Painting tools that help you paint like a pro

Painting tools that help you paint like a pro

Some call it March madness, for others it’s cabin fever—those final weeks of winter when you start itching to spruce up your home. Painting a room or two is an inexpensive way to freshen a space. Some of the best interior paints tested by Consumer Reports start at $32 a gallon. And Rico De Paz, Consumer Reports’ longtime paint expert, says his favorite tools will help you paint like a pro. Here’s what you need.

Metal putty knife. This is where your paint job starts. Scrape off old dried-on paint bumps and those raised spots from nail hole edges.

Spackling compound. It’s got to be lightweight and fast drying. Skip the putty knife; you’re more likely to go crazy with the spackle. Use your finger and apply just a dab to nail holes then smooth it out.

Scrub sponge. It not only wipes away grime, but sands small imperfections and roughens the surface, improving paint adhesion. Use the rough side of the sponge and a mix of water and nonsudsing cleaner such as Spic and Span to clean your walls; sudsy soaps leave a slick film, making it difficult for the paint to adhere. Then wipe away excess water with the smooth side of the sponge.

Pour spout. This reusable snap-on spout fits standard paint cans and prevents paint from running down the side of the can. And the rim of the can stays cleans so the lid won’t stick.

Roller, cover, and paint-tray liner. Nine-inch paint rollers are often what you’ll see at home centers, but De Paz says 7-inch rollers are easier to control and handle and a better fit for a standard size pan. He buys his online. For less paint splatter go with a short nap roller, a ¼-inch nap does the job. Using a disposable paint-tray liner makes clean up easier.

Synthetic bristle sash brush. An angled brush works well, especially in corners. Long or short handle? Hold each to get a feel for which provides better control. As for the bristles, when natural bristles get wet they become floppy and can’t spread paint well. Nylon/poly bristles are ideal for water-based paints. All the paints in Consumer Reports tests are water based.

Paint edger. A pad with wheels to guide it, a paint edger is great for painting that line where the wall meets the ceiling and around trim. But don’t dip the paint edger into the paint—the wheels will get messy. Load the edger by running your paint roller over the edger’s pad several times. And for those spots where the edger just won’t work use painter’s tape. FrogTape Delicate Surface was tops in our tests.

Plastic wrap. Use it to tightly wrap around the brush for next day touch-ups or adding another coat—you won’t have to wash the brush until the job’s done.

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