6 Simple Steps to Repainting a Room—Are You Skipping Any?

Hint: Don't skimp on the prep work.

White paint being brushed onto trim
Photo: Wendell T. Webber

Are you one of those people who enjoy repainting a room every couple of years? Do you get excited when paint brands introduce new color palettes? On a whim, you might purchase the newest color trend (or a timeless paint color) and then grab your roller to put on the first coat. Not so fast. You're actually missing a crucial step or two. Here are some helpful painting tips that will show you the proper order of things.

01 of 06

Clean and prep the walls.

Person cleaning a wall with a sponge
Wendell T. Webber

Most people skip over this step to save time, but you'd be amazed how much grime can get stuck in a fresh coat of paint. Remove dust, dirt, and grease spots (which can ruin a smooth finish) with water, a little mild dishwashing detergent, and a cellulose sponge. Rinse walls with clean water to remove the soap residue. Once the walls are dry, fill any nail holes with spackling paste and then lightly sand.

02 of 06

Tape the trim, window, and doorframes.

Painter's tape being applied to wall trim
Wendell T. Webber

Be sure to use painter's blue tape, which can be applied up to a week ahead. Remove the tape immediately after painting and before the wall dries, so you don't peel off any paint with it. Some people skip this step entirely once they become proficient at cutting in with a brush. However, skipping this step before you're ready can be a costly mistake and so can putting the tape on too fast, which could cause gaps in coverage.

03 of 06

Prime the walls even if they've already been painted.

Primer being applied to a green wall
Wendell T. Webber

It's a common myth that walls that have been painted many times don't need to be primed. But a fresh coat of primer helps maximize the sheen and coverage of the paint and gives the finish coat a more uniform appearance.

04 of 06

Brush hard-to-reach spots before you roll.

Paint being applied to wall edge with a brush
Wendell T. Webber

Brush on paint around trim and in the corners of walls where your roller can't reach with a two-inch angled brush. Extend out two to three inches from windows, doors, and moldings. It's important to do this step before rolling so that you don't have obvious brush marks at the edges. If you find this step challenging, you're not alone. Cutting in with paint is an art that takes some time to perfect.

05 of 06

Use the W technique with your roller.

Paint rolled onto wall in a W technique
Wendell T. Webber

For efficiency, start in the corner of a wall and roll on a three-by-three-foot W pattern, then fill it in without lifting the roller. Continue in sections until you're finished. This technique helps prevents visible roller marks. For the most even coverage, paint one wall at a time.

06 of 06

Paint the trim last.

White paint being brushed onto trim
Wendell T. Webber

It's more likely that you will drip wall paint on the trim than get trim paint on the wall, which is why you should always paint trim last. When the walls are completely dry, tape where the trim meets the wall. Next, paint the moldings and the door and window frames with a two-inch angled brush. You can also use a paint guide to protect your floors, which you should use in addition to a drop cloth.

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