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How to Paint Drywall

Staying Within the Lines: Drywall Painting
Using a roller instead of spraying paint on may help you to keep paint off of areas it shouldn't be.
Using a roller instead of spraying paint on may help you to keep paint off of areas it shouldn't be.

First, figure out if you'll be rolling your paint or spraying it on. Spraying is a lot faster, makes your paint stretch the furthest and covers the best. But you have to really prepare well, thoroughly covering everything -- including windows and doorways and fixtures -- because sprayed paint gets everywhere. Proper ventilation is also critical [source: Calfinder].

Next, assemble your materials. You'll need enough paint for two coats, plus quality brushes and rollers. You have a lot of options when it comes to the type of paint you use on the walls. Flat latex is popular because it's easy to touch up without leaving marks, especially compared to higher-sheen paint. However, higher-sheen finishes are easier to clean, so people often prefer them, especially for messier areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Satin finishes are good options for most rooms -- they're not flat, but not that glossy, either, giving them both durability and the ability to mask touch-ups [source: Valspar at Lowe's].

Prepare your rollers by lightly wrapping them in masking tape, then pulling it off. This gets rid of any loose, fluffy strands on the rollers that you don't want to paint onto your walls. Pour the paint into a 5-gallon (19-liter) can with an attached side tray; roller trays that you set on the floor spill too easily, are often stepped in, and are difficult to pick up and move without creating a mess [source: Painting and Decorating Concourse].

Ideally, work with one other person. The first person should "cut in" the edges with a quality brush, painting along the baseboards, ceiling line and corners, while the second person follows and rolls the main portion of the wall or ceiling. Stay close to each other, because you always want to paint over wet edges. If the cutter gets too far ahead and the paint dries before the second person catches up, that may cause "banding" -- visible lines you'll notice once the paint dries [source: Glave]. The person rolling should work from the top of the wall down, first making a large "M" or "W" on a section of the wall, then painting through that section vertically. This helps better spread the paint than simply using straight vertical or horizontal strokes, and reduces the likelihood of seeing lines when you're finished [source: Painting and Decorating Concourse].

Let your paint dry at least two or three hours before applying the second coat. When both coats are dry and you're cleaning up, run a blade in between the painting tape and walls to cut through any dried drips, then remove. If you don't take this step and just yank the tape off, it may pull a chunk of the paint with it [source: Glave].

As for my own drywall painting skills, it's taken 25 years, but I've finally gotten it down: Tape everything with painter's tape and lay down professional drop cloths. Buy quality brushes, rollers and paint. Work as the cutter (I'm more meticulous) and let hubby be the roller. Now I just need a fail-safe way to pick out the perfect paint color.