How to Paint a Room
Late winter and early spring are great times to spruce up your home or prepare it for sale by freshening up the colors inside! Here’s all the steps to plan for when painting a room in your home:
- Plan your approach – are all the walls going to be painted the same color? If you're painting an entire room, first paint the ceiling, then the walls. It's also usually better to paint large areas like walls before repainting the trim; because you'll work more quickly when covering open areas, this can result in roller spatters, overspray and occasional errant brushstrokes.
- Choose your color – decide if you want a warm or cool shade, neutral or saturated, consider existing furniture, art, or other décor that you’ll want to keep in the room. Many paint companies also have tools on their websites that will let you upload a photo of your space and preview different colors on the walls. But colors can look different in real-world conditions, so you’ll still need to try it out in the space. Get a couple of sample colors
- Get your tools and materials – you will need paint, a paint roller, (possibly) an extension pole, drop cloths, paintbrushes, a paint tray, sandpaper, painter’s tape, rags, and a putty knife.
- Determine how much paint you’ll need – the general rule of thumb is one gallon per 400 square feet. Plan for more if you’re painting a highly textured surface or cabinets with complicated millwork.
- Prep the walls and the room – apply painter’s tape to the edges of the room’s corners, base and crown moldings, and door and window casings. Use a putty knife to get a good seal. Don’t forget to remove outlet and light switch covers and apply painter’s tape to protect outlets and switches from paint drips.
- Mix your paint - Use a wooden paint stick to stir the paint, and re-stir often throughout the project. If you’re using more than one gallon of paint, combine the cans in a large bucket in case there is a slight variation in color.
- Pick your painting technique - Your paint is mixed, and your roller is at the ready, but make sure to plan a strategy before you get started. Work from the top of the room down, starting with the ceilings. Planning a bold focal wall? Paint the adjoining light-color walls first. "Don't worry if you get paint on what will be your accent wall—the dark paint will cover up whatever lighter paint found its way there. After the lighter wall dries, tape off that edge so the dark color doesn't bleed onto your new paint.
Pro tip: Tackle one wall at a time. Take a brush and "cut in"—paint along the molding and the corners from top to bottom—while your friend uses a roller to cover the main expanse of the wall, staying away from those more precise spots. When applying paint with the roller, use long strokes in a W pattern for ample coverage (and to avoid those pesky roller marks). Once the wall is dry to the touch, it's ready for a second coat.
- Don’t forget ventilation – if you can, open a window to keep air moving through your space. If it’s too cold outside, keep the space warm and a fan blowing. It’ll cut down on your dry time and keep you from passing out!
- Cleaning up – your room looks amazing, but you’re not done yet! Remove all the painter’s tape, gather drop cloths, and clean any spills or splatters. For latex- and water-based paints, clean brushes with soap and water, while oil-based paints will require mineral spirits. You can use a painter’s brush to clean and reshape bristles.
Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time! Budget more time than you think you’ll need, especially when taking preparation and clean up into account.