If you're going to be OCD about something in your life, it should probably be about painting walls. Think about it: whatever kind of effort you put in to the process, you will have to live with the results, whether meticulous or messy. Don't get it in your head that "you can always paint it again" because painting is a giant pain in the butt... and a pain in the lower back, as I learned recently.
Especially when living in a rental home or apartment, painting an average-sized room should be a task that takes a maximum of two days, including drying time. If your landlord allows you to paint but informs you that you must paint it back to the original color upon termination of your lease, you definitely do not want to put too much effort into painting a room in the first place. A lot of home decorating websites and magazines will tell you painting is one of the best and cheapest ways to add color and uniqueness to your house, and that's totally true. But keep in mind that if you are renting, sometimes it's not the easiest option. I am currently living in my fourth rental, and this is the first time I've gone to the trouble of painting. Every space I've lived in has allowed it, but I've never felt it was worth the trouble of repainting when I left. Luckily, this time my landlord is a lot more easygoing, so I felt that painting would be a great way for me to spruce up my home.
Today I want to give you some tips for painting in a neat, organized, skillful manner. That is a nice way of saying I am very anal about painting. My dad prides himself on his fantastic painting skills, and I think I might have inherited that sense of pride. When I walk into a room that has been poorly painted, I can't help but notice the mess. I've even seen bad painting jobs on TV, usually on those shows where they have one day to redecorate an entire room, and man I hate that stuff. It just screams laziness. Streaks, splotches, shiny spots... All of that is no good. We're here to make magic, folks. Take my advice and you will dwell in a land of happy, where colorful walls bring a sense of comfort, not chaos. All you's gotsta do is follow these
Tips For Fastidious Painting (That I Learned From My Dad)
Clear out the room, as much as possible. For a place like a bedroom, this means any small pieces of furniture (nightstand, bookshelf, lamps, etc) can go in another room. Take down all art (duh) and move big furniture to the middle of the room, leaving a perimeter where you can work.
spots that need sanding or patching. Then sand them or spackle them. Any
sort of rough or unfinished surface needs to blend in with the rest of the
wall. For instance, in my bedroom this spot was above the doorway:
It is actually a bubble in the plaster that was poorly patched up and then never sanded. There are several of these around the house, for some reason. I guess the repair guy decided he didn’t want to finish the job. Whatever, I got this. First thing I did was sand it down, using a fine grit sandpaper and a nice little sandpaper-holder-guy. When sanding you want to make sure you use delicate, smooth motions, not some psycho sanding attack motions. After things are lookin’ smooth as butter, you may notice some flaws in your repair guy’s work. This is where the spackle comes in. If you’re patching a hole from scratch, here’s where you join in. For patching small drywall and plaster holes or flaws, I use this goopy stuff. It is pink. I like pink. Pink is cool because you can see it easier, and then after a while, POOF it dries white. So you’re good. Use a knife or your finger to scoop out small amounts of the putty, and slop it onto the wall. Then slowly and nicely smooth it over with the spackling spatula. The trick is to be deliberate about this. No quickies. NO QUICKIES! I’m telling you, dudes. Take your time now to avoid headaches later. When you put on the pink stuff, it should look like the picture below.
At this point you can let it dry. Once it’s white again, you know it’s ready for some more sanding action! And bingo. Your walls are flat as the Great Plains. Oh by the way, you’re going to make a big mess, which is why you should do this before the next step, which is…
Vacuum all of the things. All of the trim and molding, rugs, floors, windowsills, corners of walls and ceilings, even the walls themselves (use a brush attachment). Hairs or lint fuzzies in wet paint turns into hairs and lint fuzzies permanently dried onto your wall. Gross.
Cover up the floor with a drop cloth. I used an old sheet. I also covered up my mattress.
Use painter’s tape to tape all of the edgework. And by edgework I mean along the points where the soon-to-be-painted walls touch trim, windows, ceiling, and any surface you do not want painted such as outlets or light switches. I like Blue Hawk painter’s tape because it sticks nicely, doesn’t curl up, and is easy to peel off. This is another one of those steps where I’m just gonna scream NO QUICKIES because taking your time to tape means preventing paint leaking onto your floorboards or crown molding, otherwise known as your “no-paint-zone.” It took me an hour to tape my whole room.
Start the process of “cutting in.” This means you’re going to take a paintbrush (again, I like the Blue Hawk brand, but Purdy is good too!) and paint against all those points where you just laid tape. Also! I recommend cutting in any corners where two walls meet, whether they angle in or out. You want to cover about 3-4 inches from the edge towards the center of the wall. This is a super important NO QUICKIES! step. Here’s how you cut in:
- Dip your paintbrush into the paint can carefully, about two inches deep, and then scrape off one side of the paintbrush, making sure there are no drips.
- Touch the paintbrush to the wall, a few inches away from the “no-paint-zone.” Get off a good amount of paint off of the brush into that part of the wall where it can’t hurt anything. Then,
- Spread the paint slowly towards the edge that touches the “no-paint-zone.” You want to spread paint that is already on the wall into the point where you need it to end up. In other words, don’t immediately set the paintbrush right up against the trim. You will flood the tape and paint will drip all up in the business of where you don’t want it to be.
- Paint in semi-thin coats. Not too thin, to where you can see a lot of the wall behind it. But you don’t want to glob it on either. You’re going to end up doing at least 2 coats so don’t worry about complete coverage this time.
- Feather out all of the edges. This means you want to take your paintbrush while it is semi-dry, and smooth out any paint lines you made that are obvious and protruding. Ya dig?
- Allow for an hour or two of drying time.
Now you’re ready to roll. Using a paint roller can be intimidating at first, but there’s a trick to it and once you figure that out, it’s pretty simple. You know what the trick is? A little paint goes a long way. When you load your roller you want to make sure it looks moist, but not sopping wet. No dripping should occur. Make sure the paint is spread evenly around the roller, too. Once you are locked and loaded, get rollin’.
- Set the roller gently on the wall. Don’t slap it like you’re mad at it for stealing the last cookie or something.
- Roll around in a W shape, avoiding any thick edges of paint. Don’t cover too large of an area or you will have to do a million coats on your walls. Once your roller is pretty much empty, scan the area with your eyeballs and check to see if you made any thick paint goops anywhere. If so…
- You’ll want to “feather out” those goopy lines by gently skimming the roller over them just like you did with the paintbrush while cutting in.
Careful of scraping the roller onto walls that are angled towards the wall you are currently painting. If you’re working in a corner where the walls angle in, you want to make sure the edge of your roller doesn’t scrape over the wall next to it. This is why cutting in on the corners is very helpful. That way you’ve got a few inches of breathing room.
Once you’ve done your first coat, either wait several hours or just do the second coat tomorrow. It’s best to take this whole painting thing slow, if you haven’t already gathered that from my previous tips. The more careful you are, the better this will turn out. Make it a commitment. I know sometimes you will feel antsy, but don’t let that rush you—just use that time to take a break!