Brad with professional painter tools

Professional Painter Tools: The Essential List

Here’s a list of professional painter tools at low cost tools that you cannot do without.

Then at the bottom of the page, some non-essential professional painter tools, but very helpful tools. Buy them. Keep them for life.

Professional painter tools and where to find them

We have compared the items below and you will find our picks for the best deals around.

  • Roller Cage, aka Roller Frame or Roller – Wooster is my choice (Purdy is good too).  Cheap ones break easily. Advanced tip: want to go Pro?  Try the Quick Lock type (special pole required).  It is a snap system, not a screw-in, although it has threads for an ‘old fashioned’ pole.  We use them because we can switch poles and remove and attach them quickly.  Probably not a good idea for the home owner unless you live for tools, but essential in the professional painter tools list. You can find the roller cage here. Canadian painters: you have a unique problem: click here to find out more.
  • Roller Cover: we use wool or a wool/poly blend.  They don’t shed and leave ticks on your wall and they hold a lot of paint so you can go farther with each dip.
  • A Quality Brush – we use 3 kinds: Purdy, Purdy, and Purdy.  Actually we sometime buy a cheap-o to leave in a small can of primer or to use with some oil paint.  We don’t clean brushes for icky paints. The one linked to here is 2.5 inches: professional minimum size.  Maybe go with 2 or 1.5 if you are new. Read more about the best painting brushes that I recommend.
  • My Main Professional Painter Hand Tool: 5-in-1 professional painter tools - my favorite tool“putty knife-can opener-nail puller-hammer-roller squeegee-scraper(s)”. This one has the hammer end: important to have, as well as the nail puller hole in the middle. It’s  like having a 3rd hand.  Keep in pocket.  Painter’s pants have a nice side pocket just for a putty knife.  Be careful with the sharp point on this knife: I put a hole in my car upholstery.  Once I knew a librarian who could not think without a pencil in her hand.  I cannot work without this in my side pocket.  I also need coffee. Essential in it’s own way.
  • Extension Pole(s) – A broom pole unscrewed WILL work, but are flimsy. Some bathroom plungers will fit also for a short pole.  If you get an adjustable fiberglass or aluminum pole, you’ll be happier.  Also, check out the Quick Lock system here.
  • Block Sander – just a block of wood that you can wrap sandpaper around will save your hands some stress.  You can buy the kind that has a clip so the sandpaper does not move around.  Remember to give walls a quick blast with about 120-150 grit sandpaper to remove ticks and lint trapped there from the last painter who used a cheap roller that shed lint~!
  • Roller Bucket or Tray/Pan– If you want a tray, that one has a lid, but we use 5-gallon buckets that paint comes in and control the amount of paint on this screen.  It is so much better than a tray/pan. It is tall, and has a lid. It is made out of durable plastic and balances a lot better than a paint tray and washes out easy. It’s a must have professional painter tools.  The bucket here is a bit expensive: I’d just go the the paint store or Home Depot. But I would not trust Home Depot employees.  I have been lied to there.
  • Step Ladder – If you don’t mind getting paint on your house ladder: use it (or just cover with a non-slip cloth). We cannot use the folding plastic type with a tray, as we are commercial, but that is a great looking ladder.
  • Extension Ladder – If you cannot borrow you neighbor’s ladder, get a quality 12 foot extension. You will use it outside and inside for painting stairwells. Don’t store outside as they rope will degrade quickly. I have the one linked here, as well as a 24 and others.
  • Drop Cloths – Good to have around. We use canvas for floors, plastic for furniture. Not expensive and have many uses. Tip: wipe up drips that go on the cloths so you do not step in one and track paint when you step off onto the floor! Long-skinny canvas ones are best for walls: only 4′ wide.
  • Work Light – Good lighting will help you catch the ‘skips’ in the paint.  Anything you miss with good lighting will never be visible later.  We used to use halogen which are very hot and have bulbs that wear out or break.  LED’s go forever.
  • Quick Dry Spackle – and putty knife.  For larger repairs, have some pre-mixed drywall compound handy: it dries slowly, but is easy to sand and very cheap! You’ll need a wide knife to apply.
  • Caulk Gun – Use caulk in corners where you will have two colors meet, and for all seams: between trim and wall and so on. Tip: don’t use silicon caulk unless you have to.  Make sure you buy “paintable” caulk. The gun featured here has the attached poke stick you need to break seal on tube–handy.
  • Painter’s Tape – not used as much as you think, (see my post on about painting the walls or trim first), but essential to mask off trim in tight corners. A good paint brush eliminates the need for taping. So there you have it. If you are considering starting your own painting business and want to know how much it will cost to get started this list will help you. I would guess off hand that everything on the list totals around $300. If you already have a step ladder and even a small extension ladder, this will cut the start up cost down considerably.
  • Rags – We like colored rags as drop cloths are generally white and white rags disappear when dropped. Caution with colored rags: the pigment may come out when you wipe. An old baby diaper or any flannel is best.  Keep a damp one in your side rag-loop (not a hammer loop in painters’ pants). Yes Amazon sells ’em.
  • Clean Up Tools: Wire brush to remove dried paint from the outside of your brush is the main tool here. You can ready my other post on cleaning up: it really is easy. Read more in my post: Best way to to clean paint brush.  This comb is for straightening teh bristles to let the brush dry well… Not, as Mrs. Stewart’s website shows, to clean under water!   Funny self taught fluffy websites!
  • Screwgun/Drill/Screwdriver – What is a screwdriver?  It’s a hand tool we used to use.  I might still have some.  But seriously, we only use electrics.  I love the Hitachi the best.  Have lots of tips (including the weird ones) around.  Keep some in your pocket.  I also glue a plastic holder on to the side of my gun.  It really helps.  I bought this Hitachi because I was tired of throwing away cheaper ones.  It’s great.  Just remember not to put in carry-on luggage or they make you checkit.  I KNOW.
  • Sandpaper – have some various grits around: 120 -150 – and some 80. Careful with the 80 as it can do some damage.  Buy the good stuff and don’t let it get wet.  Or go with the kind you can wet to cut through plaster faster: but I don’t like them.
  • Pencil – Never use ink.  Don’t believe me?  Try to paint over ink.  See?
  • Stain Blocking Primer – Commonly called “Kilz” although there are other brands. (BIN has a nice toxic spray and 1-2-3). They have a ‘shellac’ which blocks ink, water stains etc.  I cut down the handle on a cheap brush and keep it inside the can with the lid tight. Be sure to wear gloves! Use this if you have a mold problem.

