Painting Cleanup

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. Use a razor blade scraper to remove dry paint from glass. Avoid breaking the seal between the paint and windowpane.

One of the most important aspects of a successful paint job is keeping things clean as you're working. It's also important to clean equipment as soon as you're finished and to wipe up any spatters or drips as soon as they occur. Here are some specific tips on keeping things clean while painting.

Minimizing Drips and Spatters

Even if you have already cut in around the room, avoid bumping the roller into the walls as you paint the ceiling or into the ceiling as you paint the walls, even if you're using the same color paint on both surfaces. The roller may deposit a visible ridge of paint each time it touches the ceiling or the wall.


No matter how slowly and steadily you move the roller across a surface, it will emit a fine spray of paint. Wear a scarf or cap (inexpensive painters' caps are available at paint stores), and make sure the floor and furniture are covered with drop cloths. Canvas drop cloths are best because they're durable, washable, and reusable. Plastic drop cloths, however, are far less expensive and, if you tape them down so they won't slide around, just as effective.

If you choose not to mask around windows, doors, and woodwork, minimize the risk of spatters by using a paint shield, either homemade or purchased from a paint dealer. The store-bought shields come in several sizes and materials (plastic or aluminum). Do-it-yourself shields can be made from thin cardboard or the slats of an old venetian blind. The paint shield works like a moving masker. Holding the shield in one hand, place it perpendicular to the surface being painted. Then, with the other hand, apply the paint. Paint shields are ideal for painting window frames because they can be used to keep paint off the glass, eliminating the need to scrape off dried paint later.

Because some spatters and spills are inevitable, keep a moist sponge and a pail of water handy when you're using latex paints. If you're using a solvent-thinned paint, keep some thinner and a supply of rags nearby to wipe up spatters and drips before they dry into bumps.

Cleaning Windowpanes, Spatters, and Drips

The best time to clean up paint drips and spatters is when they're still wet and will wipe away easily. If you do miss them, you can clean them up later with some extra effort.

If you used masking tape around windows, peel it off right after painting. Otherwise it may pull off some of the paint. If you painted with a painting shield or freehand, there will most likely be a few errant drops or smudges on the glass. A razor blade scraper, available at paint or hardware stores, will scrape the paint off the glass easily. Avoid breaking the seal between the new paint and the windowpane when you're cleaning up ragged edges around the sash.

Cleaning up drips and spatters on most other surfaces is easier and less time consuming. For latex paint, a soft cloth combined with household detergent and warm water should do the trick. Don't scrub a freshly painted finish, though, even if it is dry to the touch. Many paints don't cure for 30 days or more. For solvent-thinned paints, use a soft cloth and turpentine or mineral spirits to soften and remove dried-on paint droplets. Then, go over the area again with warm water and detergent.

To get paint drips off hardwood, ceramic tile, or resilient flooring, wrap a cloth around a putty knife and gently scrape them up. Then wash the areas with warm, soapy water . Don't use solvent if you can avoid it, as it can damage the finish on the floor.

Check out the next page for tips on cleaning painting equipment.

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