The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) section contains questions that we’ve regularly received from clients in the Arlington, Lexington, Cambridge, Belmont area. If you have any questions that are not addressed here, email us or call at (781) 894-0001.

Q1: How do I determine how much paint I will need to purchase before beginning a job?

Although it’s best practice to retain a little paint for future touch ups or nicks, home painters often purchase much more paint than they typically need. To calculate how much paint is needed, grab a tape measure. Measure each of the walls that you will be painting (interior or exterior). Write the numbers down. Next, measure the height of the ceiling (or area that you wish to paint).

For each interior room or exterior wall, calculate the circumference first (the area around the room or building). Find the circumference by adding each wall together. Then, multiply the circumference by the height of the wall.

For example, if you have an area with two walls that measure 30 feet long and two walls that measure 40 feet long, the circumference is 140 feet. Multiply this number by the height of 8 feet and you’ll have your total square footage (1,120).

When you purchase paint for a project, be sure to read the label. The square foot coverage of the contents will be there. A gallon typically covers 400 square feet – but most paint jobs require 2 coats. So, for the our 1,120 square foot example above, you would need about 6 gallons of paint and primer.

Q2: What I should use to protect my carpet from paint drips and stains?

Many people take the cheaper route of protecting their carpet with a disposable sheet of plastic. However, the better option is to spend the extra money on a sheet of canvas. Plastic can get slippery and messy when paint drips on it. It’s easy to trip over if it ‘bunches up’ during your painting job.

Canvas lays flat on the floor and soaks up paint, instead of simply causing it to puddle. Canvas stays in place around corners and in tight spaces (plastic will simply return to its original form). Best of all, you can re-use the canvas many times. After one slippery, messy and possibility aggravating use of the plastic, you’ll be ready to throw it away – thus wasting money on top of everything else!

Q3: What type of brush should I use for painting an interior?

For most rooms, your best bet is to ditch the brush altogether. Invest in a paint roller with an extension pole. The pole usually needs to extend only about 3 feet however, there are poles available that can extend to as much as 18 feet if needed.

This method is much safer than using a ladder, and helps keep the paint application even over the wall and ceiling surfaces. For durability, choose a lightweight metal pole rather than a plastic one. Also, try to find one with a non-slip grip. It’ll help avoid costly slipping accidents that can be a real headache – especially when dealing with different paint colors to be applied on ceilings and walls.

Q4: How do I choose a tasteful paint color for my home or business exterior?

You can choose a great color for your home or business exterior by considering a few elements about the property, and how paint can enhance them.

For example, if your building contains a great deal of brick that will not be painted, consider borrowing some tones & hues from the brick. You can also consider the type of property. If it is a Victorian era home, you might choose popular colors of the era to add to the aesthetic appeal of your property. If you want to express a calm and collected environment, choose warm colors. For a bright and busy environment, a bright color scheme may be best.

Q5: Does paint expire?

Yes, paint does expire… eventually. The specific life of paint depends on how well you store it, among other factors. When you are ready to store your paint make sure the can’s rim is clean, so the lid can form a proper seal. Too much paint around the rim causes a built up surface, which may crack and let air into the can.

If you are using latex paint, pour a tiny amount of water around the rim. This will ensure the can seals properly. You can also use plastic wrap (over the top of the can) before securing the lid. After making sure the can is securely shut, store the can upside-down. This will almost always guarantee a tight seal.

When you take out stored paint to complete a job, simply use common sense to determine whether it is still good. Examine the paint. If it still has that “paint smell”, it is probably still acceptable. However, if it smells stale or “off”, it is likely expired. Alternately, test a small amount of the paint in question on a surface. If it looks good when it dries, the paint is likely still acceptable.

Painting Tips

Tom Sawyer Painting can provide professional services in less than half the time that it takes an unexperienced individual to perform the job. We are not solely dedicated to our current customer’s needs, however. We also offer painting tips to those who wish to perform such painting services themselves.

Many of these tips are applicable to both the interior and exterior of your property. Most require only cheap additions to your painting arsenal.

Keeping Track of Paint Colors

Paint colors can be difficult to match and/or keep track of. Make your life a little easier – write the paint color and type on the back of a light switch panel in the room. By doing this, you will likely discover the information while removing these covers before re- painting. Many people actually go as far as to write down the serial number for easy access later.

Using Paint Primer

Amateurish, dull-looking paint jobs are often due to the lack of a base primer layer. Primer is actually one of the most important parts of the painting process. It keeps stains or imperfections from the deeper layers of the wall from showing through your paint. It helps the paint spread evenly on the wall without significant blisters, and increases the time between paint jobs. It helps the layer of paint to follow appear bright and vibrant.

Painting a lighter color over a darker color? Here’s a hint: tint! Hide the underlying color is by mixing a small amount of the paint with the primer before applying it. Note: This is only possible if both your paint and primer are of the same type (latex or oil). You do not need much paint in the primer mix. There should be enough of a ‘tint’ to note the primer is ‘shifting’ towards the paint color.

Finding a Good Time to Paint Exteriors

When you decide to paint the exterior of your home or business, pay attention to the weather. Weather can severely affect your paint layer. For example the best drying times for paint occur when the temperature is below 60º F or when it exceeds 90º F.

In addition, avoid painting when it is raining or windy. Rain can dilute your paint before it has a chance to dry. Wind can blow dirt, bugs and debris onto your fresh paint. It can also cause it to dry far too quickly, as can painting in direct sunlight.

Making Clean Up Easier

Before pouring paint into your roller tray, consider lining it with aluminum foil or a plastic liner. You can easily throw these materials away after the paint job is complete, reducing of clean up time.

Save Your Brushes

Avoid using the side of a paint brush when covering the corners of your room. You can increase the lifespan of your flat paint brushes (and make the job cleaner) by sticking to the flat side – brushing in downward strokes, from the corner.

Make it Neat When Colors Meet

If two colors are meeting in a corner, you can use masking tape on the dry surfaces to avoid splatters or bleed over. Once the other surface is dry, you can switch the tape to the other side and complete the job.

Argh… There’s Dirt/Bugs/Debris in the Paint Can, and I’m Not Done Painting!

Dirt, bugs or other debris in the paint can? Don’t throw the paint away! There’s a simple fix: cut some spare window screen (wire – from a screen door or window is best, as it is cheaply available at your local home supply store). Shape it to a circle that will fit in the paint can, and cover the entire paint surface.

Next: place the screen circle in the can, on the top of the paint surface. It will not immediately sink. As you continue painting and the paint level lowers, the screen will continue to drop, keeping the debris below it.

Once it gets to the bottom, you can simply throw the can away, knowing you saved a great deal of paint from the garbage can!

Serving: Arlington, Cambridge, Lincoln, Belmont, Newton, Weston, Dover, Winchester, Waltham, Medford, and Lexington areas.

West Suburban Boston Painting Specialists

Tom Sawyer Painting is committed to 100% customer satisfaction. If you are searching for a painting company in the New England area that insists on courtesy and professionalism with every contract, Tom Sawyer Painting is your #1 choice.

Customer Reviews

  • “Nice crew! They did a great job and kept things neat and clean!”
    Greg Lanik - Wakefield, MA
  • "You have no idea how painless you made this process. After dealing with some other contractors I am very confident to say that you did a phenomenal job. Both customer service and painting! Thank you for that! :) You can definitely put us down as reference!"
    Anastasia P. - Woburn, MA
  • “Thank you, Tom. Our house looks great!”
    Terri Stull - Arlington, MA

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