Paint Like A Pro: How To Paint Walls

painting
Paint your walls like a professional by following these steps

You made it! You’ve purchased all the right tools for the job, picked out the perfect paint, fully prepared the room, and now it’s time to start painting. Don’t worry, your time and effort will pay off! Let’s begin with the primer.

Painting Primer Coat

For this article, we’re going to assume you’re not painting the ceiling. Grab your sash brush, the primer paint, an old rag, and let’s get started. Ensure the lid is on tightly and give the paint can a good shake. Carefully open the lid and set aside. If you’re using a paint bucket, fill it with a decent amount of primer. Depending on the height of your walls, a ladder may be necessary to paint near the ceiling.

Take the paintbrush handle in your hand like a big pencil. Don’t grab it like a hammer. Coat the first 2” of the bristles with primer, lightly dab the brush against the sides of your paint bucket to remove excess, and let’s start painting near the top corner of your selected wall. Think of your wall as a rectangle. We’re going to paint around the edge of the rectangle with the brush. This is called cutting in. Remember, take your time. The purpose of cutting in is to make painting the rest of your wall with a roller much easier.

To get paint into the corner without making a mess, try approaching the wall holding your brush at a 45° angle. Start your stroke about 3” from the corner and apply light pressure. As your brush works its way into the corner, rotate your wrist towards the downward wall. With some practice, this should allow you to work your paint brush into the corner without smudging or beading up too much paint.

Once you cut in the corner, paint a 2-4” wide cut in line along the top of your wall. Use your rag to clean up any accidents. If you’ve got baseboard, be careful not to have too much paint on your brush when cutting in. Excess paint tends to bead up on a brush and leak onto baseboard. Finish the floor line then go back to the top corner and paint a 2-4” wide cut in line down the side edge of your wall. Repeat for other side edge. Once the edges of your wall are painted, cut in along the edge of any windows or doors on the wall.

Grab your roller and roller cover. Fill your paint tray with primer, but not enough to cover the lines used to remove excess paint. Don’t dunk the roller cover in primer. Roll the edge of the roller into the paint. Try to keep paint outside of the internal rolling mechanism. Take your coated roller and paint a large “W” shape on a 2-3 foot wide section of your wall. Go back over the gaps you left by rolling straight up and down on the wall. Go over this section a few times and get your roller up and into the cut in lines. This method will allow you to evenly coat a section of the wall without having to go back to the paint tray multiple times. Once you’ve completed the first section of your wall, move on to the next 2-3 foot wide “W” shape. Be sure to paint about 4-6” of overlap on the previous sections of your wall. This will help ensure paint dries evenly and doesn’t show much streaking.

 

If you’re painting with a partner, start with both of you cutting in. Split the wall down the middle and each take one half. Once you finish cutting in the wall, one person starts rolling while the second person begins cutting in the second wall. Find a groove and you’ll have this project done in no time!

Once you’ve painted the primer it will need a few hours to dry and set up. Depending on your location, or time of year, this drying could take a full day before it’s ready for a finish coat. While you’re waiting for paint to dry, clean out your brush and roller to prepare for the finish coat. Depending on what state you’re in, you may need to comply with certain laws when cleaning equipment. Look up what your state’s laws are on paint clean up before starting.

Painting Finish Coat

Once your primer coat has fully dried you’re ready for finish. This coat requires more focus and attention to detail. You’re going to follow the same painting method for primer, but this time you’ll want to put more attention towards cutting in. Be sure all cut in lines are well covered and passed over several times to smooth them out. This will help eliminate streaking along the edges of the wall. Once you start covering a wall with finish you’ll want to complete the entire wall. If you stop halfway through or run out of paint you may have to repaint later on.

If you’re painting with a darker finish, you may need to use 2, or even 3 coats to completely cover your walls. Depending on the walls previous color and how well you applied the primer, drywall can be tough to cover or porous; requiring more paint. Keep a rag handy in case you make a mistake or drip some paint. Even the pros frequently mess up.

Once you’re satisfied with the finish coat, allow it to dry for a few hours. You can clean out your roller, but leave your paint brush bristles partially submerged in finish. You’ll need it for touch up later. Once the paint is dry to the touch, begin to remove tape. Use caution, removing tape quickly can pull fresh paint off the wall, leaving marks for touch up.

Touch Up Paint

Before reinstalling outlet covers and removing drop cloths take your brush around the room and inspect the wall for imperfections or light paint coverage. If you come across an area on the wall that needs to be touched up, use your finish to cover it. Cover the light spot, then use the bristles of your brush to feather out the paint around the affected area. This helps blend the touch up with paint already applied. Once you’ve touched up the paint allow walls to dry at least 4 hours. Once paint is dry to the touch you can remove additional tarps or coverings and reinstall outlet covers.

Remember to clean up your tools and put them away properly. You can reuse a decent paint brush for years, as long as you take care of it. With your equipment clean and room back in order, you’ve successfully painted like a pro. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and look forward to the next project!

If you’ve enjoyed this series please let me know. And, if you’ve read the series and want some help with your next painting project, I would love the opportunity to help out. Fill out my job estimate form to get started!

