HOW TO PAINT A ROOM: 12 STEPS TO PAINTING WALLS LIKE A DIY PRO
👋 In the pantheon of DIY tasks, painting a wall is not one of the trickier ones. There’s a lot of setup, a few must-remembers, and more-than-expected physical exertion, but otherwise it’s low-level stuff.
However, while it’s straightforward, knowing how to paint a room well will make a huge difference to the finished DIY project.
So, if you need or want to repair your paintwork, renovate a property, or just refresh your rooms with a fresh colour, here’s everything you need to consider.
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"A good coat of paint is about 90% preparation."
"A good coat of paint is about 90% preparation."
STEP ONE: MAKE A PLAN
Before you ever pick up a paint brush, you need a plan of attack. Think of it sort of like cooking: You want to read the recipe all the way through before you start blindly throwing ingredients into the pot, otherwise, you might get halfway through and realize you're missing an important component.
Look up: Does the ceiling need a refresh, too? What about the trim? Consider your options on the walls as well. Will you be using one color — or do you want to try painting with two colors?
STEP TWO: CHOOSE A COLOR
The first question to ask yourself even before you pick up a paintbrush is: How do I choose a paint color? Head to your home center or paint store and have them mix three or four color samples for you. Test your color samples on different parts of the room to get a feel for the paint colors. Keep in mind different lighting in the room will change the color drastically.
STEP THREE: REMOVE FURNITURES, ETC. FROM THE ROOM
Before you start painting, empty the room of as many furnishings as possible. Take everything off of the walls, move lightweight furniture to another room, and roll up rugs and store them elsewhere. If there’s anything that has to stay in the room, like a big, heavy piece of furniture, push it to the center of the room.
STEP FOUR: COVER ANYTHING THAT’S LEFT IN THE ROOM
Drape plastic sheets or tarps over the floor, along with anything you had to store in the center of the room. Even if you’re very careful, paint can drip or splatter, and it can be hard or sometimes even impossible to remove paint from some surfaces without damaging them.
You can purchase plastic sheeting wherever paint supplies are sold.
Avoid using cloths to cover the floor and furniture, like towels or bedsheets.
The paint can soak through the fabric, and the stains will be harder to clean if you don’t notice them right away.
STEP FIVE: APPLY STRIPS OF PAINTERS TAPE AROUND ANY TRIM, OUTLETS, OR CASINGS
Be sure to use painter's blue tape, which can be applied up to a week ahead. Remove tape immediately after painting, before the wall dries, so you don't peel off any paint with it.
STEP SIX: PATCH AND SAND IMPERFECTIONS
Next, do a thorough scan of the room and patch and sand imperfections. This includes nail and screw holes, wall dents, and any uneven surfaces. Apply your spackle sparingly, wait for it to dry fully, then sand smooth. If you have a particularly large hole to patch, you may need to do this process twice to repair it properly.
STEP SEVEN: PRIME
Once your walls are prepared and your surfaces are protected, it’s time to prime! Most paints these days boast a paint and primer in one, however that doesn’t mean you will never need a primer. Primers are much more affordable than paint and will help to give the best adhesion for your paint. They also help bring the color back to a blank slate so that the color you choose appears correct and has the proper saturation in the end. Priming over a dark color before painting it light is especially key. Similarly, if your final paint color is dark, then using a dark tinted primer first will give you the best results.
STEP EIGHT: CUT IN WALLS AND CEILING
Before you use the paint roller use a paintbrush to painting around the baseboards, ceiling, wall corners, and windows to cover the areas that cannot be easily painted with a paint roller. When painting near the ceiling use an angled brush as they are more narrow and will help prevent getting paint on the ceiling.
STEP NINE: ROLL PAINT THE WALL
Be sure to stir the paint with a paint stick before you start.
Fill the roller tray a little over half-full with paint — too much paint in the tray may spill over.
Load the roller with paint from the paint tray and roll paint on the wall from the baseboard to the ceiling. Roll straight back down without reloading the roller to ensure the wall is covered.
Again, load the roller with paint and start a new row overlapping the previous one. Paint the full height of the wall. The edges of the roller tend to leave paint build-up lines. Roll back over the lines and blend them in with the rest of the paint.
For more efficiency, use the W technique, start in the corner of a wall and roll on a three-by-three-foot W pattern, then fill it in without lifting the roller. Continue in sections until you're finished. Paint one wall at a time.
STEP TEN: DON’T FORGET VENTILATION
Watching paint dry is no fun. Make sure your space is well ventilated throughout the project by opening windows and using fans. Keeping the room warm and a fan blowing definitely helps speed up the drying process.
STEP ELEVEN: WRAP IT UP
If you are taking extended breaks between painting coats place all your paint brushes and foam rollers into the paint tray and place the paint tray into a plastic bag. Tie the plastic bag and it will keep your paint from drying out for a day or two.
STEP TWELVE: CLEAN UP
Rinse your paintbrush and roller (if you don't toss it) under a faucet until the water runs clear.
Decant the tray's leftover paint back into the can; seal the can tightly by placing a paper towel over the lid and tapping the lid edges with a hammer. Rinse the tray.
Once the brush's bristles are totally dry, slip the brush back into its original paper wrapper to keep the bristles from fanning out, or try this DIY fix: Fold a thick piece of paper around the bristles; tape to secure.