These tools are inexpensive, readily available at home centers and paint stores, and let you complete your painting project much faster.

By Brett Martin

There’s a vast array of painting tools and equipment out there, but take my word for it—a lot of them don’t work as advertised and create more hassle than they’re worth. The ones featured here are my go-to favorites for saving time and creating a professional finish.

Extension pole

Probably the biggest time-saving tool is an extendable handle that screws into a paint roller. This lets you stand at a comfortable distance from the wall and roll from floor to ceiling. Many DIYers settle for twisting the end of a broom into the roller. That will get the job done, but an extension pole – also called a telescopic pole – works better. It adjusts to the length that’s most comfortable for you instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. The extending pole also makes it easier to reach the top of walls. Extension poles start at R70, with more expensive options available for longer reaches. Lift up a pole to see how comfortable it is before you buy it. Heavy ones exhaust your shoulder muscles when rolling a room.

Taping knife paint guard

My least favorite part of painting is the time-consuming chore of taping off woodwork, so any time there’s a viable substitute, I’m usually for it. There are several paint guards and paint shields on the market. Most of them are long, thin pieces of plastic or metal that you hold against whatever surface you don’t want to get paint on, like baseboards. Unfortunately, most of these products are flimsy and don’t work—the paint seeps under them, which defeats the purpose.

What does work is a standard drywall taping knife, which costs about R200. The blade is firm, so it’ll protect against paint bleeding under it. It also works great for protecting the floor when you’re painting baseboards. You’ll have the best results by not overloading the brush, starting to paint about an inch away from the blade and then working your way to it. Make sure to frequently wipe the blade clean.

Taping knives are not so easy to come by locally, but a quick search on Bid or Buy yielded one or two results.

Quality paint scraper

Don’t waste time taping off glass when you’re painting or staining windows. The fastest way is to prep the wood and apply the finish, then after it’s dry, use a scraper with a razor to remove the paint or stain from the panes. A sharp blade gets the job done in minutes. Even the cheap paint scrapers will work, but if you’re painting several windows, it’s worth reaching into your wallet for a few more bucks to buy one with a comfortable handle. They’re easier to hold so you can finish the job even faster. The scraper is also handy for removing stickers from windows and mirrors. A cheap paint scraper will cost about R10 and the more expensive ones can cost up to R120.

Paint bucket screen

Pro painters don’t use roller pans. They take too much time to fill and clean, and they’re awkward to move. Instead, pros place a screen, technically called a bucket grid, into a 20 litre bucket that’s partially filled with paint. The screen hooks onto the bucket lip. You dunk the roller cover into the paint, then roll the cover on the screen to shake off the excess so it doesn’t drip. The cover will be loaded with more paint than using a roller pan, so you can cover more wall between reloading and complete the job faster.

Portable work platform

The problem with using a step ladder—the go-to for painting along the ceiling and above doors and windows—is that you have to constantly move it. Plus, most of us try to stretch out as far as we can with our brush while balancing on a rung, which can lead to a messy accident. A better solution is a lightweight, easy-to-move platform that gives you more room to walk than a ladder. It’s like having a miniature scaffolding, and it folds up for convenient storage. In the USA platforms prices start at R500, but local availability may vary. The Aluminum Work Platform from Werner is an example of a product that is readily available in the USA.

Paint spray system

A spray system saves time, especially if you have a lot of rooms to paint or are painting something with crevices that are hard to reach with a roller or brush, like louvered closet doors or below a staircase. For some small projects, the time you spend cleaning the sprayer negates what you saved painting. But when you’re painting several rooms the same color, want a smooth finish on doors or cabinets, or are applying a finish to furniture, a paint sprayer gets the job done fast and won’t leave brush marks.

Even if you’ve never used one before, spending a few minutes practicing on poster board will get you familiar enough with the tool to develop your technique and do a good job on your project. The average price for a handheld spray system varies between R1 000 and R2 500.

This article was originally published by Popular Mechanics USA.


Image credit: Syda Productions