Three months ago I was in the same boat, so I began talking to people and taking notes (literally, in the "Notes" app in my iPhone).
We've painted more than half our house since November and I've learned some things along the way.
Today I thought I would talk about the tools I recommend you get your hands on to make painting easier and give you a better result.
1. Sugar Soap concentrate
Mix up a bucket of sugar soap diluted with warm water to wash grease, dirt and fly spots of your walls and ceilings. (Wear gloves.) I bought our sugar soap from Bunnings, but I'm sure lots of places sell it.
We bought a Gorilla ladder from Bunnings that doubles as scaffolding. I found the scaffolding set-up so useful for reaching our high stud ceilings and doing a long stretch high up at once.
Do be warned, on its ladder setting the Gorilla model is not as comfortable as a regular ladder, because the rungs are thinner and harder on your feet.
My advice is to figure out what type of ladder you're likely to need and buy that. We actually borrowed a regular ladder from our neighbour and used that in combination with the Gorilla so we could have one ladder set up and one scaffolding set up while we did our marathon painting mission in the kitchen, dining room and lounge.
4. Plastering float, Plastering trowel and Gib Plus 4
I found plastering so satisfying. I suddenly had the ability to fix any little hole or crack that had been bugging me for years. I went to town on all the office walls and the ceiling.
Apply a little bit of plaster with one side of the trowel and then scrape most of it off with the other side. You want light coats of plaster so it dries properly. And really, you only want to get plaster in the holes and cracks.
After the plaster has dried, sand it back to get a smooth finish on your walls before painting.
5. Electric sander
6. Linbide Tungsten Scraper
7. A good cutting in brush
I had mixed advice on this one. Some people told me only to use natural hair 30mm cutting in brushes, so that's what I got for the girls' bedroom - the first room we painted. It was terrible. I couldn't cut in without making a huge mess, so we ended up masking the whole room to get a neat edge on scotias, skirting and the pink feature wall.
To do the kitchen, living room and dining room I bought a 50mm angled acrylic Contour ABC brush on a whim and it was so good I went back to Bunnings for two more so Kim, Brendan and I would stop fighting over the one good one we had.
We didn't need any masking tape after getting the good brush.
8. Drop cloths
Old thermal backed curtains work well. Otherwise you can buy drop cloths from hardware stores like Bunnings.
They come in three different qualities: 1. Really thin plastic, 2. Pretty thin plastic, 3. Proper painters' canvas drop cloths. I went for eight option 2s but they ripped and got tangled under ladders so next time I would invest in a couple of the more expensive option 3s and be done with it.
9. Good rollers and extension handles
I bought my rollers from Resene because I wanted good quality. They were great.
The quality of the nap (fluffy bit) on a roller is really important. You don't want it too thick or you'll hold heaps of paint in the roller and not be able to get it all out onto your wall. Thick naps also tend to splatter more and don't give such a neat finish.
I bought rollers that could fit an extendable handle, since we have such high walls. I actually found it was easier to roll lower down using the long handle too, as I had more leverage and it wasn't as tiring on my arms.
My recommendation would be to get good rollers with extendable handles no matter what.
To clean them, take the nap off the roller and stand it up in a sink with water running slowly into it for about 15 minutes. If you're going to use the roller with the same colour paint in the next couple of hours, cover it with a plastic bag to prevent the paint drying out and save on washing up.
10. Old honey pots and a vivid
You don't want to be lugging huge tins of paint around when you're clambering on ladders.
Just half fill an old honey container with the paint you need, label it with the kind of paint it is using a vivid, and dip your cutting in brush into that instead. Much easier to cart around and you won't dry out the paint in your large tin by having it open for too long.
Since honey pots come with lids, you can seal them up when not using them and keep the paint fresh until you need it again.