Basic tools for most DIY decor painting projects

During my journey to redecorate my apartment myself, I’ve undertaken a bunch of different painting projects. Today I thought I would share my painting toolkit and look at the items I always have stocked in my garage for any painting project that may take my fancy. There are definitely additional items you will need for specialised jobs, but the following keeps me ready for painting walls, furniture, and general bibs and bobs.
Essential painting tools for most DIY projects
  1. Drop sheet – a thick canvas sheet to protect your floors and furniture from paint spray. The one I currently have has been exposed to all manner of spills and it keeps on keeping on. I’ve used it for a variety of jobs, so a worthwhile investment (~$40). Alternative – disposable plastic sheet for ~80 cents from Bunnings. Cheap but is easily ripped and very slippery.
  2. Sand paper – a fine grade sand paper or foam to smooth surfaces pre-painting and in between coats. Sanding between coats is what separates an ordinary paint job from a professional paint job. I cannot stress that enough. This is one lesson it took me a while to learn, but with enough projects under my belt, I truly appreciate. I have a variety of different sanding implements – paper,  foam, brick – but the cheap and simple sheets of paper will do the job. I recommend buying a few different grits (the higher the number, the finer the paper), to suit different surfaces. Lower grit for striping back a finish, and a higher grit for lightly smoothing in between coats.
  3. Painters tape – used to outline painting edges. Please do not use masking tape or super cheap ‘painters tape’ from the Reject Shop – they will peel off your paint. I cannot count the number of times i made the mistake of settling for cheap masking tape and then peeling back to see my hard work ruined. Arrghh!!
  4. Wood filler – great for restoration jobs where you’re working with wood furniture with surface imperfections. I love the clean and smooth lacquered look and it’s a finish I’ve used on a number of projects. As is true with every painting job, (probably life as well!) 80% of a success job lies in the preparation. Take you time to prepare the surface and smooth out dents and nicks with wood filler and you’ll thank yourself when you see the finish. Or chastise yourself if you rushed through and skipped this step.
  5. Primer – a must when painting on a bare wood surface. This protects the wood and ensures better adhesion of your colour coat. You don’t need to be precious with it, so slap it on and you can lightly smooth out any bumps with a fine grit sanding paper once dry (which is pretty fast).
  6. Paint tray – these cost ~$1 and you can reuse it till it breaks (I still have some from 3 years ago and they’re still in top nick). Alternative – spare plastic food containers. Usable but never the ideal shape or size. And then you have one less container to store food. Annoying.
  7. Paint stirrer – always always always thoroughly stir your paint before use. The paint separates if stationery for a prolonged period of time. The yellow stirrer pictured on the left cost me $1 and I’ve reused a ton of times. Alternative – a stick (pictured on the right). Yes, really. Just make sure you remove any loose bits that might break off into the paint.
  8. Paint roller & handle – Essential for painting walls. There are different types depending on what type of paint you’re using – flat or glossy. I always buy these in multiple packs from Bunnings. They’re dirt cheap and if you’re DIY-inclined, you never know when you’ll need to paint a large flat surface. Tip – always slide your hands over the tube to remove any loose fibres. Otherwise you’re first coat of paint will catch them. Not pretty.
  9. Good brushes – my move from cheap and easy to pricer and higher maintenance was an easy one and I’m never looking back. The superior quality of the brush fibres on a slightly pricer brushes make such a difference to the finish of a paint job. If you don’t care and are ok with streaks and lumps in your finish, then a brush is just a brush. I’ve done enough jobs to want to make my investment into any DIY worthwhile, so I invest in good brushes.
  10. Disposable brushes – I use these brushes for applying the primer and never for the top coat of anything. The cheap brushes are cheap for a reason. They hairs are coarse and leave streak marks in your paint. I love the smooth lacquered look, so I learnt early on, to invest in good brushes.
  11. Extension handle – a no-brainer for painting walls. The extension handle is a universal size and shape so you can use it for other things as well. I can also attach it to a window swiper to clean my tall windows.
  12. Edge painter – when it comes to painting walls along the cornice edge, I like to use an edge painter apparatus. They come will removable brush slides. You dip the brush side in the paint, remove excess paint, and slide along the cornice edge for a clean finish. Alternative – masking off the edge and painting with a wide brush will work just as well.
  13. Clear water-based varnish (satin or glossy) – the perfect finish for any furniture paint job (not for walls). I use Cabot’s Cabothane Water Based Clear varnish, as pictured above. I’ve found it easy to use and has a low odour. Alternative – if you use a semi-gloss or gloss paint for the colour, then you could skip the top coat of clear varnish, but I prefer to extra protection of an additional quick clear coat.

Check out some of my Painting Projects for more tips & tricks and before & after posts. Including a recent post on my secret to painting straight lines for a striking striped feature wall.

Pamela