How To Paint A Wall

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Painting the interior wall of your home is one of the easiest and most popular home improvement projects to do. But, if you are a beginner or just want to paint your room with more than one color, it can be confusing at first.

We have put together this guide on how to paint a wall for beginners that will help you get started and show you step-by-step instructions on how to paint any room in your house.

Tutorials include everything from selecting colors for painting walls, preparing surfaces before painting them, choosing brushes and rollers as well as tips and tricks on how to create professional results fast.

Previously, we have covered how to paint a house fast, do give it a read as well!

Start by Preparing Your Wall

Start first by preparing the wall before painting it. The most important thing to remember is that you need to remove everything from the room and wipe down all surfaces so they are clean and dust-free. Unscrew all the electrical light switch and outlet covers from your wall and place them in a small plastic bag. Make sure to save all your electrical hardware as you will reinstall them again once the painting is done.

Measure Your Room and Determine How much Much Paint You'll Need

Measure your room and determine how much paint you will need by multiplying its width and length together to get the square footage of your wall. Multiply this number by two as you'll need enough for the first coat of paint and a second finish coat. 

There's no average room, so make sure you don't buy too much paint. You don't want to be stuck with an entire extra gallon of paint. If you have tall ceilings, then don't do the estimate, instead, go to the paint store and have an associate there take all your measurements.

Pick Out the Right Tools and Materials

When painting a wall, there's nothing frustrating like ending up with the wrong or fewer tools at the beginning of your project. Depending on the color you choose and the condition of your walls, you may need different unique tools to work on your paint job properly. 

Here are a few tools and materials you'll need to proceed with your project:     

  • Paint·        
  • Paint roller·        
  • Putty knife
  • Painter's tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Rags
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint tray
  • Soap and water for cleaning

Prep Your Walls and the Room

When you paint a wall, make sure the room is properly prepped. You should remove everything from your walls and wipe it down with soap and water to rid the surface of dust. This will help ensure that your walls are ready for whatever color you choose. 

Prepare the Walls
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After cleaning your wall, ensure your entire room is empty or cover it with drop cloths. A drop cloth will help keep paint off of your floor and furniture.

For added protection, cover your furniture with a tarp or blanket before you paint to make sure it isn't stained from splatter. Don't skip the drop cloth as the paint will splatter and drip. If paint drips on your furniture, the color may change once dried and can leave a stain (or even be impossible to remove). 

After that, grab a roll of painter's tape and apply it on the edges of your room's corners, base, door, crown moldings, and even window casings.

You can use a putty knife to seal everything if needed. Make sure you get a good seal that won't allow the paint to get under the tape. And if the paint gets under the tape, then don't worry. You can skip taping and remove the light switches and outlet covers. Then apply painter's tape to protect outlets and switches from paint drips.

Mix Your Paint

Make sure you have a good paint mixer for the job. You want to make sure that no lumps or paint runs remain in your bucket of paint. The best way to do this is by filling the room's walls with paint and stirring it all together until it becomes smooth. Lumps are common, so when mixing be extra thorough to get rid of all the lumps.

If you are using more than one gallon of paint (you will need two gallons for most rooms), make sure to mix it all together first and then measure out the water using a measuring cup. Use a large bucket to combine these gallons. 

Depending on the type of paint, you should mix your paint for at least five minutes. If you are using oil-based paint, then mix it for about ten minutes to an hour or more if needed.

create an environment to mix paint
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Paint in Natural Light

If you want to get the best results, always paint your wall in natural light since the color will be much brighter. If there is not enough natural light in the room, then you can always rely on a strong artificial light to paint your wall at night. But painting in dim and harsh artificial lighting can lead to patches and imperfections that only show up after the project.

Also, make sure that you have enough lighting in the room and it is bright enough to paint your wall without strain or fatigue. This is important since painting a wall can be quite strenuous so not having proper lighting will lead to mistakes and poor results.

Clear Your Painting Area

Never paint your wall without clearing the area first. Never paint your wall without clearing the area first. Clean your painting surface just like how you clean painted cabinets and move all the furniture away from that room. Give yourself ample painting space by clearing the area from any obstacles. Of course, you don't want your favorite items to get splatters and splodges.

