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13 Steps To Paint Interior Walls like a Pro: Tips, Tools, and Advice

How To Paint Any Room In Your Home Like A Pro

Interior painting is not a one-size-fits-all project, and you want to do the best job you can when repainting your home. You can paint a few rooms over the course of a weekend, but you need to know the latest painting techniques to help you get the job done efficiently and get the great looking finish that you are looking for. 

If you are looking for some of my best painting tips to help you paint your home like a pro then you’re in the right place. 

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to ensure your interior painting project looks amazing and that you can avoid common mistakes people make with painting the inside of their homes.

1. Remove Light Switches & Outlet Covers

I like to remove light switches and outlet covers from the wall when I start any painting project. Removing these items will help speed up painting walls since you won’t have to cut around them, and you don’t have to worry about getting paint on the covers. 

I like to put all the covers and screws together in a small bag so I don’t lose any once the painting project is complete. Pay attention while removing outlet and electrical covers, turn off the breaker switch, and use caution when working around electrical outlets. 

2. Move & Cover Furniture

Try to move as much furniture from the room that you are painting as possible. Not only will this open up the space for you to work, but it also allows you to move around and position your equipment without worrying about getting paint on anything. 

If you need to keep furniture in the room like a large bed or table, try to move everything into the middle of the room. Give yourself about 3 feet of space to move freely. You may need more space for ladders. 

Make sure you cover all furniture left in the room with a drop cloth. This will catch any dust, primer, or paint splatters from getting on the furniture. Not only will this protect your furniture, it also reduces the amount of clean-up required once you are finished. 

3. Prepare The Wall Surface

Before you lay down the first coat of paint, you need to make sure to fill any cracks or holes in the wall. Take a look at baseboards and trim work since these areas can get dents when they are kicked and run into throughout the year. 

Also, pay attention to areas like nail holes since this is a great time to fill those areas with putty. I recommend using a putty knife for this step and allow all spackling, putty, and caulk at least 30 minutes to dry before priming or painting. This allows the product enough time to dry, and you won’t have to worry about trapping moisture behind the new paint job. 

4. Sand All Rough Patches

After you have let the product dry from the previous step, you can use some sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces. I typically use 180-grit sandpaper to smooth the surfaces, but you can test the type of sandpaper on your own as you go to find the best solution for you. 

Make sure the spackling and putty is dried before sanding, and don’t sand the areas too aggressively to prevent damaging the drywall around the area. Once smoothed, wipe away any dust with a microfiber cloth. 

5. Dust & Wash The Walls

Once the walls, baseboards, and trim work are smooth, you should dust and wash the areas that you plan to take on throughout the entire room. 

Dust, dirt, and debris can jeopardize the adhesion of a fresh coat of paint to the wall. This can lead to the paint peeling or cracking, so it’s always best to quickly clean and dust the walls and baseboards. 

I recommend only using water and a light detergent in the kitchen and hallways to remove oil and gunk from walls. Once washed, be sure to wipe down with a wet rag and let dry. 

I try to stay away from using chemical cleaners since they can leave residue on the walls. Instead, I only use a light detergent when needed, but I try to only dust the areas whenever possible. 

6. Use Painter’s Tape

Once the surfaces are prepped and cleaned, you can lay down painter’s tape to prevent where the paint will spread. I like to tape off the floor if I am going to paint baseboards, but if I am not painting the baseboards I will put a layer on the upper lip to ensure wall paint doesn’t get on the baseboards. 

I also like to put painter’s tape around woodwork, ceilings, and other surfaces that I don’t want to paint. Learning how to paint a room can be tough, but painter’s tape is the secret that many professional painters use to get clean lines that make rooms look amazing. 

7. Paint Trim Work & Baseboards First

A secret that many homeowners don’t know is that you should always start painting trim work and baseboards in a room first. This is because it’s easier to cut in the wall. When interior painting you want to get the outside lip of trim work and baseboards, and it’s easier to paint this lip and then put painter’s tape on the lip when dried to cut in the wall paint. 

I like to use two coats of paint on trim work to help protect the surface. Plus, you should be using semi-gloss paint on trim work and baseboards, so a second coat will help cover up brush strokes and other imperfections. 

I recommend using a foam roller and a 2.5” angled brush to paint trim work and baseboards. The foam roller will help smooth out paint on larger surfaces like door frames, and a 2.5” angled brush is great to paint baseboards and get into corners. 

8. Cut-In The Walls

Now that your trim work and baseboards are dry, you can lay down some painter’s tape on the outer lips and start painting the walls. Cutting-in walls is the longest process of any interior painting project, so be sure to take your time. 

Cutting-in walls will likely take around 2 hours since you can’t spread as much paint as a roller, and you will likely need to apply a second coat of paint to make the painted surfaces look smooth. 

