape only to find that paint has seeped underneath the edges? The masking tape will only do its job when the seal is perfect. To seal the edges of your masking tape, press the tape in place with the flat side of a 5 centimetre (2 inch) putty knife.
  8. Anything that's been left uncovered in a room is subject to spatters and splashes when you're painting. Cleaning up all those drips can be enormously time consuming. To avoid the problem altogether, make sure everything is covered. Drop sheets can go over big objects, but smaller items including lightshades and doorknobs can be covered with plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is wonderfully sticky, but it can also be slippery, so you may need to hold it in place with tape or rubber bands.
  9. When using a roller to paint walls or ceilings, don an old shower cap or hat – it will keep paint drips out of your hair and eliminate lots of tedious untangling in the shower later on.
  10. When preparing a kitchen for repainting, remember to tape around the door seals of fridges and freezers. If you don't, you may find dust makes its way inside and taints the food.
  11. Slip a protective plastic sleeve over doors to keep them clean. To make this sleeve cut two pieces of builder's plastic so that they're slightly larger than the door (this allows room for the doorknob). Apply masking tape to all cut edges and then staple the sheets together along two short sides and one long side. Then slide your newly made sleeve over the door.
  12. Pull an old pair of cotton socks over your shoes before you start painting. The fabric will absorb drips and splatters, leaving your shoes paint-free.

Follow these 12 clever tips an you'll be able to keep paint off of everything other than your walls and ceiling when you paint.

Cover-ups for painting: 12 clever tips
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