Painting your own home can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you have invested in some of the top-preforming paint brands in Consumer Reports’ testing, your paint job won’t look good if you don’t know how to apply it properly. Paint runs, roller marks and thin spots are just a few of the mistakes that are commonly made when interior paint has been applied incorrectly. You can have smooth, beautiful results in just one coat with the right tools and technique.
Step 1: Clean the Surface
Before pouring any paint, make sure it has a nice clean surface to adhere to. Scrub the areas you are going to paint with a sponge and a mild household soap solution. Allow your walls the proper amount of time to dry before you begin to layer on any paint. Use your wait time to put down drop cloths and plastic sheets to protect your floors and any furnishings. Move and cover any furniture that is in the way and can’t be lifted out of the room.
Step 2: Apply Primer
Most professional painters will recommend applying some type of primer to your walls before painting them. Primer is simply an undercoat that essentially acts as a sealant on your walls so that the new paint adheres to the surface instead of being soaked up by your walls. Primer is highly recommended if the new color is drastically different or highly contrasts the old color.
Step 3: Prepare the Paint
Start by pouring a thick layer of paint into the sloped section of the tray until the reservoir at the bottom is about halfway full. Using disposable liners in the trays will help save time while cleaning up later. If you have the tendency of being a bit clumsy, you can purchase a paint pourer to help prevent any spills. These are available for only a couple of dollars at your local hardware store.
Step 4: “Cut in” the Edges
Also called trimming in, cutting in the edges is when you paint a few inches around any borders of a wall that a paint roller can’t reach. This is the part of the process where you usually see people marking out areas on the wall using blue painter’s tape. Using this tape can be effective, but more and more professional painters are beginning to use a plastic paint edger to save time and money. This tool costs less than five dollars and features a woven pad with guide wheels that roll along baseboards, trim, ceilings and corners.
Step 5: Roll on the Paint
Once you have the entire room “cut in,” it’s time to switch to the roller and fill in the larger areas. This can be the most fun and satisfying part of the process because you get to see the beautiful color you’ve picked come to life right before your eyes. Don’t let all that beauty distract you. This is where the majority of homeowners begin to run into the problem areas that leave them upset with the finished result.
For interior projects, short-nap rollers (1/4-inch thick) is suitable for most projects. These rollers experience less paint splatter, while still rolling on a thick, smooth and even coat. To get that sleek, lush finished look long after the paint has dried, follow these 4 easy steps when rolling on the paint:
Saturate. Fill the roller with paint by passing it through the tray several times. Apply a tiny bit of pressure to force the paint on to the roller. Then do a few light passes until the paint is just about dripping off the roller.
Smear.In a 2’x2’ section, smear the paint on the wall with the roller in an X, V or Z pattern.
Spread.Continue to spread the paint around to cover the entirety of the 2’x2’ section. Go back and smooth it over so you don’t have to worry about what directions you’re spreading the paint in.
Smooth. Do a series of single roller passes from top to bottom to smooth out the painted sections.
Repeat this process in 2’x2’ sections until the room is finished.
Going around the room in 2x2-foot sections might seem tedious, but it will give you the consistency you need to achieve your goal of a smooth, thick layer of paint in only one coat. This technique should deliver near-perfect results but use any remaining paint for touch-ups afterward. If there is still paint in the original container after you have finished, close the lid tightly by tapping along the edges with a hammer. Write the date you used it last and the room you used it in with a permanent marker on the lid. When you go to store it, do not place it in sunlight, near a heat source or anywhere it might freeze.