From start to finish, painting a 12×12 room with 8-foot ceilings will take about 5 hours. More time will be needed if you’re going to paint the ceiling or the trim. However, there are many other factors to consider that will impact both the time and the quality of the project.
Factors to Consider
Masking is what you do to make sure the only surface you paint is the walls. Masking can include
- moving furniture
- dusting, washing, and taping off baseboards
- putting plastic or a drop cloth on the floor
If you’re painting over carpet, put down plastic. If you’re painting over a solid surface flooring, put down a fabric drop cloth. Plastic offers great protection but it can be slick, especially if it gets wet.
If you’re getting off and on a ladder, you’ll be safer stepping down onto damp cloth than onto wet plastic.
Washing the Walls
Take a clean broom and sweep down the walls. If you’re painting a kitchen or bath, take the time to wash the walls with a mild degreasing soap.
For those moving into a new home, go ahead and wash all walls you’re going to paint with the same soap just to be sure.
Rinse the walls with a large sponge and a fresh bucket of water. As you brush, wash and rinse your walls, look for nail holes that need patching.
Patching the Holes
Invest in some quick-drying sheetrock mud or spackling compound to patch small nail holes. You will need a good taping knife for this project.
Make sure to clean this tool thoroughly and dry it before you put it away so it doesn’t rust. When the patch dries, sand it very gently and vacuum up the dust to avoid tracking it through the house.
Priming the Patch
Patches can be visible on a freshly painted wall. Take the time to prime your patch. One very simple method is to invest in a few microfiber rollers; when the patch is dry and sanded, lightly coat the patch in a primer and allow it to dry, preferably overnight, so your patches don’t read through your top coat of paint.
Covering the Old Color
The color you’re covering will have a big impact on the time it will take to paint your room. If you’re putting a light shade of cream or gray on the walls and you used to have a navy blue accent wall, prime over the accent wall.
Primer is formulated differently than ordinary paint. It has compounds in it that give it more cling. It can feel rather sticky or gooey when you put it on the walls.
If you must prime a large area of a room, set up fans and let it dry overnight before you put on your topcoat. You’ll get a much better quality finish.
Speed Up the Process Without Sacrificing a Quality Paint Job
Use a Good Quality Roller Cover
Cheap roller covers hold less paint. As you paint, you may be tempted to put pressure on the roller. Not only can this be tough on your hands, but you’ll get paint stripes squished out at the edge of the roller.
To thoroughly roll a wall, work in segments about twice the width of your own shoulders and about 4 feet from the ceiling or the floor. Don’t rush. Roll a V pattern in your designated space, then roll back over it to fill in around the V. Not only will this reduce the risk of paint gaps, but it will save your energy.
Use a low stool or a cushion so you can easily get on and off the floor. If getting down to the baseboard and back up is a challenge, work the top half of the wall first, then finish with the bottom half of the wall. Kneepads may be a good investment.
Cut Ahead, Roll After
Cutting in at the ceiling can seem very inefficient when you see how much progress you’re making with the roller.
However, rolling an entire wall to perfection and destroying it with a big drip from the ceiling cut will not make you happy.
Start at the ceiling, working twice the width of your V pattern; not only will this help you move along more quickly, but it will get the ladder out of your way.
Brush the corners and the baseboard cuts after you cut the ceiling line. Invest in a small roller that you can use to smooth out any brush marks in the corner.
When you roller to the end of your cut, put the roller spindle back in the pain and pick up the brush. In a 12 x 12 room, it is possible to cut the entire wall before using the roller. Just don’t roller ahead of the cut.
Pull Masking Tape Before Paint Dries
Paint will happily stick wherever it dries. If you used masking tape to cover around your trim, pull it before the paint dries completely to avoid tearing the paint away from the wall.
The trick to pulling masking tape effectively is to curl it away from the wall. On a stretch of baseboard trim, you want to loosen the end of the tape and roll it slightly toward you.
Work low and continue to gently flip the tape, sticky side up, as it leaves the wall. Skip gloves for this and gently crumple the tape as you pull it away.
If you forget or prefer not to risk it, use a very sharp box cutter or craft knife to cut the gap between the wall and the paint. Again, work slowly.
The key to a good paint job is not to rush the final step, which is actually putting color on the walls. The right paint can boost your mood and give you the color you’ve fallen in love with, but it won’t cover up nail holes or a cracked wall.
Be prepared to put in just as much time prepping as you do on the final topcoat.