How to Paint a Wall Properly - The Ultimate Guide Painting and Repainting Walls

Paints are a great way to change the look of a house, a room, or even something as small as a piece of furniture. They can change the look and feel of your home - from bright and vibrant vibes to your own cozy haven at the end of the day. Paint can even be used to make a room look bigger or smaller by guiding the eye to the room's focal point. Some paints and techniques will make the room appear taller (in rooms with lower or uneven ceilings), or wider, airy, and more inviting through the use of a lighter paint scheme. The trick is to know how to use paints to your advantage to achieve the look and feel you want for each room in your home.

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Wall Painting

Step by Step - How to Paint Walls and Ceilings Properly

Step 1: Start by removing anything you do not want to get splattered with paint.

Move your furniture and appliances out of the way, cover it if it is too heavy. Use fabric drop cloths or plastic covers. Paint can spill and splatter on the floor, cover it to make cleanup easier after the painting is done. It is best to use fabric drop cloths to cover the floors. Plastic is slippery. It is risky as the ladder, and you, may slide. 

Step 2: Clean the surface.

Paint won’t stick on dusty, greasy and dirty surfaces. Remove cobwebs and dry dust off the walls. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe grimy areas.

Step 3: Take care of the borders.

You may want to have a different color on the borders. Baseboards, moldings, and window or door frames might look better with a color different from the rest of the walls and ceilings. To avoid getting paint on these borders, tape them off with a painter’s masking tape. Make sure to pat the tape securely in place so that no paint would bleed through.

Step 4: Consider the old paint and the new one.

If the old paint is several shades darker than the new one, it is advisable to use a coat of primer first. Use the primer to cover the old paint before you  paint in the new color. You will also need to use at least 2 coats of the new paint color.

Drying the primer would take about 6 hours. To save time, effort and money, you may use self-priming paint. It costs more than regular paint but you do not need to buy a primer anymore. If the old paint and the new shade are both light colors, 2 coats of regular paint are all you’d need.

Step 5: If the primer (if used) is already dry, you can now start painting.

Start with a sponge tool or an angled brush to paint the edges (close to the borders, frames, molding, etc.). Paint about 2 inches around the taped edges. This step is better known as edging step.

Paint the central area of the wall or ceiling with a roller. For smooth surfaces, use a ¼-inch nap. For semi-smooth painting surfaces, it is best to use the 3/8-inch nap. Rough surfaces are best painted using a 5/8-inch nap.

It is important to use the correct paint roller because it will determine how much paint will be applied. Incorrect tools can apply either too little or too much paint. Worse, it may apply uneven amounts of paint with each stroke.

Paint in overlapping M or W strokes. These strokes are best for even distribution of paint. Allow the 1st coating to dry for about 2 hours before putting the 2nd coat. While waiting for the 1st coat to dry, cover the paint tray and the roller with a plastic wrap. The plastic should be touching the surface of the paint. Some experts recommend refrigerating the whole thing to avoid paint drying on the paint tray and roller.

Step 6: After painting, rinse the roller and the paint brush under running water.

Dry them thoroughly before storing. Brushes should be stored in their original wrapper to prevent the bristles from fanning out. If the original wrapper is not available, wrap the bristles with a thick piece of paper then tape to secure. Leftover paint in the tray is returned to the can. Place a paper towel over the paint can lid to help create a seal. Tap the lid in place with a hammer. Rinse the tray and dry before storing.

 Step 7: Remove the plastic covers and fabric drop cloths.

If there are wet splatters of paint, wipe with a moist cloth or rag. For dried splatters, use a plastic spatula or plastic cards (e.g., ano-longer-valid credit card) to scrape it off. The painter’s tape can be removed after the paint has dried. Pull the tape at an angle. This way, you can avoid tearing off paint portions around the edges and borders.

Paint Types

Types of Paints and Their Uses

Paints can make or break home decoration projects. There are lots of paint products out there and choosing among them can be confusing and overwhelming. The traditional choice is between water-based paints and oil-based paints.  Also, you should  check for the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the paints. These are potentially harmful chemicals that are often part of paint manufacturing.
Water-based (Latex) Paints

Water-based paints are easily cleaned with plain water. They have low VOCs and are relatively safer to use. These paints dry much faster than oil-based ones.  

Water-based paints take about 1 to 6 hours to dry, which means less waiting times in between coats. The colors are also stable. They do not turn yellow over time. The paint retains its original color and hue for a good number of years. They are also chalk-resistant. The finish is elastic and flexible. It is also cracking-resistant.  

They do not get brittle over time. Water-based paints are also resistant to peeling, blistering and flaking. These paints also have better adhering qualities that make them perfect for a variety of surfaces. Exterior surfaces that do well with latex paints include:

• Wood
• Vinyl siding
• Weathered aluminum
• New stucco
• New masonry

Oil-based (Alkyds) Paints

Oil-based paints have very attractive glossy finish. The finish is also hard and durable. They have good leveling properties. That is, brush strokes fill them selves and create a smooth finish with little effort from the painter. Oil-based paints are a popular choice for painting furniture, doors and glossy woodwork.  

These paints have excellent adhesion qualities. This means a durable finish. The disadvantage with oil-based paint is oxidation and cracking when used for exterior surfaces (e.g., outside walls). The paint yellows and chips over time when used in interior surfaces such as walls inside the house.  

