10 Top Painting Tips For a Professional Looking Finish

Beginning a painting project can be incredibly rewarding, whether it’s a quick refresh of a single wall or you’re completing a whole-house paint job. Getting a smooth and professional finish isn’t just about slapping on some paint; it involves careful preparation and knowing a few insider tricks of the trade.

To help you achieve the best results, here are our 10 top painting tips!

Table of Contents

1. Prepare the Surface

One process critical to a long-lasting finish is thorough surface preparation. Here are some surface preparation must-dos:

  1. Decontaminate the surface with organic solvents, like sugar soap
  2. Use hand tools to remove loose, peeled-off paint from the surface
  3. Rinse the surface with fresh water to remove grime and dirt
  4. Consider power washing the exterior surface for exterior paint jobs to remove any loose paint, dirt, and mildew.
  5. Use a bleach solution to treat any areas affected by mould or mildew, and rinse thoroughly. Repair cracks or damaged areas with an exterior-grade filler, and sand smooth once dried.
  6. Lay down plastic sheeting or drop cloths to protect your furniture, floors or lawn

2. Prime the Surface

Priming interior and exterior walls is crucial to ensure a smooth, long-lasting finish for your home painting project.

Interior Walls

Choose a high-quality primer suitable for your wall material and the type of paint you’ll be using. Apply the primer evenly with a roller or brush to cover all areas, including corners and edges. Allow the primer to dry completely per the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding with your paint.

Exterior Walls

Choose an exterior primer that offers weather resistance and suits the material of your walls, such as masonry, wood, or metal. Apply the primer using a roller or brush, ensuring full coverage and paying special attention to joints and corners.

Let the primer dry as the manufacturer recommends, usually between 24 to 48 hours, before applying your exterior paint. Proper priming will enhance adhesion, improve paint durability, and provide a uniform finish for your project.

3. Select Quality Paints

To achieve a top-notch paint job, investing in high-quality paints is important. This will ensure durability and give your walls an appealing finish. Calculating how much paint you think you will need before shopping is also helpful – otherwise, you risk buying too much paint!

Understanding Paint Types

When selecting new paint, you will need to choose between water-based or oil-based paints. Water-based paint, often called latex paint, is popular due to its ease of use and clean-up. Water-based paint dries quickly and has a low odour.

Contrarily, oil-based paints are popular for their resilience and smooth finish, but they take longer to dry and have a strong smell. Remember to wear rubber gloves to handle oil-based paint and thoroughly stir the paint bucket before application.

4. Select the Right Colours

When choosing the right paint colour, consider the overall scheme of the room, including the furniture, flooring, and accessories.

Paint colours also help you set the mood for a room. For instance, tones of blue, grey, and off-white, create a cool and modern feel. In contrast, earthy greens and hues of red create a warm and inviting ambience.

Neutral colours are a popular choice, as they provide a versatile backdrop for a variety of different styles and decor. Bold colours can add a pop of personality to a room but could be reserved for a feature wall.

The colour wheel is an excellent guide and a practical tool for mixing and deciding on a colour scheme.

5. Choose the Right Time to Paint

Choosing the right weather to paint in is surprisingly important. The ideal conditions are sunny and warm when you can open the windows/doors, ensuring a well-ventilated area and quickening the drying process.

Natural light is also advantageous as it provides the most accurate colour rendition while working.

If can’t wait for a sunny day to start your paint job, consider hiring large industrial fans or heaters to dry the paint and keep the airflow circulating.

6. Choose the Right Painting Tools


A painting roller is one of the most easy-to-use painting tools! Rollers come in all shapes and sizes, with a few options even featuring embossed patterns. Rollers are the perfect tool to paint interior walls, allowing you to cover large areas much faster than a paintbrush.

Adjustable Roller Extension Pole

This handy tool allows you to paint hard-to-reach surfaces, like the corners and edges of a room. A roller extension pole also lets you reach across high ceilings, without smudging paint onto the surfaces.

Painter’s Tape

High-grade painter’s tape is excellent for preventing streaking on surfaces. Always use tape to cover certain areas like door frames and light switches. A cheaper alternative to this is masking tape.

Sanding Sponges

A sanding sponge prepares the surface before you lay on a coat of paint and helps the paint settle in. Preparing the surface with a sanding sponge facilitates a smooth and even finish, just make sure you use a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris before you begin to paint.

Putty Knife

A putty knife helps you cover up holes or cracks in the walls and other rough spots. This tool can evenly spread the material inside the imperfections, like seams, to ensure your wall has a smooth and completely dry coat.

7. Choose the Right Paintbrush

A paintbrush is ideal when you want to add a unique texture to your walls or tidy up painted corners. The tool is excellent for coating smaller areas, offering more flexibility for painting trim or cutting in on the wet edge.

