Teach Me To (series)

How To Paint Like A Pro

paint like a pro

\You want to paint like a pro because you want your rooms to look like they were painted by a pro. Rookie jobs look careless and messy. But rooms painted by professionals look crisp and expensive. Unfortunately, they are expensive. Painting a room should be an inexpensive update. Rooms painted by professionals look crisp and expensive...Painting a room should be an inexpensive update. Click To Tweet

The good news is, you can paint your rooms yourself and get professional results. Just follow these tips:

Prepare The Room

1. Remove all wall decorations (pictures, mirrors, shelving), switch plates, outlet covers, and vent covers.

2. Remove whatever furniture pieces are possible. Move larger furniture pieces to the center of the room and cover them with a tarp if you plan to paint the ceiling.

3. Clean walls and moldings with a damp mop and rag to remove dust and grime. But if you’re painting a kitchen where grease builds up, use a soapy solution to remove the film.

4. Repair any dings or dents in the wall with spackle, let dry, and sand smooth. You probably want to leave the nail holes for the items you removed. This will make putting them back easier.

5. Protect your floor with butcher paper, or better yet, canvass dropcloth. Those plastic film dropcloths are a disaster. They don’t stay in place and are hazardous.

To Tape Or Not To Tape

Some professionals recommend using painters’ tape to tape around every edge – ceilings, windows, and moldings. Frankly, that’s overkill. You can save time and the cost of the tape by only taping off baseboard moldings (when you’re painting the molding) and, if you’re painting doors, around door handles. Those are areas where your hand isn’t at a natural angle to guide a brush with the needed precision.

However, if you’re only painting the ceiling, I recommend taping off the top of the wall. Ceilings take a bit of contortion to get around the edges which makes it difficult to be precise. Tape around the wall and save yourself some aggravation.

For all other edges – ceiling or crown molding, chair rails, windows, and around outlets and vents, you can paint freehand with a stiff, angled brush. Here’s a demonstration of the technique.

Fade your cut-in into the wall to avoid obvious lines between brushwork and roller work.

There are gadgets available that claim to make perfect edges, and some folks really like them. But they’re not fool-proof. And they’re an added expense you don’t really need if you simply take your time with a cut-in brush.

Painting The Ceiling

Unless you’re making a color change as a decorating statement, most people paint a ceiling to cover stains. That’s why ceilings need to be covered with a primer before they’re painted. You don’t want the stain to bleed through the paint. Therefore, if you’re successful with the primer, you should be able to use just one coat of paint on the ceiling.

Apply painter’s tape to the upper edge of the wall. Using a 3” angled brush, cut in around the perimeter of the ceiling, feathering out about 6”. Then, using either a step-ladder or extension pole, paint the ceiling. Use a W pattern to avoid straight lines.

Painting The Walls – The Steps

  1. Use an all-in-one primer and paint to save time and money.
  2. Stir your paint when you open it.
  3. Load your roller, but not to the point that it’s drippy.
  4. Work in 3ft X 3ft sections.
  5. Paint in a W pattern, never in stripy straight lines. As you meet sections already painted, lift the roller slightly to fade into the painted area. This prevents lines between sections.
  6. After the first coat is completely dry, apply a second coat.

Painting The Moldings

After the ceiling and the walls, molding is the last thing to paint – if it’s needed. Here’s one more instance to use painter’s tape. If you’ve painted the walls, you’ll want to protect them from molding paint. The color of the molding paint will (usually) be a different color from your wall color because moldings are supposed to be accents that stand out. So tape around those windows, baseboards, and moldings to spare your newly painted walls.

Finally, remove all the tape and remember to clean your brushes and paint trays with warm soapy water. I use tray liners and throw them away. Throw away used rollers.

I did come across a picture of a very pretty room that had the ceiling, walls, and molding all painted the same color. However, I think this only works if you have especially tall ceilings.

paint like a pro

Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

If you can make this work, forget everything you read above about how to paint like a pro. Just have at it with a spray gun!

paint like a pro

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  • Sarah Kranz

    I have never painted a room but if I needed to this would be a great resource!

  • Ruthie Ridley

    Great tips!! I dont trust myself but I feel like I can now after this post!!

  • These are great tips for painting. I helped my brother paint his entire house a month ago and I could have used these tips. I will definitely keep these in mind for next time! T Hanks for sharing!