The complete guide to painting supplies

Learn about painting supplies and their use with our guide

Everyone has a DIY painting project in them, whether it is a spare room, new nursery, or just a redecoration job. Though the painting tools required may seem obvious – A brush! A roller! Sandpaper! – when you arrive at Bunnings the sheer number and variety of each of these seemingly simple products can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where this paint supplies guide comes in. A helping hand to navigate the hardware store aisles and get the job done right the first time.

In this guide we cover all the painting tools that you will need for the perfect finish, from preparation to the brushes and rollers for the final coat. This guide deals with the three simple steps up to but not including the painting – it’s all in the preparation.

The three stages of painting supplies

In order to help make clear when certain painting supplies are needed and why, we have separated the process into three stages – preparation, protection, and painting – and describe which painting tools are need for each stage.

Stage 1. The best preparation leads to the best result

When it comes to painting, preparation is a huge part of the work. Without the right preparation you can end up with a finish that you are not happy with and a job that needs redoing. As tedious as it is (and there’s no denying that), making sure that the surface is clean of dust and dirt, grease-free, and also clear of imperfections will allow the paint to adhere better and give a better finish.

Preparing walls and ceilings

The good news with walls and ceilings is that you don’t have to sand them. If the paint is still sound, you can put down the drop cloth and get straight to cleaning:

  1. Wash down the walls with a sugarsoap or TSP to get any grease or stains from the surface. Wipe down with a rag afterwards to speed the drying process.
  2. Once the surface is dry, use the paint scraper to scrape any flaky or cracked paint from the walls.
  3. Using the paint scraper once again, apply the gap filler or spackle to any chips, cracks, or imperfections on the wall. Make sure the filler only slightly overfills the problem spots. Once the gap filler is dry, take the sandpaper and sand it back to a smooth finish that is flush with the surface. For walls you only need a 120 grit sandpaper, or you can start with a 60 or 80 grade and finish it off with the 120.
  4. For gaps or cracks in the corners of walls, apply a gap sealer with a caulking gun. Run a damp cloth along the corner afterwards to give the filler a smooth finish and make sure it fills the gaps.
  5. Clean up the sanding dust and you are ready for masking!

What you’ll need: Drop sheet and cloths; soap, water, and sponge; paint scraper, gap filler, and sandpaper; caulking gun.

Preparing woodwork for gloss/enamel

Unfortunately, unlike walls and ceilings woodwork often needs more involved preparation for the enamel or gloss to properly adhere. But remember any painting project is only as good as its preparation, and get stuck in.

  1. Wash down the surface with a sugarsoap to get any grease or stains from the surface.
  2. Once the surface is dry, it is time to sand. Sanding will give the paint something to hold on to, especially important if you are painting over a pre-existing gloss. You don’t need to sand down to bare wood, just enough to give it a rough profile.
  3. If there are any cracks or chips, use a specialty wood gap filler to fill them. Gloss paints will not hide imperfections as well as wall paints so be aware of the surface profile and try not to overfill. For gaps around the edge of the woodwork, use the caulking gun.
  4. Clean up the sanding dust and you are ready for masking!

What you’ll need: Drop sheet and cloths; soap, water, and sponge; wood filler and caulking gun; sandpaper of varying grades (finish with a 120 – remember, you aren’t trying to remove the paint).

Stage 2. When it comes to painting supplies, superheroes use masks

Masking off edges is a sure way to prevent accidents with an over-enthusiastic brush.  But be warned – masking tape can lead to inelegant edges through paint bleeding in under it, or worse can take paint off the wall as you remove it. If you choose to mask with a masking tape or painter’s tape, make sure it is sticky enough to hold but not so sticky it will pull the paint off the walls when you remove it.

If you don’t want the hassle of masking off the edges of your walls or doors and windows with masking tape you can use a technique called ‘cutting in’ the paint. Cutting in just means freehanding the edge application with a specialty angled brush. It requires less prep time and, if done right, will give you a neat line.

Tip: Get the masking tape right into the edges by pushing a putty knife along the tape.

Stage 3. Paint brushes and rollers for application

Though you might think that brushes are all the same, there is actually a right brush for the job.

The Round Brush – For cutting in, trim, and gloss

If you haven’t painted gloss surfaces before, you may not have come across the round brush or sash brush. The head shape is ideal for working on trim, windows, and other surfaces that are not flat to the wall. It is also good for cutting in.

Tip: Before you use a paintbrush, give it a bit of a brush against your hand to dislodge any loose bristles and loosen things up for painting. And start your painting fully loaded – get the brush in the paint at least a third of the way up and dive on in.

Flat brushes and water-based or solvent-based bristles

If you are painting and cutting in a wall or ceiling, a flat brush is the one for you but make sure you get a brush intended for the paint you are using. Water-based and solvent-based paints works best with brushes designed for that formulation.

Brushes are also designed to be drop-less and drip-less; that is, they will neither drop bristles (which are annoying to pick from the paint) nor will they drip (within reason, obviously).

Get the coverage you need with Rollers

When covering vast expanses of wall and ceiling, the roller is a godsend. If you are coating the ceiling, buy an extender – you don’t want to be going up and down a ladder cricking your back when you could have stayed on the floor. The length of the roller increases with the size of the surface are you are painting, to cover the space faster.

Rollers also come in different nap levels or thicknesses. The greater the nap, the better the roller will paint rough surfaces and be able to really cover uneven or textured walls.

Tip: Wash the roller before you paint with it to make sure that there is no stray fluff to ruin your finish.

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