How to Paint Your Walls Like a Pro

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Putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls can be quite exciting. It can also be more than a little frustrating if you want it to be quick. To properly paint any space, you will need first to prep the space, clean and patch the walls, prime, and then paint.

Prep the Space

Work your way around the room and mask what you don’t want to paint. This can include putting down a heavy duty vinyl tarp over your furniture and on the floor. Wipe down baseboards and window trim with a damp cloth. When they’re clean, apply painter’s tape to these edges so you don’t get paint on them.

You’ll also need to pull outlet covers. Only use a handheld screwdriver with a rubber handle for this project to avoid shocking yourself. If you’re painting with children in the house, turn off the breakers to the space. Put the screw back in the fixture where it came out and soak your switch and outlet covers in warm, soapy water. When the water cools, scrub them up and let them air dry so they can go back on clean.

Wash the Walls

Mix up a bucket of warm water and a degreasing dish soap. You don’t want it to be too sudsy. With a large sponge, wash down the walls from ceiling to floor. Rinse the sponge after each stroke and swap out the water as needed. Be very careful around outlets and switches if you chose to leave the power on.

Next, take a fresh sponge and a bucket of plain water so you can rinse the walls. Again, just rinse from the ceiling down in one long stroke. As you work your way around the room, keep an eye out for nail holes, dings, and small cracks. Keep a pencil in your pocket and make a mark on the baseboard tape under the area that needs to be patched.

When the walls dry, apply spackle to nail holes and dings. If any paint is peeling or scuffed, scrape it away before adding a thin coating of spackle or fast-drying joint compound. Lightly sand the patches before you prime. Vacuum up the dust under each patch to reduce the risk of tracking it through the house.

Prime

It should be noted that you don’t always have to prime the whole wall. If your new paint color choice is close to the current one, you may be able to get away with just priming the patches.

A freshly sanded patch will accept paint differently than a painted wall; you need a primer to seal at least the areas you patched. If you choose to only cover the patches, try to apply it with a foam brush to avoid visible brushstrokes.

Before you prime, make sure you have the right protective gear in place. Primer is formulated to cling and stick wherever it lands. Cover your hair and your eyes. If it’s not too hot in the painting area, wear a face shield to protect yourself from primer freckles.

Primer needs to be applied with quality tools. Go ahead and invest in 1/2-inch rollers for a quality finish. If you have an older brush that’s still pretty flexible, use it for primer. Don’t dunk a new brush in primer unless you have nothing else.

Whenever possible, let the primer dry overnight. You want that surface to be fully cured before you start to apply paint to it.

Finally, You Get to Paint!

Again, use 1/2-inch nap rollers to apply your paint. Work in small areas when you switch from the cutting brush to the roller so you don’t get dry lines or drips off your top coat. That may mean quite a bit of ladder work; try to do this when you are fresh if at all possible.

If your new color is much darker than the previous coat, you may need to do two coats of color. To get as full a coverage as possible, load the roller with paint and work it into the deep end so it’s fully saturated. Roll a W pattern on the wall to start from right to left and roll back over the W, right to left, to fill in the gaps.

Conclusion

A good paint job is going to take a couple of days. However, the results of a job that is not rushed will be much more pleasing to look at than a sloppy or incomplete project. Take your time and keep air moving so all layers dry fully.

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