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Paint Like A Pro: How To Paint A Wall

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 free job estimate form to get started!

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