Monday, August 24, 2020

DIY Apartment Painting -- Instructions How To Paint an Apartment Step By Step -- Part 2

The main wall in the apartment we painted, once patched up.

Ok, so the other day I wrote part one of how to paint an apartment, includinga very thorough list of equipment you'll need However, even the most detailed equipment list won't tell you how to actually paint an apartment. So I'll go through this for you in steps. Of course, I'm not a professional, so some people might disagree with me on the order. But this is my thoughts based on my experience.

DIY Apartment Painting -- Instructions How To Paint an Apartment Step By Step -- Part 2

The Very First Things
This is imperative that you do it first. Painting involves many steps and is a waiting game. So to do that most efficiently, you will need to prioritize and get the thing that takes the longest done first.

1) Remove screws, nails, and dibbles from the wall. 
2) If there is any water damage, scrape it off with a joint knife and possibly with the help of a hammer.

The Next "First Thing"
Sorry, I don't care if this is bad grammar. This could have gone under the previous category, but it's different so I'm making it its own category, but it needs to be done ASAP.

1) Sand down rough edges.
2) Paint the areas you cleaned and sanded with primer.

Be Patient
Now you have to leave it. The primer has to dry completely. Don't skip this. Let it dry fully or you'll regret it. I'll write more about that in the next post, but just trust me on this one.

Paint While You Wait
Now you can start the painting preparations. If you have rooms that don't have any water damage or any holes that need filling, you can start with these.

1) Wipe down everything with a rag.
Especially along molding, above any ledges that jut out, above built in furniture, where walls meet, and where the ceiling meets the wall. Even if there's just dust, you need to do this first, otherwise you'll get dust mixed in with your paint, and trust me, that isn't a pleasant sight and makes more work for you. If the walls or ceiling anywhere are filthy, scrub it well with a sponge before wiping it down.

2) Put down drop cloths.
For me this involved cutting the roll that I had to size, and then taping it to the top of the molding at the edge of the floor. When doing this, give yourself some extra room because this will need to be longer than the floor length as it needs to also cover the length of the floor and then have additional length to go up the sides to cover molding along the floor. Also put drop cloths over non moving furniture and your kitchen cabinets and counters.
Note- you do not need to do the entire apartment at once. You can do drop cloths room by room.

No, the walls aren't green, the drop cloths made it look that way. But do a better job with drop cloths
than we did, do long bits across the floor without empty spaces, as we had to clean the floor a lot in this room.

3) Tape up things with masking tape or painters tape. 
This includes light switches, windows, molding, door frames, any small built in appliances that can't be removed.

4) Open your paint and stir it well until uniform. Paint settles.

5) Pour some paint into a paint rolling tray. Roll the paint roller back and forth a few times in it, to get paint on it, but to remove excess paint.

6) Roll paint onto the wall. Go over and over until it has a nice opaque layer, being careful not to make drips, and if you do drip, catch it. If, however, you are coming from a dark background, you'll need to do a few layers and then stop, let it dry, and then continue after. Because after a few layers it will start taking off paint instead of putting it on unless you let it dry first. While painting, be careful not to let the metal pole of the roller touch the wall, because it will leave markings on the wall that you'll then need to paint over.

7) Use a brush to paint the areas where the roller won't reach, like where the walls meet, where the wall meets the ceiling, along light switches and door frames and windows and molding, etc...

Ok, so now that you know how to paint, lets go back to the first stuff.

Now That You Waited, Fix The Wall
Ok, now your primer is fully dry. Now we need to fill in the holes and/or repair the wall that was damaged by water.

If using powdered joint compound, or spackle, or plaster- you really can use any of these, mix them with water until you have a workable paste, and then fill any holes with it, and then use a joint knife or spackle knife to smooth it flat so it is well packed and level with the rest of the wall. If filling in areas where there was water damage, you'll have to do this over a larger area, but again, use the joint knife to make the wall flat and level.

Water damage all spackled over.

Now Wait Again
This is absolutely imperative. You have to wait until the spackle/plaster/joint compound is fully, fully dry. Not just "it feels dry" but actually dry as a bone. Ideally leave this overnight. I didn't wait long enough when I first did this and I had to do it all over again. Patience is very much a virtue here.

Now Go Back To Painting
I mean, you do still have other rooms to paint, still, no? If not, find a way to entertain yourself, since there are no shortcuts here.

Sand It
Once your joint compound/spackle/plaster is fully, fully dry- again repeating, don't skip a long enough drying time, sand it down.

Prime It
Another, very important layer of primer. This also has to fully, fully, fully dry. Be patient.

Wait Again. 
Again, don't skip this.

Paint While You Wait
Is there anything still left to paint? So do that now. 

Paint the Patched Areas
Cover the areas you patched with paint. You may find you need more layers than you did on other areas, as the joint compound/spackle/plaster is a different color than the rest of the wall, so you need to work harder to cover it up.

Same wall as above, this time all painted.

Double Check Everything
Did you actually paint near the ceiling? Between the walls? Along the baseboards? Along the windows? How about hallways? Check those "odd spots" that you might otherwise be forgetting. How about behind the open door? Finish everything!

Take Off The Tape and Drop Cloth
This actually is best to do while the paint still is wet so you don't pull up any dried paint. Paint any areas that the tape might have been covering that still needed painting. For me this was along the floor where I taped the drop cloth.

An amazing tool for your arsenal- a scraper.

Clean Up Time
Throw out your drop cloth and the tape you took off. Then take a scraper, shown above, and scrape off the paint from anyhard non wooden surfaces where it dripped. It's a terrific tool but will scrape off wood if you try to scrape paint off of wood. It works terrifically on tile and glass though. If using acrylic paint, use a soapy sponge to wash off the paint.

Voila, that's it!

Ok, that's not actually it. I have one more post on the topic. Things I learned from painting the apartment. But that will be for another day.

Have you ever painted an apartment? What steps did you follow to do it? Does this step by step instruction encourage you to do the same yourself when you need to paint your place?


  1. I'm thinking the number one thing needed for all this painting is patience! And good for you for having it.

    I also wanted to thank you for the article about veteran's benefits as I'm a veteran and didn't know about more than half of the things mentioned!

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