Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Paint a Wall - A Basic Tutorial

I'm still somewhat new to painting - I've finished two bathrooms, and am nearly done with my entryway and stairway - and I've learned a lot in just a little amount of time. No better teacher than doing! I wanted to share what I've learned so far in case you are looking for a jumping off point. The hardest part is just getting started. I actually consulted my mother-in-law before I painted. She's painted the interior walls of two entire houses, so she passed on all her knowledge, and that's basically what I'm passing along to you! So next time you see her, say, "Thanks, Diane!"

Home Depot, here you come. You are going to need...
1. One paint tray (or maybe a couple more, one for every color you're doing, unless you have time to let it dry completely between paint jobs).
2. One high quality brush (I have three pictured here - the Purdys - but I've really only used the 2.0 inch, straight edge one on the far right).
3. One tiny straight edge artist's brush (pictured close up below). I got this one from my daughter's paint brush set, probably Crayola.
4. One very fluffly roller brush (think SHEEP - you want this thing to fluff out like crazy because it holds a ton of paint and doesn't streak).
5. Drop cloths - I bought a six-pack of disposable plastic ones. I re-use them, but someday when they are super gunky, I won't feel bad about tossing them.
6. Painter's tape - Splurging here is worth it, unfortunately. Pictured here is blue Scotch tape, but I've since found that Frog tape works much better for keeping out leaks.
7. One Gladware Entree container - pictured here is a pathetic paper bowl, but I've since graduated to much sturdier Gladware. It's for holding paint when you are using your brush.
8. Paint. Obviously... I've been using Benjamin Moore. It's not cheap. But it is a thing of beauty. And I think it's the reason that an amateur like me can make my paint job match that of my professional painter's work.

From here on out, it's basically three steps. Tape edges/cover floors, cut in, roll on. Here we go.
1. Tape edges and cover floors and surfaces with drop cloths. Pretty self-explanatory here. If you don't want to get paint on it, tape it off and cover it up. This prep work can be tedious, but it's worth it so you can move faster later.

It's really easy to remove light switch plates, all you need is a screw driver. The more fixtures you can remove, the faster you'll paint around them. I removed towel and toilet paper bars as well.
2. Cut in. This is painter's speak for painting all the edges and corners first. You don't have to do this first, you can roll first. But it's oh-so-satisfying to do all the hard, tedious edge work first and then the rolling is so fast and easy.
Here's where the tiny artist's brush can come in handy. If you need to be meticulous, it pays to do the edges with this little guy.

Then you can use the bigger brush to lay it on thicker along the edges. The brush holds a lot of paint, so watch for dripping. I had to really watch that because I'd start moving pretty fast and that's when I'd get sloppy. I had to tell myself to slow down and be more meticulous so I didn't fling paint everywhere.
3. Roll out! Roll out. Roll out. (That's me rapping.) Paint rolling is the reward for painting. It's so incredibly satisfying. It's like eating the edges of a Caramello square and saving the middle for the last.
 It's where everything really comes together. Let the paint dry between coats. It'll look splotchy, but if it's quality paint, the splotchiness will go away and everything will look cohesive.
 As the new, dry color emerges, you realize that all your dreams are coming true. Also, you realize that you need to take down the Christmas wreath from the bathroom door that's been up a month too long. And why is it even on the bathroom door anyway?
The final steps involve making sure you've done enough coats to cover the previous paint, let everything dry, then remove the tape! If you have leakage, which I did in some places, just take a putty knife and gently scrape some of the paint away.
Voila! New paint, new hope for life is what I say.

(Now we need to discuss painting behind the toilet, because that involved standing on my head, a step that I did not include in this tutorial.)


  1. Wow! Inspirational. Out of all the blogs I read I've never read a tutorial for painting a wall. For as much as I dream of it, you'd think I would've already researched that one. thank goodness for this.

  2. You write like I think but it never ends up on as fun and clear when I write it. This was an enjoyable tutorial and I am now dying to run out and get paint!

  3. Very well done,very detailed and easy to follow. The step by step pictures are the most important part. If you can't quite follow what the written directions say,the photos do the trick! Mom