How To Paint A Room

There are several sources available to you on the proper way to paint a room. In this one, I will show you the method that I have developed over twenty plus years and thousands of rooms. It is the method I use every time I paint a room. If you’ve ever watched a professional painter and wondered how he/she makes it look so quick and easy, this article should  give you some insight.

The following text will cover the most common situation a homeowner would face for a painting project. A standard sized room, (approx. 15 x 20 ), fully furnished, walls only.


These are the tools you will need to complete your painting project .

  • One 2 1/2 inch angle sash brush. Medium to firm bristle for latex paint
  • One professional grade roller
  • One 3/8 inch nap roller cover
  • One empty and clean five gallon plastic bucket
  • One steel roller screen for a five gallon bucket
  • Two rolls of 3m blue tape, 1 1/2 inch
  • One putty knife
  • A flat head and a Phillips head screwdriver
  • One “five in one” tool
  • Six to eight 4′ x12′ canvas runners
  • One telescoping roller extension pole
  • One five gallon stir stick
  • Two gallons mid-grade to top-grade paint
  • One quart of “no shrink” spackle
  • One step-up ladder
  • Eight vinyl or felt furniture sliders (carpet or hard floor)
  • Pliers
  • Scrub brush and roller spinner for clean-up
  • Shop apron
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Rags
  • Small cut bucket

Prepare The Room

Start by removing the door, if there is one, from it’s hinges and set it in an area that you have predetermined will be the temporary storage area for this project. It is much easier to do this than to try and work around it.

Next, move as many of the smaller objects from the  room to your temporary storage area. These would include night stands,smaller chairs, pictures, books and the like. Basically, anything you can easily carry out of the room.

Now we are left with the larger furnishings. Roll up any rugs and place them atop the bed or couch. Place the furniture sliders (vinyl for carpet, felt for hardwood or tile/linoleum) under the legs of the heavier objects and slide them to the center of the room leaving at least three feet open around the perimeter of the room.The more space between the wall and the furniture, the easier the job will be.

Next, remove any curtains or blinds along with their rods and either put them in your temporary storage or lay them gently atop the furniture in the middle of the room. Do not remove the mounting brackets from the wall unless they are already loose. More often than not, once they are removed, they don’t go back on as they should due to insufficient wall anchors.

Next, place the canvas runners around the perimeter of the room. Make sure that the wall edge is tight against the baseboard throughout the job to prevent splatters or drips from reaching the floor. Keep them as flat as possible to avoid tripping. Cover the furniture in the middle of the room with plastic sheeting. Establish an area just outside of the room to keep your tools and materials on a runner that connects to the work area. This is done to avoid tracking and keep the work area clear of clutter.

Now we are ready for the next step….

Prep For Painting

We’ll start by patching the dings,dents and nail holes that have accumulated over time. Put on the shop apron and fill it with the putty knife, screwdrivers, five in one tool and  pliers. Pick up the spackle and inspect the walls. Remove all of the picture hanger nails with the pliers. Indent each nail hole with the handle end of the five in one tool to just slightly below the surface of the wall. Check by moving the edge of the putty knife over the hole. If it catches, it’s not deep enough. Once you have the proper depth, place about a quarter inch bead of spackle on the putty knife. With your first stroke, force the spackle into the hole until it is slightly over filled.With the next stroke, start from just outside the hole, flush with the wall at a slight angle and wipe the putty knife over the hole. Repeat this process on every wall, one at a time, until you have circled the room. If you do this correctly, you will not need to sand.

Once the spackling is done, your ready to begin the process of masking the woodwork. If done correctly, the spackle should be dry by the time you finish this stage.

Take a rag and moisten it with the denatured alcohol. Wipe down the edges of the woodwork or anything else you will be masking off. Check a small area first to make sure it does not remove the finish or stain. I use the denatured alcohol for this step because it dries quickly and will remove old dried latex paint from the woodwork.

TIP: with every stage, you’ll want to start on the same wall and move in the same direction around the room. This will keep you consistent and less likely to miss something or forget where you left off if you take a break.

Begin masking from the corner of your start wall by tearing about a two foot piece of tape from the roll. From this piece, tear a small piece at about 45 degrees, from the end and discard the small piece. This will give you a rough 45 degree angle at the end of your two foot piece. Place the point of the tape in the corner atop the flat part of the baseboard, hold it in place with your finger and line up the rest of the tape along the baseboard where the flat surface meets the wall. Once the corner is tacked down, slowly slide that finger down the tape aligning it with your other hand until it is tacked down to the flat surface atop the baseboard. The take the blunt end of the five in one tool and press down the same area that you just ran your finger.Repeat this process on all of the woodwork in the room, using the angle tear only when coming out of a corner.

