How to Properly Paint a Wall: The Best Coat of Paint Can’t Hide Bumpy Walls
Fill holes with lightweight spackling compound and sand them smooth when it dries. Then go over the entire wall with 100-grit sandpaper mounted in a drywall sanding handle. The ultimate setup for this job is a pole-mounted drywall sander with a 100-grit mesh drywall sanding screen, but any method of sanding off old paint lumps and bumps will do. Next mask off the baseboard and window and door trim. Slide the blade of a flexible putty knife along the edge of the masking tape to seal it. Otherwise paint will bleed underneath.
How to Properly Paint a Wall: Avoid Fat Edges and Roller Marks
Ridges of paint left by the edge of the roller, or “fat edges,” are a common problem. And if left to dry, they can be difficult to get rid of without heavy sanding or patching. Here are a few ways to avoid the problem:
Don’t submerge the roller in the paint to load it. Paint can seep inside the roller cover and leak out while you’re rolling. Try to dip only the nap. Then spin it against the screen and dip again until it’s loaded with paint.
Don’t press too hard when you’re smoothing out the paint.
Never start against an edge, like a corner or molding, with a full roller of paint. You’ll leave a heavy buildup of paint that can’t be spread out. Starting about 6 in. from the edge, unload the paint from the roller. Then work back toward the edge.
Unload excess paint from the open end of the roller before you roll back over the wall to smooth it out. Do this by tilting the roller and applying a little extra pressure to the open side of the roller while rolling it up and down in the area you’ve just painted.
Secrets to Silky Smooth Paint
Okay, this isn’t really a secret like professional painters are guarding this information jealously, hoping and praying you’ll never find out. There are no secret paint police to prevent the average homeowner from knowing their tricks.
It’s just plain good sense to know how to get a super smooth coat of paint when you need it, and that’s what I’ll show you today. Trim, cabinets, woodwork, these all need smooth paint without brush marks and globs of paint scattered throughout. Follow these tips and you can get beautiful results.
- Prep the Wood
Sand any bare wood to 120-grit and no finer. This will give the primer good “tooth” to hold on and create the right base to start with. A good paint job is all in the prep before you even touch a paint brush.
- Sand Your Primer
Without a smooth base, you can’t get a smooth finish. I always use oil-based primer on woodwork and cabinets so that I can sand it down to a super smooth feel before beginning my finish painting. Use 220-grit paper or fine sanding sponges to sand everything down once the primer has dried enough that it generates dust when sanded. If it’s gumming up the paper, then it’s too early to sand. Make sure to blow off any remaining dust when you’re done.
- Use Additives
I’m a big believer in products like Floetrol and Penetrol, which are additives for your paint that slow down the drying process and make the paint less gummy. Thinner paint lays down better and helps hide brush marks. Thick, gloppy paint will look…thick and gloppy. Fast drying is not a positive thing for paint when you want a silky smooth finish. If you’re not using these already, look into them.
- Buy The Right Paint
Don’t skimp on paint. It truly does turn out that the more you pay for paint, the better it is. And for finish work like we are talking about, don’t buy bargain paint. For woodwork and cabinets, consider Enamel paint which dries harder than regular paint. Oil-based paints along with water-based options both have their place here, depending on your comfort.
- Strain Your Paint
The first pour out of the can is usually clean and clear of boogers, but every pour after that has a good chance of globs scattered throughout. You likely won’t see them until they are on your beautifully prepped surface, at which time, it’s too late. Paint stores have lots of cheap strainers in stock for good reason. Don’t kid yourself that this step doesn’t apply to you.
Using good painting techniques is key to achieving professional-looking results. Another tip is to use enough paint. Get into the habit of going to the paint can often. Let the paint do the work, and you’ll save time and get the finish you want.
Using a Brush
- Hold a brush near the base of the handle.
- Dip half the bristles into the paint and tap on the lip of the can. Don’t wipe it on the side.
- Paint with enough pressure to bend the bristles slightly — don’t bear hard on the brush.
- A 1″-2″ brush offers good control so it is well-suited for detail work such as cutting in around windows or painting molding. To apply paint to larger surfaces such as doors, use a 3″-4″ brush.
