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How to Paint Walls

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If you're getting ready to give that room a long-needed makeover, it's important that you know how to paint walls properly. These tips and techniques will walk you through the process of prepping, priming, and painting walls.

  1. Gather your tools and supplies ahead of time so you won't have to interrupt your work for an inconvenient trip to the paint or hardware store. You'll need the following:
    • cellulose sponge
    • mild dishwashing soap
    • paint scraping tool
    • blue painter's tape
    • primer
    • paint
    • paint tray
    • paint roller
    • two-inch angled paintbrush
    • ladder
  2. Thoroughly wipe down the walls with the sponge and a solution of water mixed with a few drops of the dishwashing soap. This should remove any dirt, dust, and grease from the wall surface. If there is old, chipped paint already on the wall, you'll need to scrape it off with the paint scraping tool. If you simply paint over it, your new paint will eventually start to flake as well.
  3. Run long strips of blue painter's tape along the outer edges of trim, molding, window frames, and door frames to protect these areas from paint. Be sure the edge of the tape doesn't extend onto the wall, or you'll end up with a thin, unpainted strip around your trim.
  4. Pour the primer into the paint tray. You should pour in enough to almost fill the well at the bottom of the tray without covering the angled portion where the ridges are.
  5. Use the paint roller to apply primer to the wall. Dip the roller into the paint tray, and then roll it back and forth across the tray's ridges to remove any excess. Once the roller is evenly coated, run it up and down a section of the wall until that section is fully covered. Continue until the entire wall has been coated with primer.
  6. Let the primer dry thoroughly before you continue. Check the manufacturer's instructions on the label to be sure you allow plenty of drying time.
  7. Use the two-inch paint brush to paint along the trim. Dip the brush into the paint so that the bristles are coated about a third of the way down, and run the brush along the outer edge of the tape on your trim. Continue painting until you have a narrow swathe (approximately 2 to 3 inches) along all the taped areas.
  8. Fill the paint tray with paint. Dip the roller into the paint, making sure to roll it along the ridges to remove excess paint. Roll the paint onto a 3-by-3 foot section of wall in a zigzag shape. Without lifting the roller, work your way back across the zigzag, filling in empty spaces until that section of wall is fully coated. Continue until the entire wall is painted.
  9. Finally, remove the painter's tape from the trim. If possible, this should be done while the wall is still wet to avoid accidentally peeling off any dried paint.

For further advice on how to paint walls, talk to the experts at your local paint, hardware, or home improvement store.

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