From our experience, people tend to fall into two camps when it comes to the task of painting: You either love it or hate it. Painting walls might feel like an easy task at first, but once you start taping the floors, pouring paint, and wiping drips, you might quickly realize there’s a reason why people hire professionals!
But with the proper materials, preparation, and a can-do attitude, you can give any room the makeover you desire. (Check out the best white paint colors and best neutral paint colors here if you're stuck.) If you’re going to take the DIY route, here’s exactly how to paint a wall, and what you need to know to give your walls the professional treatment. Make sure you have the supplies we've listed below, and follow our instructions about how to paint a wall, plus how to paint stripes on a wall, if you're up to the challenge.
How to Prep Walls for Painting
Roll up any rugs and remove all furniture or move it to the center of the room. Cover with a drop cloth to keep items clean.
Using a putty knife, fill all nail and screw holes with putty. Overfill each hole slightly. Use a medium-grit sandpaper to smooth excess putty flat.
If necessary, caulk spaces between trim/baseboards and wall. Run a line of caulk along the space, then immediately use a wet sponge to remove excess. Let dry.
Wipe down walls with a sponge dipped in warm water. If your room is carpeted, vacuum.
How to Paint Walls
Use painter’s tape to tape off all trimwork, outlets, and other permanent structures. Be sure the edge of the tape lines up exactly where the wall meets the trim for a clean line.
If primer is needed (if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker color, for example), pour just enough primer into a painter’s tray so that it covers the bottom but doesn’t pool up the sides. This will keep it from drying out and causing drips. Prime walls. Let dry according to package instructions.
Next, paint walls. Start by pouring mixed paint into a small container (small enough to hold in one hand). Dip a two-inch brush only about a third of the way into paint, then tap brush against side of container to remove excess and prevent drips. Paint the areas around the trim, cutting in about two or three inches from tape. Work in four-foot sections to prevent marks that appear when paint starts to dry.
Use a roller to paint larger sections of wall. Fill a paint tray in the same manner you did with primer. Dip roller into paint, using top of tray to remove excess. Roll paint onto wall in three-foot sections, painting in a W motion. Without lifting the roller from the wall, fill in empty spaces with vertical strokes. This will ensure even coverage.
Continue steps 3 and 4 until the entire wall is covered.
How to Paint Stripes on a Wall
Let base coat dry for 48 hours.
First, measure the wall you’d like to paint. Divide the length by the number of stripes you’d like.
Starting in the least conspicuous corner, divide the wall into sections. Mark each width lightly with a pencil.
Using a laser level, draw vertical lines with pencil the entire height of the wall. Place painter’s tape along the line. Make sure the tape is on the correct side of the line so stripes are even.
Repeat step 4 across entire wall.
Use a burnisher or credit card to press edges of tape down so paint doesn’t seep through.
Using a paint roller, paint stripes on wall. Be sure to paint over the tape for even lines.
Before paint dries entirely, remove painter’s tape from wall. Let paint dry before replacing furniture and decor.
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