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Wall Mural Painting Equipment

Updated on May 10, 2017

Wall Mural Painting Equipment

Knowing how to paint wall murals can save you a lot of money if you’re a home or business owner and want to give your space a unique paint job. If you’re looking to earn a few extra dollars, mural painting skills can offer you the opportunity for some lucrative weekend projects, or possibly a full time business. Depending on how big or small the job, there are certain tools and supplies you should start collecting that will help it go smoother and more efficiently.

Wall Prep Supplies

It’s important before painting your mural to have the wall in as good condition as possible. Unless you’re painting on exposed brick or stone, walls should be free of cracks, holes and texture.

Keep an assortment of different sized drywall knives with you, and joint compound. You can use these to fill in any imperfections on the wall surface.

Sanding can be one of the most tedious jobs when prepping a wall for a mural. Hand sanding can tire you and wear your arm out before you even get started painting. An orbital palm sander takes a lot of work out of the chore if you need to sand a surface smooth.


A projector casts an image on a wall so that you can trace guidelines with ease. Considering other methods used to transfer an image, such as using a grid or transfer paper, a projector can save you a lot of time and trouble.

The larger copy area, the larger the image you can project. A copy area of 10 square inches is about as big as they get as of this writing. If you can’t afford a model with a 10 inch copy area, get a top-loading projector so you can move your transparency around, working on it in sections.

The mirror and lens play critical roles in how bright and how well focused the image can get. The more detail your mural entails, the sharper you want that image. A multi-focused lens gives you the greatest control, and a front surface mirror for the best reflection.

If you’re painting a single mural in your own home, might find it a better investment to rent a high-quality projector rather than purchasing a low-quality projector. If you’re painting murals for profit, it is a worthwhile investment to purchase the best portable projector that you can afford.

Wall mural painting equipment

Templates and Stencils

If you’re not using a projector, have templates and stencils available to make quick and convenient shapes.

Technically, a template is something you trace around. If you’ve ever traced around a plate to make a circle, you’ve used a template. Having some cardboard or wood circles, squares or any shape you find yourself using often can save you time if hand-drawing designs.

A stencil is something with a design cut out inside of it. You can trace a stencil, or you can tape the stencil to the wall and paint right over it.

Drawing Supplies

You can use a regular pencil to trace a wall mural design before painting, however sometimes colored pencils come in handy. When you’re tracing a design on a dark background, a regular pencil line can be hard to see. Use a white or lighter colored pencil to make the line more visible.

Colored pencils can also help eliminate pencil lines all together, which can sometimes be difficult to cover. For example, if you’re painting a yellow sun shape, a regular pencil line can bleed through yellow paint; you might end up having to use a lot of coats of paint just to cover it. Instead, use a yellow colored pencil to make the guideline. When you fill in the lines with yellow paint, the yellow pencil line will just blend in.

Ladders and Scaffolds

If painting a high mural, you’re going to need something to get you off the ground.A ladder alone can be enough to get most jobs done. The benefits of the scaffold are that you have greater mobility for larger, wider murals. With a ladder you have to get down and reposition it frequently; with a scaffold, you’re free to walk back and forth and have greater range.

Even just a small stepladder can give you a boost enough to get to the top of the wall in many rooms. A large folding ladder or adjustable ladder is good to have on hand for most jobs as well.

There are scaffolding structures you can purchase, but unless you’re doing huge commercial murals on the side of tall buildings you probably won’t need one. In lieu of bulky commercial scaffolding, you can set up two ladders and straddle a scaffold-grade plank across the rungs.

Safety is of the utmost importance. If you’re standing on something unstable, it’s very difficult to concentrate on the mural or keep a steady hand. At the very least, you can ruin your project; at worst, you can fall and injure yourself. Comfort is your next consideration; if you have to stretch and reach for long periods of time, it can lead to back, neck and arm pain. Also take portability into consideration— ladders and scaffolds take up space. You’ll have to ensure this equipment fits into your vehicle so you can use it on the job

Wall mural painting equipment

Paint Sprayers

Paint sprayers range from around $100 to over $500. While not really necessary for mural detail work, a sprayer can save you a lot of sweat in priming or laying down a background color. Not only does it require less elbow grease, but it also can complete the job in half the time and save you money on paint.

Airless sprayers are suitable for any large project, interior or exterior. They use pressure to force out paint and don’t require an air compressor. Nozzles can get clogged, especially on lower quality models. Get one with a reversiblespray tip, and it won't be as much of an issue.

Air sprayers use compressed air. They're better suited to smaller areas, or even automobiles or furnishings. High-volume, low pressure (HVLP) sprayers are the best options for detail work because they offer the finest finish and there is less splatter.

Finally, for skilled artists, an air brush is an excellent tool for achieving realism. Air brushing helps you create subtle shading and highlighting that makes a mural look more like a snapshot than a cartoon drawing.

Hand Applicators

No one needs to go high tech to paint wall murals. If spray painters and air brushes are not your thing, just get some old fashioned paint rollers and paint brushes.

Rollers are your best option for priming or painting a backdrop. They cover more evenly and eliminate any concerns about brushstrokes. For the average smooth wall, rollers with 3/8 inch nap will suffice. High density foam rollers give you a smoother finish, though they’re a little more costly. There are also textured rollers and mini rollers, so having an assortment on hand will let you be ready for anything.

As for brushes, choose a combination from the hardware store and the art supply shop. Get house painting brushes consisting of natural bristle, synthetic bristle and foam brushes, ranging from as small as 1 inch to as wide as 6 inches.

Artist’s brushes are suitable for detailed work and different effects. Flat brushes are fairly all purpose. Round brushes come to a fine point, great for lines and details. The filbert brush can produce a variety of strokes and textures. Fan brushes have bristles spread out like a fan, and they’re excellent for painting images with fur, hair or grass.

Some miscellaneous applicators for paint include flat-bottomed stenciling brushes, rags, sponges, feathers and paint markers. Basically, there are no limits. Use anything you feel will get the job done.

Containers and Palettes

It’s not good to leave a large container of paint open while you dip your brush into it at your leisure because the air begins to dry the paint and can ruin the texture. Smaller containers allow you to hold or blend smaller amounts of paint. Get a bag of plastic disposable party cups. If you prefer non-disposable, collect any old food storage containers, such as margarine or yogurt containers. Keep in mind, though, that because paint can’t go down the sink, cleaning them can be more trouble than they’re worth.

A palette is an excellent tool when you’re working with a variety of small amounts of paint and doing a lot of blending. You can invest in an actual artist’s palette, or you can simply place some wax paper in an old food tray, then dispose of the wax paper when you’re finish with it. Alternatively, use disposable plastic or Styrofoam plates as a makeshift, disposable palette.

Having the right tools for the job can eliminate unnecessary frustrations when you’re painting a wall mural. This will make the entire process more enjoyable, and if you enjoy the process it will most likely result in a better mural. Saving yourself from wasting money and energy will also put a smile on your face—especially if you’re getting paid for your work, or saving money by doing the job yourself.

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