Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Paint a Room Like a Pro

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Painting a room is one of the most common do-it-yourself projects around the home. While it’s not that difficult to do, it helps to know the tricks of the trade on how to go about it before breaking out a roller or brush.

When painting a room, the work should be done in the following order:

  1. Prep: Clean surfaces and repair any defects.
  2. Prime: Where needed, prime the walls and trim.
  3. Caulk: Fill any gaps or cracks with caulk.
  4. Ceiling: Paint ceiling first to prevent drips on walls.
  5. Walls: Apply paint to walls using a roller.
  6. Trim: Paint trim last to avoid roller splatter.
  7. Cleanup: Clean brushes and rollers, remove drop cloths, and replace furnishings.

Painting Preparation

Walls

Interior walls are usually painted with latex paint and can usually be repainted without priming unless the existing walls are:

  • Painted a dark or vibrant color.
  • Have stains, grease, or other hard to cover marks.
  • Defects in the drywall have been patched.
  • Previously painted with oil-based paint.

In these cases, prime first with a stain blocking primer. To cover repairs, you may be able to spot prime without having to prime the entire room.

Before painting, shine a bright light along the surface of the wall to check for dents or defects, and fill them using a putty knife and spackling compound. Once the spackling has dried, sand the surface smooth. On rough surfaces dab the patched area with paint on a sponge or rag to mimic the texture of the wall.

Trim

In older homes, interior trim was painted with oil-based enamel, but improvements in the durability of latex enamel now make it the popular choice. Before painting over oil-based paint with latex, it’s important to prime the surface so the new paint will adhere properly.

To determine if the old paint is oil-based or latex, rub it with a rag dampened with denatured alcohol. If the paint comes off on the rag, it’s latex. If not, it’s oil-based.

Caulking

When caulking gaps or cracks:

  • Remove loose old caulking with a utility knife, scraper, or putty knife.
  • Use a good caulking gun that can stop and start the flow of caulking easily.
  • A quality acrylic latex caulk works best for caulking trim in most rooms.
  • For high moisture areas, such as kitchens and baths, use a caulking that is mold and mildew resistant.
  • 100% silicone caulk should only be used on surfaces that will not be painted, such as between the tub and tile in a bathroom.
  • Apply caulk only to dry surfaces and when the temperature is over 50° F.

To apply caulking to a gap or crack:

  1. Cut the tip of the caulking tube to a 45° angle so the hole is the width of the crack.
  2. Puncture the seal in the tube several times using a nail or the seal punch on a caulking gun.
  3. Hold the caulking gun at a 45° angle so the opening in the tube is parallel to the surface.
  4. Lay down a smooth, even bead of caulk with little or no excess.
  5. Smooth the bead with your finger before it sets up. Dampening your finger with water (latex caulk) or mineral spirits (silicone caulk) can make smoothing easier.
  6. Allow caulking to dry thoroughly before painting or getting wet.

Painting a Room

Once the room has been prepped and you’re ready to paint:

  1. Remove furniture, wall hangings, light switch and receptacle covers.
  2. Apply safe release painter’s tape along baseboards and around window and door trim.
  3. Cover floor with tarp or plastic sheeting.
  4. Cut in ceiling edges and around light fixtures with brush.
  5. Paint ceiling with roller. Unpainted textured ceilings may be hard to paint.
  6. Mix the gallons of wall paint together in a 5-gallon bucket.
  7. Cut in the walls with a brush around the ceiling, switches and plugs, windows and doors, baseboards, and along inside corners.
  8. Use a quality roller and cover with a 1/2” to 3/4” nap.
  9. Hook roller screen over the side of 5-gallon bucket.
  10. Dip roller in bucket and use screen to remove excess.
  11. Start at one corner of room and apply paint vertically to the wall over a 2’ wide area.
  12. Use light pressure on the roller at first, then press harder as the roller becomes less saturated with paint. Move the roller at a moderate pace to prevent splattering.
  13. Go back over the area to spread and even out the paint.
  14. Dip the roller in the bucket again and move to the adjoining 2’ area. Keep a wet edge between each section and smooth out any lines or drips.
  15. Clean up the brush, roller, bucket, and screen with water and dishwashing detergent in a sink or outside with a garden hose.
  16. If you’ll be using the same paint again the next day, wrap the wet roller in a plastic shopping bag and seal it with a tie to keep it from drying out.
  17. After the walls have dried, remove tape and paint the trim with a brush, going with the grain of the wood.
  18. Make sure the paint has dried thoroughly before hanging pictures and installing switch and outlet covers to keep them from sticking to the wall.

