Need some tips for painting walls? We’re here to help! We all change our tastes and preferences pretty regularly. Super-skinny jeans with a checkered belt may have been your thing ten years ago, but there’s a good chance you’ve retired that look by now.
Likewise, the mustard yellow that you painted your walls 10 years ago may have been chic at the time, but odds are you’re 100% over it by now. But don’t fret…it happens to the best of us! Trends and fashions tend to cycle in and out every ten years, so it’s no shock that your former favorite colors have started to lack their original luster and charm.
But you don’t have to feel like you’re being visited by The Ghost of Fashion Past every time you walk into your living room; repainting your walls is a completely doable task, even if you don’t have the money or resources to hire a professional. Painting a room on your own may seem intimidating, but just follow these tips and tricks and your painting project will go off without a hitch!
Tip #1: Ready those walls
Step one on our list of tips for painting walls? Make sure those walls are ready to go!
Nobody wants to apply paint to a wall with cracks and dents in it, so make sure you use painter’s putty to fill in any cracks or dents. We recommend DAP Painter’s Putty; DAP tubs come in a variety of sizes, all with great price tags. After applying the putty, make sure you don’t leave any ugly bumps on the wall. You can even the putty out with the customer-approved Purdy Surface Prep Tool. Just make sure you do this before the putty dries!
If the cracks or dents in your walls are severe, we recommend using DAP Plaster of Paris. Plaster of Paris is more “heavy duty” than painter’s putty, and is ideal for filling in larger and deeper gaps.
Before applying any new paint to your walls, lightly sand the walls to even out any rough or bumpy patches on the existing coat. After doing so, make sure that you use a degreaser to wipe away grit and dust; painting on a dirty wall will lead to a bumpy and streaky finish. Clean those walls up with Stanley Degreaser, the “go-to” product for dissolving grease and grime. For more tips on degreasing and cleaning your walls, check out this article on tips and tricks for painting like a pro.
Tip #2: Pick the perfect paint
Now that your walls are evened out, cleaned up, and ready to go, you’ll need some tips for selecting the right paint for the job.
Choosing the right paint can be daunting; even if you’ve already decided on the perfect color, you have a number of other factors to consider. One of the biggest considerations is whether you would like to use oil-based or latex paint.
Both oil-based and latex paints have their own strengths and weaknesses. While oil-based paint is the most durable option, it takes a long time to dry. Moreover, the clean-up process is a lot messier. You will need turpentine to clean up the paint, which is known for having strong fumes.
Latex paint is simpler to work with; it can be applied pretty quickly and it dries in no time. The clean-up process doesn’t require any foul smelling turpentine, either. In fact, a little rubbing alcohol will effectively clean up any messes or spills. However, there’s a downside to using latex paint. It isn’t as durable as oil-based paint, so it is more likely to wear.
The best solution to the oil-based vs. latex debate is to meet in the middle. We recommend using oil-based paint for your trimmings (which are typically subjected to more wear and tear,) and using latex paint for the walls. If you’re worried about the durability issue, we recommend using latex paint with enamel in it, such as Valspar.
Regardless of the type of paint that you decide to use, the best tip for painting walls is make sure that you’re investing in a high-quality product. Cheap paint will wear and chip, leading to more touch-ups and more hassle.
Tip #3: The right paint rollers
Item #3 on our list of tips for painting walls is to pick the right roller. As mentioned in our article about painting ceilings, lambswool covers are a great choice for your roller. Most professionals agree that they leave the most aesthetically satisfying finish. The go-to lambswool brush is the Wooster Brush, which is rated highly by professionals and novices alike.
If your plan is to leave the walls with a textured look and feel, use a ¾” nap (brush) on your roller. Whereas a standard “short” nap creates a smooth finish, a bigger nap creates a textured finish. If this is your plan, we recommend Wooster’s ¾” brushes.
Tip #4: Paint with technique
If you’ve read our article on tips and tricks for painting like a pro, you are probably familiar with some of these tips for painting walls.
First thing’s first…where to start? The next of our tips for painting walls with ease is to picture a grid on your wall. Imagine that each box in the grid is about 4’ x 4’. Attack by painting grid-by-grid; this will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the project.
The best way to create an even and streak-free finish is to use the tried and true “zig zag” method. This method of applying paint is pretty easy to master; you simply roll the paint on in an “M” or “W” shape without lifting the brush from the wall. Then, fill in the blank spaces by making small vertical or horizontal zig zags. As you’re doing so, make sure that your brush is always wet (especially on its edges). Dry edges will lead to an ugly, streaky finish.
Tip #5: Fear-free touch-ups
Our final tip for painting walls is to be prepared to make some touch-ups. Touch-ups are typically an inevitable part of the painting process. If your wall needs some touch-ups, it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong!
We recommend storing your leftover paint in a location where the temperature will be higher than 32 degrees (without exceeding 95 degrees). Paint will spoil if it’s too hot or cold, and nobody wants to use ruined paint!
To make storage and touch-ups both a breeze, we recommend investing in some Slobproof Paint Pens. These plastic pens are handy, clean, and reusable.
Frequently Asked Questions: Tips for Painting Walls
How much paint should I buy?
In order to buy the right amount of paint, you will need to measure the area that you’re painting. 1 quart of paint will typically cover 100 square feet of space. Since there are 4 quarts in a gallon, a gallon of paint will cover approximately 400 square feet. We recommend buying a little bit more paint than you think you’ll need; it’s better to have a little too much than not enough, especially since you will most likely need to do some touch-ups.
Are there any tips or tricks for mixing paint?
First of all, we always recommend mixing your paint before applying it. Each can of paint has a slightly different hue, even if they’re technically the same color. We recommend mixing your paint in a Handy Paint Pail.
To get the most even mixture, drill some small holes in your paint stirrer. This will create a “whisking” effect when you mix, leaving you with a smooth and consistent blend. Just don’t over-stir…you don’t want your paint to become runny.
Don’t I need to prime my walls before painting them?
That depends on the surface that you’re painting over. If you are painting over new drywall that hasn’t been painted on before, you should use a water-based primer before starting, such as KILZ Multi-Surface Primer.
KILZ primer is also a must if you’re applying latex paint over an existing layer of oil-based paint. However, if you’re applying paint over an existing coat of latex paint, we recommend choosing a 2-in-1 paint and primer. This will simplify the process significantly.
Is it true that I shouldn’t paint if it’s raining outside?
You should avoid painting in “wet” weather, including rain and humidity. Damp and humid air can lead to unwanted dripping, which may negatively affect the end-results.