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10 Myths About Painting a Room You Wish You Knew Sooner

Updated Oct 10, 2022

Updated Oct 10, 2022

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > 10 Myths About Painting a Room You Wish You Knew Sooner

Painting a room is one of the best, most affordable ways to refresh your home’s interior design. 

Before you start any DIY project, it’s best to do some research ahead of time.

Soon after diving down the DIY painting rabbit hole, you’ll run into countless rules for properly and stylishly adding color to your walls. However, some of these rules are myths.

We’ve looked through common ideas about interior painting and debunked the ones that are either outdated or just plain wrong.

10 Painting Myths To Look Out For

The following sections will walk you through common painting myths and why you can ignore them during a DIY home improvement project.

Myth One: A Room’s Walls Should All Be the Same Color

The idea that you must paint an entire room the same color is a myth. This notion arose over time simply because this is commonplace in most homes.

However, accent walls are a growing design trend that adds depth and contrast to a space.

An accent wall stands out from the other walls with a contrasting color, pattern, texture, or material. 

Creating an accent wall with paint is simple. Select a paint color that differs from the other walls and complements your home decor. The wall will stand out from the rest of the room, drawing viewers’ eyes and setting off the area.

Myth Two: Don’t Paint in Cold Temperatures

A standard tip is to avoid painting in cold temperatures because the product won’t cure properly.

However, this is a myth for a couple of reasons. 

If you’re painting indoors, the chances are slim that it’s below freezing.

Better yet – if you open the windows for ventilation, the crisp winter air will reduce humidity in the air, allowing the paint to dry without the threat of clinging moisture. The cool air will also help the paint dry quicker, reducing your project time.

If you’re painting an exterior surface, ensure the product you’re using is suited for cold weather painting, and the temperature won’t go lower than 35°F.

Otherwise, painting indoors during the colder months is completely fine. You could even save some money by booking a professional during their off-season.

Myth Three: The Ceiling Should Always Be White

Many people think a white ceiling is necessary for a cohesive room design, but this is an outdated myth. 

A white ceiling is a good choice if you’re seeking a classic design and don’t want to draw attention upward in a room. However, you can add dimension to a space with a bold ceiling color. 

Consider how different the Sistine Chapel would be if the ceiling were white.

Choosing a non-white hue – even one as simple as a light blue or deep gray – could bring visual interest and cozy energy to your space. Consider pairing a painted ceiling with matching trim to make the walls pop. Or, hang contrasting light fixtures for a bold touch.

Myth Four: You Can Save Paint Forever

Some homeowners think stored leftover paint will last forever. Unfortunately, this is a myth. A can of paint will last about 10 to 15 years after opening – but only if you store it properly. 

The University of Missouri Extension recommends storing used paint cans in a dry area away from the threat of flames, high heat, or frost. Tightly reseal an opened container by tapping the lid down with a hammer. Then, flip the can upside down, so the paint seals the lid shut. 

If you follow these tips to store your leftovers safely, the product should be available for touch-ups and new paint projects for years to come.

However, you should still check for usability after reopening a leftover can. 

If the paint won’t mix and the components remain separated, the paint has gone bad. If you’re reopening a latex paint that’s been frozen, brush it onto a piece of paper and check for lumps.

Myth Five: Trim Must Be White

You may have been told to keep the trim on your walls white, but this is an outdated requirement. 

White trim looks good and will always be classically versatile, but it’s not imperative for a stylish room design.

In fact, you can enhance a room’s aesthetic with bold trim. 

Consider adding a fun patterned paper to an accent wall and painting the trim a coordinating color. This choice will undoubtedly make the room look curated and unique.

If patterns aren’t your thing, you can create a contrast trim with paint.

Contrast trim is popular for painted walls because it produces a framed, well-structured aesthetic. Create this effect by painting the trim darker than the rest of the wall. This design creates dimension and frames the sections of a room.

Myth Six: White Walls Are Boring

White walls are a versatile design choice and evoke a modern, clean feel. 

Hospital rooms often have white walls to make the spaces more open and bright. But, if you think painting your walls white will create a dull, sterile space – think again. 

Painting a room white allows you to incorporate color and patterns in other ways, such as furniture, throw pillows, wall art, and rugs. These items are easy to change and switch out as you seek a new color scheme for your room.

Meanwhile, your new white walls will match anything you put in the room.

Remember that “white” doesn’t have to mean stark, blinding white. Thousands of white paint variants on the market will create the same clean style you’re seeking, but with a softer, more inviting look.

The Sherwin-Williams Color Guide suggests choosing the right cool white or warm white for your walls.

Cool whites create a crisp look with blue and violet undertones, while warm whites evoke a glowy, cozy vibe.

Myth Seven: Dark Walls Make a Room Feel Small

One room painting myth is that you can only make a space feel bigger by painting the walls a light color. 

This idea isn’t always accurate.

Dark paint might be a great design choice if you want a stylish, chic room aesthetic. If you select the right furniture, accents, and decor, a dark color can make the room feel deep and dramatic, not small and cramped.

If you’re hesitant to paint a whole room a dark color, try painting three walls dark and leaving one light. This will create an accent wall where you can hang wall art or design a cozy seating area. 