Watch Danny’s CBS Early Show video:

Further Information



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9 Comments on “How to Paint a Room Like a Pro”

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  1. Monika Wood Says:
    November 5th, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Do you see the drip behind the tube of caulking. What’s the best way to avoid that. I usually don’t have trouble painting with flat, but yesterday I was using satin. The wall on the lower portion of the chair rail has DRIPS. I used my paint scraper when it was dry to the touch and today I plan to touch up those areas.

  2. Nan Says:
    November 9th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Good tips but how do you protect/keep paint from chipping off the metal corners where dry wall comes together. It seems like that always chips off even if no one bumps into that area.

    Thank you

  3. ROSE VILLA Says:
    July 1st, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Are there special preparation required to paint laminate walls? I live in a mobile home…nothing but laminate!!!

  4. Joyce Says:
    July 3rd, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    What do I put on the back of pictures, clocks, etc. to keep them from sticking to paint. Before we painted the paint stuck to the items when we tried to get them off the wall. Any help appreciated.

  5. Patricia Madigan Says:
    November 5th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    The ceiling in my bedroom is peeling. It is the only room that is doing this. There are no water marks/stains, so I don’t think it can be moisture. Above the room is an unfinished attic, that does have flooring,but is only used for storage. Nothing is wet.

    Although the ceiling hasn’t been painted in a long time,I don’t think it’s age because no other ceiling is doing this.

  6. SANDY BARRETT Says:
    August 4th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I WATCHED YOUR SHOW ON SUMMER MAINTENANCE TIPS AIRING ON JULY 21 AND YOU SHOWED A PAINT BRUSH HOLDER THAT SCREWS ON TO A LONG HANDLE, THE BRUSH IS SCREWED IN PLACE IN THE HOLDER AND CAN BE SET AT ANY ANGLE TO DO AROUND CEILINGS OR ANY PLACE,I DID NOT HEAR THE NAME OF THE PRODUCT AND HAVE NOT HAD ANY LUCK FINDING IT AT TRUE VALUE OR ACE. I COULD REALLY USE THIS PRODUCT, CAN YOU TELL WHERE TO FIND IT OR THE NAME OF IT. THANKS SO MUCH!!!

  7. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    August 4th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Sandy,
    We post an episode article detailing what was covered on each Today’s Homeowner TV show. You can find a list of all the past articles on the TV section of our website by clicking on “TV” in the navigation at the top of each page, then clicking on the “Past TV Episodes” link in the sidebar to be taken to http://www.todayshomeowner.com/television/past-episodes/

    The article for the show you mentioned can be found at http://www.todayshomeowner.com/television/2013/03/19/spring-home-improvement-guide/ You can find info on the paintbrush holder in the Best New Products box at the bottom of the article.

    Thank you for your interest!

  8. Chuck Fereira Says:
    August 27th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    The molding of a door from the laundry room to the garage is immediately adjacent to the garage light switch. People reach to turn the garage lights on and off and most often touch the door molding. Over time one area on the molding becomes dirty. Repeated wipings causes the paint to become tacky and eventually come off leaving a dirty mark or bare wood.
    Any suggestions.

  9. Erma Says:
    August 21st, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    My family room was built in the 70s and the walls are dark paneling. Can I paint the paneling and, if so, what are the necessary steps to have it look professional?

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