Interior Painting 8 - Large Surfaces

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You’ve cut in all the areas around the edges of the walls and ceilings where the roller can’t reach. Now you’re ready to attack the large areas of your ceiling and then your walls. Be sure the space is well lit so you can see any ridges or drips. The ceilings will be some of your toughest painting. It is physically difficult: painting overhead can cause back or neck strain and an occasional eye full of paint. Because of this, safety goggles (and yoga) are a must during this process. Be prepared to clean the paint off your goggles, you will get spattered.

When painting ceilings, use a high-quality roller with an extension, so you can easily reach all areas of the ceiling without strain. This way ladders will not be needed except for touch-ups and cutting in. These same extensions are used for the high areas of the walls.

Using the Roller

 To properly use a roller, pour the paint into the roller tray or paint pan so there’s ½-inch of paint in the reservoir. This enables you to fully load the roller without under-loading or overloading. Save on clean-up time by using a disposable tray liner.

Roll or dip the roller into the paint reservoir. Roll it around in the paint until the paint has thoroughly covered the roller. Then run the roller a couple of times over the washboard area of the tray. This removes excess paint so that the roller won’t drip. You’ll be surprised how much paint rollers hold, so don't be concerned about thoroughly saturating the roller.

To avoid splattering, distribute the paint slowly on the ceiling and walls. In the beginning, use overlapping "W" shaped strokes. Begin at a corner and work across the wall or ceiling. Cover about three square feet at a time. After you have made your W-shaped zigzag patterns, fill in the unpainted areas with parallel strokes without lifting the roller from the surface. Increase the pressure on the roller as you work to deliver the paint smoothly.

When rolling into unpainted areas, feather the paint in, in a series of light strokes, and lift the roller at the end of each stroke. When you need to reload the roller, begin the next section, rolling in a zigzag into the outer border of the area you just completed. Then lightly roll the area between the two sections. Paint the entire surface. Do not stop and allow the paint to dry on part of the wall or ceiling. If you do, the different areas will be apparent when you’re done.

Some professional painters don’t like the “W” method, because if you’re not fast enough the overlaps may show up as the paint dries. These painters use a continuous line across the ceiling or from floor to ceiling on the walls. For this, use the extension pole even when you’re doing the walls. That saves you from stooping to get the bottom or reaching to paint the top. Roll in a straight line from floor to ceiling, overlapping each stroke by ½ a roller length for good coverage. If the roller edges start to form lines of built up paint, just roll the edges of the roller hard to take out the excess paint that builds up on the ends.

Either way, be systematic. Start at one end and work your way to the other without stopping. No random patterns, filling in the wall here and there, and no taking brakes in the middle of the wall.  It’s repetitive work, but once you get into the groove it should go quickly.

With that behind you, you can move on to painting the trim.