The perfect painting project
Looking to add a splash of color to your summer? Paint a room! A fresh coat of paint can completely revitalize a room and increase home value. And with the proper paint and preparation, your walls will look flawless for many years to come.
Make sure you buy enough paint—you need about one gallon for every 400 square feet. Does your job require more than one gallon? Mix them together in a separate container to avoid color variations from can to can.
With hundreds of shades to choose from, picking the perfect color can be a daunting task. Before you commit, ask your home improvement store to mix a small paint sample you can try out in both natural and artificial light.
The biggest difference between DIY and professional projects? Lack of preparation. Before rolling up your sleeves and painting up a storm:
- Clean your walls with soap and water—paint doesn’t stick well to grimy surfaces.
- Patch any chips or wall cracks with spackle—sand smooth after spackle dries.
- Crack a window or plug in a fan for fresh air—this also helps the paint dry faster.
- Move furniture out of the room or out of your way.
- Remove light switch and outlet covers, wall sconces and picture hangers.
- Cover the floor with drop cloths or old sheets—don’t use plastic unless you want a slip ‘n slide!
- Apply painter’s tape around frames and edges—masking tape is hard to remove and can leave uneven paint lines.
High-quality paint gets you nowhere without the right instruments. For smooth surfaces, use a roller with a 3/8-inch or less nap. For edges and corners, a 2-inch angled sash brush works wonders.
Paint one wall at a time, starting from the top down. This way, you can correct drips and runs as you work. Start a few inches from the edge and roll the paint in a vertical zigzag pattern. Then re-roll horizontally, overlapping into the wet paint as you work. Dip the roller halfway into the paint—don’t submerge—it’ll splatter everywhere.
Does your first coat of paint look thin or lighter than the color you chose? Don’t panic. Slap on a second coat for a uniform, finished appearance. After you’ve covered the walls, paint the edges with a brush. Holding your brush like a pencil, apply smooth, sweeping brushstrokes to avoid streaks and ridges. Painting edges takes concentration and a steady hand—you’ll get the hang of it!
Once the walls are dry, remove painter’s tape from the trim—peel slowly and evenly to make sure it doesn’t pull up any paint. Next, tape around the trim and paint it. Like before, start with the trim closest to the ceiling and work your way down.
Need a quick breather? Put a lid on your bucket and cover your brushes and rollers with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to resume, just unwrap and go.
Wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry before bringing everything back into the room. Don’t wait to clean your brushes—brushes caked with old paint can require special solvents to remove. After rinsing, paintbrushes can be covered in plastic wrap and sealed with a rubber band. Keep a small container of paint on hand for touchups!