How to Paint a Room: 7 Tips to Help You Get Started

a red bedroom with cream trim and doors and a fireplace with marble surround
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Whether you’ve outgrown the colors on your walls or just need a fresh coat, a painting project is a quick and budget-friendly way of making your house feel brand new.

Although the process may look easy, painting walls and your house takes a few techniques to get a flawless finish. So before you pick up a brush and start painting, below are seven helpful tips and tricks you should keep in mind to help you complete your project like a pro.

How to Paint a Room

Painting a room is a powerful and relatively simple way to transform the look and feel of your living space. It can dramatically alter the look and feel of a room, making it an effective and accessible tool for anyone looking to enhance their living environment.

1. Decide on a Color Scheme

a mood boar with fabrics, wallpaper samples and paint pots
Gather together colors, wallpaper samples, and fabrics before you start to paint a room

Before you start painting walls, it’s always a good idea to have a plan. Start by deciding on what color scheme you want for your room so you don’t end up switching paint halfway through your painting project. Deciding on a color scheme for a room involves considering several factors, including the room’s purpose, lighting, size, and your personal preferences.

Think about what you’ll be doing in the room. A home office might benefit from calming and concentrating colors like green or blue, while a dining room could have more vibrant colors to stimulate appetite and conversation.

You should also consider whether you want to paint a room with one color, have an accent wall, or combine two colors on one wall so you can estimate how much paint you will need.

If you have an existing piece of furniture, artwork, or an area rug that you love, use it as the basis for your color scheme. Draw out the main colors and complement them on your walls.

a man looking at paint swatches, interior design pictures and a laptop
Get lots of samples to help with your interior painting

If you’re undecided on what color to choose, you can place paint swatches up on your wall so you have an idea of which shades you like most. Paint large swatches on the walls and observe them at different times of the day as the natural light changes.

While it’s helpful to be aware of current trends, it’s more important that the color makes you happy and comfortable. Your personal preference should be the primary guide. Many paint brands offer online tools and apps where you can upload a photo of your room and virtually paint it with different colors to see how it might look.

2. Necessary Tools and Materials

an empty room being painted white

For a successful painting project, having the right tools is crucial. Here is a list of essential painting tools you’ll need to get started:

  1. Paintbrushes:
    • Angled Brush: Ideal for cutting in at corners and edges.
    • Flat Brushes: Suitable for larger, flat surfaces.
  2. Paint Rollers:
    • Roller Frame: The handle that holds the roller cover.
    • Roller Covers: Choose the nap (thickness) based on your wall texture. Smooth surfaces require a short nap (¼-⅜ inch), while rougher surfaces need a longer nap (½-¾ inch).
  3. Paint Tray:
    • For holding and rolling out paint. Consider a tray with a disposable liner for easier cleanup.
  4. Extension Pole:
    • Attaches to the roller for reaching high walls and ceilings.
  5. Painter’s Tape:
    • For protecting trim, windows, and other areas you don’t want to be painted.
  6. Drop Cloths:
    • To protect floors and furniture. Canvas drop cloths are durable and less slippery than plastic.
  7. Stir Sticks:
    • For thoroughly mixing paint.
  8. Sanding Block or Sandpaper:
    • For smoothing out rough surfaces or imperfections before painting.
  9. Ladder or Step Stool:
    • For reaching higher areas safely.
  10. Edger Tool:
    • For painting neat edges around trim and corners.

These tools will help you prepare, execute, and complete your painting project with a professional touch. Remember, investing in good quality tools can make painting walls easier and give you a better finish.

