All you really need to paint a room is the paint, the brush and the roller. Don’t let the paint store clerk talk you in to one-time-use gadgets that will easily run your card to its max! Below is a step by step guide, professional short cuts, and trade secrets to painting any room in a day.
Choosing Colors: Don’t be afraid to use color! Look at any advertisement in a magazine; you’ll often see burgundy, forest green or terra cotta orange used on walls. The secret to using bolder colors is to use them in rooms with either very good, natural light, or rooms with many entries, archways, windows, or fireplaces. In other words, rooms with small wall spaces will work well with bold colors. Hallways, stairwells, and rooms with no windows are the places to use neutral colors.
Choosing a Finish (Flat or Shiny): Flat, with no shine at all is classy but not recommended for high traffic areas. Matte finish is the next best thing if you want to create the subdued look. Eggshell is a finish (not a color) that is very popular in living rooms and bedrooms while hallways, kitchens and bathrooms do well with a semi-gloss. A satin finish falls between eggshell and semi-gloss. The higher the gloss, the more noticeable the flaws.
Equipment: Do yourself a favor and buy an expensive BRUSH. By expensive I mean a two and a half inch, nylon bristle brush that costs between 15-20 dollars. (Purdy or ProVal are excellent brands). Nylon or polyester are for latex paints. For less than the price of a meal, you’ll have a darned good brush that you’ll use again and again (provided you clean it right away after use) for many projects around the house. It also holds a good deal more paint and puts it on the wall in a nice smooth line, cutting your painting time in half. The ROLLER handle and the sleeve (the fuzzy part) usually come together for under 10.00. There’s no need to buy the expensive ones unless you’re doing a lot of painting.
Paint: Dirt cheap paint is watery, doesn’t cover well, and makes a mess. However, it is not necessary to spend 40.00 per gallon for 20 year warranty paint. The middle-of-the-road paint priced between 10-20 dollars per gallon works just as well. Make sure the store clerk helps you decide if you want a flat or shiny finished look. If you’re not too fussy about the color, every paint store (including the paint section at Sears) has what some painters call a “paint boneyard”. This is where full gallons of the “wrong colors” go – that for some reason or another did not please previous customers. They usually sell for between 2-5 dollars. (NOTE: Make sure you read the label carefully and that you are buying a paint that is appropriate for the job and not a stain that is meant for a deck).
Preparation: This is the key to any job and it will take you three times as long to prepare as it will to paint. Don’t remove all the furniture from the room. This is back-breaking work that is not only a pain (literally), but it’s unnecessary and time consuming. Move everything you can to the center of the room and throw a sheet over it. If possible, roll area rugs up so that the bottom is face-up. Disposable plastic drop cloths are sold in various sizes for a few bucks. These work nicely for covering an area of furniture.
REMOVE all switch plates and outlet covers and soak them in soapy water while you’re painting the room. Instead of saving the screws in a container, after removing the outlet cover, put the screw right back in its hole and turn a half turn just to make it stay. No more lost screws. Take the time to dust. With a wet sponge wipe down all the woodwork especially behind where furniture has been. Remember to wipe off the tops of the door frames and the window frames.
SANDING will handle most small imperfections. (Use 220 grit sandpaper). Don’t waste your time filling every little nail hole. If you sand well around the room for about 15 minutes, most holes will flatten out and be filled by paint. Naturally, the larger holes must be filled with fast drying spackle, then sanded.
DON’T BUY BLUE PAINTER’S TAPE. It’s very expensive and though it is necessary for some jobs, if you just want to paint a room, a 3 dollar roll of masking tape will get you by. There’s no need to tape around windows, doors and woodwork – with a good brush, you’ll be surprised how nice of a line you can create with a 2-1/2″ brush filled with paint. Use tape to cut down on spatter (on baseboard trim). Don’t leave any tape on for more than a couple of hours.
(NOTE: Keep a small bowl of water and a small sponge available, clean up paint spatters immediately and save hours of time.)