Paint Like A Pro: Preparing To Paint

paint prep, prepping a wall, preparing for wall paint, paint room, paint house
What to do before starting your painting project

Part 1 of our series shared what tools can help make painting easier, Part 2 of the series covered how to pick the best paint for your project, and now in Part 3 we will be discussing how to prepare walls for painting.

When most people think of painting a room, they probably skip over most, if not all, of the preparation process. Properly preparing a surface to be painted is just as important as the painting itself. When a surface is prepped the paint goes on better and lasts much longer.

For this article we’ll be prepping an interior wall for painting, but the same ideas can apply to other surfaces. Here are some steps to consider when preparing a wall for paint:

Remove Furniture & Wall Decorations

Having multiple pieces of furniture in a room can make painting a pain. If it’s an option, remove any furniture from the room to give you plenty of space to work in. If you’ve got pictures or other things hanging from the wall, now is the time to remove them. If you’d like to rehang items after painting, don’t fill in those holes with putty (more on that later).

Clean The Walls

Depending on how long it’s been since the last paint job, your walls could be covered with a fair amount of dirt and debris. This is particularly true in the kitchen, where food debris can often be found on the walls. Take this time to scrape off dirt, gunk, and other build up before moving on to the next step. Use a multi-tool or putty knife to clear debris build-up off the walls. You can clean your dirty walls with a solution of 1 tablespoon laundry detergent to every 1 gallon of water. Lightly scrub the walls with a sponge or soft bristle brush.

Caulking Seals & Joints

If you’re not going to paint your window trim, baseboard, or crown moulding, you can skip to the next section. If you are going to paint those pieces, consider caulking any cracks or openings around the trim. Depending on what you’re sealing, you’ll want to use a latex or silicone based caulking. For most interior walls white latex caulking is fairly standard. If you’re caulking a bathtub, sink, or other surface that may be exposed to water, you might consider a silicone based sealant.

Grab your caulking gun and insert the caulking tube. Using a sharp knife, cut at a 45 degree angle about ¼” from the tip of your tube. Having a diagonal tip will allow you to easily get caulking into tighter, smaller spaces. Keep a wet rag handy because this can get messy. Find spots that need to be sealed and apply a thin bead of caulking. Gently run your finger over the caulking line to smooth the surface and fill in gaps. Wipe off any excess and clean your hand with the rag before continuing. Silicon is a little different could require some solvent to remove from your hands. Let the caulking set up and dry for a least a few hours before attempting to paint. While your sealant is drying, move on to the next steps.

Remove Outlet Covers

This step making painting with a roller much easier. Grab a Phillips or Flathead screwdriver and remove any outlet covers from the walls you’ll be painting. If the outlet covers are plastic and dirty put them in a small bucket of water with some soap. Let them soak while you prep the wall.

Fill Holes with Putty or Spackling

If your wall isn’t textured or paneled, a fresh coat of paint can really make small imperfections on the wall stand out. Small holes from pictures, dings, and dents over the years can be filled with painter’s putty or spackling. I prefer to use painter’s putty because it is decently easy to work with and can be painted over. Spackling will typically be easier to mold to the hole or crack in the wall, but can be difficult to cover with paint.

Take about a golf ball size piece of painter’s putty and begin to work it in your hand; making it more pliable. Applying slight pressure, run the putty ball over small holes in the wall. Try to over fill the hole just a little bit. As the putty sets up and dries, it will shrink down. You can remove any excess putty with a multi-tool or putty knife. Allow the putty to set up and dry for at least a few hours before painting.

Sanding The Wall

Sanding your wall can remove minor imperfections left behind from putty or wall debris. I prefer to use this sanding sponge because it provides decent grip and doesn’t tear away at the wall like rougher pads. Find areas that need to be sanded, apply light pressure to the sponge and work in a small, circular motion. Take a dry rag and wipe away any dust left behind from sanding.

Vacuuming & Dusting

Now that things are sealed and sanded, there shouldn’t be much more debris created before painting. Take a soft bristle broom or rag and dust off your walls. This dust can making covering the wall with fresh paint difficult. Knock off excess dust and grab a shop-vac. If you don’t have a shop-vac you can use a trusty broom and dust pan. The goal is create a relatively clean, dirt free environment before painting.  

Taping

There’s no other way to spin it: taping takes time but is a worthwhile investment. With proper care given to taping, cutting in and painting become much easier. Painter’s tape helps protect other walls or surfaces from stray paint, and make clean-up a breeze. When I’m taping off trim or ceilings I like to use this painter’s tape. It offers enough adhesion to stick to most surfaces, but won’t damage underlying paint when removed.

If you’re taping a ceiling pull about 18” of tape off the roll. Press the end of your tape into a ceiling corner with a little overlap. Line the edge of your tape along the ceiling and wall joint then press the tape firmly against the ceiling to create a seal. Slide your fingers down the line of tape. Leaving your fingers pressed against the tape, pull more tape off the roll and continue down the ceiling. You can tape about 3-5 feet before you need to move your ladder. Take an X-Acto knife or other utility blade and trim the excess off the start of your tape in the first corner.

