I’m not saying this is THE way. But if you struggle with rollers, this post on how to paint walls using a brush may give you a viable (or preferable!) alternative!
Rob and I are deep in the throes of home improvement. Remember last year when we renovated our kitchen? And then got the foundation and pipes fixed? (Read: remember when we dropped a huge chunk of change as part of the joy of home ownership?) We are FINALLY putting the finishing touches on. We have a windowsill! And a light for above the kitchen sink! Full photos to follow. For now I am entrenched in painting two whole rooms. Sometimes people act like I’m nuts when I say that I paint my own walls. I think it’s crazy to pay someone, unless you have gajillions of dollars. But since this is unfamiliar to most people, I’m going to share some tips and tricks for how to paint walls using a brush (instead of a roller).
I know that rollers are fast and get a lot of coverage. But when I use them, I make a giant mess (even more than usual), waste a lot of paint, and end up having to go back with a brush anyway. Though it should save me time, it instead wastes my time. In case you want to try your hand at painting a room in your house and are scared of the roller, here is a quick video tutorial and then a few tips for how to paint walls using a brush.
Tips and Tricks for Painting Walls with a Brush
Get brushes that won’t fall apart.
I don’t buy the high-end brushes, but not the cheapest either. I find that the brushes at home improvement stores somewhere in the middle price range tend to work well without leaving tons of bristles embedded in the walls. I don’t ever spend more than $5 on a brush. That way if the paint ends up not cleaning off well from the bristles, I can just throw it away at the end of a project without guilt. I almost always buy new brushes when painting a new room.
I try to do as few steps as possible. I am messy, but can usually paint without a tarp down. I keep a wet rag and any stray drips get wiped quickly, especially from something like grout. If I’m painting on tile or wood, the best option if you miss a spot is to leave it, let it fully dry, and easily pick it off. If it’s a thin little streak, definitely try to get it while wet. But big, thick drips or drops are easy to peel off. I try not to ever prime and have found that unless I’m painting a much lighter color on top of a darker one, I can get away without priming. It’s all in the amount of coverage you do in each layer.
Don’t overload the brush with paint. As you see in the video, I only dip the brush about an inch or two into the paint. Then I wipe the bottom side of the brush so I really only have paint on one side. I want a good deal of paint, but I want it on the wall, not trapped in the bristles. Rollers trap a TON of paint and I have found that I use almost twice as much paint using a roller. Paint is money, so I want to use less. Always.
Don’t dry brush.
Though I only get an inch or two of paint on my brush, I try to transfer all of that immediately to the wall. Rather than pressing really hard and spreading it as far as I can, I push the paint around on the wall, usually only five or six strokes, before I’m ready to dip again. This means a lot of moving back and forth from the wall to the paint can, but it gives you a nice, thick coverage without wasting paint. If you keep painting until the brush is dry, you end up with a thin layer of paint on the wall and you will certainly need a second coat. I try to do only ONE coat (with some touch-ups, of course) per room. Typically with this method, I can accomplish this. The exception being when you are making an extreme change or using a color like red that is often a bit more translucent.
Fix mistakes later.
Touch-ups should come later, not as you go. I’ve made the mistake before of trying to fix something while the paint is not fully dry and what happens is a sticky mess on the wall, leaving a sort of textured and icky area that you might need to sand down. Wait until things are fully dry and then look for areas that need help. THIS is when you can use a dry brush and less paint. Because there is already a layer, if you find an area that is thinner, using that little bit of paint left on the brush after you do my normal full coverage works well. Then you really are using every bit of paint.
Cut-in at a different time from when you fill the walls.
Cutting-in is the process by which you get the edges at the top and bottom or near the trim. It takes more precision and time. I find that I make more of a mess when I tape things off for some reason, so I never use painter’s tape. Instead I will either start by doing all of this precision work with a slow or steady hand or will finish the job with this part. I am often impatient to see results, so this tends to fall to the end. If I am cutting-in at the same time that I’m covering huge expanses of wall, I tend to be less focused and make more mistakes. If you want to see a great tutorial on cutting-in, check out this post from Young House Love.
Find your OWN painting tips. You may find your own method as you get used to painting. I have painted every room in our house, some of them three or four times. We have lived in our house seven years. I am insane and like change a lot. This is my tried-and-true method after all those years and rooms of painting. The more you get used to it, the more you’ll find what works for you!
Do you ever paint your walls? Any of your own tips and tricks? Let me know if you’re Team Brush or Team Roller in the comments!