There are several options for DROP CLOTHS. If you have the heavy, canvas drop cloths, by all means use them, but if you don’t, an old bed sheet will work. All you need is one, but make sure that it’s doubled or tripled so the paint doesn’t seep through. Move it along as you go. Those old rubber-backed curtains are ideal! Put the rubber side down, and the fabric side up. Plastic drop cloths are good for covering furniture, but, when on the floor, the paint drops tend to stay wet which promotes “tracking” all over the room.
Doing the Painting: Use a rolling pole that screws in to the end of the roller handle. Did you know that most kitchen broom handles unscrew and can double as a rolling pole? For one-room wonders or the quick kitchen paint job – use the broom handle and save your back. FIRST, cut in (paint to the edges of ceiling and woodwork) the whole room with the brush. Although it’s tempting to roll the paint on, it’s not a good idea as the brush dries out while you’re rolling, and the rolled paint will dry unevenly while you are brushing again. Brush the whole room, then roll the whole room.
When cutting in the room, you can use an old Cool Whip container to paint from. There’s no need to carry a heavy, full gallong of paint to the top of a ladder. This also saves paint in case of a spill. Try not to dip the brush all the way in to the paint; avoid getting paint up to the handle to prolong the life of your good brush. Make sure you load the tip of the brush though with enough paint to get a good, long, clean stroke of paint so you don’t have to dip the brush 100 times for a four foot area.
Most lefties roll the room clockwise and righties roll counterclockwise. Find out which way works best for you. Start in the corner behind the door. Wet all sides of the roller with paint until it’s practically dripping. Lay it on the wall at hip-height and roll in a uniform fashion all the way to the ceiling, then all the way to the floor until the roller runs dry. Avoid the temptation to paint the top half of the room, then the bottom. Roll top to bottom all the way around the room.
Clean-Up: As noted above, keep a small bowl of water and a small sponge available for immediate clean up; move it along with you as you paint – it saves a ton of time. If you notice dried paint after the job is done use denatured alcohol. Every hardware and paint store sells denatured alcohol in a can for under 5.00. It’s non-toxic, non-burning and low odor. Apply alcohol to dried paint on carpet, floor, wood or even clothing. Let it sit for about three minutes. Wipe clean with an alcohol-soaked rag or sponge. Second application may be necessary for bigger spills.
Touch-up: Once paint with any sheen (eggshell, satin or semi-gloss) is dry, try not to touch it up. Touching up after drying causes an un-uniform look to the wall. From an angle, any brush mark will show up “on top” of the already dried paint. If you must touch up, lightly brush only the exact area, then lightly dab with a damp sponge to soften the brush-mark look.
Finishing up: By the time you clean up your tools and sweep the room, the paint should be dry enough to put the switchplates back on. Get the room back together; don’t wait. Most wall hangings can be returned to their original spots right away. Paper products, like posters can be put up in a few hours. If for some reason you do not finish your room in a day, you can wrap your paint roller in a plastic store bag, but clean the brush thoroughly. It only takes five minutes.
Any paint store will tint a can of white paint for you for free!
Shop online first. Many painting websites have color schemes and mock rooms to try with different colors online. Darker or bolder colors look better in a flat or matte finish.
ALWAYS take the time to read and follow directions on the can!!
Leave a hardened brush in denatured alcohol overnight and try cleaning with a wire brush in the morning. If that doesn’t work, use “Brush Cleaner” available at the hardware store. Follow directions on the can.
To paint over clear-finished wood, dull the finish first with “Wil-Bond” (liquid sandpaper). Keep in mind that the smell is extremely strong and rubber gloves should be used, but it cuts down on time and prepares wood nicely for paint.
For a more uniform finish on the walls, when painting the second coat, cut (brush) in a three foot section along the ceiling and baseboard, then roll while the cut line is still wet. Continue this way around the room.
Use a paint conditioner for old paints. Flotrol for latex paints. Penetrol for oil-based paints. (Keep in mind that oil-based paints are a pain to work with, terrible to clean up and tend to yellow over time. Use latex.)