All The Tricks I Learned Painting A Whole House By Myself (Mostly)

Are you guys ready to talk about my favorite subject of all time? PAINT!! I can’t count the number of posts I’ve written on this subject but I feel like there is always something awesome to share. Renovating the Merc has given me a whole new perspective and appreciation for paint and the work that can go into it. After using 100+ gallons of paint and primer I think it’s safe to say that I learned a few things along the way, and in true Vintage Revivals fashion, a few what not to do’s as well.

The number one factor in getting a great paint job is to use great paint. It might not seem like it makes a difference, but I promise it does. Quality paint is not the cheapest option but when you use amazing paint it makes even the most novice painter get killer results. For the Merc we used 3 different types of paint, all of it is in the Sherwin-Williams Emerald family. Emerald is not inexpensive, but the quality is far superior than anything else I’ve ever used. I’ve used it almost exclusively for the better part of 5 years and I can honestly say that I’ve never been frustrated with the finish, application, or durability. For the walls in the Merc I used Mandi White (get the recipe and see all of our paint colors here!) in Emerald Interior with a Matte finish.

In lower quality paint lines using a Matte finish on anything but the ceiling can be a mistake because traditionally it’s not very washable (if you’ve ever taken a magic eraser to your wall and had paint color come off you know what I’m talking about.) That is why its “recommended” that you put higher sheen finishes in rooms that will get dirty like the kitchen or hallways-so they can be scrubbed. Well guess what? Semi-Gloss is not cute (especially if you have wall texture that you don’t love). But if you use quality paint then you don’t have to settle for shiny walls. Simple as that. Emerald Matte is great to use everywhere because it doesn’t wash off.

Funny story, matte white walls are not the norm in Southern Utah. Our electrician came over and was told to install can lights in kitchen and hallways that were painted (one of the main hallways is still just primed pending completion of the moulding) and when we came back the can lights were hanging out of the ceiling because he thought the entire house was just primed. 😂

Snag a Deal: I mentioned it a few times in the above paragraph, but good paint is not cheap. Luckily for us Sherwin-Williams regularly runs deals where their paint is 30%+ off. Sign up for their newsletter or text alerts so that you can stay in the know because you can save a ton.

Use A Sprayer: Instead of rolling the entire Merc (remember my wall texture what about how little I wanted? Rolling adds texture) we decided to spray our paint. I figured that we were saving a lot by doing it ourselves, so it was ok to invest in a sprayer. IT CHANGED MY WHOLE LIFE FOREVER. I’ve used small handheld sprayers off and on through the years but never really stuck with it because they were too complicated to clean, they had to be refilled all the time, and they didn’t do a great job. If youre embarking on a painting journey, buy a sprayer. Seriously. We have the Graco X7  (it’s about $400).

Back-Roll Your Primer:  Ok now I know I just told you that we used a sprayer so we had no texture, but Josh (remember my friend the pro painter?) told us that a perfectly smooth sprayed finish isn’t ideal because it’s not easy to touch up unless you want to pull your sprayer out and respray the whole wall. #notfun He told us that we could get an almost smooth finish that could still be touched up if we back-rolled the primer. Back-rolling is when you spray the paint (or primer) on the wall and the someone follows up with a roller and rolls over the whole space. It adds just a little bit of texture (you don’t even notice it) and makes it so that touch up is disguised. On our walls we sprayed Drywall Primer (back-rolled) and 2 coats of paint (not back-rolled). We’ve had quite a bit of touch up happening and it looks just as perfect as it did when we sprayed it.

Spray the Ceiling First: Starting on the ceiling makes it so you are less likely to get drips at the top of your walls. Do the whole ceiling first and then start on your walls.

Mask everything off. Like E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. With freshly sheet rocked and textured walls youre going to have drywall dust (use this crazy hack on your walls to get rid of drywall dust easily) but even with all of the water misting we’re human and chances are that you’re going to forget something that collected dust.

  • Stuff paper in all of the outlet and switch holes. There is nothing worse than merrily spraying, jamming out to your favorite vintage Britney song and spray over an outlet hole that didn’t get cleaned out. All of the pressure from the sprayer blows out the dust and it sticks to your freshly painted wall and then you have to wait for it to dry and sand it smooth and start over. Paper in the holes, Got it?
  • Use heavy paper to easily cover your floors. You can buy these large rolls at any hardware store!
  • Buy a masker and paper
  • Frogtape Frogtape Frogtape. Get the green kind, the yellow is for delicate surfaces and doesn’t stick super well if you’ve got paper attached.

Gear Up: Face masks are not optional. We used a few different kinds of masks and by far the favorite was one like this. While completely unflattering, jumpsuits are a must have. All of the paint floating around in the air turns to dust and even if it doesn’t ruin your clothes, the dust will come off all over your life, car, children. It’s a huge pain and wearing jumpsuits prevents it. Glasses are really hard to wear because they get completely covered quickly and then you are out of luck. So this is what I did. I wear my prescription glasses a lot while I DIY (you may have noticed in the videos) because they double as safety glasses. I used goggles while I was painting the ceiling (that is where the worst overspray happens because the paint is falling down on you) and let them gunk up, then I’d take them off and just wear my regular glasses. They definitely get spray on them but its quite a bit less when youre spraying the walls. On the last day I was SO READY TO BE DONE and didn’t have my regular glasses with me so I didn’t wear anything over my eyes. My eyelashes were completely white and I will definitely not be doing that again.

Develop a rhythm: This comes in handy especially when youre spraying the ceiling and can’t see out of your goggles. Mine was standing with my legs apart like I was mid-stride and rocking back and forth down the length of the wall. Because of the size of our rooms I was able to get about 1/2 of the ceiling sprayed in each pass.


Use the Right Kind of Paint for the Job: This is one of my eternal pet peeves. Guys, there are different formulas of paint for different purposes. If you’re having problems with your paint job, chances are really high that you’re using the wrong kind of paint. For doors, base, and all the rest of our trim we’re using Sherwin-Williams new Emerald Trim paint.

I need a moment.

You guys. This paint is MAGICAL.

I have a deep and abiding love for Pro Classic (I got into all the reasons why here) But I think it’s safe to say that even as much as I love it, I’ll probably never use it again. The new Emerald Trim Urethane is like Pro Classic but better, it levels out like nothing I’ve ever seen before. So even using roller (you’ll still want to use a Mohair roller) or brush the results will blow you away (just follow my tips in this post!) but spraying it? It is like glass. AND THE BEST PART is that it comes in a deep base so you can use dark colors!! (Pro Classic doesn’t come in a deep base so dark colors weren’t an option.) I had a little bit of a learning curve with it when I sprayed it the first time. Spraying a few light coats is the way to go. When I sprayed it the first time I did it the way I sprayed the walls (pretty heavy single coat) and it looked awesome, but the dry time is longer than with other paint and because it took a while to set up it started to sag. I let it cure and then sanded the drips off and recoated it and it looks awesome. So if you’re spraying it, a few light coats are the recipe!

I’ve got a whole post about what we learned painting our doors and trim, and we’re going to dive a little deeper into the Emerald Trim and Exterior paint in that one.

Do you have any painting tips!?  Let’s hear them!!

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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.