Painting Interior Walls

Wall Painting Techniques
There a two standard methods for painting interior walls. A popular approach for painting a wall is cutting in paint with a paint brush and rolling paint with a paint roller. Another way of applying paint is spray painting. Both types of paint application have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the particular painting project at hand.

Evaluate your painting project to determine the best method of application. Keep in mind that the time saved spray painting interior walls may be offset by the additional time required for paint masking and covering.

House Paint Color Uniformity
Sometimes custom tinted house paints have slight variations in color among the different containers. If the paint is purchased in more than one container, empty the contents of all the containers into one or more five gallon buckets, depending on the paint quantity, and mix thoroughly. This will ensure color uniformity when painting interior walls.

Type of paint: water base acrylic/latex
Paint Brush: 2, 2 ½, or 3 inch nylon / polyester blend (angle or straight)

Type of paint: oil base / alkyd
Paint Brush: 2, 2 ½, or 3 inch china bristle (angle or straight)

Painting Tools and Supplies

  • Roller Cover
  • Roller frame (handle): 9 inch
  • Roller extension pole: 2-4 feet, (4-8 feet for walls over 10 feet)
  • 5 gallon bucket with 5 gallon size bucket grid (a roller tray is an alternative to the bucket and grid)
  • 1 or 2 gallon bucket

Masking and Covering
Before applying any paint, be sure that all necessary masking and covering has been completed.

Paint Prep
Avoid having to redo your work. Carefully inspect the walls to be sure that the wall prep is completed to your satisfaction.

Cutting in Paint
Painting interior walls begins with the cut-in. Place a quart or so of paint into a clean 1 -2 gallon bucket. Select a brush from the list shown above. A 2-2½ inch paint brush works well for fine cut-in on smooth walls. A 3 inch paint brush is a good choice for medium and rough textured walls. Brush strokes tend to leave a different texture than the texture produced from the paint roller. This may be more visible on smooth and semi smooth walls. For the best results, try to limit the cut-in width to 2 - 2 ½ inches and roll as close to the adjacent surfaces as you can without touching them. This will help blend the cut-in with the rest of the wall. For heavier texture, a cut-in width of 3-3½ inches is preferable. It is good practice to cut-in the paint before rolling the wall, especially for deep and ultra deep colors.

Depending on the composition of the room, the wall paint should be cut-in around the following:

  • the corners that form at adjacent walls and the ceiling
  • the corners that form at baseboards, door casings, window casings, window sills, cabinets, etc.
  • electrical outlets and light fixtures

Dip the brush bristles 1 to 2 inches into the paint to load the brush. Tap the tip of the brush against the inside of the bucket to avoid dripping. The more paint the brush carries, the faster you will finish the cut-in. If you want a slightly drier brush, drag one side over the edge of the pail. The paint should flow smoothly onto the wall with a minimal effort. When the brush begins to drag, stop and reload. Quickly cut-in 3 to 4 feet with a few brush loads of paint and then smooth it out by lightly running the width of the unloaded brush tip over it. This is called “tipping”. Long brush strokes will help minimize brush marks. You want to maintain a wet edge while cutting in paint. Try to avoid over brushing (brushing the same spot over and over again) because this will cause the paint to build up and leave heavy brush marks.

If all the adjacent surfaces at areas of cut-in have been masked, try to prevent excessive amounts of paint from getting on the tape. Masking tape tends to allow some paint seepage onto the protected surfaces it is meant to protect.

Rolling Paint
Applying paint with a roller should begin after the cut-in has been completed. Using a nine inch standard roller is typically the most efficient way to roll walls. A seven inch roller or a mini roller may be preferable for small areas. Be sure to select a roller sleeve with a proper nap length. The length of the roller nap should be selected based upon the texture of the walls.

A paint bucket with a screen or a paint roller tray is necessary for a roller to properly function. Painting interior walls with a roller is easier with the use of an extension pole. Refer to setting up a paint roller for additional details.

When painting interior walls, start the rolling process at one corner and work toward the opposite corner. Many people prefer starting at the left corner and working toward the right. With the extension pole attached to the roller frame, dip the roller into the paint. Roll it several times over the bucket grid in a downward motion until the paint is evenly distributed over the roller.

Place the loaded roller midlevel on the wall and initially roll a V-shaped pattern. Continue to roll in an up and down motion dispersing the paint evenly to the top of the wall, making a swath 12 to 18 inches wide. Any additional paint can be rolled downward toward the floor. Repeat the process enough times to create a swath of paint about 4 feet wide from top to bottom. Starting at the beginning of the paint swath and working your way across it, lightly glide the roller from top to bottom. “Laying off” the paint helps provide an even distribution of paint and avoid roller shading. Repeat the entire process until the wall is fully coated. Always try to maintain a wet edge.

2nd Coat
Painting interior walls often requires a second coat of paint to achieve proper coverage. After the first coat of paint has properly dried, determine whether a second coat of paint is necessary. If so, repeat the entire process.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.