Some Non-Essentials Professional Painter Tools

You might not need those professional painter tools, but I use these every day, all day. You can do without them for occasional house painting, but they are good professional painter tools.

  • Gloves – I cut off the finger tips.  Keeps hands clean and protected from cuts etc. Latex gloves here.
  • Shop Vacuum- I keep a wet-dry vac around all the time.  Once I dropped a quart of paint on a lady’s carpet.  Rushed out to get the vac.  With adding warm water to the mess and going over and over, I left a bit spot much cleaner than the rest of the carpet!
  • Respirator – just for when you use sprays or oil/toxic paints.  Somewhat expensive, but health and safety really must be first.
  • Tack cloth – For when you need to really remove all dust/lint.  This is more for furniture painting, but good for eye-level and hand-level door frames, especially around the door knobs.
  • Sponge – for cleaning walls before painting (after sanding especially). I keep one semi-damp on hand.
  • Powerful Fan – Keeps you cool as well as helps dry the paint faster. We have several.
  • Cut Bucket (for brushing) – We just use the single gallon cans and here is a good tip: use a regular can opener to remove the lip that holds the lid. We usually buy several gallons of the same color, and keep one can nice for storage (that means we don’t gunk up the seal with paint: we wipe it clean with brush). You can buy 2-quart or 1-gallon buckets that come with lids: great for storage too.
  • Painter’s Pants – they have great pockets. I like the kind with a cell phone pocket and for pants that don’t have that, I sew a pocket onto the front of the thigh.
  • A cell phone case to protect openings from dust and paint. I used to wear out one per year, until I was given a cover. Love it.  Painter cell phone caseI have lots of pouches on my belt for all kinds of things: I hate to go hunting for a tool.
  • Tool Box or Bucket – A good place to keep things together. It’s good to gather all tools every so often and you won’t have to hunt them down when you need them. That is a momentum killer.

Let me know what are your favorites professional painter tools.

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