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How to Paint a Wall

Never picked up a paintbrush? Don't worry. You can still paint a wall like a pro!


  • Step 1: Smooth bumps & wipe If painting a new wall with no previous paint, use sandpaper to smooth any bumps. If there are any holes, spackle and sand them. Then wipe with a damp rag.
  • Step 2: Cover trim & floor Cover the trim with blue painter’s tape and cover the floor with a drop cloth.
  • Step 3: Apply primer Apply a thick coat of primer with a thickly padded roller. This will hide any surface imperfections and keep the paint from peeling. Allow the primer to fully dry.
  • TIP: Choose paint colors a shade lighter than what you really want—colors often dry darker than you expect—and test them on a small, discreet spot.
  • Step 4: Paint edges Tackle the edges first. Using a two- or three-inch brush, apply a band of paint along the edges of the ceiling, windows, doors, baseboards, and cabinets. This is called 'cutting in.'
  • TIP: Small rooms take about one or two gallons for the first coat; the second coat takes about half as much.
  • Step 5: Use roller to paint Pour paint into a roller pan and use the roller to paint in an up and down motion. One technique: roll out a W shape in paint and then spread it evenly into a square.
  • TIP: Don’t paint from side to side—it can look streaky.
  • Step 6: Wait for 1st coat to dry Wait an hour or so for the first coat to dry.
  • TIP: Want to make it dry faster? Put some fans in the room.
  • Step 7: Apply 2nd coat Apply the second coat with a fresh roller pad with a lighter shag. Use less pressure the second time around—just make sure the paint is distributed evenly.
  • Step 8: Fill in spots Use a two-inch brush—or even a small painter’s brush from an art store—to fill in or even out any spots you missed or that are too bulky or streaky.
  • Step 9: Let dry & remove tape Once the second coat is dry (in about an hour) carefully remove the painter’s tape.
  • Step 10: Enjoy wall Enjoy your newly painted wall!
  • FACT: Fast-food restaurant walls are often painted yellow or orange because studies show those colors make people eat faster.

You Will Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Damp rags
  • Painter's tape
  • Drop cloth
  • Primer
  • Paint roller
  • Replacement roller pad
  • Paint
  • 2 or 3" brush
  • Roller pan
  • Fan (optional)
  • Small painter's brush (optional)

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