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Painting High Walls Easily: Step-by-Step Guide to Great Results

A paint roller on a long painters pole reaching up to paint a high wall, a man in the background out of focus is holding it.

There is nothing as frustrating as walking into a room and realizing that the walls are so high, it seems impossible to paint with what you have. Learning how to paint walls towering over your entire room requires special tools and the know-how to do everything correctly.

There are three ways to paint high walls using:

  • a painting pole
  • ladders and step-ladders
  • scaffolding and paint gun

When painting high walls, first paint the broad areas, doing each part of the wall in steps and only moving on once everything in each section is done.

You will need to know the steps and might need to rent or buy items before you start to paint your high walls. We have seen many people make the mistake of assuming that the job of painting high walls will be done within a few hours.

Three Ways To Paint High Walls

There are three recommended ways to paint high walls, and each one will be decided by the total height of the walls being painted and how many people are there. If five people paint the walls, working with ladders and step stools becomes too dangerous.

Further, when the wall is only a few feet taller than expected, a painter’s pole can quickly help to reach the height of the wall. We recommend that you know precisely the need to use specific tools instead of having to guess which tools are really needed or not.  

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#1: Using A Painting Pole

Painting poles, which can be found on Amazon, are the best fried for any first-time painter who wants to work on each room independently and ensures you have complete control of the paint. The poles fit either paint rollers or paintbrushes to the end and then extend around 9 feet to allow you to paint.

If you are painting a standard house with walls that are no taller than 9 feet, use these to get into every corner and crevice. This will ensure that the finishing is done correctly and that there is no stress about ladders and step stools in the way.

#2: Using Ladders And Step-Ladders

When working on slightly taller than usual walls, the first actual step is to use a combination of step stools and ladders, both can conveniently be bought on Amazon. We recommend still having painter’s poles ready to help reach areas without the help of a step ladder.

The challenge with ladders is that you need someone to hold them steady and only small sections at a time can be painted. We always recommend that people only use these when painting small bedrooms or smaller areas in a house, instead of using them when painting the outside or larger areas.

#3: Using Scaffolding And A Paint Gun

The best and most expensive way to paint high walls is a combination of these items, all found on Amazon:

Fortunately, you can rent the scaffolding and painter’s gun to make the process go quicker. It’s the least likely to leave streaks, but there can be drips when you are still learning.

Further, scaffolding is also the safest way to reach higher areas of any house, but it requires taking a few days to set everything up.

NOTE: We only recommend using scaffolding on walls more than 12 feet high and in much larger areas where you can set everything up.

A man on a very tall ladder inside a house painting a wall of a vaulted ceiling.
Very tall ladders and scaffolding are sometimes necessary for high walls

Where Do You Start When Painting High Walls?

Many people think that you start at the bottom and move upwards when painting high walls. However, this is wrong as you are more likely to drip on the paint that is already dried with this method, causing:

  • streaks
  • drips
  • splatters
  • general issues

Always start at the topmost part of the walls and paint the sections wall-by-wall. Ensure that you are entirely done with each section before moving the ladder or scaffolding. This includes the edging in:

  • corners
  • around cornices
  • any fixtures

Doing it this way ensures that the overall quality of the wall paint is always high, instead of getting tired after painting the general area and then trying to do the fine details. If possible, one person should paint with a roller, and the other should cut in with a brush.

What Is The Correct Order Of Painting On High Walls?

The correct order when painting high walls is to paint the:

  • top
  • middle
  • bottom
  • minor details as you move along

Doing it this way will ensure that you have the best possible finish across the walls and that every line is as clean as possible.

We always recommend not rushing things and taking your time when painting higher walls, as this is often why people make mistakes. The process of painting higher walls will always be much slower than painting lower walls while standing on the ground.

Walls that require scaffolding take significantly longer because the scaffolding needs to be moved to avoid damaging the freshly painted walls. When rushing a job, mistakes are always made; painting is a slow and calm process that should be done with care.

What Is The Step-By-Step Guide To Painting High Walls?

Now that we know the general way to start and what you will do to reach the higher parts of the wall, we will take a step-by-step guide on how to do it. This will ensure that you are entirely prepared before the first wet splotches of paint touch the wall.

People often want to rush into the painting process long before they know what to do. Learning on the job can be challenging when you may have to stand on scaffolding 30 feet up in the air and have no genuine safety harness to work with.

#1: Cover The Floor And Tape

The first step to painting anywhere is to cover everything with paper and use painter’s tape, both are great value on Amazon. The floor should be covered in case of paint spills, and because your boots and the sanding will cause a lot of damage.

Even if you are going to redo the floor, having paint flecks on everything can cause a headache, you may be surprised how far the paint can go. When outside, paint splatters can be toxic to wildlife and do not look professional, so ensure that paint does not get on the:

  • dirt
  • rocks
  • sand

#2: Get Paints Ready And Mixed

Once everything has been taped off, get the paint ready and start mixing it. All paint needs to be stirred before use. Even if it was just made by the local paint store, a clean stir stick, which can be purchased on Amazon, is the best way to mix everything in.