Save your flooring and any furniture that is too heavy to move by protecting it with canvas drop cloth or newspapers. Now that you've cleared your area, it's time to get started with the painting itself. If you are using a roller, then cover all the flooring with plastic sheets or large drop cloths to protect it from spills of paint.

Pick Your painting Techniques

Before you start painting, make sure you know all the painting techniques you're going to apply.

Work from the top of your room to the bottom. Start by painting the adjoining light-colored walls. If you get paint on your wall, don't worry. The dark paint will cover any lighter paint that might drip on it. After that, take down the window and door trims before painting them with a small brush. Use rollers to paint baseboards and ceilings last.

If you want to change any of these techniques when you're painting, then cover up the wall with drop sheets or newspapers, wait until the paint is dry and apply the new technique. After that, tape off the edges of the dark color so that it doesn't onto your new paint. If you're dealing with dark walls with a brighter hue, then consider applying three coats. These three coats include primer and two coats of your new color.

If you think this is just too much, then at least do two coats of your new color. If you're painting the trim, then remove the painter's tape and wait for the walls to dry before applying the tape. Start with the trim closest to the ceiling, move to door and window frames, and the bottom and top of walls.

Apply Your Painter's Tape

Once your surface is dry, cover any switches, sockets, and skirting boards using painter's masking tape. One or two rolls of this tape will protect any moldings and switches from any

drips or spills during this process. Apply the tape carefully to get a good seal and avoid the paint from getting underneath and running.

Add Primer

A primer will give your wall a more professional finish and help you get most of your paint color. Use a roller to apply a smooth and base coat of primer to the entire wall. Use the tip of the paintbrush to work on those smaller crevices then leave it to dry for a few hours before you start painting. If you want something vivid and consistent, then don't skip priming.

Add Primer
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Cut in Walls and Ceilings

Before you start painting your wall, use a paintbrush to paint areas that rollers can't paint like ceiling lines, corners, and trim. This will help you get a sharp line and clean finish in these tight areas. Make sure there's no bleed-through or peeling by gently removing the tape while the paint is still wet.

Paint Your Wall from Top to Bottom

Now, it's time to paint, but make sure you work your way from top to bottom. Start with the ceiling, if there's a lot of space, then paint your wall from top to bottom. Start at the ceiling and move down. 

Ceilings tend to suck up more paint than any other paintable surface in your home, so starting with it will help you avoid having to buy more primer. Then finish the job with woodwork and skirting boards, which attract less paint.

Also, make sure you spread it around evenly from the bucket or roller tray to avoid lines forming under your brush strokes. If you're using a roller, load the roller with as much paint as it can hold, then unload it onto your tray or tarp and move on. Don’t go over the same area too many times, either.

Apply Another Coat of Paint

After applying the first paint, let it dry for a couple of hours before applying another coat. Remember that most walls require more than two coats of paint. So, don't stop at the first or second coat. Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before applying the next coat. If you don't, it will lead to peeling and flaking.

Don't Forget to Clean

After you're done with all the coats, don't relax. Leave your wall to dry for 24 hours then remove the dust sheets to reveal your brand new wall. Make sure you leave your brushes in good condition by cleaning them before you keep them away. For water-based paint, just wash them using soap, warm water, and leave them to dry. Use mineral spirits to clean oil-based paints. After cleaning, go over some ways on how to get rid of paint smell so you don’t get too overwhelmed.

FAQs on How to Paint a Wall

Can you paint a new paint over old paint?

Yes, you can, but only if it is dry and not glossy. If the old paint still has a shine to it then it's

possible that the new paint will peel and flake off. So primer may be required before your new coat of paint.

When painting a wall, where do you start?

Start by cutting in around the edges of the walls and then fill in the center. You can paint up to

about 4 feet from an electrical or outlet with a brush, but if you're using a roller you need to keep the painting area about 12-15 inches away so that it doesn't drip on your flooring.

Final Thought on How to Paint a Wall

As you can see, painting your wall takes some time and effort but is pretty easy. If you want the job done right, take a little extra time and care for it with patience. You'll be glad that you did.




Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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