TIP: Remove the wall plates and vent covers as you encounter them while taping. Attach the screws to them with a small piece of tape and set them out of the way but within reach of where they belong. This will make it easier when you put the room back together.

TIP: Take any small pieces of tape that you would discard and stick them on your shirt. This way, you wont have little pieces of tape all over the room and they’ll be handy to use on light switches and outlets.

TIP: Let the tape stick out. You don’t want it to wrap tight to the trim boards. This will provide an extra shield against splatters.

Now lets paint….

Cutting In And Rolling

Empty the contents from both gallons of paint into the five gallon bucket, scraping out the bottoms and sides with the sash brush. Stir thoroughly with the five gallon stir stick. Pour about three inches into the cut bucket and wipe the drips with the brush. Attach the roller screen into the five gallon bucket.Put the roller cover on the roller and set it on the screen. Bring the whole works, along with the extension pole and step up to your start wall and get to work.

TIP: Whatever equipment you are not using, keep it just around the corner of the wall you’re working on, opposite  the direction that you are moving.

Do one wall at a time. Start by cutting in everything that you don’t need the step up for first. Some people call this edging or trimming. Cut around windows, doors, baseboards or anywhere the roller can not reach. Try to keep the point of the sash brush pointed toward what you are cutting around. Dip the brush often about two inches into the pail and tap off excess paint on the side of the pail. Don’t scrape it off on the edge. Spread the paint out in two foot sections, keeping the handle of the brush pointed in the direction that your arm is moving. Do a finishing stroke back along what you’ve just painted to even it out. Don’t be too overly concerned with full coverage during this first coat, as the second will cover any flaws in the first.

Next we cut along the ceiling. Go back to where you started and place your step up ladder in a spot where you can reach the uncut areas in the corner and part of the wall behind the direction that you are moving. Finish the corner to within a quarter of an inch from the ceiling. To get the corner, dip again and place the point of the brush where you left off. Move it slowly up until it meets where the wall and ceiling  join. Keeping the handle of the brush pointing down and away from the ceiling, move the brush along this line. When the paint runs thin, release the brush from the wall in one down and away motion. Repeat this until you reach the end of the wall, cutting in the tops of the windows and doors along the way.

When you have completed cutting in the wall, place the brush in the cut bucket and take them and the step up to the next wall and set them down about seven feet away from the wall you are working on. Go back to the roller set up and screw the extension into the roller. Dip the roller into the paint and work it on the screen until it is saturated. Place the bucket one step to the side you will be moving to. Dip the roller and work it against the screen again until it is saturated but not dripping.

Apply the paint to the wall starting about an inch from the corner cut in the middle of the wall and roll ceiling to base in a tall, skinny “w” pattern until you have gone about the width of the roller and a half, then back roll over what you just applied. Repeat this process to the end of the wall and do the same to each wall until you’ve returned to where you started.

TIP: If the walls are really soiled, mix a couple of drops of dishwashing soap in a bucket of water and wipe them down prior to painting.

After the first coat is dry, apply the second coat in exactly the same manner. This time around, you will be taking up the tape as you finish each wall. Ball up the tape and put it in one of the empty paint cans. Touch up any areas where the tape may have run up on the wall.

Finish And Clean up

The walls are painted and the tape is up. Now we clean up and put things back together.

Start by pouring the remaining paint back into the can and seal it. Place the cut bucket, brush, roller and screen into the five gallon pail and put the lid on it. We don’t want to clean them just yet.

When the walls are dry, put the wall plates and vent covers back on. You will find them easily because you’ve placed them all within arms reach of their homes.

Fold and stack the runners. Vacuum the floor and put everything back in the reverse order that you moved them. Check the room to see if you dinged a wall while putting things back in order. If so, take a little paint from your bucket set up and touch it up with the brush.

Take your bucket set up to the laundry tub along with the five in one tool, scrub brush and roller spinner. Turn on the water so it is warm. Scrape the excess paint from the roller cover under the faucet. Remove the cover from the roller. Rinse the inside and place it onto the spinner. Soak it and work it with your hand under the faucet and spin it. Do this three to four times and the roller will be clean and ready to use again.

Clean the brush under the running water with the scrub brush. Spread the bristles under the faucet and rinse them until it runs clear. Place the handle of the brush in the spinner and spin it. Reform it and put it back into the sheath that it came in. Clean the rest with the scrub brush in the tub and pat dry. Your tools will last a very long time if you keep them clean.

Well, that’s it! You’ve painted your room like a pro. Now, wasn’t that easy? Thanks for reading!

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