3. Prep Your Room and Walls

an empty room with a step ladder, paint pot and spirit level

Clearing and protecting a room before a painting project is essential for a smooth painting process and to avoid damage to your furniture and belongings. Here’s a guide to get you started:

  • Start by removing all wall hangings, pictures, and any small items or decor from the room.
  • If possible, move furniture out of the room. This gives you more space to work and protects your furniture.
  • Lay drop cloths or plastic sheeting on the floor, ensuring the entire floor area is covered.
  • Use a screwdriver to remove all outlet covers and switch plates.
  • Apply painter’s tape around the edges of windows, door frames, and any other areas that you don’t want to get paint on. Ensure the tape is applied evenly and firmly to prevent paint from bleeding underneath.
  • Set up a small area in the room or nearby to keep your painting tools organized. This should include brushes, rollers, paint, and other materials you’ll need.
  • Open windows and doors to ensure good ventilation. This helps with drying and reduces paint fumes.

Next, you need to prepare the walls. You’d be surprised how much dirt and grime your walls can accumulate over time. That’s why it’s always essential to clean the surfaces before you apply your paint. This ensures the paint will adhere better to the surface, lasting as long as it should.

To do this, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away dust, stains, or grime. If you’re dealing with stubborn stains, use a  mild soap to soften them so they’re easier to scrub off.

Once the walls are clean, don’t forget to repair any holes, cracks, and dents with joint compound or spackle so you have a smooth finish to work on when painting walls.

4. Paint From Top to Bottom

a man with a paint roller painting a wall dark grey

If you want to paint a room and ceiling but don’t know where to start, the pros recommend you paint from top to bottom. This way, if you get drips on the wall from painting the ceiling, you can easily cover them up later when it’s time to coat them.

As opposed to working on the walls first before the ceiling, you’ll have to repaint the surfaces once you get paint splatters on them, doubling the time and effort you spend on your project.

If you need to paint trims, the ceiling should still come first since it’s easier to cover than trims, where you need a steady hand to keep the edges crisp and neat.

5. Cutting In

The trick to getting straight edges on your walls and ceilings is to cut in the corners and trim before filling in the rest of the area. This allows you to create a clean line between the ceiling, baseboards, door, or moldings. It’s also necessary when you want to create a division between two colors on your walls.

“Cut in” by painting the edges and corners with a brush. This involves painting a 2-3 inch border around the edges, corners, and under the ceiling. Do this before you use the roller so that the roller can help blend in the brush strokes.

Seasoned painters usually do this freehand, but If you’re not confident about your ability to cut in the corners, you can use painter’s tape to create a guideline on where to stop painting.

6. Use the W Method for Rolling Paint

a room with green walls and a green velvet sofa

The W method is a tried and tested technique for creating a consistent paint finish on your walls. The trick is to work in 3-4 feet sections at a time to ensure you cover each area with paint.

To do this, apply a thin layer of paint on your roller. Then, create a W from left to right and go back and fill in the blank areas from right to left. Make sure not to lift your paint roller when you’re covering one area to ensure you’re applying the same pressure.

Once you’re done with that spot, cover the area directly below your covered section and repeat the steps above. This technique helps ensure even coverage.

Always try and keep a wet edge to avoid lap marks. This means you should overlap the previous section before the paint dries. If you need to apply multiple coats, wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying a second coat.

Finally, if you have used painter’s tape, remove it before the paint is completely dry to prevent peeling. You need to do this extremely carefully to ensure a clean edge.

7. Avoid Painting on a Rainy Day

rain on a window

It’s a no-brainer that painting the exterior of your house on a rainy day is a recipe for disaster. The rain will wash away your paint before it has time to dry.

But even if you’re only interior painting, it’s also best to avoid painting on a rainy and humid day since your walls will take longer to dry due to the added moisture in the air. So if you’re thinking of scheduling a day for painting, make sure to check the weather to make sure it’s sunny and dry.

Need Help with Painting Your House?

If you need help with a painting project, Soho Painters are the best painting contractors in New York. They have a team of professional painters equipped with the best tools, materials, and training to give your home a professional finish.

They also offer wallpapering, apartment, and commercial painting. For questions or inquiries, contact them now and book a free estimate.

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