Shaking the cans with the lid still on rarely works as you cannot shake hard enough to mix everything. With a stick, you can see when the colors and the fluidity of the paint have reached the ideal point. Once ready, pour the paint into the trough.

A paint roller painting a wall.
A paint roller works well for the large areas

#3: Get The Rollers Or Paint Gun Ready

The paint gun will need to be connected to an air compressor with a dehumidifier on it, similar to this example on Amazon. Ensure that the pipe has enough length to reach every corner. Paint guns are suitable for broad areas but will not be able to do the details around windows and other things.

Paintbrushes and rollers are significantly easier to prepare and convenient to buy on Amazon, but learning to paint without leaving lines takes a lot of practice. Further, every roller and paintbrush will initially leave behind some pattern, it’s part of your job as the painter to ensure the paint is thick enough to self-level, removing these patterns.

#4: Set Up The Stairs Or Scaffolding

Move the ladder and step ladders into the correct position once the:

  • paint gun is ready
  • rollers are attached
  • paint cans have been stirred

If you are using a painter’s pole, move the paint through into position and start painting the first section of your wall.

If using scaffolding, setting it up would have been the first thing done, as moving and building the scaffolding with everything open and set up won’t work. Building and rebuilding scaffolding is one of the steps that slow down any group of painters the most.

#5: Paint The Ceiling First

If you need to paint the ceiling, do so first before painting any parts of the wall, and preferably wear goggles or glasses. The ceiling is sometimes the hardest thing to paint, especially when slanted in a house with a second floor or sharp roof.

Many people find that their ceilings are well over 30 feet in the air, requiring specialist equipment to reach them. This is why you should start with the ceiling if you are going to paint it, avoiding mistakes that can be made while painting it after the walls.

NOTE: Read this article for the best advice on painting high ceilings. There’s a full step by step guide!

#6: Painting Section By Section

Possibly the best piece of advice that we can give is to paint section by section instead of trying to paint everything all at once. The first section should preferably be entirely complete and dried before starting the second one, allowing you to see what the paint will look like when done.

The colors you have chosen often look different than imagined in the light of the house, requiring that you change the color before moving on. Doing so after the first section will ensure that you will not waste money on paint or waste time redoing everything.

#7: Sanding Between Layers

If you need to paint several layers or apply the first paint on a wall, we recommend lightly and quickly sanding every few layers. This ensures that the paint properly binds with the next layer of paint and that everything is applied smoothly without peeling.

Often, painting with a white primer, the paint will specifically require that you lightly and quickly sand it down after applying the final layer. Once you have two layers of primer down, apply the next layer of paint, creating a much smoother final finish.

A woman up on a ladder painting the edge of a wall and ceiling with a brush.
It is helpful to have someone cut the edge in with a brush

#7: Cutting In With Brushes

While tape will ensure that windows and light fixtures are not saturated with paint specks and dots when painting with spray guns or rollers, they are not perfect for final details. Instead, have someone cut in with a brush, making a near-perfect line around everything.

We recommend cutting in with a paintbrush around:

  • cornices
  • skirting
  • doors
  • light fixtures
  • lights

This leaves clean-cut lines that are perfect and allows you to quickly and comfortably save time by not having to peel thousands of small pieces of tape from the walls.

#8: Removing Tape While Wet

If you do have tape on specific areas, we recommend removing them when all the layers of the paint are still wet and malleable. Waiting several days to remove the tape means you need to cut through the dried layers of paint that are on the tape.

If you do not remove the tape at the right time or cut through it before removing it when the paint is dry, you will get paint cracks. The paint cracks when the tape is peeled off, and the paint on the tape pulls off the paint from the wall, ruining the final finish.

#9: Clean Everything And Roll Up Covers

Once all the tape is removed and all the cutting in with brushes has been completed, it’s time to clean the room. We recommend putting everything in the center of the room and rolling from the outside inwards, catching as much debris as possible.

There should no longer be any tools left in the room when doing this step. The scaffolding and the ladders should be moved to the next room or returned to the place you have rented them from.

#10: Vacuum The Entire Room

Once all work is done, and the floor covers have been removed from the floor, the final step is to vacuum everything and every corner of the room. The painting process is one of the dustiest processes that can take place in a house that is otherwise almost entirely done.

While sweeping can be effective, vacuuming works best to pick up everything, so no dust or sand is left behind and tracked through the rest of the house.

How Long Does Paint Take To Be Completely Dry?

Paint takes several weeks to be completely dry, with many people assuming that it only takes a few days. However, within a few days, most paints are still considered soft and are still easy to scratch and damage.

People usually recommend leaving a room for a week or more after being painted to ensure that the paint is dry. The drier paint is, the more resistant it will become to any damage that can be done to it, whether it is being scratched or drawn on.

Sometimes homeowners regret rushing painters to finish and then moving into the room on the same day, causing the paint to get damaged within a few hours of them trying to move a couch through the door.

A man and a woman dipping paint brushes into a paint pan, on plastic covering the floor. There are stairs and a tall ladder in the background.
Painting high walls takes some care, but is not impossible!


Painting high walls is not as difficult as you might think, it can be done with the right equipment and a way to reach the highest spots. We would still recommend hiring a team of professional painters if the walls are too high, they can take a month-long process and be done within days!

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