What the Pros Don't Want You to Know: 7 Tips for Painting Interior Walls

If you're thinking about painting interior walls yourself, you need to read this first! Here are the top tips that the painting pros don't want you to know.

Whether you’re painting interior walls to prepare for an Open House or trying something new, it’s best to do it like a pro.

If you’re feeling unsure, don’t fret! Here are 7 tips to guide you

1. Gather Materials

Before you hit the paint store, keep these in mind:

Clean Ceilings and Walls

Before you start DIY painting, clear out the cobwebs and dust with an old paintbrush. If the walls are grimy, rub them down with a heavy-duty cleaner.

Know the Square Footage of the Room

Before you can prepare the walls for painting, you need to know how much paint to buy. Pros recommend one gallon for every 400 square feet but if you’re covering textured or rough surfaces, you may need more.

As there are many shades of each color, start with a quart in case you don’t love the color. To be 100% sure, paint a piece of foam board and move it around the room to see how it looks when the light hits it.

Buy High-Quality Tools

Whether you're an interior painter or not, never scrimp on tools or paint. Good rollers give great coverage to save you time and high-quality paint is far more durable than a cheaper option. You’ll find an example of great paint in this article.

You'll also need:

  • Nylon-bristol brush for water-based paint and natural bristles for oil-based paint
  • Paint tray
  • Painter's tape
  • Paint

2. Cover the Furniture, Trim and Lighting Outlets

To avoid a paint-splattered couch, push the furniture into the middle of the room or empty the room. You can then cover the furniture with plastic or drop cloths.

Avoid covering the floor with plastic as the paint takes longer to dry and it can be slippery. Instead, use drop cloths or old sheets that are a few feet wide and run the length of the wall.

To prevent paint drips, apply the painter’s tape to the edges of the room’s corners, moldings and door, and window casings. Avoid using masking tape, though, as it leaves behind a sticky residue. Also, remove the outlet and light switch covers before applying the tape to prevent further mess.

Don’t forget to mask your trim and ceilings too (if you’re not painting them). Run the tape along the perimeter of the ceiling to stop any of the fresh paint seeping onto it. To do this, overlap the tape seams by an inch.

3. Sand Your Walls

A smooth surface is a gateway to a perfectly painted wall. Sanding evens out the spackle and flattens ridges around nail holes. This will also remove any rough spots in your trim.

Sand from the baseboard to the ceiling with a sanding pole or fine-grit sandpaper. Once finished, continue sanding horizontally along the wall, baseboard, and ceiling to ensure everything has been covered. But don’t press down too hard otherwise it could damage the wall.

4. Use a Tinted Primer

When you're preparing walls for painting, you must use a primer first.

Choose a tinted grey or a color close to the finished product. Primer covers the existing paint so your finished wall will look crisper and will require fewer coats.

To determine which primer to use, find out which paint is on the existing walls. To find out whether your wall is water or oil-based, soak a white cloth with rubbing alcohol and rub it on the wall. If it softens the paint and transfer onto the cloth, it’s water-based. If the alcohol removes no color, it’s oil-based. So if you’re painting over an oil-based wall, you’ll need an oil-based primer.

5. Stir Paint with a Modified Stirrer and Box Paint

Before you paint, you need to stir it. Drill holes in the stirrer to help mix the paint. The paint will flow through the stirrer to mix the paint evenly.

Colors of paint can vary between cans despite falling under the same shade. To ensure there’s consistency, mix your cans of paint into a five-gallon bucket, otherwise known as “boxing” paint.

6. Pick Your Painting Techniques

For any interior painting techniques, it's key to use a brush and a roller.

To save time, use a roller to get within 1/2 an inch from the ceiling or wall and cut in edges with a brush. You should dip your brush so the paint covers half the length of the bristles. Compared to rollers, brushes make it easier to paint up to where the wall and ceiling meet. The combination of the two creates a good wall painting technique.

Paint the larger surface of the roll, load your roller by pushing it forward on the tray until the paint covers it. Next, paint in a ‘W’ motion so that the paint is consistent and even.

Throughout the process, you must keep a wet edge. You do this by painting the full height of a wall and moving over so you can overlap the last stroke. This is to avoid lap marks, or those ugly stripes
of uneven paint, which can ruin your wall’s consistency.

To do this, start near a corner and run the roller up and down the full height of the wall, moving over with each stroke. Also, your roller should be covered in paint to guarantee a consistent layer.

7. Work Top Down and Always Double-Check

Pros suggest you paint the ceiling first and work from the top down. If you are painting the ceiling, use a roller with an extension pole and start in the corner as you do with the walls.

Once finished, continue painting the casement molding around the windows and doors. Finish with the baseboard molding to keep grit from going onto the brush and onto your work. During the process, sand off any bumps and use a light to check for any drips or imperfections to save you time.

Are You Ready to Start Painting Interior Walls?

Make sure you give yourself enough time to begin painting interior walls and leave the paint to dry, which can take up to 24 hours. Also, remember to invest in good quality paint and tools for the best results. But, most importantly, enjoy the process!

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