Painting Ceiling and Walls

PainterClick.com Offer tips for paint ceiling and walls as efficiently as possible without making a mess.

Surface Preparation
The first thing I do when painting a room spread professional-quality canvas drop cloths to cover and protect the floor. Spilled paint doesn’t soak through canvas as it does a bed sheet or other lightweight cloth, and canvas is safer to walk on. Working on a plastic drop cloth can be like painting on roller skates.
The plaster walls in the room needed some fairly extensive patching work. In this type of situation, I start by fixing all the questionable areas, taking care not to create a lot of dust that might get into fresh paint. Next,
I caulk all gaps between the trim (baseboard, window and door casing) and the walls with a high-quality paintable caulk. I smooth the caulk with a damp rag. Caulking always makes the finished paint job look better.
I also make sure that the room I’m painting has adequate lighting. Even if there is a lot of natural light,
I always have halogen work lights and clip-on parabolic lights handy.
The next step is prepping and priming the trim. Painting trim is a different kettle of fish, but I make sure that the trim paint overlaps the wall about 1/8 in. When the trim is primed, I begin work on the walls and ceiling, letting the finish coat on the trim covers any stray paint from the walls.

Priming
The ceiling and walls in the room had water stains from an old roof leak that had been fixed; also, the former owners of the house were heavy smokers, which left the ceiling and walls stained. So I decided to cover everything with a stain blocking primer. “BULLS EYE”.
The two steps to painting a large area are cutting in and rolling. Cutting in is brushing paint onto areas the roller won’t reach.
Painters naturally start at the top and work down; I stand on a ladder and paint everything I won’t be able reach comfortably from the floor. For cutting in, I never work out of the paint can but instead use a cut bucket. You can buy one or make one. I cut in with a 3-in. brush to give me a 3-in. band to roll into. Because the ceiling and walls are being painted with the same primer, I cut in the corners without being too careful, using the flat part of the brush on both sides of the corner.
Where the primer meets the prepped trim, I paint up to the edge of the trim using the narrow side of the brush, overlapping the wall primer onto the trim slightly but not being overly accurate with my line at this point. Overlapping coats at the edges of the trim creates a less stark line between the trim paint and the wall paint. When I’ve finished cutting in the upper parts of the room from the ladder, I work from the floor cutting in the rest.

Rolling equipment
Once the entire room is cut in, it’s on to the rolling. The first thing I need is a roller frame, which is the handle and holder for the roller pad. Roller frames come in an amazing array of widths and shapes, but I usually stick with the standard 9-in. model. I avoid cheap roller frames because they don’t hold up well.
The next-most-important tool for painting ceiling and walls is a telescoping extension pole. These poles come in various sizes, but for most rooms with flat ceilings, a 4-ft. pole that telescopes to 8 ft. or so works great.
I avoid screw-together extension poles; they’re a lot of trouble.
The extension pole has a broom-handle thread on one end that screws into the roller frame. This tool keeps me from running up and down a stepladder to paint ceilings. If I paint a ceiling without an extension pole,
I end up working directly under the roller, getting spattered as I paint.
Next, I need the correct roller pad for the job and paint I’m applying. For smooth surfaces, a roller pad with a short nap (1/4-in. to 1/2 in.) is fine. But if you are covering heavy stucco, you may need as much as a
1-1/2-in. nap. For the oil-based primer that I’m using for the job in the photos, I chose an inexpensive 3/8-in. nap roller pad good for any kind of paint.

Working out of a 5-gal. Pail
The two most common ways to get paint onto the roller are a standard paint pan, which I use for the finish coats, or a 5-gal. Bucket with a roller ramp hung on the rim. For the primer on this project, I needed about
2-1/2 gal. Of paint, so I poured that amount into the pail inserted the roller ramp and got to work.
The 5-gal. Bucket should be no more than half full, leaving most of the ramp exposed. I dip the roller pad slightly into the paint — about one-quarter of the way — and draw it up onto the ramp. Dipping the roller into the paint any deeper can make it drip all over the place.
I dip the pad several times while rolling it up and down the ramp until the pad is completely saturated.
Most ramps are made of expanded metal that distributes the paint evenly on the roller pad while allowing excess paint to drain back into the pail. When the roller pad is fully loaded, I place it near the top of the ramp and give it a quick downward push off the roller ramp to spin off any excess paint.

Ready to roll
I start rolling in one corner of the ceiling, working down the short side of the room first. I roll the paint in 3-ft. squares with each square overlapping the next slightly. (A 3-ft. by 3-ft. area is about what a properly loaded roller ought to cover.) For each square, I roll the paint on from side to side in compacted W or M formations: down straight, back up on a slight diagonal, then straight down again, overlapping each down stroke with the one before. But remember you’re painting, not spelling. Overlapping gives you even coverage and keeps you from missing any spots. Where the squares overlap my cut-in band, I try to keep the roller about 1 in. from the corner.
Once the ceiling is finished, I start on the walls. I first work my way along the top of each wall in similar
3-ft. squares. The small sections above windows and doors are done in shorter, smaller strokes.

