How To Paint Garage Walls: Step By Step

Is it really necessary to paint the interior walls of your garage? It may not be an absolute must, but a good paint job can really transform your garage and open up a lot of possibilities.

If your garage is often used as an entrance to your home, it will definitely make a better first impression with nicely painted walls. Painting your garage walls can give your house more curb appeal when the garage door is open. This increases the value of your home.

Is It Difficult To Paint Garage Walls?

Is It Difficult To Paint Garage Walls?

Garage wall painting isn’t a hard job, but just like any paint job, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. You’ll need to determine a few things about your garage walls before you begin.

For example, if you have a new home, the garage walls may have been finished to what is termed “level-two”. This means that they have sheetrock, which has been taped and muddled using two very thin layers of joint compound over tape.

If this is the case, you’ll need to put some effort into finishing the drywall. If you just paint over it, it will look dreadful. Here’s our guide to painting unfinished garage walls.

Plan Your Garage Wall Painting Carefully

Keep in mind that painting is often a seasonal job. If your garage is not heated, you should take the temperature into consideration when planning your job. You cannot paint successfully in temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

You’ll also want to choose your paint specifically for garage walls. Using standard interior paint (e.g. satin sheen or eggshell) isn’t a good idea in a garage because it will get a bit more exposure than it would indoors.

For painting in a garage, use a good quality exterior acrylic latex paint. This sort of paint is more rugged and provides better resistance to mildew.

Use of exterior paint is another good reason for painting your garage walls during good weather. This type of paint requires good ventilation.

Exterior latex paint is definitely safer than oil based paint, but it is a bit more toxic than interior latex paint. When you paint your garage walls, you should be able to keep the door open and set up a fan to provide good ventilation.

Decide whether or not you need primer. If your drywall is brand new and has never been painted, you’ll get the best results by starting with a coat of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) primer. This will seal the surface and make your paint finish look better and last longer.

If there is already a layer of latex paint on your garage walls, you may not need primer at all, or you may need to apply it selectively. For example, if there are stains on the wall, priming them will result in a better finished paint job.

If your garage walls have already been painted in a dark color, be advised, you will probably have a hard time getting good coverage with a lighter color. In this case, primer is advised.

Prepare Your Garage Walls

Every good paint job begins with excellent prep work. It is the foundation of your final paint finish. Follow these steps to prep your garage properly for painting the walls.

  1. Get vehicles and stored items out of the way.
  2. Remove all the switch plates and electrical outlet covers.
  3. Use a putty knife to fill in any holes and imperfections with spackle.
  4. Wipe away excess spackle using a damp cloth.
  5. Protect the floor with drop cloths.
  6. Mask off anything you don’t want to paint (e.g. electrical outlets, windows, door facings).
  7. Clean away dust, dirt and grime from the walls and the baseboards using your shop vac with the upholstery brush attachment. Follow up by wiping the walls with a clean cloth dampened with a solution of dish soap and water.
  8. Once the garage walls are dry, use painters’ caulk and a caulking gun to fill in any seams or cracks. Wipe away excess with a damp cloth. Be sure not to use silicone caulk because it repels paint.

Painting With Spray Gun Vs. Paint Roller

Painting With A Sprayer Is Fast & Easy

To make quick work of painting your garage walls, you may wish to use an airless sprayer. This is a really good idea if you plan on painting both the ceiling and the walls all one color.

Using a sprayer will not get you entirely out of manual painting. For best results, immediately after spraying, you should use a roller to help the paint adhere to the walls and ceiling.

TIP: When using a sprayer you’ll need to thoroughly mask all surfaces you don’t want painted. You should also toss plastic over items nearby (such as your cars) to prevent damage caused by overspray.

Painting With Brush & Roller Provides More Control

If you are painting with a roller or brush, and/or if you are painting the ceiling a different color than the walls, you’ll want to start out by outlining the walls with a two-inch angled brush.

You should also use the brush to paint any surfaces that cannot be painted with a roller. Allow this paint to dry thoroughly (according to times given on the paint can) before applying your first coat of paint to the walls.

Follow these steps to roll paint onto the walls:

  1. Use a deep paint pan, and be sure to use a liner for ease of cleanup.
  2. Use a medium nap paint roller.
  3. Prepare your roller and attach it to a paint pole.
  4. Load the roller with paint, evenly, by running it over the grids in your paint pan.
  5. Begin painting in an upper corner, approximately one foot from the garage ceiling. Roll upward to spread the paint to the area of the wall that you have pre-painted. Roll down, smoothly and evenly to the floor.
  6. Reload your paint roller as you need to.
  7. Work your way along systematically, one roller width at a time, with slight overlap to keep a wet edge.
  8. If you find yourself needing to touch up small areas, use a small roller or brush, or remove your roller from the pole so that you’ll have more precise control.
  9. Let the paint dry completely, per packaging instructions, before applying a second coat.
  10. Follow the steps outlined above to apply a second coat.

Can You Apply Latex Paint Over Oil Paint?

If your garage walls have been painted in the past, using an oil based paint, you’ll need to remove that paint before priming and painting. You can do this by sanding the walls. Next, you’ll need to apply a modified acrylic bonding primer to be sure your new, modern paint will adhere to the walls.

If you don’t want to do this sort of intensive prep work, you can paint over oil based paint with more oil based paint, but this is a messy and unpleasant job. Oil based paint is rather dangerous to use in an enclosed area, and cleanup is more difficult.



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