DIY Painting: How to Paint a Room Like a Professional

Written by Jeff Thorman

Want to learn how to paint a room like a pro? Here’s a clue: you don’t need tape to protect fixtures and surfaces from drips and streaks. What you need are painting techniques that will let you achieve professional results and save time. So drop the tape and read on for tips on how to paint like a professional.

Step 1: Gather What You Need

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  • 3 inch angle paintbrush
  • Roller (with paint tray roller pan)
  • Stick attachment for roller
  • 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool
  • Drywall compound
  • Paint
  • Empty paint can
  • Drop cloth (to protect your floors)
  • Sanding block
  • Radius 360 sanding tool
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty plate 
  • Hawk
  • Paint mixing blade (comes free with your new paint)

Step 2: Get Things Out of the Way

To achieve professional results, don’t put tape on plastic fixtures such as:

  • Thermostat
  • Doorbell cover
  • Receptacle cover 
  • Light switch cover
  • Central vacuum wall cover 

Unscrew and remove the plates and covers instead. Set them aside to be re-attached later. For central vacuums, which are wired with low voltage, pull the vacuum cover a half-inch out from the wall, but don’t remove it. This approach will give your brush enough room to paint around the fixtures and also helps you spot any signs of damage that may have previously occurred. 

Step 3: Prepare Your Wall

Fix Imperfections

Pro Tip: Until you make the wall surface perfect, there’s no sense in adding paint. 

Before you start painting, inspect your wall for nail holes, dents, nicks, scratches and other imperfections. 

To fix small holes (such as those made by nails or screws) use the butt of the 5-in-1 tool to create a dent in the drywall where the hole is. This can be done by pressing the butt of the tool against the drywall and turning it about 75 degrees. This process will create larger dents that can be easily filled with drywall compound, and it will smooth out any bumps around the edge of the hole.

Pro Tip: Use Sheetrock 45 to skip priming

Spackling paste is an effective way to fill holes in drywall, but you have to prime the patches afterwards which adds an extra step in the painting process. Alternatively, you can use drywall compounds, but the problem is most shrink when they dry or remain visible under layers of paint, which is known as “flashing”. 

Use Sheetrock 45 to cover up imperfections and straighten outside corners without the need to prime the patches afterwards (Sheetrock 45 does not require priming before you paint over it). Mix the Sheetrock 45 powder with some water in a pail and stir it up with a paint mixing blade. Or you can use the volcano technique which can be seen in my video DIY How to Paint Like a Pro Series A to Z. 

Sand The Surface

Pro Tip: Use a large drywall sanding tool for wall surfaces and a sanding block for corners.

Now that you’ve fixed your imperfections, it’s time to sand. This process will remove dirt and make the wall as smooth as possible. Use drywall sanding tools like the Radius 360 sander to allow for mobility in all directions. With a full 9” diameter, you’ll get the sanding done quickly. 

Remember: the key when sanding is gentle pressure. If you sand too hard, you’ll create valleys in the drywall that will need to be filled in with more compound, and you’ll be starting the whole process over again. 

If you’ve added compound to any of your outside corners, use a sanding block to achieve a smooth square edge.

Step 4: Paint

Cutting In

Cutting in refers to painting with your 3-inch angle paintbrush. You’ll use your brush to paint around any fixtures, cover plates or sockets, as well as along the edges of corners. 

Pro Tip: Paint using an empty can to avoid making a mess.

If you paint using a full can, you’ll get drips everywhere. So grab your empty paint can and pour about an inch of paint into it. Then take your paintbrush and press it into the bottom of the can and stir it around so it becomes saturated. Once your paintbrush is full of paint, wipe each of the four edges against the inside rim of the can, and you’ll see that the inside of the brush is full of paint and the outside isn’t dripping. This is what I mean when I say “paint from the inside of the brush”.

Now you’re ready to cut.

Lead with the heel (shorter side) of your brush. Apply pressure to the brush so that the bristles splay out to the point when you want your paint line to end. With a little practice, this technique can be very precise. 

Cutting should be used for the first and second coat in the following areas: 

  • Top edges
  • Inner corners
  • Outer corners
  • Bottom edges
  • Baseboards


Rolling refers to using your paint roller to cover the large open surfaces of the wall. A roller stick attachment with a locking pin will make it easier to reach high areas and give you more control.

Pro Tip: Paint in the direction where your cage is pointing. 

Pour some paint into your tray and gently push the roller through the paint until it’s saturated. Then roll the excess paint off your roller using the top section of the tray to avoid drops.

Start about a foot from the ceiling and guide the roller down the wall in a straight line without pressure. Then go back up, adding a little more pressure as you go. The difference is pressure is to account for the transfer of paint from the roller to the wall (the more saturated the roller is, the less pressure you need to effectively cover the surface). Paint in sections of about 2 rollers wide on your first coat, and then about 3 rollers wide on your second coat. Don’t forget to roll over your cuts to create a uniform eggshell finish. 

After applying the first coat, wait for it to dry, gently sand the whole surface again, and then apply the second coat. If there’s any flashing after the first coat, the second coat should cover it up. 

Once you’ve finished the second coat, you finally have a newly-painted wall.

Professional painting is as much about efficiency as it is about accuracy. We hope these tips help you achieve the great results you’re looking for.

For more information on how to paint like a pro, check out our videos and subscribe to our mailing list.


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