My husband and I bought our home about 4 years ago, and we still have a lot of rooms to paint! We are talking about painting our laundry room pretty soon, but I don't know how to paint zero waste!? What can I use instead of painters tape? Are there any eco friendly options?
In an effort to help others who may see this later....
I am not an artist, but I also skip the taping process. I remove items in the way (outlet covers, for example) versus taping them. I paint from the top down: ceiling, walls, trim. If you are doing any demo or reconstruction, I have found it far easier to paint the trim before it is installed. Laying it across sawhorses and painting is far more comfortable/accurate/timely than laying my body on the floor and painting sideways. ;) Plus, it requires less accuracy all around. Consider taping a 1-inch, angled, long-bristle brush to a wood pole for the ceiling edge and, later, the top of the wall. You may be surprised at how much accuracy this will give you and saves climbing up and down a ladder, which meant for me I could skip the fancy buckets and trays for smaller containers of paint. I just leave the gallon pail of paint on the floor and move it along with me.
Something to consider: Even though I am left-handed, I have discovered that I can paint with both hands. I tend to paint the broad strokes with my right hand and the finer details with my left hand. Try reversing that if you are right-handed. It may take a little getting used to, but many friends have discovered they too can do this. This is actually incredibly helpful in avoiding tape and other products. I pretty much just use the can of paint and a few different size brushes for many projects. I will use a roller when the walls are large, but we wash, save, and reuse all the pieces. My technique for painting without tape or guards or other fancy gizmos is to stop short of the exact line and gently "push" (more of a gentle nudge) the paint up to the color change line versus trying to paint alongside the line. Very few ordinary people are THAT steady! Not sure if that translates well in writing.
Lastly, if you let one color COMPLETELY dry (24 hours) before painting the next one, it is really easy to clean up mistakes quickly with a damp rag, like Jay stated above.
Borrow as many tools as you need before resorting to buying. We live in a small home in a neighborhood of small homes. We have an informal tool lending / sharing / storing program going on from sheer necessity (space-wise). We own and store certain tools that we lend to others. Another neighbor has a different set of tools; etc. So handy!!!
Ask around for paint before checking the "oops" section of the store for colors already mixed up and before buying brand new paint. You would be surprised at how many people buy the paint and then never do the job! I take those cans to a paint store to be remixed in the machine and they work like new, provided the paint isn't too old. Stirring paint by hand with a stir-stick is meditative, too, so it is a judgment call. I usually try stirring by hand first and if the paint still isn't the right consistency, then I combine errands and get it mixed in the machine.
Best tip I've got: When feasible, have one tube of caulk cut to a small bead size and a second caulk tube cut to a medium/large bead size. Use according to the space that needs to be filled. This reduces clean-up and waste!
I reuse a piece of cardboard (usually a box lid type) to hold my caulk gun, two tubes of caulk, one wet rag, one barely damp rag, and one dry rag. I drag this supply kit, so to speak, along the floor with me. Steady pressure on the caulk gun is the least wasteful application technique. Start a little shy of the corner or place you left off. Stop every arm's length and use a wet finger (from wet rag) to smooth it out. This is when you cover the missed spots and keep a wet edge. (Fresh caulk doesn't stick well to dry or old caulk.) Wipe any excess off on a different section of the wet rag, but I find there isn't much once you get the hang of it; dry your finger on the dry rag. (Prun-y fingers don't smooth caulk well! LOL) Use the barely damp rag to clean off the excess caulk on the surfaces. Rotate the rags methodically using a corner at a time. I wash out the wet rag and reuse it over and over. The damp rag can last awhile (I rinse and squeeze and reuse), but ultimately the caulk dries and sticks too much so I toss it out at that point. The dry rag becomes the damp rag. Replace dry rag. I use the ickiest, most stained cut-up t-shirt rags for this purpose, so they are near the end of their life-span already.
The above is for big jobs, like all of our ceilings one year and two sliding glass doors another year and baseboards, etc. I prefer to caulk one room at a time, as soon as it is appropriate (not wait for all caulking to be ready, and avoid stopping partway along any one area). I cover the caulk tubes with a section of thick flexible plastic (from whatever is around) secured with a rubber band or tape when not in use. I reuse that same "cover" throughout the project, carefully peeling the tape up enough to slide the "cover" off without destroying it. Rubberbands are easier for reuse, but we don't come across them very often.
For smaller jobs, like our shower, I use one rag and get one end wet and leave the other end dry. Use similarly as above, but I rarely need to go over the surfaces until the very end. At which time, I rinse out my rag and squeeze it well, then wipe down the surfaces. Rinse well and hang dry. Rags last through these types of projects. I use one tube of caulk and cut it for a small bead size. I can always go back over the area a second time for a thicker application or cut the tube a little more, if needed. Using too large of a bead size from the start just wastes the caulk and causes more clean-up time (and rags).
Applying caulk is an art, IMO. I've watched a lot of different people do it. Beginners are usually very messy. Experience helps a lot with waste, but also one's mindset. I have one friend who has lots of experience with caulk, but his thought is to get it done as fast as possible and use a lot of paper towels to clean it up afterwards (or let someone else clean up). I have another friend with good experience and she is meticulous on the application side (so less waste on that end), but she also uses paper towels to clean up. I've watched many construction workers apply caulk like their finger is the caulk gun, very neat and quick -- only one rag used to clean their hands at the very end. I aspire to become like that and am on my way. I can get through an entire room with the three rags method and reuse them all for the next room as long as I clean them right away. By the third room, though, one rag has too much caulk to wash and reuse.
Another tip: Cut your fingernails short or at least the one or two you use for smoothing the caulk.
There's your novel on caulk! Told you we are buddies! ;)
Thank you so much for this info! You certainly do know your way around caulk;) I really appreciate the detailed instructions. I definitely made the beginner's mistake of applying too much caulk initially, hence the need for painter's tape and all that extra clean-up time.
Karin's given some really great advice!
The only add on to thoughts about having a damp rag when painting, from me is that if you're using old t-shirt type material you can get a really fine wipe line (?) by either wrapping around a finger with great nails, or even using a putty knife, or similar. Oh, and you only need little, little rags...
Also, one more use for rubber bands: stretch one around a paint can such that it bisects the middle of the can opening (i.e., up/down direction). You can then use it to wipe excess paint off your brush.