Interior Painting: The Walls Are Painted Last

I have been painting my bedroom on and off for the last year. Why should such a job take this long? Two reasons: (1) I am very busy and must devote most of my waking hours to business, and (2) I am lazy when it comes to the work that needs to be done around the house.

To stress the point of number two above, we have been here for over four years now–a house that was room-to-room beige and in dire need of paint–and we have only completed a few painting tasks–one upstairs room (office, which is what we use it for, or the third bedroom), the main floor office, and the formal dining room. That is it. The two bedrooms upstairs, one of which is a master bedroom suite, which I occupy, are partially done. The master bedroom suite is only waiting for completion of the walk-in closet–the bathroom and bedroom are completed.

This is really a post on how to paint when you are too lazy to empty a room, and how to get professional results when doing such a project.

When painting a room, or an area, such as the one I will be discussing here, the master bedroom, I almost always choose three colors (usually all on the same color card). For the master bedroom, I chose a muted blue color scheme. The trim is done with a light blue (Under the Big Top), the walls a medium blue/gray (Colonial Blue), and the ceiling dark blue/gray (Hudson Bay). All of the paint purchased was from Benjamin Moore and all are semi gloss. I like the glossy look of semi gloss and gloss paint, though it does require the painter to take special care in order to get a good look.

This suite is in a lovely Cape Cod, with the slant ceiling in the bedroom that follows the contour of the roof. The dark blue/gray color was used on the actual ceiling and the angled ceiling.

The first task in any interior paint job is to patch any problems in the wall surface. In this case, since I had planned on taking my time on this project, the ceiling–since it was first on my list of painting tasks–was all I had to worry over.

Taping light fixtures should be done only on fixtures that cannot be taken down easily. In the case of this room, I had to do the ceilings in the bedroom, the walk-in closet, and the bathroom. The bathroom has a fan/vent that was easy enough to dangle down so I could paint the ceiling including the area under the fan. The walk-in closet, has a ceiling light fixture that was easy to dangle as well. The bedroom has a smoke detector, that was easy to remove temporarily, but the ceiling fan was not, so I taped it.

Now that the room is prepared for painting, I laid out a huge canvas tarp so as not to drip paint on any of my furnishings.

I started first by painting the areas of the ceiling where the ceiling meets the walls. You should not be particularly concerned about carefully cutting in the line between the ceiling and walls, however. Since, you will be painting the walls last, you can cut in that line when you do the walls. Do, however, make sure that you paint the ceiling with some overlap onto the walls.

Also paint a goodly area around the ceiling fan, the bathroom fan, the walk-in closet light fixture, and the smoke detector. This was all done with a 2-inch high-quality paint brush. When I finished doing this trimming of the ceilings, the paint was dry enough for me to start at the beginning and get a second coat on the trim. Sometimes, two coats is enough. In this case, it was.

Upon completion of the ceiling area with the dark paint, the paint brush I used was folded carefully into plastic kitchen wrap so as to be fairly air tight and then put into the freezer. This will keep the paint from drying for an extended period of time–but not forever.

The next process that is needed to be done is the rolling of the paint on the ceiling.

Now that the trim is done, and dry, it is time to paint the entire ceiling with a paint roller. Everyone should know what equipment is needed for this, so I will not add comment about this here. There are plenty of articles discussing this kind of stuff.

What I would like to stress is that, when working with gloss or semi-gloss paint, do not go back over areas where you might have missed a spot (called holidays). Leave it alone as it will be dealt with on the second coat. Try to avoid holidays by being generous with the paint refilling the roller often. Inspect your work as you go and follow a pattern that gets you finished as quickly as possible. The reason I mention leaving holidays for subsequent coats of paint is that glossy paint will leave “textured” areas when you roll over areas that have had a few minutes to set up. This does not look good when the rest of the room is nice and glossy, and that one area, where you overrolled before it had dried, has a inconsistent texture to it that is nearly impossible to make right.

Once you have the ceilings done to your liking, you are ready to do a wall. Why just ‘a’ wall? Several reasons.

  • We are painting this room without the removal of furniture and we will need to jockey the furniture away from the wall we will be painting, and
  • If we short ourselves on the wall paint and need to buy more, if you are cutting in one wall at a time, slight differences in paint color will not be noticeably different.

You will need to clear furniture, wall hangings, and electrical face plates from the wall you will be working on. You should also fill any holes in the wall, blemishes, etc., so that the wall comes out looking nice.

Before you start painting the wall, however, you should paint the trim. This would be baseboards, windowsills, door frames, etc. You needn’t worry about slopping paint onto the walls when doing the trim. Since the walls are painted last, you will be painting over any trim paint that gets onto the walls. In fact, you should make sure that you do overlap onto the walls a bit so that the old color is not left behind when the job is done.

Once you have the trim painted to your liking, it is time to trim up the walls. Now, this is the time to carefully outline the wall color so as to make a nice steady line against the ceiling and the trim. So you trim and roll just as outlined in this post.

Pretty simple. You have the ceiling done, one wall with baseboards and trim done for that one wall. Now, if you have time, you can do another wall. If not, you can put it off until another day. Just remember, your brushes and rollers will not remain moist in the freezer for too long, so you might want to finish your painting tasks and get your brushes cleaned as soon as you can. Six months in the freezer is too long–your paint will have partially dried and will require combing of the brush to remove the paint chunks.

Hope this helps those who paint.