How to Save Time When Painting

A man painting a room on a ladder with a roller.
  • 3-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 70-90
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Putty knife
Utility knife
Painter's tape
Plastic trash bags
Trisodium phosphate
Rosin paper

Painting is a big part of being a homeowner. While a fresh coat of paint can do wonders to an old space, painting a new room can easily become a major undertaking that eats up a lot of time. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to speed up the entire painting process, saving you both time and money in the long run.

Plan Ahead

A measuring tape.

Planning ahead can save you from making extra trips to the hardware store. Before purchasing paint, estimate how much paint you will need by measuring the length of the walls. Add these lengths together and multiply by the height of the wall. This will give you a rough idea of how much paint you need to finish the entire room. You can take off around 20 square feet for every door in the room and 15 for each window for a more accurate estimate. A gallon of paint typically covers around 350 square feet.

Choose the Right Kind of Paint

Certain kinds of paint finishes are better suited for different rooms, making it important to know these beforehand. For instance, a flat finish is great if you want to avoid a shine, but it also magnifies flaws. Flat paints are also hard to clean, which means they're not good for a kid’s room. Other finishes include satin, gloss, eggshell, and high gloss. Research which finish is best suited for your needs to avoid spending time repainting the room down the road.

Clean the Surface With TSP

Cleaning the surface before painting will help the paint stick better, especially if you're working on a surface with old paint. A trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution is great at removing dirt and grime and getting the surface primed for a new coat. TSP will also help cut down on scrubbing time.

Use Wide Rollers

A wide paint roller.

Using a wide roller can save you a lot of time when painting walls. A standard roller is nine inches, though you can get one up to 18 inches in width. Rollers are great for large, flat spaces and opting for a wide roller can really speed things up. Wider rollers are also supported on two sides, which makes it easier to get a consistent layer of paint.

Switch up the Floor Protection

Drop cloths are traditionally used to protect the floor underneath the painted surface, but they often do not work well on wood floors and can bunch up around baseboards, which increases the amount of time you need to take to stop work and adjust them. Rosin paper solves these problems and is just as affordable. The only catch is that you will have to tape down the paper around the edges of the room.

Tape off Edges

A man taping off edges on a wall for painting.

It's faster to tape off edges rather than trying to cut angles with a brush. When taping, always cut off longer lengths of tape than you need. Run a putty knife along the edges of the tape to secure it to the surface. Then, use a utility knife to trim the excess tape. If you need to tape off larger sections like a whole window, tape together pieces of paper for more coverage.

Roll Inside a Pail

Instead of using a pan for the paint roller, line a small bucket with a plastic trash bag. A bucket is easier to roll the paint, can hold more paint than a pan, and is faster to clean up. When you are finished painting, simply remove the trash bag, drain the paint back into the can, and dispose of the garbage. When draining, simply hold the trash bag over the pail and cut a slit in the bottom of the bag.

Avoid Beginning With Corners

It's harder to spread out the paint if you start in the corner of the wall. Instead, begin painting about six inches from the edge of the wall and spread out from there. This way, you will get a smooth finish without too much buildup around the outer corners—and save yourself the hassle of navigating a difficult area of the wall.