Using a Roller
- Roll the roller slowly into the paint in the tray. Then, roll it back and forth until roller cover is evenly coated with paint.
- Roll onto the tray’s ridges to remove excess paint.
- For smooth surfaces: Cover about a two-foot-square using the N pattern shown. Cross roll to spread the paint. Finish, with light roller strokes in one direction, at a right angle to the cross roll.
- If the surface you are painting is porous or textured, use a heavy-nap roller cover (1/2″ or more). Use a 1/4″ nap to maximize sheen on a smoother surface.
Painting Double-Hung Windows
- For double-hung windows move each sash to the center of its track and paint the inside sash, starting with the crossbars. Then, paint the frame. Don’t paint the top edge of the inside sash; you’ll use it to move the sash. Next, paint the top half of the outside sash, starting with the crossbar, then the frame.
- Close the sashes to within several inches of the closed position. Paint the rest of the outer sash and the top edge of the inner sash. Paint the window casing, then the sill.
- Paint the check rails. Move both sashes down as far as they will go, then paint the upper rails. Once the paint is thoroughly dry, move both sashes up and paint the lower rails of the window.
Casement or Awning Windows
- Open the windows and paint the top, side and bottom edges.
- Finish with the crossbars, frame, casings and the sills.
Press Tape With a Putty Knife
Nothing is more discouraging when you’ve finished painting than to peel tape off the woodwork and discover the paint bled through. To avoid the pain-in-the-neck chore of scraping off the paint, do a thorough job of adhering the tape before you start. “Apply tape over the wood, then run a putty knife over the top to press down the tape for a good seal,” a painter with more than 16 years of experience says. “That’ll stop any paint bleeds.”
Use the blue painter’s tape instead of masking tape. Masking tape can leave behind a sticky residue that’s hard to clean off. Plus, paint can cause the tape to buckle or get wavy, which lets paint run underneath it. Painter’s tape can be left on for days (some up to two weeks) and still peel off cleanly. And it stops paint bleed without buckling.
Eliminate Brush and Lap Marks with Paint Extender
The secret to a finish that’s free of lap and brush marks is mixing a paint extender (also called a paint conditioner), such as Floetrol, into the paint. This does two things. First, it slows down the paint drying time, giving you a longer window to overlap just-painted areas without getting ugly lap marks that happen when you paint over dried paint and darken the color. Second, paint extender levels out the paint so brushstrokes are virtually eliminated (or at least much less obvious). Pros use extenders when painting drywall, woodwork, cabinets, and doors. Manufacturer’s directions tell you how much extender to add per gallon of paint.
Painting Problems That Are Really Easy to Avoid
Turns out, the frustration you feel every time you attempt to paint a room has much more to do with incorrect technique than bad paint or weird walls. Specifically, you’re probably using your paint roller or brush wrong. But we believe people can change!
Don’t use a bone-dry paint roller
Before you do anything else, you actually want to wet the paint roller cover with water. This primes the roller cover to soak up as much paint as possible. But don’t go too crazy removing excess moisture with a paper towel and a good shake of the roller so it’s just slightly damp. “If your roller cover is completely saturated with water, it won’t be able to take on any more liquid (in this case, paint!).”
Don’t assume you can use the same type of paint roller cover for all projects
Fun-ish fact: The best roller varies depending on the job and the type of paint you’re using. a 3/8-inch-thick roller cover for most finishes, but for high-gloss, you should use a thinner, 1/4-inch-thick cover. For textured walls like brick, you’ll need a 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch-thick cover to get in all the nooks and crannies.
Don’t wipe your paintbrush against the can’s rim
This is a common bad habit we all need to break. When you go to put the lid back on later, you’ll be faced with a mess. Instead, let the brush drip over the can to remove any excess paint or, if you must, gently tap the bristles of the brush against the inside of the can.
Don’t dip your paintbrush all the way to the handle
It’s tempting to saturate the brush, that’s not a good idea. The paint should only come up to the halfway point on the bristles. “Any more, and you’ll be at risk for unnecessary messes and wasted paint,”
Don’t make paint strokes shorter than 12 inches
This is how you end up with the dreaded uneven finish. making your strokes longer—up to the length of your arm—and smoother (no stopping and starting in the middle!) for the best results.