How To: Prepare and Paint Your Walls

A fresh coat of paint can give new life to a dull room, and believe it or not, an amateur can turn out a professional job with the right tools and know-how. You’re not on Extreme Home Makeover here—it’s quite manageable with the right supplies and planning. Follow these simple instructions and your walls won’t just talk—they’ll sing.

1. Gather Supplies

To paint an average room you’ll need:
* A screwdriver to remove hardware
* A paint roller for walls and ceilings with a 3/8-in. nap roller cover
* A 2 ½-in. angled brush with synthetic bristles
* A paint tray for coating the roller with paint
* An extension pole for sanding and painting ceiling and the walls
* Caulk and a caulk gun for filling gaps between trim and wall
* A putty knife for applying spackling compound
* 120-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper
* Paint and primer (see step 2)

2. Pick Your Paint

Typically a gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet. Nowadays you can find a paint-and-primer combination to get a darkening job done with one coat, but going from a dark color like maroon to a lighter one like a gray-blue will require a separate primer coat first.

3. Protect the Room

Remove anything hanging on the wall—even outlet covers—and move furniture to the center of the room. Lay canvas or plastic tarps over furniture and the floor.

4. Fill Gaps and Dings

Caulk the seams between molding and the wall. Use joint compound to fill any dings or screw holes and let it dry.

5. Sand and Clean the Wall

Use a pole sander with 120-grit paper. Sand the walls working side to side and from ceiling to floor. Wash the walls with water and dish soap, scrubbing any greasy spots, so the new coat of paint will adhere. Wait for the walls to dry before moving on.

6. Build Your Buffer

Paint a 3-in. strip of color at the room’s corners using the smaller brush. Do so where the walls meet the ceiling, and where walls meet any molding. Creating this buffer prevents you from having to use the roller along corners, which can get sloppy.

7. Get Rolling

Stir paint and pour it in the rolling tray. Move the roller back and forth against the tray’s textured bottom. Use consistent, overlapping vertical passes to coat the wall evenly. If a second coat is required, wait until the first layer is dry to the touch before adding more paint.

—Sal Vaglica

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