How Long Does Painting Take?

Maybe you’re looking around, thinking you’d like to make some changes. Wouldn’t that room look better in a pretty shade of blue? Or maybe a sunny yellow in the kitchen. Then you stop and think: wait, just how long does painting take? Well, I have good and bad news. The good news is that once you get to the point where you can start rolling paint onto the walls, it goes very quickly! The bad news is that cutting in and the prep work beforehand will take some time.

I’ve written here before about How to Prepare Your Walls for Painting so be sure to check out that post for more detailed information. You can start by removing any switchplate and outlet covers, which is quick and easy to do with a screwdriver. (I once had a friend paint right around them, so even if it seems like an obvious step to state, some people may not think of it!) If there are any cracks or loose, peeling paint, you’ll need to address those issues (again, see my previous post on painting prep). You can also fill nail holes with spackle, then sand them smooth before painting. And if the walls are dusty, greasy, or just plain dirty, they’ll need to be cleaned.

Starting to Paint the Ceiling

Once your walls are in good shape, you’re ready to start! You’ll begin by cutting in, using a 2″ angled brush to paint around the doors, windows, baseboards, and up along the ceiling edge. You’ll also paint the inside corners, where the roller won’t quite be able to reach. Cutting in is the longest step and can take an hour or two depending on the size of the room and how many openings there are to paint around.

While some people are comfortable enough with a paintbrush to do the work freehand, some people like to tape everything off with painter’s tape before starting. Taping off will take you an extra 20 minutes or so, but can save time while painting because you don’t have to be as careful with your brush strokes. It comes down to personal preference—what you save in time by not taping off you’ll use up by going slower when edging.

OK, time to roll! Twenty minutes, and you’re done! It’s so satisfying to cover a large area in such little time. So how long does painting take? Anywhere from five minutes to two hours of prep work (usually on the shorter end of that timeline), plus an hour or two of cutting in, and twenty minutes of rolling. Add another coat, and you’re probably looking at four or five hours of work, with some drying time between the two coats. Definitely a weekend project you can do!