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How to paint walls: a step-by-step guide


One of the easiest ways to renew a room is by giving it a fresh coat of paint. Not only is a painting project a DIY task you can tackle on your lonesome, but you can finish it in one weekend without breaking the bank. What it will break, though, is your boredom! 
If you've never painted before, don't fret. If you follow along with our foolproof instructions and painting tips, you'll have a spruced-up space in no time.

What you'll need:

  • Interior paint
  • One small, angled paintbrush
  • One paint roller with a paint tray
  • Sugar soap
  • A bucket of warm water and a sponge
  • Plenty of old rags
  • Stucco and fine sandpaper
  • Drop sheets
  • Painter's tape or masking tape
  • Step ladder

Step 1: Trial the colour

Most places that sell paint allow you to come in and grab a small amount of the colour you're planning on using. Head into your local paint store and grab this colour, as well as a couple of other similar shades. Trial these shades on your wall. Once the paint is applied, you'll prefer one over the other, and it might not be the one you thought. While the shade might have looked perfect on the card in-store, it can look a little different in your room depending on the light source.

Step 2: Cover everything

Anyone who has painted a room before will attest to this – paint gets everywhere. You can be as careful as you want, but at some point, you'll transfer paint to a surface where it wasn't supposed to go. Move your furniture into the middle of the room and cover it and the floor with inexpensive drop cloths – especially if you're painting in a carpeted room. You should also apply painter's tape around light switches, door handles, window frames and other fixtures to ensure they stay clean.

Also, please wear old clothes while you're painting. We don't want to see $100 Nike running shorts or leggings ruined by splatters of excess paint.

Step 3: Wash down walls

Before you apply the first coat, you'll have to scrub your walls with sugar soap and warm water. A good scrub helps to get dirt, grime and other stains off before painting. Once you've finished cleaning the walls and prepping the space, wait for the walls to dry before moving to Step 4.
If you come across any holes or chips, cover it up with stucco and sand back. Make sure the stucco is dry before you start sanding.

Step 4: Cutting-in

"Cutting-in" is a painter's term which means painting the areas you can't reach with a roller. You'll use your small angled brush to coat the baseboards and corners of the wall. Dip your brush, so roughly one-third of the bristles are covered in paint and tap it against the side to remove any excess. Then, get painting!

Step 5: Get on a roll

Once you've hit all the edges with some paint, it's time to start rolling. Fill the tray with paint and push your roller forward into it. Roll it out a few times on the plastic base of the tray to ensure that it's evenly coated, then start painting the wall. Start at one side and move across – it doesn't matter which side, just don't start in the middle! If you also plan on painting your ceiling, it's worth picking up an extension pole so you won't need to keep moving your ladder.

After you paint a section of the wall from top to bottom, dry your roller as best you can. Then, starting from the top, press lightly and roll down in one long stroke without taking the roller off the wall. This painting technique is known as laying-off and will ensure that your wall has a consistent finish with no apparent streaks. You'll soon realise painting walls is almost therapeutical.

Step 6: Take a break

Now that your first coat is complete, it's time to put your feet up for a bit. You're not finished yet but relax for 4-6 hours while the wet paint dries. If you're looking for something to do, you can check out our Image Gallery or Lookbook for ideas on how to style your newly painted room.

Step 7: Second coat

Repeat Step 4 and 5 to give your wall a second coat. Once it's dry, you're done! Once you've pulled up the drop sheet and taken the painter's tape off, make sure you give your brush and roller a good clean in warm water and put the roller covers back on. If you don't, they'll dry up, and you won't be able to use them on your next project. Finally, stand back and feel proud of how good your paint job looks!

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