Updated Oct 10, 2022
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We’ve looked through common ideas about interior painting and debunked the ones that are either outdated or just plain wrong.
The following sections will walk you through common painting myths and why you can ignore them during a DIY home improvement project.
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.
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.
Many people think a white ceiling is necessary for a cohesive room design, but this is an outdated myth.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Other Maintenance Resources