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How to Paint Walls Correctly

Make your next painting job a success with these simple tips and techniques.

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Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Remove Switch and Outlet Covers

Start by removing all switch and outlet covers. Keep track of screws by taping them to the covers as you go. Fix any imperfections in the walls before you start painting. Use fiberglass tape for large holes and wide cracks and spackle for smaller ones. After spackling and sanding all holes, a sponge can be used to wash dust off the walls. Giving the paint a good stir from the bottom up will help prevent the pigment from settling.

Before you start the job, get organized. Gather all your tools together (paint, brushes, rollers, hammers, screwdrivers, plastic bags, plastic wrap, rags, paint-can opener and drop cloth) and create a tool area in the middle of the room.

You don’t have to get everything done in one day. Prep the room the day before. You can move the furniture to the center of the room, take everything off the walls, patch all holes and cracks, remove outlets and switch covers and place painters tape around windows, doors, molding and light fixtures.

Wear old comfortable clothing and take off all jewelry. Wear slip-on shoes because they are easy to take off when you leave the room. When painting the ceiling, cover your hair with a shower cap, scarf or baseball hat and protect your eyes with protective eyewear.

Step 3: Keep Paint From Spilling

If you punch holes in the interior rim of the paint can, it will keep paint from building up and spilling over the sides. When it comes time for cutting in, play it safe and tape off the area you want to protect. This will help you achieve a nice clean line of paint. When it comes to the center of the wall, a roller is the way to go.

Step 4: Roll Paint in a W Motion

To prevent any unwanted roller marks, apply the paint first in an overlapping W motion, then horizontally. Once the paint’s dry, you can remove the tape. A blast of hot air is a great way to keep it from sticking to the finish.

Use the right brush and roller for the job. Synthetic brushes and rollers should only be used with latex paint. For oil-base paint, you can use either natural or synthetic brushes and rollers.

Brushes come in many shapes and sizes. Wall brushes are three to four inches wide and will get the job done on large, flat expanses. Sash brushes are angled and usually 1-1/2 inches wide, making them ideal for detailed areas. Trim brushes have a three-inch-wide straight edge and are great for doors and window frames. Brushes that are tapered at the tip will hold more paint than a flat-end brush.

For paint rollers, the rougher the surface, the longer the roller nap should be. To test a roller's quality, squeeze it around the middle. A good roller will quickly return to its original shape. When applying multiple coats of paint, be patient and allow the walls to dry to the touch between applications. If you need to take a break, cover your paint and wrap brushes and rollers with plastic wrap.

When it comes to cleaning, soaking a brush makes it easier to clean. Drill a small hole near the metal band of your brush and then slide a large nail into the hole. Hang the brush over the top of a jar or coffee can and fill the container with just enough water or paint solvent to cover the bristles. Let is soak for a while then rinse. To get the bristles to dry straight, suspend the brush back in the container, minus the water or solvent. Use a tray liner or make your own using aluminum foil.

Paint only on dry surfaces, if the weather is damp, run an air conditioner or dehumidifier or just wait for more favorable conditions. Paint ceilings before walls.

Load a brush by dipping the bristles one-third of the way into the paint. Load a roller by dipping it into a tray full of paint and rolling it up the tray's ramp until it is saturated. Work in small sections (four-foot areas), rolling paint onto the wall in an overlapping W motion to prevent roller marks.

To keep paint from seeping under the edges of your painter's tape, create a barrier by quickly running a tapered plastic tool over the edge of the tape. This process will heat the edges of the tape and as the waxy adhesive resolidifies it will create a barrier that will keep the paint from seeping underneath the tape and on to your molding or trim.

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