Paint containers don't get much press because no one gives them a second thought. I'd say 9 out of 10 homeowners just buy one of the old fashioned tried-and-true metal paint trays with the disposable plastic inserts.
And while I used to be one of those people, you won't catch me using one today. Fortunately for me, the professional house painters that taught me the value of a good paint brush and a good paint roller setup also shared with me the same thing I'm about to share with you that helped me to speed-up my time on projects and make painting a lot easier.
Why Are Paint Trays So Terrible?
Where do I start? These things are AWKWARD when they're filled with paint.
When you try to move them they want to tip over on you.
Not to mention how many times I've been engrossed in rolling paint on the walls and nearly stepped into one.
The only good thing i can say about a paint tray is that they're easy to clean since you can just remove the plastic insert and throw it away.
What Other Choice Do I Have?
In my humble opinion, a painter's best friend is a plastic 5 gallon bucket. Nothing fancy, just a plain 5 gallon bucket. Purchase yourself a hanging metal 5 gallon bucket grid and you've got yourself a great setup to paint out of.
These buckets have an attached handle that makes them easy to move. If you keep your paint level below the bottom of the grid they don't tip over easily, even when bumped. If you get in the habit of keeping an extension pole attached to your paint roller setup -- which you should -- you don't have to do any bending down to reload, or stretching to reach high on the wall.
The other wonderful thing about using a bucket is when you're ready to call it a day you can just stick a bucket lid on it and you don't have to worry about your paint developing a skin.
What About Cutting-In?
The way to cut down on fatigue when painting is to minimize bending and stretching. If you use a 5 gallon bucket to cut-in you'll either have to bend over each time you need to dip your paint brush or lug your bucket around all of the time. Neither of which are ideal.
For many years professional painters have been using either a small plastic bucket or a 1 gallon paint can by cradling the can with their fingers and wrapping their thumb around the handle to hold it steady. While this will certainly work it can cause your hand to get tired if you're not used to doing it every day.
There was a new type of cut bucket that was developed a few years back that has a more ergonomic design with a strap attached to the side which allows you to slide your hand through to carry it without the strain on your digits. The other nice thing about these are that they come with disposable plastic inserts that can be removed for easy cleaning.
And For The Big Jobs
For those ambitious DIY'ers among you who aren't afraid to wield an 18" paint roller setup, you'll need a bucket to match the demands of your extra large applicator. For just this purpose they make some really cool wide plastic roller buckets with a heavy duty handle and a built-in roller grid.
I hope these quick tips on paint trays and buckets will save you time and exhaustion on your next painting project.
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