1) Choosing the right paint is the first step in the process. A good quality paint from a reputable company will make the job much easier and will be more durable. Select the finish that works best. A flat paint finish is the least durable and cannot be easily cleaned, however, is most easily touched up over time. An eggshell or satin finish is a good choice for most walls. This type of finish can be washed but it is not so shiny as a semi-gloss or gloss that would look inappropriate for most rooms. It is a good idea to keep in mind also that the more glossy the paint, the more imperfections will show on the wall surface. Semi-gloss and high gloss paints are an excellent choice for doors and moldings though.
2) Select the color of paint. Bring several paint chips home to check the color in the room it will be used in. Most often, the tiny paint chips aren't really large enough to give a good indication of how it will look on the walls and the store's lighting is not an indication of how it will look when it's in your home. Once I have narrowed my paint color choices to a couple, I then purchase the smallest quantity (many brands have small test amounts) to try, I use SMALL WALL rather than painting directly on the wall....it saves time, priming, and you can moved them from light or shadowy areas easily.
3) Check your painting supplies. Good quality paint brushes (1" or 2" angled for trim work ) make the job easier and can be re-used when cleaned properly. You can get a paint edger and refill pads, painters' tape (not masking tape), paint rollers, a paint roller frame, an extension pole for the frame, trays and drop cloths. Painting trays are available in metal or plastic and can be used alone or with disposable clear plastic liners.Disposable liners do make clean up so much easier and keep the paint trays clean but unless you recycle them, they become landfill material. Paint rollers and brushes can also be stored with paint on them as long as they are completed sealed in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer. I have kept a wet paint brush for over a week in the refrigerator without it becoming dry.
4) Prep holes first. You need spackling compound for filling nail holes and cracks, putty knife, sand paper and tack cloths. It's also a good idea to have caulk with a caulking gun in case there are areas to fill in between the baseboards, crown molding and the drywall. If there are only nail holes to be repaired, you can skip all of these items and buy a tube of "Painters Nail Hole Filler" instead. This product is so easy to use. It comes with a smooth sponge tip applicator with a small hole to simply squeeze the filler over a nail hole. Dampen the sponge applicator tip for easier smoothing. It is a one step process without the need for a putty knife. It dries very quickly and can be painted over without sanding.
5) Prep the room. Remove all of the outlet and switch plate covers in the room. I put the covers with the screws in a clear zipper storage bag so they won't get lost during the painting process. Preparation is a time- consuming necessity that will make the painting process so much smoother. In case the walls are very greasy or dirty, you should use TSP (tri-sodium phosphate). Put on a pair of rubber gloves and wash the walls following the manufacturer's directions and then rinse the walls with clear water. Let the walls dry and then it's time to tape, patch and prime if necessary. If the new paint color is a stark contrast to the old paint it will make the job easier to put on a coat of primer first. Your paint store will tint the standard white primer for you at no cost and this will also lessen the number of coats of paint. If there are severe stains on the walls, a stain blocking primer will be your best friend. No matter how many coats of paint that are put on the wall, many stains (ink, permanent markers, etc.) will continue bleeding through the paint unless a primer is applied. Cover floors, furniture and light fixtures that aren't being removed.
6) Ready, now go! Using a brush or pad, start by "cutting in" - painting the areas that cannot be reached with the roller like the wall-ceiling junction, trim and in the corners. I use small plastic containers with handles that I can hold easily. Don't "cut in" too large of an area. Then roll on the paint and get as close as possible to your "cut in" to create a uniform coat on the walls. Pour paint into the painter's tray and dip the roller in. Start rolling it back and forth on the ridged area of the tray to evenly distribute the paint on the roller. The roller should be thoroughly covered but not dripping with paint. Begin rolling the paint on the highest part of the wall in a "W" or "M" design and then keep rolling until the area is evenly filled in and the paint is distributed. This process will be repeated each time the roller needs to be refilled with paint. Usually an area approximately 4' x 4' can be covered with each roller refill. Begin each new "W" beside the previous and then blend the paint edges together while still wet.
You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly a room can be completely. Be sure to allow the room you are painting to have adequate ventilation. Latex paint is really not very bothersome to most people, but sometimes it can still cause a headache. I highly recommend low-odor no VOC paints and most every brand has them. They are a bit more expensive but will never off-gas! Open a window for a while to allow fresh air into the room if it does bother you, or if it is a bedroom that will be used that night. Stain blocking primers are usually much more bothersome and I recommend using them only in a well-ventilated room, especially if you are prone to headaches from chemical smells. Allow the first coat of paint to dry for about three hours before applying the second coat of paint. The drying time for the paint will depend on the temperature and humidity. As the paint begins to dry, it will be much easier to see any areas that haven't been covered completely and it will be easier to determine how many coats of paint are needed.
Wait until the paint is dry before removing the drop cloths and be cautious when removing the painter's tape as well. Good quality paint brushes and rollers are an investment worth taking care of and they will need to be washed thoroughly when the paint job is complete. There are special tools available to even help with the cleaning process of rollers and brushes. It's always a good idea to allow the paint at least a full day to dry before hanging pictures back on the walls. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of your hard work!