You could also create an accent wall that pops with a fun pattern. Try a low-commitment patterned wall with peel-and-stick wallpaper. This DIY option allows you to choose a pattern you love, apply it to the wall, and remove it safely without wrecking the paint job underneath.

Myth Eight: You Can Skip Primer

Some say skipping primer before painting is OK, but this isn’t true. Primer is critical to the application and proper drying of interior wall paint.

Imageworks Painting, Inc. says fresh drywall soaks up paint and creates a streaky, uneven appearance. On the other hand, a wood wall is a porous yet dense material that makes paint adherence more difficult.

In both cases, primer prepares the wall surface for smooth, even paint application. The color and texture will dry better on a good base, and you’ll be less likely to need multiple coats of paint.

Before rolling primer onto the walls, make sure you’ve selected the right kind.

  • Oil-based primers are suited for painting on wood because they fill in porous surfaces. Oil primers work well on various other surfaces and with many kinds of paints.
  • Shellac primers are heavy-duty sealants suited for damaged interior walls. This option is suitable for covering severe stains or heavily textured areas.
  • Latex primers are a more environmentally friendly primer option. They produce low VOCs and fewer fumes, which benefits homes with children or immunocompromised folks. Latex primers generally work best on drywall, masonry, and softwoods. 

Myth Nine: Taping the Edges Is Always Necessary

You might assume that any painting project must start with tedious taping. You anticipate hours spent measuring, cutting, and lining tape along the wall. Luckily, taping isn’t always necessary – or efficient.

Tape can do more harm than good on walls with texture and crooked trimmings. Paint can drip through creases caused by uneven walls, creating drip marks and wonky lines.

You can use a larger brush or paint roller to efficiently cover most of the walls, but exercise caution around the trimming. Use the time you would typically spend taping the walls and, instead, paint more carefully around these edges.

An angled brush or small artist’s brush is best suited for the job. 

These tools allow you to paint along tight corners and tricky edges with more control over the brush. The time you spend cautiously freehand painting the corners is minimal compared to what you would’ve spent taping, peeling, and touching up.

Myth 10: Painting Requires a Professional

Some people think you need professional assistance for indoor painting projects. However, you can save some money and do it yourself. 

With the right research, approach, techniques, and tools, you’ll get the job done without help from an expert.

Use these tips to paint like a pro:

  • Dedicate time to planning – Don’t jump in and start slapping paint on the walls without a solid plan. Decide which paint supplies and tools you’ll need and how you’ll reach high corners safely. We recommend starting with a project to-do list. Jot down the details and tools needed for each step to complete it efficiently.
  • Carefully consider color – Being intentional with your paint color choice prevents you from having to repaint a room later. Sifting through hundreds of paint swatches is overwhelming for even the most opinionated homeowner. We recommend selecting a shade or color family before entering the paint store. This will significantly narrow your options and simplify your decision. As you look at colors, consider which hue best suits your floor material, furniture, decor, and overall home style. 
  • Use the right tools  – Using the right tools is imperative to your painting project’s success. Before starting the process, ensure you have various paintbrush sizes, multiple paint rollers, painter’s tape, sandpaper, clean rags, plastic drop cloths, a paint tray, and a ladder. You might also want personal protective gear like a dust mask and goggles. 
  • Ensure proper ventilation – Ventilate your painting area to avoid breathing in harmful vapors. Open windows during and after the project to allow fumes to exit the space. Mount box fans on the window sills to further improve the room’s airflow.
  • Buy the correct amount of paint – While you might be tempted to start small with a gallon of paint, you should instead consider how much paint you’ll realistically need. We suggest measuring your wall space and using a paint calculator to estimate the number of gallons the job requires. This will prevent you from driving back and forth to the paint store and running out of supplies mid-project.
  • Protect your furniture and decor – Move furniture and decor out of the room you’re painting to protect them from drips and splatters. If you don’t have space elsewhere to store your items, scoot them away from the walls and cover them with plastic sheets. No matter how carefully you paint, messes can happen – so protecting your furniture is essential.
  • Mix before you paint – Don’t forget to mix your paint before applying it to the walls. If you don’t mix the paint, the ingredients will settle out. You won’t get the full richness of your selected color and will have an oily, weak substance. Use a stir stick to mix the product at the beginning and frequently throughout the project. If you’re using paint from different containers, mix the contents in a 5-gallon bucket to ensure color consistency.
  • Use technique – Practice pro painting techniques to make the job easier and more efficient. Start painting from the top down. Paint the ceiling if necessary, then work toward the baseboard. If using a roller, paint in zigzag patterns to ensure proper coverage and avoid splatters.
  • Clean up your space and tools – The final step in painting like a pro is to clean up your workspace quickly and thoroughly. Leaving paint-covered brushes, rollers, and rags out to dry will only make the cleanup process more challenging. Avoid pesky dried paint by closing containers and thoroughly rinsing your tools with warm soapy water.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know which interior painting myths to ignore, you can grab a paintbrush and get to work. 

Remember that when it comes to myths about interior design choices, the final look of the space depends on more than just a paint job.

If you prefer a neutral ceiling and white trim, you should include those features in your interior design. However, if you want to venture out of your comfort zone and try vivid, striking color combinations, don’t follow outdated rules that discourage such choices.

Your home is a space with endless possibilities, and the most important opinion is your own. Create a space with your aesthetic and comfort top of mind.

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