Painting is one of the best homeowner do-it-yourself projects, and the last step is painting cleanup, not later or tomorrow but right after you finish painting. Wondering why you want to pay attention to this step? How about saving money, saving time and having more fun with all your painting projects.
My husband gets mad at me when I say a project will only take an hour. He's right most of the time, as the devil is in the details … so let me explain what I mean here. Painting isn't just about applying paint to your ceiling, walls or trim. Painting is a 3 step process:
- Prep or preparing the surfaces to be painted is key to getting a quality paint job.
- Painting involves applying the paint, enough to get the coverage you want, without wasting paint or making a huge mess.
- Every paint job ends with painting cleanup, and that's what this article is about.
Credit for all these painting tips goes to Colin Baird, owner of PlatypusPainting.com in Oakland, CA. Even though I owned a handyman business, I sometimes needed to get things done quickly and Colin came to my rescue more than 10 years ago.
Painting Cleanup Includes More Than the Brushes
Before you start cleaning your paint brushes, you'll want to empty the remaining paint from your pail (learn why you want to use a paint pail) back into the paint can … if it's not full of dust and/or debris. Remember, you should only fill up your paint pail about 1/3 full so there shouldn't be a lot of paint left in the pail. According to Colin “… by brushing out the pail well, it will dry overnight and be ready for use the next day. I rarely bother cleaning my pail. Just let it dry and reuse.”
The next step in painting cleanup is cleaning out the “gutter” or rim of the paint can so the lid will fit tightly. This can be done with a quick swipe of your paint brush, and that's why you're not quite ready to clean your brushes. This is also when you want to remove as much paint from your brush as possible, by drawing your brush with a little force, over the rim of the paint can.
Painting Cleanup: How Pros Clean Their Brushes
Now it's time to clean your paint brushes and you need a sink, for this step of the painting cleanup process. Colin's description of the sink you need was funny. He said you really only want a utility sink. He said painting cleanup shouldn't be done in the $6,000 marble sink in a newly remodeled kitchen or an expensive bathtub, or a 5 gallon bucket, or a flat rock and hose to clean your paint brushes. Can you imagine what he's seen in his painting days, to remember to include these tips?
This next tip was fascinating. Painting cleanup is still work, and part of the job so don't try to relax while you're doing it. “Just get it done as only then is the job done!”
Colin uses “… mostly warm water, a steady stream of water and if there's some dish soap, great. Lightly and quickly bounce the brush at the bottom of the sink so the bristles go to one side. Then repeat in a way that the bristles go to the other side.”
The trick here is to “… repeat, repeat, repeat, until you've gotten all the paint out of the bristles, especially up near the ferrule (the metal band that holds the bristles). Find a rhythm and you'll start to see the water get steadily more clear.”
f you find dried paint on the ferrule, Colin uses a wire brush to remove it. He “… lays the brush on the upper lip of the sink and pushes the wire brush into the sink, over the ferrule-bristle area to loosen the paint. A couple passes like that and it should be pretty clean.” He also cautions that you have to be careful not to damage the sink and if there's a risk, a bucket might be a better option for this step in the painting cleanup.
One last and very important tip, once you think you have clear water … do it one more time.
Painting Cleanup: Don't Forget to Dry Your Brushes
The next step in painting cleanup, often overlooked by homeowners, is drying your paint brushes. Colin says “… he holds the brush handle between his hands with the bristles down in the sink, as if he's praying to the faucet. He rubs his hands back an forth as if warming them over a fire. Sometimes the cut of the handle makes it tricky to spin the brush, but with practice you'll get it.” You can also buy a spinner that will do the work for you but if most painting professionals don't use one, you probably don't need it.
The tip here is to remember to keep the brush low in the sink or you'll find yourself spraying water everywhere.
Two more steps in the painting cleanup process. First you'll want to clean up the sink, and then you should put the brush back in it's sheath or hang to dry. Now you're done with your painting cleanup!
Surprisingly complicated, and it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes once you get good at it!
More Resources for DIY Painters
Hope you're learning that finding the best homeowner tips takes time which we've invested to give you the best advice possible, so check out the full series:
- How to Clean Paint Brushes
- Cleaning Paint Brushes
- Painting Cleanup: Learning from A Professional Painter … this article.