10 Tips for Painting a Room


A fresh coat of paint brightens up a room with style and flair. Here's how to make it easy.

By FamilyTime

 Once you decide to paint a room, take your time and do it right. The end result will be so very pleasing, you will be very glad you did -- and a job well done means you won't have to tackle that room for years to come.

No one denies it's a big job to paint an occupied room in a house or apartment. For the best results, remove all the furniture. If the large pieces are too cumbersome, push them to the center of the room and drape them with drop cloths.

Now the job begins!

Choose your color wisely. Look through decorating magazines for ideas. Spend time at the paint or home store. Bring home lots of color chips and tape them to the wall. Note how they look in bright sunlight, artificial light, and on gray days. Many paints companies offer large cards. These might cost a few dollars, but will help you make a decision. Also, some brands sell very small pots of paint for a few dollars more, which help when you must decide on a color.

Once you decide on two or three colors, buy small amounts of paint (usually quarts) and actually apply them to the walls in 12- to 15-inch swatches. Some paint stores will sell you small "cups" of paint, which keeps costs down. You can tell far more from a larger swatch of the actual paint than from a chip (whose colors often are inaccurate)

Buy high-quality paint. Don't be fooled by bargain brands. Every professional painter will tell you: you get what you pay for. Quality paint covers evenly and stays on the walls longer. Modern paint technology has produced many water-based resin paints that are as good as oil paint for trim and other woodwork. Talk to a knowledgeable paint salesperson about your options. If you know the square footage of the room, you will be able to figure how much paint to buy. Look on the paint can itself for a coverage chart, or ask the paint salesperson for help.

Invest in good equipment. If you buy quality paint, apply it with quality brushes and rollers. A good brush will keep its bristles (they won't end up in the paint), and a roller with a thick nap covers a wall thoroughly and evenly.

You will need:

  • Brushes
  • Rollers and pans
  • Sandpaper
  • Spackle
  • Putty knife (to apply spackle)
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloths
Prepare, prepare, prepare. You've heard it before and it's good advice. Take a good look at the walls and the trim. Sand off peeling paint from woodwork. Fill in cracks and holes with spackle and sand them down. Wash the walls and ceiling with mild soap and water and then rinse to remove all grime and grease. Let them dry completely.

Use masking tape. Run masking tape around woodwork so that you can paint a straight line on the walls without making yourself crazy. Once the walls are painted, mask their edges before you paint the woodwork.

Make sure the room is well ventilated. Open the windows in fine weather; crack them in cold weather. If you want to paint a room with no or little heat, don't do it unless the temperature is at least 50°F.

Begin with the ceiling. Before you paint the walls or the woodwork, paint the ceiling using a long-handled roller. Cover your head with a cap! Paint the walls next, and the trim and doors last.

Prime the walls. If you are painting new walls, you will have to apply primer before you apply the color. If you are covering very dark or bright paint with a lighter hue, you will have to apply primer. Ask the paint store to tint the primer with the final color. If you are re-painting walls of approximately the same color and which are in good shape, you won't need primer.

Apply two coats. With very few exceptions, plan on two coats of paint. This may not be necessary if you are using the same color (or close to it), or if you have primed the walls. But for long-lasting beauty, apply a second coat. Be sure the first coat is completely dry before applying the next. Do not rush the job.

File the color. Before you put the paint away, cover a good-sized piece of white poster board with the color of the walls or trim. Jot down the date, the type of paint, and its code number, as well as any customizing details (adding white to lighten it, for example). This is most important if you have chosen a true color rather than white, off-white, or beige. You now have a large, accurate sample to carry with you when you choose fabric, carpeting, or furniture for the room. Or, if you decide to paint the room again with the same color, you're good to go.