Wall, Ceilings & Trim

Dinning table and yellow wall

Once a wall is dust free and clean, everything that is not going to be painted has been masked off or removed, all nail holes or surface imperfections have been addressed, and any patching compound or primer has dried, painting is easy!

First, use a brush to “cut-in” the wall. Cutting in requires painting a 3-4” border along the top, bottom, and corners of a wall.  Once the edges of a wall are done, continue using the brush to paint a 2-3” border around all windows, window trim, door frames, light switches, and power outlets. Experienced painters usually prefer using a larger 2 ½” to 3” brush for speed and efficiency, while less experienced painters find using a smaller brush requires less skill and effort.

Next, use a paint roller to coat the rest of the wall. To load a paint roller with paint, it should be rolled back and forth in the well of a roller tray until the cover is fully filled with paint then lightly rolled back and forth on the upper portion of the tray to remove excess paint.  Instead of using a roller tray, many experienced painters prefer using a roller grid in a bucket. A bucket holds more paint than a tray, and doesn’t need to be refilled as often.

Starting at one corner of the wall, apply the paint vertically making a large M or W shape from the top of the wall to the bottom in sections 2-3 feet wide. Then roll back over the area spreading the paint as evenly as possible and rolling from top to bottom across the entire area. Continue rolling from one side of the wall to the other, refilling the roller as needed, until the entire wall is coated. The paint should be applied with slow, even strokes to minimize excessive paint splatter. While the paint is drying on the wall it should have a uniform stipple from the roller cover. If you notice large lines of heavy paint build-up, try using less pressure as you roll back over the area. A common mistake among inexperienced painters it to cover too large of an area with too little paint; however, if large amounts of paint are dripping from the roller or the roller is sliding across the wall instead of spinning, you may be using too much paint. Try not to stop painting in the middle of a continuous wall or a lap mark may show where two coats overlap.

Painting Ceilings

Painting ceilings requires a little more effort, but is very similar to painting interior walls. Double-check to make sure the entire floor and all of the furniture in the room are covered before beginning. Use a brush to cut-in around all corners of the ceiling, light fixtures, air vents, and ceiling fans. Then use a roller attached to a long roll-pole to coat the entire ceiling.  Try to coat the entire ceiling from one side of the room to the other, rolling in the same direction, and maintaining a wet edge to prevent overlap marks.

Painting Trim

Painting the trim in a room is one of the easiest ways to freshen up or enrich the space. Before painting your trim, double check to make sure that the entire surface is smooth, clean, dry, and dust free. If the trim was previously coated with an alkyd or oil-based coating or you are unsure, make sure to prime it with a high-adhesion waterborne primer prior to coating with a waterborne paint.

Spray application generally produces the smoothest possible finish, but is not ideal for many situations, requires lots of time for masking, and is extremely difficult for an inexperienced painter. However, with a high-quality Kelly-Moore paint and a little practice, a brush can be used to provide a smooth and beautiful finish.

For brushing trim, it is helpful to use an angled brush that is slightly smaller in width than the trim you are painting.  Hold the brush lightly with the fingertips, near the base of the handle, and load the brush with paint. Dip about 1/3 of the bristle length into the paint, then tap the brush against the inside of the paint container to remove the excess paint. Apply the paint to the surface in long, light, even strokes. Hold the brush at about a 45º angle to the surface, applying enough pressure so the bristles flex slightly, and lift the brush slightly at the end of each stroke.  When painting wood trim, brush with the grain wherever possible. On the last stroke in each area, lightly stroke the brush across the length of the entire area in one direction. Paint a continuous section of trim from one corner to the other without stopping to prevent lap marks.