Painting a room can be a tedious and daunting task, but you don’t have to be a professional to obtain a professional finish. Learning how to paint a room is a simple matter of understanding the fundamentals and preparing adequately. Anyone can achieve fantastic results with a little bit of know-how and some practice.
how to prep a room for painting
All you want to do is see the new colour on your walls, and it may feel pretty tempting to go in and start painting. But preparations are a vital part of painting. Taking a step back and preparing the room for the task at hand will go a long way in ensuring that everything goes according to plan. Here are some preparations to take care of before opening your paint can.
The very first thing you should do is to move all the furniture away from the walls. Everything should go toward the centre of the room, which will clear a space for you to work in. Cover your furniture with plastic drop cloths or canvas drop cloths to protect from rogue paint drops.
You’ll also need to cover your floor. For the floor, canvas cloths are preferable to plastic ones, as they are less slippery.
Next, turn your attention to the outlets in the room. Switch the main circuit breaker off before taking off the cover plates from outlets and switches. Once you do this, it’s a wise idea to tape the screws to the backs of the cover plates, so none go missing while your walls receive their update. Cover the switch knob with tape, so it remains paint free throughout the process.
Do you plan to paint the ceilings? If you do, be sure to remove any chandeliers, ceiling fans, or anything else that hangs from the ceiling. Otherwise, these fixtures will end up with their own layers of paint.
The last step in ensuring that the room is prepared is protecting door hardware. Use painter’s tape to cover up handles, locks, and the like.
Pro Tip: When applying tape to the edges of the room and hardware pieces, use a putty knife if needed to really get the seal of the tape attached, so paint doesn't work its way underneath.
painting and decorating tools
Much the same way it’s essential to prepare the space you’ll be working in, you’ll also need to prepare your painting materials. Make sure you have everything you’ll need before pouring out the paint, which will help ensure that the job goes smoothly and you don’t encounter unexpected issues.
Here are the supplies that you should have before starting:
- Painters Tape
- Paint roller
- Paint tray
- Small brushes
- Drop cloth
- Putty Knife
Masking tape can be used instead of painters tape, but be aware painter's tape will not leave a residue when pulling off the surface like masking tape can.
Pro Tip: When you go to buy paint, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional about what kind of brush and roller are best for the job. Different rollers have varying naps (or fibre lengths), which are each suited to different types of paint jobs.
Tips for Buying Paint
For the best results, you should purchase the right kind of paint. If you’re painting inside your house, it’s critical to use indoor paint. Indoor paint has a smooth finish that lends well to cleaning. Outdoor colours, however, are made to stand up to the elements, which means they typically include harsh chemicals, are harder to clean, and should only be used outside.
You can find three different types of interior paint: water-based, oil-based, and latex.
Water-based paint is excellent to use as wall paint and is a good choice in practically any area of the house. It has a matte finish, dries quickly, and generally has fewer fumes than other household paints. Water-based paint is a fantastic option, though you may have difficulty getting it to stick to a wall that already has oil-based paint on it.
Oil-based paint has a glossy finish and is made to be long-lasting. It can take longer to dry than its water-based counterpart, but it is recommended for use in high-humidity rooms like bathrooms and kitchens.
Latex is another excellent option as wall paint, but it tends to be less resilient than oil- and water-based versions.
Buy the Right Amount of Paint
A standard tin of paint starts at 5.5 litres which may seem like a lot and will go a long way—and it does—but it’s a sound idea when you paint a room to make sure you have all the colour you need before starting. One litre covers approximately 12 square meters per coat.
Calculate the area of each wall by measuring its height and width and multiplying these numbers to find out how much paint is needed. Once you have the area for all the walls you plan to paint, add them up. If the number is less than 66 square meters, one 5.5 litre tin of paint should do the trick. If it’s more, purchase the number of cans you’ll need. If you are painting over walls with dark colour, you may need two coats of paint and a primer to ensure the old colour doesn't show through. One important thing to note is that if your project size requires you to purchase more than one, be sure to mix all the different cans in a five-gallon bucket. Combining all the cans will help you avoid colour discrepancies, as colours can vary from can to can. Also, make sure to stir your paint with a paint stick before starting, as pigments tend to settle in the can.
Priming or mis-coat
Some walls must be primed before you paint a room, but how do you know if they require this step? If your wall has any of these characteristics, priming is necessary to achieve the right look.
- Bare wood
- Bare drywall
- High gloss finishes
- Dramatic colour transformations
A priming coat should be applied when painting high gloss, dramatic changes in colour and bare wood along with knotting solution to cover the natural knots in the timber. A mis-coat is used when painting newly plastered walls, this is a 50/50 mix of water and emulsion paint
Planning the Room
Now you’ve got your materials and have made all the necessary preparations to the room. You’re ready to start painting … or are you? You’ll also need to strategise your plan of attack for completing the paint job. Here are some things to keep in mind before starting.
Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to paint. You should always start from the top and work your way down. That means that (if you’re planning to do them), ceilings must be painted first, then you move on to the walls. The trim is typically done last.
Pro Tip: Ceiling first, skirting last
Ventilation and Lighting
As mentioned before, most paints have hazardous fumes. For your safety, the room should have adequate ventilation. Opening the windows while painting generally provides enough ventilation, but if that’s not possible, you should set up a fan to keep the air circulating.
You may also have to bring in a work light if painting at night.
How Long Does it Take to Paint A Room?
Finally, keep in mind the amount of time needed to complete your project. Sometimes it can take longer than a day to do the actual painting in a room, plus the time it takes for the walls to dry. It may be a couple of days or more before you can return everything to its place.
Now for the fun stuff—the actual painting process! You’ll start by cutting into the wall. Cutting in refers to painting the edges of a room. This process is best completed with a small paint bucket, which is helpful when you do the ceiling trim. With a small paint bucket, you avoid hauling a heavy one up and down the ladder.
Start by dipping the brush a third of its length into the paint. Remove any excess amount by tapping the brush against the can. Avoid wiping the brush against the can. Apply the paint with smooth strokes about ½ inch from the trim. Your first pass should get you close to the trim, but not all the way there. The second pass is when you will cut to the trim.
Avoid pushing the paint into the wall; instead, glide the brush along the wall’s surface. Try to be as precise as possible, though you can remedy any mishaps later when you touch up the trim.
While it may seem like a good idea to cut in the whole room in one go, you should do this section by section. The ceiling is the first place to start. Cut into the ceiling, then finish by topping your work off with a roller. After the ceiling is finished, move on to the walls. Cut into one wall at a time, again using the roller to complete the look.
How To Paint With A Roller
Once you’ve finished cutting in, it’s time to start applying paint to the rest of the wall. Before dipping your paint roller in the pan, you may want to dampen it with a wet rag before use, which will help the paint load. Remember—less is more when using a paint roller. Ease it into the pan (or bucket with a screen), and slowly roll it back and forth across the tray.
Once your roller is loaded correctly, start applying paint to the top of the wall, though try to avoid starting directly at the edge you’ve just cut in. From there, roll the paint using a zigzag motion, which will help prevent streaks. Try to work in four-foot sections, painting from top to bottom. Avoid pressing the roller into the wall; simply reload it when needed.
Once the wall or room is painted, let it dry, then apply a second layer. Two coats are almost always necessary to achieve a professional look, so don’t skip this critical second step. Keep in mind that the second layer should go over the entire wall, not just the areas you think look like they need a second coat. You’ll end up with a muddled paint job if you go that route.
Remember—less is more when using a roller.
Using a Brush
Brushes are highly useful when painting. If you plan to use a brush, it’s essential to know that there are several brush types.
A wall brush, which gives you broad strokes and allows you to cover large areas, is three to four inches wide. A trim brush, on the other hand, is just two to three inches wide. Its straight edge is ideal for window and doorframes, and sash brushes are best for cutting in, as they have an angled tip.
Regardless of the brush you’re using, you should only dip about one-third of the brushes’ length into the paint. Remove excess paint by running the brush along the edge of the can, unless you’re cutting in, in which case you should tap the brush. When painting vast expanses of wall, long, steady brushstrokes will help prevent streaks.
painting skirting boards
The final step is to paint the skirting board. The walls must be dry before you do this step since you must put tape on the painted edges to protect your work. If there’s trim around the ceiling, start there first. You should also paint the door and window frames before you get to the skirting board.
More extensive projects might require you to take a break. If that’s the case, cover brushes and rollers with plastic wrap to keep them soft and supple overnight. And even during short breaks of ten minutes or so, paint can begin to dry. Should you need to leave your project for a while, put the lid on the paint can, and cover the tray with aluminium foil. Store tools in the fridge.
When everything’s to your liking, it’s time for cleanup. You can discard paint rollers, though you may be able to clean them enough under the tap to use them again. Paintbrushes, however, should be adequately cleaned after use because they are expensive. Submerge the bristles in water or paint solvent, then rinse out excess paint and dry the brush with a cloth.
One thing to note is that oil-based paints can be challenging to get out of your brushes. In this case, removing the colour from your bushes will require a particular solvent.
Once your brushes are clean, remove the painter’s tape carefully, return the cover plates to the wall, and admire your handiwork.
Learning the fundamentals of painting can help make this often dull and challenging task a bit more fun. With the right preparation and tools for the job, anyone can achieve a professional-looking paint job in their home.