Oil-based paint is the best choice for exterior surfaces that are prone to heavy chalking. Chalk refers to the powdery substances that often coats exterior surfaces. It is also a great choice if the surface has more than 4 layers of oil-based paints previously applied.  

Never use oil-based paints on galvanized iron and fresh masonry. It takes more than 24 hours for oil-based paints to dry.When working with multiple coats, it takes a while before additional coats can be applied.  

These paints have stronger odors than water-based ones. The painted rooms can’t be used for quite some time. Clean up is also more difficult with oil-based paints. Paint thinners are needed to clean splatters, spills and drips. Equipment cleaning also needs thinners.

Colors can Affect Your Mood!
Paint colors have been proven to affect your mood. Cool tones - such as blue and greens - invoke feelings of calm, peace and happiness. Warmer tones - such as red and yellow - can bring out more vibrant feelings and a more energetic mood.
Paint Sheen

Types of Paint Sheen

Paint sheen adds attractiveness and impact on painted surfaces. It also helps in extending the life of painted exterior and interior surfaces. Sheens come in varying types, depending on the intended effect. Generally, flat paints have the least reflective finish. These are best when trying to hide imperfections in the walls and ceilings.

These paint types produce a seamless finish. They are also good for easy touch-ups. Glossy finishes are more durable. The higher the gloss, the more durable. Glossier finishes make the surface easier to clean, making it scrubbable and washable. They are also more resistant against mildew because the painted surface is less porous.

We made a list of  the most common types of paint sheen to help you choose the best one that suits your needs:


Matte has a non-reflective finish, the least reflective of all types. Because of this characteristic, it is the perfect choice to hide wall and ceiling imperfections. Matte paints provide greater depth of color. This is widely considered as the standard sheen for use on walls, especially in bedrooms and living rooms. It gives a calm and serene atmosphere to the room. The disadvantage is that cleaning it is more difficult.  


The eggshell finish is best for use in rooms that are subjected to regular cleaning like bathrooms, hallways and kitchens. This finish allows easy cleanup although it isn’t highly glossy. Eggshell and satin finishes are best to use in smaller spaces that receive little natural light. They reflect the  light and brings out the color of the room.


This has a slightly more gloss than eggshell. The interior satin has a lower sheen than the semi-gloss. This is also one of the more popular type of sheen. It is durable and gives an elegant finish.

It is good to use on walls in area that are frequented such as hallways and living rooms. The exterior satin is also known as semi-gloss. It renders the wall very easy to clean. It also offers good resistance against mildew and fading.  

This is also a popular choice for trim and woodwork. The exterior satin is also good for painting the walls in kitchens and bathrooms.  


This is the most reflective of all sheens. It is also the toughest and the most durable. It can withstand frequent cleanups. It is best to use for walls in areas that receive heavy traffic such as out side the house.

Gloss is traditionally used on doors, cabinets, moldings, baseboards and trims. It adds excitement and energy to the painted surface. The disadvantage of gloss paints is its inability to hide imperfections of the painted surface.

Painting Tips

Paint Tips and Tricks - What Else can we do With Paint:

Aside from applying paint on walls plainly and using different color combinations and reflective finishes, you can also use paints in a lot of different ways to decorate your home. Paint is, after all, the most dynamic and cheapest piece at your disposal to redecorate your home.
Here are some ideas:
Wall frames

Paint wall frames to add dimension and texture to your walls

Paint borders

Paint borders, moldings and baseboards in a completely striking color. For example, paint the wall  white and the moldings, etc.  black. The color contrast will be very striking.

Diffrent shades

Paint the ceiling with light pastel color and the walls several shades darker. For example, paint the ceiling with pale cream color, then paint the walls with canary yellow.

Diffrent colors

Paint walls in different colors. Paint one wall with a chosen color, paint the next wall a shade or  darker or lighter color than the previous one.

Contrasting colors

Paint each wall in contrasting colors to add a clear focal point to the room.

Color shades

Paint all walls in the same shade, except one. This can be your feature wall which you can paint in an entirely different color.

Feature wall

Create a feature wall with bolder and darker colors than the rest of the room.

Diffrent sheen

Paint the walls in the same shade but use different sheen. This way you can get different light reactions.

Wall canvas

Use the wall as your canvas. Paint landscapes like mountains, seas, beach or meadows on one wall.

Favorite place

Go further by making an entire room look like your favorite place. Paint all the walls with mountain ranges, or along expanse of beach, a garden, or a meadow. Recreate nature inside your house.

Paint furniture

Paint decorations on drawers or table tops, backs of chairs. Or in other words - paint your furniture for a different look.

Paint the floor

Stain your hardwood floor in warm tones for a more inviting look, or lighter stain for a more airy look.

Paint shelves

Paint the edges of shelves to make them pop and add character to functional pieces.

Paint windows

Paint your window sills in contrasting colors to the wall to make them pop and add another point of interest to the room.

Paint splatters

Dip the brush into the paint and make splatters across the wall for added texture.

Paint plants

Paint your planter pots to make them cohesive matching pieces that can be arranged throughout the room and visually tie it together.

Paint lampshades

Use watercolor or some light water-based paints to add interesting designs on plain lampshades.

Metallic spray paint

Use metallic spray paint to add details or highlights to furniture or sections of a wall.

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