How to Paint a Room Fast
A veteran painting contractor shares his secrets on how to paint a room fast, yet producing first-rate results. You can easily master these techniques too, and get a professional-looking finish.
How to Paint a Room Fast: How to Paint a Room Like a Pro
Watch the video below for awesome tips on how to prep and paint a room.
Clean Fast with TSP
You have to start with a clean surface for paint to adhere to previously painted walls and woodwork. Use a sponge and a trisodium phosphate cleaner (or TSP substitute) to quickly wash off dirt, grime and soot. TSP cleans fast and usually doesn't require a lot of scrubbing. Buy TSP concentrate and mix it with water—it's a better value than liquid TSP. A 16-oz. box costs about $5 at home centers.
Use TSP on all of your woodwork. It slightly etches the paint, which helps the paint form a better bond. And use it in kitchens to clean grease from walls, in bathrooms to remove hairspray and around light switches to remove fingerprints. Wear rubber gloves and turn up the cuffs to keep the TSP solution from running down your arm.
Strain Out the Goobers
Even if you open your paint right after bringing it home from the paint store, you can still have small chunks or strands of hard paint in it. If those end up on the wall, you'll have to pick them out and reroll the area. So spend two minutes straining out the goobers.
Buy a paint strainer at a home center or paint store or use old pantyhose to strain the paint. Place the strainer over a 5-gallon bucket, then pour the paint through the strainer. The strainer catches any debris in the paint. If you really want to be dollar savvy, rinse out the strainer in the sink and reuse it.
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Groove Textured Ceilings
It's almost impossible to paint right next to rough-textured ceilings (a process called 'cutting in') without getting paint on the ceiling. Taping off the ceiling doesn't work either. The solution? Knock off the texture at the edge with a putty knife. Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle to the wall and run the blade along the edge of the ceiling. The blade scrapes away the texture and leaves a small groove in the ceiling. Clean out the groove with a duster or a dry paintbrush.
Now when you cut in along the top of the wall, the paintbrush bristles will slide into the groove, giving you a crisp paint line without getting paint on the ceiling. And you'll never notice the thin line of missing texture.
Cut in Quickly with a Steady Hand
Cover Paint to Keep it Fresh
Paint dries fast, even paint in your roller tray. If you need to take a break for more than 10 minutes, cover the paint. Place a lid on your 5-gallon bucket of paint and a damp cloth over your handheld paint container. Use aluminum foil to cover your roller tray. If you don't, the film that forms on top of the paint may end up on your walls. Here's a trick for storing paint brushes overnight.
Use Extenders to Avoid Do-Overs
The longer that paint stays wet on walls or woodwork, the fewer lap marks and runs you'll have to deal with. Lap marks are those dark, ugly lines caused by painting over an area that's already dry. If you can keep the paint wet longer, you won't have to worry about them. And the way to prolong the 'open time' of paint is to add a paint extender or a conditioner (Floetrol is one brand; at home centers and paint stores).
Pour all the paint you need for the room into a 5-gallon bucket, then stir in the extender or conditioner (following the manufacturer's recommendations). Because extenders and conditioners help level out brush marks and paint runs, you won't have to go back and fix them later.
Cut in One Wall at a Time
Spend Less Time Taping
The Fastest Way to Cover Walls
Everyone who's painted has a personal technique for rolling walls. Bill honed his technique over three decades. It's methodical, which makes it fast and efficient. It also provides even coverage.
If you're right handed, paint the wall from left to right (it'll feel more natural when you're rolling). Load the roller sleeve with paint and roll from the baseboard to the ceiling to get the paint on the wall. Then roll straight back down (without reloading the roller) to ensure the wall is covered. Load the roller and move over about 3 in. to the right (the unpainted side of the wall) and roll the full height of the wall again to feather out the leading edge.
When you get to the top, move about 6 in. to the left (without reloading) and roll back down to smooth out any runs or lap marks. Then reload the roller, place it on the feathered edge and start the process over. As you paint, roll horizontally where you cut in along the baseboard and ceiling. Only roll about 3 ft. at a time so the paint will stay wet as you roll the walls.
'When I'm painting a room that has an 8-ft. ceiling, I like to attach a short handle to my roller instead of using the more common 48-in. pole extenders. The short handle gives me more control over the roller, and it's easier to turn the roller horizontal to roll along the baseboard and ceiling.' - Bill Nunn
Painting Tip for Big Spaces
An 18-in.-wide roller setup like this may not be for everybody. Painters use them for the obvious reason that they can paint twice as fast as they can with a standard 9-in. roller.
If you have a lot of large, unbroken walls and ceilings, the investment in a large paint pail, 18-in. roller cage and 18-in. cover makes sense for you, too. You’ll definitely save a bunch of time. Plus, because the roller is supported on both edges instead of just one, it’s easier to apply consistent pressure and avoid roller marks left by paint buildup at the edge of the roller.
You’ll find 18-in. roller equipment at most home centers and paint stores.
Lube the Roller
Clean Up Your Mistakes
Keep a Garbage Bag Close at Hand
Paint the Trim First, Then the Ceilings and Walls
Shine a Light Across the Woodwork and Circle Flaws
Do the Ceiling, Then the Walls