Ropes, drips and runs
The biggest concern when rolling paint is that excess paint tends to build up on the outside edges of the roller pad and frame. Paint buildup leaves behind ropes, or heavy lines of paint, in the wake of the roller.
Going back over a section with the roller smoothes out any ropes or areas with too much paint from working with an overloaded pad. But it helps to get rid of the excess paint on the roller that is causing the ropes in the first place. When ropes begin to appear, I tilt the frame and pad slightly at an angle to the wall with just the end touching and roll it for a couple of inches. I repeat the process with the other side of the roller and then work the drips that have squeezed out into the area I’m painting. When I’m finished with a section, the paint should be a consistent thickness over the entire area.

Mix all your cans of finish paint for consistent color
Because I use a fast-drying primer, I can apply the finish coats almost immediately. For the room,
I gave the ceiling one coat of white finish paint, and the walls two coats.
For the finish coat, I roll the ceiling first so that any drips or spatter that I get on the walls will be covered with their finish coat. When cutting in the ceiling, I again overlap the finish paint slightly onto the walls.
It’s still not necessary to be extremely tidy; I just try not to leave any globs of paint on the walls.
Next is the final coat on the walls, and I don’t want to be short on paint. I also want a little paint left over in case I need to touch up or repair a wall in the future. But custom-mixed colors usually vary from can to can, which can be obvious if I have to buy an extra quart to finish a job.
The trick is to overbuy and then mix all the cans of paint together thoroughly before I start. Most paints cover around 400-sq. ft. of flat surface per 3.78 litre.
I’ve seen painters pour half of a gallon can into a container and then pour half of a second can into the first. They continue this process around until all the cans have been blended completely. Mixing paint in this manner is known as boxing, but I find it easier just to pour all the paint into a 5-gal. Bucket.

Be finicky on the final cut in
The time has finally arrived to take the extra effort to cut in neatly. I start at the ceiling line of one wall and cut it in as neatly as possible. It’s still okay if it’s not absolutely perfect; I’ll fine-tune the line on the final coat.
Again, I create the first horizontal line with a high quality 3-in. brush turned on edge. I then complete the band using the full 3-in. width. I also overlap onto the trim slightly, but I don’t go crazy. For the project featured here, the trim was to be white, which wouldn’t cover the teal wall paint well.

A paint pan minimizes ropes
Instead of working out of a 5-gal. Bucket, I use a roller pan for the finish coats on both the ceiling and walls. Loading the roller out of a paint pan gives me better control over ropes and drips. When filling a roller pan, I pour in just enough paint to fill the deep end of the pan. And again, I don’t let the entire roller submerge in the paint. When the roller is saturated, I give it a light twirl to spin off excess paint from the ends.
Roll the walls the same way I did on the primer coat, working in 3-ft. squares and making sure the paint is applied evenly. When the first coat is dry, I go over the walls with light sandpaper using a work light to illuminate lumps or debris that might need to be smoothed out.
Cutting in the second coat gives me the chance to fine-tune the line between the ceiling and walls. Working in an older home, I often find myself having to invent a straight line because the corners are uneven. I take my time and fill in any small gaps left from the first coat.
Don’t use masking tape to create a straight corner line, which can make an even bigger mess than you’re trying to prevent. Instead, take your time and trust yourself with the brush. You can’t do any damage that can’t be easily fixed with either wall or ceiling paint.
The roller pad I used for the first coat still had plenty of life in it after one coat, so I didn’t want to throw it out. But I couldn’t let it sit out overnight either, so I stuck it in the fringe. I just double-wrapped the roller pad {still on the frame} in old plastic grocery bags and set it next to the eggs and milk. Paint dries slowly at refrigerator temperatures. The next day, I let the roller come to room temperature and was ready to roll the next coat.
When I’m finished with the final coat, I use the curved part of a painter’s 5-in-1 tool to scrape most of the residual paint out of the roller, and then I throw the roller pad away.
There are gadgets on the market that are supposed to help with cleaning rollers. But cleaning a roller pad can shorten its limited life span and can even destroy a cheaper pad that has a cardboard core.
Throwing pads away may not be frugal, but besides being a pain, cleaning roller pads is inefficient. Every time I try cleaning a pad, there always seems to be a bit of residual paint that spoils whatever I try to paint next.
To store leftover paint, I secure the lid and store the can upside down. The next time I need it, the tint that settles to the bottom naturally mixes back into the paint.