Synthetic Bristle Brushes: Ideal for water-based paints like acrylic paints, these brushes have bristles made from nylon or polyester. They hold their shape and won’t swell with water.

  • Flat Brushes: Provide a strong stroke for filling wide spaces.
  • Round Brushes: Good for detailing and line work.
  • Filbert Brushes: A mix between flat and round, suitable for blending.

Natural Bristle Brushes: Best for oil-based paints, these brushes have naturally soft and flexible bristles.

  • Stiff Brushes: Excellent for pushing around thick paints, like acrylic paint.
  • Soft Brushes: Better for fine details and smooth applications.

8. Mastering Brushwork Techniques

Brushwork is not just about applying paint; it’s an essential skill that allows you to express texture, movement, and emotion in your artwork. Understanding both the basic strokes and more advanced techniques will enhance your painting significantly.

Basic Brush Strokes

Getting comfortable with your brush is fundamental. Start by experimenting with the following:

  • Thin Lines: Use the very tip of your brush with light pressure.
  • Thick Lines: Apply more pressure or use the side of your brush to create broader strokes.
  • Drybrush Texture: With a relatively dry brush and minimal paint, lightly drag across the surface for a textured effect.
  • Wet on Wet: Apply a wet brush over a still-wet layer of paint for soft, diffused edges.

Advanced Painting Tips

Once you’ve mastered the basics, consider these advanced strategies:

  • Sgraffito: Scratch into the wet paint with a palette knife or the end of your brush to reveal the layer beneath.
  • Glazing: Overlay thin, transparent layers of paint to achieve depth and richness of colour.
  • Impasto: Apply paint thickly, leaving visible brush or palette knife marks for texture.
  • Acrylic Painting: Use acrylic paints for dry brushing, dabbing, or detailing work

Painting Tips on Aerosol Paint Application

Aerosol spray painting is an advanced technique that can be very popular in outdoor spaces, for example, a feature wall in your garden. Here are our top painting tips for aerosol painting:

  • You must hold the can 10 inches from the surface, keeping the spray can parallel and approximately 10-16 inches from the surface.
  • Apply even pressure on the trigger and use drop cloths around the gun to prevent spillage or excess paint on the walls.
  • Aim the aerosol spray directly into the corner where the two walls meet to ensure an even and consistent coating on either side.

9. Learn How to Protect Your Paint Job

After all the hard work you’ve put into your painting, giving it the protection it deserves is crucial. This ensures longevity and preserves the vibrancy of your colours. Varnishing is vital for the protection of your painting. It comes in different sheens such as gloss, satin, and matte. A good varnish not only protects against dust and UV rays but also shades the appearance of the work. Here’s how you go about it:

  • Choose the right varnish: Water-based varnish with a gloss/satin finish suits acrylic paintings. Oil-based varnish with a matte/satin finish is suitable for oil paint.
  • Apply thin coats: Use a wide, soft-bristled brush and apply in even strokes to prevent any brush marks.

10. Storage and Clean-Up

Storage of Paints

Now you have finished your painting, here’s our tip for storing or disposing of unused paint correctly.

Paint can be expensive, so if you want to store it for a later project, start by sealing the paint can tightly with its original lid, ensuring there are no gaps where air can enter. Store the can upside down to create an airtight seal around the lid.

Keep the paint in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, which can cause the paint to spoil. Remember to label the can with the date and colour information for easy reference later.

Disposing of Paints

Disposing of paint in an environmentally sound way is so important – don’t just pour it down the drain! If you have been working with acrylic paint, check if your local council offers a paint disposal or recycling program. Many councils participate in programs like Paintback, which accepts leftover paint and paint cans for proper disposal.

If no such program is available, allow the paint to dry out completely by leaving the lid off the can in a well-ventilated area, then dispose of the dried paint and can with your regular household waste.

Take oil-based paint to a household hazardous waste collection facility or a scheduled collection event, as it contains harmful chemicals that require special handling.

Key Takeaways

Time to Start Painting

We hope you found our painting tips helpful, however if it left you feeling slightly overwhelmed, why not call in the professionals? Hunter Coast Painting can handle all aspects of your exterior or interior paint job, from preparing the surface to cleaning up any messes.

Our team of professional residential painters offer a range of painting services in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Request a free quote today!

Author picture

Gavin Kane

Gavin, is the founder and director of Hunter Coast Painting who are experienced Newcastle Painters. Combining 10 years experience in the industry and having worked on multi-million dollar homes in Europe and Australia, Gavin is able to provide a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Gavin Kane
Gavin Kane

Gavin, is the founder and director of Hunter Coast Painting.

Combining 10 years experience in the industry and having worked on multi-million dollar homes in Europe and Australia, Gavin is able to provide a wealth of knowledge and experience.