Canadian Woodworking

Painting can get messy

Blog by Rob Brown
A Simple Approach

Generally speaking, I’m a pretty tidy person. I don’t make much of a mess, whether I’m at home or at the shop.

Sure, I may sometimes put off cleaning the shop for a few weeks, and it and it may look like I’m a messy person, but it’s more a result of me getting busy and not having time to clean up when I should have.

Painting the walls, or everything else?

I’m in the middle of a fairly large painting project right now. I’ve finished the living room, partially done one bedroom and I have another bedroom coming up in a day or two. Coincidentally, my mom called me the other day and asked if it would be safe if she stood on the bathroom vanity so she could mask off the walls near the ceiling, so she could paint the perimeter of the ceiling.

As any good son would do, I told her she would be fine up on the vanity. Of course, I’m joking. Instead, I told her to stay off the vanity, and that I would be right over. I knew I had to go immediately or she would get impatient and climb up onto the vanity.

Five minutes later I was at her place. I told her I’d just cut in the perimeter of the ceiling without applying masking tape. She thought I was crazy, but I assured her I could do it faster and better without masking tape. I dipped the brush into the paint, started towards the small ladder she had in the bathroom and noticed her looking at me like I was crazy. “Aren’t you going to put your painting clothes on?” she said to me. I was dressed in my normal clothes, including a pair of new shorts and a light-coloured T-shirt. I told her I didn’t need painting clothes, as I never get paint on myself. And if I happen to, rinsing a drop or two off is easily done in the sink.

She honestly thought I was crazy, but I assured her I was fine. I’d been painting all day in these exact clothes and I had yet to get even a drop on me. She then asked me what I thought was an even sillier question. “Do you at least want this shower cap to keep the paint out of your hair?” Besides the fact that I have virtually no hair, the chances I would get paint on my head are virtually non-existent. She said she wouldn’t paint without a shower cap, as she always gets lots of paint in her hair.

Two different worlds

It’s almost like my mom and I are living in two different painting worlds. I need no drop cloth, no “painting clothes”, no protective headware and don’t need to use masking tape too often. My mom, on the other hand, slings paint like she’s in the wild west.

To be fair, I have painted with my mom before and it’s quite the sight. She should absolutely use a drop cloth and wear paint clothes. She paints like she hates it and just wants to get it done as fast as possible. I paint with patience and carefully wield a brush and roller like the details matter.

On the one hand, we have complementary skills and might be able to work together quite nicely on a painting project. I could carefully cut into corners while she could blast the walls with a roller. On the other hand, the thought of needing protective gear to paint in, and having finished walls and trim looking far from perfect make me think I’ll just stick to rescuing her from balancing on top of the vanity in her bathroom and leave it at that.

A Simple Approach

It might look a bit messy, but this is my current setup. All the tools I need are within arm’s reach and the perimeter is clear for walking and painting.

A Simple Approach

My Mistake

This is the one drop of paint that got away from me. I let it dry and popped it off with my fingernail. No evidence remains of this incident, so let’s not speak of it again.

My Mistake
Last modified: June 6, 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

1 comment

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  2. Can’t really see well the stuff in the ‘all I need photo’. You list what they are.

    I’m a clean painter as well. I bought two roles of Frog tape years ago. They have been sitting un-used since.

    Painting successfully is all about the prep for me. If it’s not a nice clean ‘canvas’ it just won’t turn out right. Saran/plastic wrap is also your best friend to keep your rollers and brushes wrapped up for next day without having to wash them overnight.

    Trick… when you do clean your brushes after using latex paint add a dab of dishwashing washing soap to them while still wet and swish it into the bristles before drying. Brushes stay nice and supple for next use. One good purchase for me some years ago was a pneumatic paint can shaker. Highly recommend!

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