How to Paint Interior Walls

Roller applying blue paint to a white wall

Written by My Home Handyman

March 16, 2022

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Changing up the look of your home can be as simple as changing paint colours in a room or throughout the home. It depends on the kind of changes that you want to make.

But painting interior walls is not as easy as it seems. If you want to paint your walls like a pro, there are a few steps to follow. Make sure that you have quality paint and primer, that your rollers and brushes don’t leave behind fibres, and follow the proper techniques. In the end, it will result in a paint job that looks like a pro did it.

Step 1: Get Prepped

This is a two-step operation within one step. The first part is ensuring that you have the right tools and materials for the job. That means having your ladder, work lights, screwdrivers to remove light plates, paint brushes, rollers, primer and paint, painter’s tape, gloves, plastic sheeting, and anything else you may need.

When you have all the necessary tools for the job, it is time to set up. Remove as much furniture from the room as you can. It just makes moving around simpler and easier. Next, place drop cloths on the floor, taping them into place around the room to ensure that they won’t lift and move.

It is vital for just about any amateur that you tape off the trim. It will ensure that no paint gets on your baseboards or trim, which would then require cleaning or even touch-up painting later on.

Step 2: Applying the Primer

After the setup has been completed, it is time to start painting. It is important to note that you don’t necessarily have to use a primer when painting. For instance, if you are painting the wall the same or similar colour and the paint is of good quality, there is minimal chance of a bleed.

When dealing with bare drywall paper, make sure to use a drywall primer. It also helps to have a pre-tint primer, which is closer to what the wall colour will be. That means less stark white and the possibility of needing fewer coats at the end of the day.

Step 3: Mix the Paint

This is a step that far too many amateur painters forget about. Unless you are grabbing the paint from the store and going right to painting, there is a good chance that it will have to be remixed before you get started.

Most of the time, a wooden stirring stick is more than enough to get the job done. If you want to get really thorough about it, you can get a metal spiral power mixer attachment that fits into the chuck of your electric drill. Either method is fine, just make sure that the paint has been properly mixed before you begin to ensure optimal quality.

Step 4: Painting the Edges

There is a rhyme and reason to start with the edges. First and foremost, it creates a border or boundary for you to work within. Think of it like the pages of a colouring book. It becomes about colouring in the lines.

Start with a 4-inch swath right along the edges using a 2-inch trim brush. Dip lightly into your paint, making sure to wipe away the excess. From there, you can paint alongside and slightly over the edge of the painter’s tape to ensure total coverage.

There is also the method called cutting-in. If you go that route, make sure to paint the edges roughly 4 inches inward. No matter what you do, paint a minimum of 2 coats to ensure proper coverage.

Step 5: Rolling Time

With the edges established, it is time to fill in the rest. Please don’t go with some cheap roller as they can leave little fuzzies behind that stick out like a sore thumb. Proper coverage is needed but be careful about overloading the roller. Squeeze out the roller after dipping to ensure proper saturation.

Start by placing the roller on the wall and painting using “W” shapes. Generally speaking, you want to use this technique to fill in sections of the border between 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. Make sure that you finish a section completely before moving on.

It is also important to work in a fashion that maintains a wet edge. The goal with a wet edge is to ensure that you won’t have any streaks along the way. It takes a little bit of time to find a groove, so don’t worry if it isn’t quite as smooth as you hoped on the initial section.

Step 6: Applying a Second Coat

Painting a space takes patience. You have to prep everything, apply the primer, slap on the first coat, and wait for it to dry. In just about any situation, you are going to need to apply a second coat of paint to ensure proper coverage.

Give it at least a few hours so that the first coat can dry, but more realistically, come back the next day. Keep an eye on the paint; the glossier it is, the longer it takes to dry correctly. Flat paint dries faster, even being ready to repaint in as soon as an hour. Under warm, dry conditions, apply the second coat using the same techniques as above.

Step 7: Double-Checking and Cleanup

This is the time to perform your checkups. Look for any streaks or areas where bleed-through is occurring. There is a chance that a third coat may be needed, but that typically isn’t required.

When you have finished, clean up your tools. Those brushes can get expensive and the last thing you want is to go to use them again and they are caked in dry paint. Use warm water and a paint comb to get your brush nice and clean again.

Pull up any drop cloths or plastic sheeting, throwing them away with the painter’s tape as well. Speaking of the latter, wait until the next day to pull the tape. When you do, it should create a sharp line between the wall and trim.

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