A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting a Room
Completely transform your space with these comprehensive tips.
Refreshing a room with a new light fixture or even some accent furniture can completely transform a space, but if you're looking to give your home an update without purchasing new décor, consider applying a fresh coat of paint. After all, a little color, either neutral or bold, can transform an entire space. Ahead, you'll discover how to paint your walls—beginning with the essentials you need and culminating in a tried-and-true paint application method—according to the experts.
Gather the essentials.
Brian Levy, a store manager at Lowe's, says the key to painting an entire room starts with the right tools. "You can accomplish most paint jobs with a roller brush for coverage and a smaller two-inch brush, like the Valspar Polyester Angle Two-Inch Paint Brush ($8.48, lowes.com), for trim work and cutting in around corners," he says. Also be sure to have a roller frame—like the Blue Hawk Nine-Inch Metal Paint Roller Frame ($5.98, lowes.com)—and covers—consider the Valspar Three-Pack Nine-Inch by Half-Inch Knit Polyester Paint Roller ($10.98, lowes.com)—that match your desired finish and paint type.
Other must-haves? A plastic putty knife, painter's tape, a paint tray or bucket, and a ladder. Levy explains that these tools will help you create clean lines, stay organized, or reach your ceiling. And while paint primer isn't always necessary, it can be helpful to use one or a paint-and-primer all-in-one product if you have bare drywall, stained or repaired areas, bare wood, high-gloss finishes, or are planning to make a more drastic color change.
Prepare your space.
Like with any home project, you'll need to get your place in shape before getting to work. "Start by moving all items out of the way; large furniture can be moved to the center of the room and covered," Matt Kunz, the president of Five Star Painting, a Neighborly company, says. "We recommend putting plastic over furniture and canvas drop cloths on the floor." Plastic is gentle and should protect your belongings sans scratching, while canvas works across just about every flooring type, is safe to walk on, and absorbs spills. Place drop cloths, like Everbilt Medium Duty Canvas Drop Cloths ($13.97, homedepot.com), carefully on the ground to avoid any trips or accidents.
Cleaning is just as critical. Rid your baseboards of dust, even if you aren't planning on painting them. Since you are adding painter's tape to the area, you will want to make sure it adheres properly (dust will prevent sticking). "Remove window treatments and rods and place them carefully in another room," Kunz says, also noting to remove blinds if the window frames and sills are going to be painted. Depending on the room you're working in, also stow any appliances or hanging décor (think picture frames). Finally, remove the light switches and outlet covers and put tape over the area to avoid paint smudges.
Give yourself time.
Pace yourself when painting an entire room, as it usually takes a couple of days to complete. Levy recommends working from the top down, which is why having a ladder handy at the very start is key. Make sure yours is sturdy, as you will need to paint the ceiling first, then the walls, and complete the process with the trim. "If there are stairs in the room, leg levelers for the ladder will be needed to keep the ladder level and safe," Kunz notes.
Start with a small brush, then use a roller.
Begin the room-painting process with a small brush, which you will use to cover the edges (this is known as cutting in, Levy says). After that, you can then switch to a roller. "Cut in along the entire ceiling before switching to the roller, but for the walls, take it one wall at a time," he says. Bring out your bucket or pan and fill it with paint. Dampen your loaded roller with a wet rag and then lightly dip it in the paint a few tips to coat it evenly. "Starting a few inches away from the edge, roll the paint on the ceiling or wall in a zigzag pattern," Levy adds. "Overlap your lines and work slowly to avoid paint spatter. For walls, start at the top first and then move to the bottom."
Finish the edges and trim.
After applying paint on the walls, circle back to the edges. A pro tip? Lightly roll over the painted area from the ceiling to the floor to remove buildup and running. To complete the trim, Levy says to wait until the walls are dry and then apply painter's tape along the accent pieces. Next, press the area down with a plastic putty knife to hold the tape in place. Paint the trim, take off the painter's tape before the trim is dry all the way to prevent peeling, and you've done it—your room is complete. And if this process seems like too big an undertaking? There's no harm in calling in the professionals, say our experts, who regularly offer free project estimates.