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How to Paint a Room

For a professional painter, the organization of daily work is vital to income. A professional cannot afford to sit around, waiting for something to dry, simply because he failed to perform tasks in the correct order.

For example, if a painter fails to begin by patching defects in the walls, he's going to end up waiting for the patches to dry before he can begin to paint.

Performing your tasks in the correct order can literally cut your time on a task by 50% or more!

#1. Clean (if necessary) and patch damage
#2. Remove hardware and cover furniture/floors
#3. Paint ceiling
#4. Paint trim and doors
#5. Paint walls
#6. Clean up

First things first

When I enter a room to begin a day's work, the first thing I want to do is inspect the walls for damage that needs to be repaired. I often do this even before I carry any supplies into the house. I want to do these repairs early so that the patching compound will have a chance to dry.

Use as much light as possible when searching for damage to repair. Get down on your knees and crawl around the room. Lots of damage is below knee level.

Other prep

Now is the time to remove electrical plates, door knobs, light fixtures. If you need to remove closet doors, do that now too. Cover the furniture and floors. Set up your paint and supplies.

Start with the ceiling

When you've completed your repair work, it's time to paint the ceiling and trim. (If you've performed repairs on your ceiling, get out a hair-dryer to speed up the drying of the ceiling patches. This is an old painter's trick, and no painter should be without a hair-dryer in his service vehicle.)

It's always easier to trim the walls into the ceiling than it is to try to paint the ceiling after the walls are done. This is why you begin with the ceiling.

Your repairs (to walls) will be almost dry when you have finished the ceiling. Take a look at them and if they need further patching, do it now.

Trim and doors

The next step is your trim and doors. I like to use masking tape under the baseboards, whether the flooring is carpet, hardwood or lino. It allows me to paint right down to the floor with a full coat.

Because the walls are not painted yet, you can run the paint right up onto the wall surface. Use some paintable caulk to fill gaps between the wall and baseboards—you should be able to paint over it immediately.

Do the same with window and door mouldings—run the paint right onto the walls, using caulk to fill gaps.

Finally, the walls

Because all paint requires some amount of drying time, you may need to wait some period of time before painting your walls. (If you're painting more than one room, you can be a lot more efficient by moving back and forth between the rooms.)

I always mask the trim before painting the walls, and I always do my masking before I sand the wall repairs. (If you fail to mask your baseboards, all the dust from sanding the patches will fall right onto your newly painted trim!)

Painting of the walls almost always requires two coats. Once again, if you're painting more than one room, you can become more efficient by moving back and forth between rooms.

Copyright ©2011 by Nathan Harms
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