Stuff They Don’t Teach You In School – Wallpainting

Watching HGTV gave me an overblown sense of confidence. I budgeted 2-3 days for the paint project. It was going to be just 4 rooms and 1 wall of my living room. How difficult can it be?

Step 1: Pick up supplies

Shopping at Home Depot was an emotionally destabilizing experience. Is this how men feel when they walk into Sephora?


One of the orange apron guys guided me through the paint brush selection. He asked me what other supplies I needed. I quickly Googled “supplies for painting rooms,” and presented him with the list. Clearly I came prepared.


I stuck with the neutral color scheme of the house – a flat, light gray. Elegant and not too sterile. Goes well with any style of decor.


Total time spent: 4 hours

Step 2: Prep/clean the walls

I picked up some trisodium phosphate (TSP), a heavy-duty cleaner that removes dirt, grease, grime, soot, etc. and is often used to clean walls before painting.


Prepping took MUCH longer than anticipated. After I wiped down a wall with TSP (diluted with water, of course), I had to wipe again with clean water. Each wall took approximately 30 minutes. Rinse and repeat 17 times. The painstakingly tedious process took almost 10 hours, and the TSP was so strong that it soaked through my double gloves. I probably have skin cancer now.


Total time spent: ~10 hours over 2 days

Step 5: Speckle 

I filled in all the little nail holes with this Play-Doh like thing the Home Depot guy had told me to buy, and waited a day for the patches to dry before sanding them down to create a smooth surface. Now the walls are ready for paint!


Total time spent: ~2 hours over 2 days

Step 4: Paint

I looked up several how-to articles and YouTube videos on the best painting techniques. Everyone seems to have a different philosophy, so I thought technique didn’t really matter as long as I was able to cover the entirety of the walls.


Sheer terror washed over me as I looked at my first ‘finished’ wall.

Did I pick up the wrong type of paint? Did I mess up my strokes? What did I do wrong? How am I supposed to fix this splotchy mess?

I completely lost it. I sat on the floor and cried for half an hour before going on Angie’s List and requesting several quotes. Defeated and emotionally exhausted, I decided the only thing left to do is to binge on ice cream and nap. I woke up four hours later to this:


Feeling a bit more confident in my newfound skill, I decided to proceed with the upstairs bedrooms and office.


Something looked off. Umm… why are the edges lighter?!

I tried to console myself by thinking I could just apply a second coat (though the premium paint required only one coat). By now I had destroyed all my brushes and rollers (tip: soak your brushes immediately after use), and had to pick up more from Home Depot. I showed the old Indian man at the paint counter a picture of my two-toned walls.

Me: What did I do wrong?
OIM: Did you start with the edges?
Me: Um no. Why?
OIM: Because you were supposed to before you roll.
Me: Your people never told me. The internet never told me. NO ONE bothered telling me?!

Cue the tears of anger and frustration.

Me: So do I need to repaint all the walls? I don’t think I have enough paint left…
OIM: No no no. Just go over the edges again. That should fix it.
Me: Are you sure…?
OIM: Yes yes yes. Don’t worry. It’s an easy fix.
Me: Can you show me how to paint the edges so I don’t overdo them?

OIM ended up giving me a one-hour tutorial / therapy session. He reassured me that there was really no way to mess up a paint job (unless you got the wrong color, which would be money wasted because you can’t return mixed paint).

I went home and followed his instructions. It worked. The walls were finally of the same shade of gray. Yay!

Just as I started to clean up and remove the tape along the edges (I didn’t want to repaint the ceiling), this is what I was presented with:



Now I had to speckle the areas where the original paint had came off. I returned to Home Depot for the nth time and picked up a white ceiling paint and more paint brushes. Apparently I should have gotten the kind of painter’s tape designed for “delicate surface.” Again, NOBODY HAD TOLD ME.

I had to be extremely careful with the white ceiling paint and make sure I steered clear of the finished walls. I was so over this whole stupid thing by now that I quickly went around all the ceilings and painted over the speckled areas.

Total time spent: 293850382 hours


ISuclx7vxr1opy0000000000Master bedroom

Second bedroom


Guest bedroom

After three weeks of sweat, tears, and self-doubt, I am finally done with the paint job. It is far from perfect, but good enough for now as I plan to get the interior and exterior professionally repainted in a few years. Just one more major project left. Stay tuned for the final reveal next week!

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