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10 Tips to Know Before Painting a Room

Stylish bedroom interior in trendy blu
JZhuk / Getty

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission.

Looking to freshen up a room in your home? Painting is one of the cheapest ways to improve the look of your home without too much effort, and picking the right paint color can dramatically change the feel of any room.  However, there are a few tips you should know before you paint to make your job easier.

1. Prepping a room does make a difference

It’s pretty obvious that painting is much easier (and quicker) when there is nothing in your way. This means emptying out the room, or at least as much as possible. If you are painting your living room, move large furniture pieces to the center and cover them up with old sheets or drop cloths.

It may seem like an unnecessary step to wipe the walls down, but it’s actually very important. Whether you can see it or not, there is buildup on the walls of dirt, dust, and oils from your hands. Removing this debris prior to painting will allow the paint to adhere to the walls.

You should also fill in any nail holes or cracks with spackling, as well as tape off adjacent walls, window trim, and light switch or outlet covers. Use drop cloths, newspapers, or a roll of paper or plastic to cover the floor before you begin painting.

2. Test the paint color

It’s very difficult to determine how a particular color will look on your walls, and with your lighting. If you have a color in mind, it’s a good idea to buy a small paint sample first, and do a test before committing . Once you have your paint sample, you’ll want to find an obscure corner or surface of your home to test how the color will look inside your home. 

If you’re not comfortable testing the paint sample on your walls, you could also cut a small piece of wood or drywall to test the sample color on, let it dry, and then hold it up to whatever surface you’re wanting to paint. 

While the paint is drying, observe how the color looks throughout different periods of the day and at night. This will give you a good idea of what the color will really look like on your walls. Test as many samples as you like until you’ve found the perfect color. You might be surprised at what colors you actually like, and even more surprised at how what you thought was your favorite color on the swatch looks terrible in your home.

3. Allow a little color into your home

The days of beige, off-white, and grey are over. Don’t be afraid to bring new colors into your home. Trying a few different colors will allow you to create a specific feeling in the room. For instance, dark colors add texture and depth to the space. This is particularly true if the room is very large with high ceilings.  On the other hand, if you have a small room, such as a guest bath with no natural light, brighter, lighter colors can really open up the space and make it feel much larger. Experiment to see what unique colors work for your home.

4. Pay attention to the finish you choose

Not only does the color matter, the finish does as well. High gloss paint finishes are very durable and easier to clean, but the downside is they often highlight imperfections in your walls. Bathrooms tend to need a more scrubbable, glossier sheen. And a glossier paint has a higher resistance to moisture. 

On the other hand, a flat or matte paint finish will hide these imperfections, making it a good option for bedroom and living room walls. However, flat paint is more susceptible to damage. In most instances, an eggshell finish is the best option. It provides some gloss, is still easy to clean, does not highlight imperfections, and is not as easily prone to damage as flat paint.

5. Determining how much paint you need

There is nothing more frustrating during a painting project than running out of paint halfway through the project. But, you don’t want to have too much paint either. There are a few things that will help you determine the right amount of paint. First, you need to know the square footage of your room. Then, think about how many coats of paint you want to do. If you are priming the walls first, one coat might be enough, whereas two coats are often needed if walls are not primed.

To help you get an accurate estimate, you can also try an online paint calculator

6. Priming Saves on Paint

Speaking of priming, this is an important step in the preparation process. Primer seals the walls providing you with a base for the paint to adhere to. After you fill in all the holes and cracks, primer becomes even more important. The primer will prevent flashing or shiny spots on the wall, which occurs when paint is placed directly on spackling.

However, primer does not help you skip the step of cleaning the walls. Cleaning the walls is still a very important step, primer or not. Always try to prime before you paint. It guarantees a great finish and allows you to use less paint.

7. Brush Before Rolling

For many, the concept of brushing the corners before or after rolling the walls can be confusing. However, you must remember to brush before rolling. Carefully use a high-quality brush to paint about an inch out from corners, the ceiling, and the baseboard. These are areas that a roller cannot reach.

Use the roller after brushing in order to flatten out any brush marks that have gone further out than the depths of the corner. This will leave you with a smooth flat surface. This may seem like a tedious process, but it’s necessary when painting.

8. Prep your roller and paint brushes

Rollers are made from fuzzy material that can put more than just paint on your walls if you’re not careful. It is important that you remove any debris, such as loose fibers, from the roller.

You can use painters tape wrapped backward around your hand to do this. Press your taped hand onto the roller, and it will work in a similar manner as a lint roller. You should also rub the dry paint brushes up against your hand and gently tug on the fibers. This will ensure that no loose fibers end up in your paint from the brush.

9. Gather the proper supplies

Don’t skimp on supplies. Aside from a good quality paint brush, you want to make sure you have all the supplies you need prior to getting started. 

This list should include:

  • Rollers
  • Brushes
  • Painters tape
  • Paint tray
  • Roller tray
  • Roller extenders
  • Step ladder 

10. Paint can be changed

Don’t stress, your paint color can always be changed. Fortunately, paint is an inexpensive option for sprucing up a room. If you find that you do not like a color, you can easily paint over it.

In addition, if the color seems too overwhelming for all four of your walls, consider leaving one wall painted that color as an accent. You may find that a ‘pop’ of color is all you needed.

The bottom line

Taking the time to do a little prep work is key to a successful DIY paint job. It will pay off by making your painting project run more smoothly and result in a better-looking room. And remember, this is your home, so choose a paint color that resonates with you.

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