It’s true ─ paint is an amazing tool that can instantly transform a space. While painting a room is a project most DIYers can easily take on, it’s not necessarily a simple job. There is a lot more to it than dumping a roller in a bucket and going to town.
Some of the most common questions I receive are from readers asking for room painting tips. Though I’ve answered them individually, I thought I’d take the most often asked questions and share them with everyone in one post as a reference guide.
Before you begin your next paint project, read these 14 room painting tips to get prepared. They will help make the painting process smoother and give you more professional-looking results.
Room Painting Tips
1 How much paint do I need?
It will usually give you a recommendation on the can, but for most paints one gallon of paint covers approximately 350 to 450 square feet. It varies depending on what type of surface is being covered, how thick or thin it’s spread, the type of paint you’re using, and how many coats you plan to paint.
So how do you measure your room to find out how many square feet it is? Measure the width of each wall, add them together and multiply by the height of the room. That will give you the square footage. To find out how many gallons you need, divide that number by the amount of square foot coverage indicated on the can. Or you can input your measurements into an online paint calculator and it will figure it out for you. Some calculators will ask for door and window measurements, while others only ask for the total number of each. You can find free paint calculators at:
2 How will I know if this paint color will look right in the room?
Wall color can change as the light changes throughout the day and can also look different depending on what is next to it. You definitely want to test a few samples before committing to buying several gallons. Rather than paint a bunch of swatches on each of your walls, a better way is to create sample boards that you can move about the room throughout the day. A few years ago, I did a review on a product called SmallWall Sample Boards and found them to be very easy to work with. You can find SmallWall boards at these retailers. Home Depot also sells a clear, paintable decal called SureSwatch.
3 How do I prepare the walls for paint?
Preparation is key to a good paint job. To properly prepare your walls for paint, you need to start by scraping, sanding, patching, and filling all holes, dents, cracks, and imperfections. Then wipe down all the walls, baseboards, trim, and doors to clean them of any dirt and eliminate dust from flying around into your wet paint. This can be a bit time consuming but the results will be a much more attractive, professional finish.
4 How long will it take me to paint my room?
When I paint a room, I generally plan on marking off the whole day on my schedule. You’ll want to give yourself an hour or two to move things out of the way, put down drop cloths, tape off trim, remove switch plates, prep the walls, and then put it all back together again after the job is finished. The painting itself usually takes about 6 to 8 hours for two coats in a standard size living room. Add extra time if you need to do a prime coat. Which leads me to the next question…
5 Do I always have to do a prime coat?
There are really only three times when it’s absolutely necessary to use a primer: 1) when painting a light color over a much dark color; 2) when painting a latex paint over an oil base paint (or vice versa); or 3) when painting over new drywall or plaster. If you’ve used spackle to repair any areas, be sure to prime over those.
6 What’s the best time to paint?
It’s best to paint during the day so that it’s easier to see mistakes. If you have to paint at night, make sure you have plenty of light. I’m talking we-can-do-brain-surgery-in-here lighting. Painting on dry days is best because it takes paint longer to dry on rainy or humid days. If you live in Florida like I do, you know that it’s pretty much always humid. I turn the A/C down a bit; it takes some of the dampness out of the air and it also makes it more comfortable to paint.
7 What type of brush should I use?
Using the proper tools when you paint makes the job so much easier. Blended nylon/polyester and polyester brushes work well with all types of latex paint, are very easy to clean, hold their shape, and if (cleaned properly) should last for years. Natural bristle brushes are good for oil base paints. A high-quality all-purpose 2-1/2 inch angled brush is one of my favorites. By taking good care of it, I’ve used the same one for years.
8 How do I keep from getting fibers from the roller on my walls when I paint?
Use masking tape to remove fibers and fuzz from your roller before you paint.
9 Is there an easier way to clean out the paint tray?
To make clean-up easier, line your paint tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can mold it to fit the shape of your tray. When you’re done, just fold it up and throw it out. Voila! Your paint tray is clean and ready for the next time.
10 It’s tiring climbing up and down the ladder when painting the ceiling or high walls; is there an easier way?
Yes! Use a telescoping extension pole for your paint roller. It will give you better leverage and save you from all that climbing. Look for one that has a metal core and soft, non-slip grip. Metal poles are sturdier and easier to control than flexible plastic ones. Plus, they last longer. Also, check that the threaded end is made of metal and not plastic.
11 Should I do brushwork or rolling first?
Always do your brushwork or cutting-in first (such as around trim and electrical outlets). Then, when you do your rolling, it will flatten out any of the brushstrokes and give the walls an even look.
12 How do I keep paint from running down the sides of the can?
Use a hammer and nail to punch holes around the inner rim of the can – about every two inches or so. This will keep paint from pooling in the rim and running down the sides of the can.
13 I have more painting to do tomorrow. Do I have to clean my brushes or is there some way I can store them overnight without having to clean them first?
To keep your brushes fresh overnight without cleaning them, wrap them in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or plastic bags. Be sure to get all the air out. Use rubber bands, if necessary, to seal them shut. Then, store them in the refrigerator. I do this all the time and it works like a charm. I also do this when I stop for an extended break. If you like something a little more professional, there’s a new product out aptly named The Paint Brush Cover.
14 After the paint dried on the walls, I noticed some paint clumps. How can I get rid of these?
To get rid of paint clumps, use a razor blade or sharp knife to carefully cut the clump off. Then sand down the edges with medium-grit sandpaper and dab with paint. Be sure to dab the paint on and not brush it on. Brushing it on will leave brush marks on your even finish.
Painting a room can be time consuming and it’s not always easy, but these 14 room painting tips will help the process to go smoother and make the results even better. If you have any room painting tips that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Just post your tip in the comment section!
With all these great tips, which room are you ready to paint next?
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