How to Paint a Room

By Laurnie Wilson

A fresh coat of paint can breathe fresh life into your space. Whether you want to paint a room from top to bottom or simply choose an accent wall to brighten, here are the basics of how to paint a room.

Materials needed to paint

  • Buckets of various sizes—Use large buckets for mixing multiple gallons of paint to ensure color consistency and use smaller buckets or cups when painting trim.
  • Drop cloths—A mix of plastic and canvas drop cloths will work wonders to protect your furniture and floors.
  • Ladder—A sturdy ladder can help you reach high places and give you a boost while painting the ceiling.
  • Paint brushes—An assortment of brushes will help you reach tight corners and small spaces.
  • Paint rollers—A roller or two will make it easy to apply paint on larger areas.
  • Paint grid—A grid will allow you to remove excess paint from your roller before applying it to the wall.
  • Safety glasses—The proper eyewear will keep your eyes safe from splatters.
  • Sandpaper—Use to sand down uneven or bumpy patches on your walls.
  • Work gloves—To keep your hands clean while you work.
  • Paint—The appropriate amount of paint is crucial to getting the coverage and final result you desire.
  • Painter’s tape—Especially useful when painting the trim, painter’s tape can also be used for creating stripes and keeping colors separate as you work.

Prepare your space for painting

Before you crack open the first paint can, get your room ready for the job.

  1. Furniture—Remove all furniture, if possible. If you can’t remove the furniture, push it to the center of the room and cover with a plastic drop cloth.
  2. Floors—Cover the floors with a canvas drop cloth to protect it from paint splatters.
  3. Ceiling fans—If you have a ceiling fan, remove the blades and cover the fan or light fixture with plastic.
  4. Hardware and outlets—Remove door hardware, outlet covers, and switch plates; cover outlets or switches with painter’s tape.
  5. Check the wall—Check the surfaces to be painted for bumps or uneven patches and sand them down with sandpaper.
  6. Clean the wall—Give the walls a quick cleaning to remove any dust or debris.

Painting a room using the cutting-in technique

You may find it helpful to use a technique known as cutting-in on the ceiling and walls. As you begin, start from the highest area you would like to paint—the ceiling, for example—and work down from there.

  1. Stand on your ladder and use a paintbrush to paint along the line where the ceiling meets the walls or molding/trim (if you have it), applying paint in long, consistent strokes
  2. Move in from this border you’ve created and use a roller to paint the rest of the ceiling.
  3. Repeat this pattern on the walls, using a paintbrush to apply paint closer to the edges, then using a roller as you move in.

To reach all corners of your room, you’ll likely find yourself moving up and down your ladder throughout the entire process. Try keeping a small bucket of paint nearby to save yourself time and energy.

How to paint a room using a paint roller

Once you have ‘cut in’ on the designated area, you will fill in the space using your large paint roller.

  1. Apply paint to your roller by dipping the roller partially into the paint. Then use the paint grid to evenly distribute the paint across the roller and remove any excess paint that may cause drips when you move to the wall.
  2. At the wall, begin at the top and apply paint in a zigzagging pattern. Moving slowly, allow the paint strokes to overlap for an even appearance.
  3. Repeat these strokes as you move down and across the wall.
  4. Turn the roller sideways to get closer to the edges of the wall.
  5. Finally, roll over the entire space, from ceiling to floor, with light pressure.
  6. Move on to your next wall. Allow each wall to dry completely before adding a second coat.

How to paint trim

Trim, or molding, is the last part of the room you should paint. Here’s how:

  1. Ensure the newly painted walls are completely dry before moving forward.
  2. Apply painter’s tape to walls where the wall and the trim meet.
  3. Apply another line of tape to the where the trim meets the floor (for baseboards) or the ceiling (for crown molding).
  4. Use a brush paint the trim with long, even strokes.
  5. One the trim or molding has been painted, but before it’s completely dry, remove the painter’s tape. Removing the tape after the paint has dried may damage your new paint job.

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