Tarps & Drop Cloth

This should be the last step before you begin painting. You’ve cleaned, repaired, and prepared your walls for paint, now it’s time to protect floors and remaining furniture. If you’re painting over tile or wood, stray paint particles will typically clean off with relative ease. If you’re painting over carpet, more care needs to be taken. You can buy plastic tarps to cover furniture left in the room, or simply use old bed sheets. For protecting the floor I suggest getting a drop cloth that will cover the length of most rooms. This will allow you to paint the majority of a wall without having to move your drop cloth multiple times. Remember that when you paint a wall tiny droplets of paint will be flying off your brush and roller. Using tarps will protect the floors underneath and make clean-up easier.

If you’ve done all these steps you should be ready to paint like a pro! In the final installment of our series we’ll be discussing how to cut in with a brush and use a roller. If you want something painted, but painting isn’t something you want to try, I would love the opportunity to help. Fill out my job estimate form to get started.

Painting Like A Pro: Choosing The Right Paint

choosing the right paint
How to pick the right paint for your project

In the last part of this series, we covered what tools you’ll need to help you paint like the pros. Now that you have the right tools, it’s time to figure out what paint to use for your renovation project. Let’s talk about what you’re painting. Is it indoors or outdoors? Is the surface smooth or rough? Do you want the finished product to look glossy or matte? All these questions, and more, need to be answered to get the best results.

In this article I’ll go over the different kinds of paint you can use for various projects. Knowing what kind of paint you need can save money and frustration when going to purchase. Once you have a color in mind, we’ll begin working through the next steps.

*NOTE: I AM NOT BEING PAID/SPONSORED BY ANY COMPANY OR PRODUCT LISTED*

Finish

Once you choose a paint color, you’ll need to decide what finish you’d like the final product to have. Do you want a flatter, satin finish; or a more shiny, glossy finish? Satin, or matte, finish provides little to no shine, and offers less stain resistance. Glossy finish carries a high shine and is often times more washable. Whatever finish you decide on, make sure to purchase a color sample kit for testing (more on that later).

Primer

To ensure your final color covers completely and looks great, paint a primer coat first. Primer brings old walls back to a neutral color, seals up tiny holes in drywall, and helps final coat last even longer. Primers don’t have to be top-of-the-line to get great results. Take your time when rolling out walls and some generic primer should do the trick. Most gallons of primer will cover approximately 400 square feet, or a 12×12 room with 8’ ceilings. Try out this primer from Sherwin Williams:

Remember that primers can be tinted to closely resemble final color. This comes in handy when making a large color transition like dark blue to fiery red; and can also save you from having to apply multiple coats.

Interior

For most interior walls, people prefer high-quality, durable paint. They’re willing to pay a bit more to ensure paint will look better and last longer. While oil-based paints are more durable, many people choose latex paint because it tends to dry quickly and hold color. Latex paints are easier to apply and clean up can be done with water.

To paint interior garage walls, I prefer to use this paint because it’s cheaper and still provides a decent final look:

For painting interior walls, I prefer to use a better quality paint. For a better paint that’s still affordable I choose this:

If you want to go a step up in quality from the ProMar 200, you’ll need to drop a little more money. Purchasing a higher quality product can make application easier and paint last longer. Sherwin Williams offers their SuperPaint, which is touted as a Primer and final coat in one. While this is a novel idea, painting a primer layer first is always good consideration. Here’s the SuperPaint I would recommend:

Alternatively, Benjamin Moore offers a large line of interior paints that are high quality, but also higher price. Weigh the value of your project vs. the cost of supplies. If you’re flipping a house to sell quickly, you may not want to drop a lot of money on paint. But, if you’re creating your dream home it may be worth spending extra.

Exterior

Because exterior walls are exposed to all sorts of weather, wear, and tear, they need to be more durable than interior paints. When choosing an exterior paint type, consider the material being painted. If it’s wooden siding the wood might need to be sealed before applying final coat. If you’re painting vinyl siding it requires a 100% acrylic.

For wooden siding, I like using a wood sealer, then coating with stain or final alternative color coat. When applying stain I like to use:

For vinyl siding I suggest using a 100% acrylic paint that is formulated specifically for outdoor use. This product is what I prefer to use:

Helpful Tips

  • Once you choose a color and finish consider getting a sample test kit to try at home. This can help you save time and money if the color you choose doesn’t quite fit.
  • Talk to paint store about setting up an account. Depending on how much you plan on painting, some stores may let you set up an account as a contractor, potentially saving you money in supplies.
  • Don’t be cheap. This doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive paint, but don’t try and stretch the paint you have. Running out of paint halfway down a wall means repainting the entire thing later. Plan correctly, buy primer, and get enough final coat to cover everything at least once.

That’s it for this installment of the Paint Like A Pro series. If you’ve picked out the paint but don’t have the time to paint it yourself, I’d love the opportunity to help you. Fill out my work estimate form to get started on your painting project.