How to Paint a Room Like a Professional
Painting a room may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From preparation to professional finishing tips, here are the steps that will help you get the job done properly.
What Do You Need to Paint a Room?
The first thing to do is gather all the supplies you’ll need and determine how much paint to buy. Start by measuring the surfaces you’ll be painting to calculate the total square footage. For a solid wall, simply multiply the width by the height to determine the total surface area. You’ll take the same approach with a ceiling, door or trim, such as baseboards and molding. If you’re painting them the same color as your walls, add those square footages to your total.
The amount of paint you’ll need also varies depending on the surface of the walls. A gallon of paint can typically cover between 250 and 400 square feet, says BobVila.com. If the surface is smooth, a gallon may cover up to 400 square feet, while you may need a lot more to cover dark colors, a textured or rough wall or one that wasn’t previously painted, according to BobVila.com. Keep in mind that you’ll typically need more than one coat of paint, too. You may want to buy a little more paint than you think you’ll need, says BobVila.com. This will help ensure that you have enough, and any extras can potentially be used for touch-ups.
You’ll also want to choose a paint sheen that is appropriate for the room. The Handyguys state that you’ll typically want to use a flat, eggshell or satin paint for walls. Flat, which is the least glossy, is often used in more formal spaces while eggshell and satin, which are more glossy, are typically used in spaces that have higher traffic, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements or playrooms. The Handyguys note that the higher gloss paints are generally easier to clean and more stain-resistant, which is why they may be a better fit for frequently used rooms. For trim and wood pieces, the Handyguys state that using a semigloss paint can help give them some visual “pop” while also helping to resist scuffs and stains. A flat paint is often good for ceilings, as it may help cover irregularities, says HGTV. Using a flat paint designed specifically for use on a ceiling may also help prevent yellowing over time and reduce splatters while you’re painting.
In addition to the paint and primer, you’ll need to have the right tools for the job, the DIY Network recommends you have the following items on hand:
- Paint rollers and covers: The type of roller and roller covers you need depends on your paint and the surfaces you are painting. You may also want to consider an extension handle for the roller. Ask which is right for your situation when you buy the paint.
- Paintbrushes: As with rollers, ask which size and type of brushes you should buy when you purchase the paint. (This Old House recommends having at least one 2.5-inch angled brush for edging.)
- Rags: You’ll need these to clean your brushes.
- Sandpaper: You’ll use this to prepare surfaces for painting.
- Drop cloth: Cover furniture and flooring with drop cloths to help protect them from dust and paint.
- Painter’s tape: Tape off windows, woodwork and other elements to help protect them from the paint.
- Paint scraper: This will help you remove old paint.
- Paint tray: This is where you’ll pour your paint to refill your rollers and brushes.
- Sponge: Use a damp sponge to wipe any dust off your walls before painting.
How to Prepare a Room for Painting
Once you have all the supplies, it’s time to prepare your room. Better Homes and Gardens recommends you do the following to get ready for painting:
- Remove all artwork, wall hangings, curtains and switch plates.
- Examine walls for any scratches, holes or dents. Fill in holes with spackling paste, and smooth the surface using sandpaper.
Remove dust and dirt from your walls with a damp sponge, the DIY Network recommends. The Handyguys note that warm water and a trisodium phosphate, or TSP, cleaner work well on cleaning walls and woodwork — including removing kitchen grease. (Better Homes and Gardens states that you should wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves while using TSP.)
- Line door frames, window frames, molding and any other trim in the room with painter’s tape.
- Cover your floor and furniture with the drop cloth to catch any spills or drips.
How to Paint a Room
Once the room is prepared, it’s time to start painting. This Old House recommends you take the following steps:
1. Prime if Necessary
Primer helps to create a smooth base on which to apply paint to walls and ceilings. If you patched any holes, or if you’ll be painting new walls, you’ll need to apply primer. You may also need to prime if you’re changing from a dark to light color or from light to dark.
- If you’re applying primer over a painted wall, you may want to tint it either gray or a color close to the paint you’ll be applying, Popular Mechanics recommends. This may help you avoid applying multiple coats of paint later on.
- Use an angled brush to apply the primer around the edge of the walls, says BobVila.com, and then use a roller to apply a single coat to the rest of the wall.
- After you apply the primer, allow it to dry thoroughly before you move on to the next steps. Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations on how long to let it dry, MarthaStewart.com says.
2. Paint the Ceiling
- As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to work from the top of the room down as you paint.
- Use a roller to paint the ceiling. Wait until the first coat dries to apply a second coat, if needed.
- Finish painting the ceiling completely, making sure the paint is dry, before you move onto the walls.
3. Cut In the Edges and Corners
- Coat one-third of a 2.5-inch angled brush with paint and tap off excess paint on the side of your bucket.
- Paint a 2- to 3-inch stripe along each corner and along the ceiling and molding. This band will serve as a safety net to keep the roller from bumping against other areas.
- Keep a “wet edge” by only cutting in far enough that you can then easily use a roller to blend the transition to the rest of the wall, says The Handyguys. This may help minimize brush strokes showing through the final finish.
4. Use a Roller on the Walls
- After you’ve outlined the corners and edges with a smaller brush, you can fill in the rest with a roller.
- Fill the tray with just enough paint to reach the grate.
- Dip your roller into the tray and cover it completely with paint. Then roll it over the tray’s grate to be sure the paint is distributed evenly and excess paint is removed.
- Use the roller to paint a W or M shape on the wall. Once you’ve distributed most of the paint from the roller onto the wall, use vertical strokes to spread the paint evenly.
- Repeat this vertical motion until the wall is covered. Go back over portions of the cut-in edges to blend in any visible brush marks.
- If you need to take a break, The Handyguys recommends stopping in a corner. This may help avoid a line or edge of paint in the middle of the wall that is visible once the wall is dry.
5. Paint the Trim
- Wait until the walls are dry, then carefully peel the tape from the trim, the DIY Network recommends.
- This Old House suggests using a wide, straight-edged brush to paint broader moldings.
- Use a small, angled sash brush (1- to 2-inch) to finish by carefully painting a straight line along the edge.
- Once the trim is dry, you’ll have successfully painted your room.
With the right supplies, a little preparation and a step-by-step approach to painting, you can help make your project successful.