Proper Indoor Wall-Painting Techniques

By James Dulley

November 21, 2019 4 min read

Dear James: I am redecorating my living room now that the kids are older. I have never been able to paint a room and have it look like a professional did it. What specific techniques do they use? — Rita P.

Dear Rita: Don't feel inept because your indoor painting projects do not resemble that of a professional painter. It takes many years for a painter to hone those skills. You can probably do a better painting job by using professional techniques and tricks, but it still won't look quite as good as the real thing.

The first step when painting is to prepare the room. Move all the furniture to the middle of the room in a large room or remove it all from a smaller room. If you have to reach and stretch over furniture and be concerned about getting paint spatters on it, you can forget about getting even close to a professional-looking paint job.

Cover the floor with 4-mil-thick (a mil is one thousandth of an inch) plastic film, and tape the edges to the baseboards. Unless you are also painting the entire ceiling, you need to cover the floor only about 4 feet out from the walls. Use blue 3M masking tape, which can be removed easily up to 14 days after applied, to stick the film to the baseboard. Green 3M tape can be left on even longer, but it will not adhere as strongly as the blue.

Repair all the damaged spots on all the walls with spackling compound. If some of the spots are less than one-quarter-inch deep, they can be repaired with lightweight drywall compound. This dries quickly and is very easy to sand smooth.

Scrub any stains with soap and water to remove as much of the stain as possible. Paint a stain-blocking primer over the stains to keep them from bleeding through the final finish coat. BIN by Zinsser and Fresh Start by Benjamin Moore are good primers for this. If you have had to make many repairs, prime all the walls to create a uniform base to avoid shiny spots.

You have probably seen professionals paint the wall around the trim without masking it. This level of painting skill and coordination takes years to develop, so it would be wise to spend some extra time to carefully apply masking tape.

A telltale sign of a nonprofessional paint job is distinct lap lines. This is where the brush strokes on the wall along the trim do not blend well into the roller surface. Brush the paint on the wall a couple of inches out from the trim and then roll the roller as close to the trim as possible.

The key to doing this well is keeping a "wet edge." To accomplish this, have both the paintbrush and roller handy. Brush along the trim of a short distance and then use the roller. While the edge is wet, the two different textures tend to blend together better.

The same is true when rolling paint on the rest of the wall. Always keep a wet edge and overlap into the previous wet stroke so the paint flows together. Keep plenty of paint on the roller. If the roller is too dry and you push too hard, you will get a small ridge of paint from the end of the roller.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Skitterphoto at Pixabay

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