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Painting My Dining Room With Primer

The second weekend of November was all about priming my dining room, in preparation for the holidays. I finished prepping my dining room for painting the previous weekend, which included removing the base moulding and door trim, filling in the holes I made around the door when I removed the trim, with sheetrock compound, cleaning the walls, corners, and edges, and covering any areas that I wasn’t going to paint. I had pulled off the wallpaper and glue, filled most of the holes with spackle, and did most of the sanding, last winter.

I used the following materials, purchased mostly from Home Depot and Walmart, to prime my dining room:

5 gallon bucket of primer (5 gallons turned out to be almost quadruple what I needed)
2 small buckets (one for paint, one for soapy warm water)
Plastic cups
Plastic bags
Latex gloves
Bucket grid
Wood paint stirrer
Paint rollers (large and small)
Angled paint brush
Painting clothes

Prepping tools and materials, including my sneakers
Prepping tools and materials, including my sneakers

1) Prepare the tools and materials. DEFINITELY change to painting clothes and comfortable footwear. I used my husbands old ratty jeans and t-shirt, and wrapped plastic bags around my sneakers. Place the angled brush in a cup of water, just enough to cover all the bristles. Open the primer with the crowbar and mix the primer with the paint stirrer. Transfer a little of the primer from the main source to the small bucket using the plastic cup. Remove the angled brush from the water and let the excess water drip out. The brush should be damp, not soaked, when it’s ready to be dipped into the primer.

Tip #1: Keep a small bucket of warm soapy water and a rag nearby. You never know when you’ll need to quickly wipe up an “Oh, crap.”

Tip #2: Fill the small primer bucket only halfway. It’s easier to move a half filled bucket on and off the ladder to move the ladder around than a full bucket.

Tip #3: Keep the entire box of latex gloves around. I regularly changed to a new glove. (I also wore a glove only on my right, dominant, hand)

Prime corners and edges with angled brush and small bucket of primer
Prime corners and edges with angled brush and small bucket of primer

2) Prime the corners and edges with the angled brush and small bucket of primer. Basically, anywhere that will take precision and control. It’s hard to control a paint roller, large or small, with precision, in the tight areas of an edge or corner. Angled brushes also cut a line better than square brushes. Dampening the brush before dipping it into the primer allows the primer to grip the bristles better and results in a smoother application of the primer. Apply just enough primer to cover the areas the paint rollers won’t be able to reach.

Tip #1: Remove the excess primer from the brush by tapping the brush inside the bucket. Having too much primer in the bristles makes the application uneven and messy.

Tip #2: Lie some newspapers on the floor in the center of the room as the resting place for a wet brush, in case you have to put the brush down. That allows for a fast cleanup of wet primer without having to remove the entire drop cloth covering the floor.

Prime walls with large roller, primer, and bucket grid
Prime walls with large roller, primer, and bucket grid

3) Roll the primer onto the walls using the big roller, big bucket of primer, and bucket grid. I used a bucket grid rather than a rolling pan so that I didn’t have to pick up a heavy bucket of primer and pour it out, and to minimize the danger of me stepping in a pan of primer. It’s also much harder to spill a bucket of primer than a pan of primer.

Roll the primer onto the wall in a “W” pattern to minimize drips and uneven application. I also noticed that rolling the primer on too fast leads to more drips, splatters, and flying paint, which is where proper prepping of the room comes in. Taking the time to cover the areas is much faster than taking the time to clean the paint splatters off the floor, doors, and furniture.

Tip #1: Wet the roller and wring out the excess water before putting the roller on the roller frame, for the same reason as dampening the brush before priming.

Tip #2: Get an extension pole for the paint roller handle. I didn’t consider the fact that the up and down of painting with a roller would strain my back.

4) Blend the edging of the rolled on primer and brushed on primer with the small roller. Use the smaller roller to blend the two strokes together. It covers up the difference in the two strokes, the brush stroke and the paint roller stroke.

Tip #1: Wet the small roller the same way as the big roller.

Primed dining room
Primed dining room

5) Repeat steps 2 through 4, if necessary. Since the original color of my dining room was like seafoam green (it was the 60’s), and could still be seen through the first layer of primer, I put on a second layer of primer once the first layer dried.

Tip #1: Be patient and wait until the first layer completely dries. Applying a second layer over a wet first layer doesn’t do anything except waste more primer.

6) Clean the tools thoroughly. I let the rollers, brush, and bucket grid, sit in a bucket of warm soapy water outside to dilute the paint before cleaning them in the sink with warm soapy water.

Tip #1: Don’t be lazy, and do what I did, which is let my bucket, filled with water, rollers, and a brush, sit outside over night in 30 degree weather, all week. Not only did I have to run hot water through the big block of ice to get the roller out, but I totally ruined the angled brush when I impatiently tried to pull it out of the block of ice. The brush came out, but most of the bristles stayed in the ice.

Now it’s time for the fun part. Purchasing the paint and cracking open that paint can.

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