I recommend using a 2.5-inch angled brush to cut in the wall paint to get as close to the ceiling, trim work, and baseboards as possible. I like to put some painter’s tape on the trim work and baseboards to prevent the paintbrush and paint roller from covering these areas. 

To cut the walls, load your paintbrush with paint and tilt it at a 45-degree angle use long, even strokes to apply the paint. This will reduce brush strokes, and prevent excess paint from getting on the surface so you have a smooth finish. 

There are several paint edgers that you can use, but in general, I recommend cutting-in the paint by hand whenever possible. This approach will deliver a better result and will only add a little time to the project. 

9. Roll The Walls

Now that you cut-in the walls with the trim work, baseboards, ceiling, etc. you can start rolling the walls. This 

I recommend starting in a corner and working in a 3 to 4-foot section with a standard 9” roller. When applying paint, you need to remember a few things: 

  • Work in a “W” pattern across the wall. This pattern helps prevent roller marks and helps spread the paint evenly across the surface. 
  • Don’t let your roller get dry. While you should not spread paint on the wall, you don’t want the roller to dry out because it will start ripping the paint off of the wall. 
  • Once the paint is applied in the 3 to 4-foot section you should go back over the section with light strokes. This will help take out roller marks and help the paint dry more evenly.

You may need an extension pole to roll taller sections of the wall. This is not a problem, and just make sure you follow the above directions to get the painted surface smooth. Finally, try to use the roller as much as possible. Not only does it help speed up the process, but getting as close to adjacent surfaces (corner walls, ceilings, etc.) will help reduce cut-in paint marks. 

If you use high-quality interior paint with primer mixed in you should only need to do a single coat of paint. However, if you are painting a lighter color over a darker surface then you may need a second coat of paint. 

Make sure you wait at least 60 minutes before applying the second coat of paint over the first coat. This will prevent excess moisture from getting stuck between the layers, and this will help the paint dry evenly and look consistent once dried. 

You will likely need a ⅜” nap if you are painting an interior wall. You should look at using a ½” nap if you are painting a ceiling. A shorter nap is best for smoother walls, but since the nap is shorter you won’t be able to paint textured surfaces like ceilings, so a longer nap is best. But 90% of the time you should be OK with a ⅜” nap or ½” nap.

10. Apply A Second Coat If Needed

Once the first coat of paint dries you might notice spots on the walls and trim work that did not cover properly. That’s why it’s important to let the first coat of paint dry to determine if you need to apply a second coat of paint on the walls, ceiling, or trim work. 

I like to let each coat of paint dry for about 60 minutes before applying a second coat. But you might need more time if the room is hot, or if there is a lot of moisture in the air since these can slow dry time. 

During this phase be sure to look for streaks and other imperfections as you look for thin spots or if you need to apply a second coat. 

11. Remove Painter’s Tape

Painter’s tape should be removed 20-30 minutes after the last coat of paint is applied. This will let the paint dry enough to avoid drips, but not too much time as to prevent ripping the tape off the walls. 

If you find that you are ripping paint off the wall or not getting a clean edge then you likely waited a little too long before removing the tape. This is no big deal since there are two ways to remove painter’s tape that has been on for too long. 

The first tip in this situation is to use a sharp knife to “score” the edge of the tape and paint. This will reduce tearing and give you a clean edge. 

You can also use a hair drier to heat up the edge of the tape to make the paint more flexible. This helps achieve a straight edge and it can reduce the amount of damage to the paint. 

12. Touch-Ups

Touch-ups are to be expected with any DIY painting project, so try to budget a few hours for clean up and touch-ups. 

I recommend looking at the walls, baseboards, and trim work for different angle to find mistakes that you might have missed. It’s important to look at different angles to get a new perspective on the project and help uncover touch-ups that might be hiding in plain sight. 

13. Pack Up Painting Supplies

Now that your painting project is complete, you can clean out your supplies and pack away the cans of paint and other supplies. I like to clean out my roller covers to be reused on future painting projects, but you can throw the roller covers out if you prefer. 

I recommend that you always store latex paint and primer insight a climate-controlled area. Don’t store the paint or primer in your garage since the water will evaporate quickly and cause the paint to discolor and thicken. This will impact future use, so make sure they are stored in doors. 

I always recommend washing out paintbrushes thoroughly before storing. Since a good paintbrush will cost around $20, I recommend storing the paintbrushes in their original packaging to preserve the integrity of the bristles. 

Chris

Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a professional painter with over 10 years of experience. I want to show homeowners tips, guides, and advice to save them time and money when painting their own home. I know it can be daunting to take on a painting project yourself, but it doesn't have to be. With the right information and some guidance, you can easily paint your home and save money in the process.

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