The ABCs of Painting a Room

Decorating, Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on August 19, 2001

Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to give any room a new personality with a splash of color and create a new backdrop for your furnishings.

Even if youre not handy around the house, you easily can paint a room. Todays paint and do-it-yourself painting gear make it simple. Use latex paint with a flat finish on walls and a semi-gloss finish on woodwork and trim. Latex paint provides a tough, durable finish, and its easy to clean with water.

To calculate how much paint to buy, figure that a gallon of paint covers about 350 square feet. If the walls are rough, porous, or unpainted, theyll absorb more paint and may need two coats or a primer coat before painting. A primer costs less than paint and seals the surface before painting.

Most painted walls require only one coat. When you buy paint, make a sketch of the room with its dimensions (length, width, and height of walls) and the number of doors and windows. Youll find a pro at the paint counter who can help you calculate how much paint to buy.

Choose a 3/8-inch nap paint roller with a sturdy handle and tray to apply paint to the walls and flat surfaces. Use a 2- to 3-inch brush to paint in the corners and at the ceiling joint and to apply paint to the woodwork and trim. Avoid bending over and reaching into high corners by using an inexpensive roller handle extension pole. Youll also need a ladder, blue painters masking tape or pre-taped masking paper with self-stick edges, and drop cloths.

Before you paint, remove all decorations from the walls and move furniture to the center of the room. Cover the floors and furnishings with drop cloths or old sheets.

Youll get the best results by painting walls and woodwork that are clean and smooth. Repair any holes or cracks with spackling filler and then lightly sand them. For stains, apply a spray primer to block out the stain so it doesnt bleed through the paint. Make a clean swipe of the corners and along baseboards to remove any dust or cobwebs. Then apply the masking tape along the edges of trim and around anything else you want to avoid painting.

Follow the mixing directions on the paint can. Begin outlining the room with paint, using the brush along the ceiling and wall joint and then down the corners of the wall. Then paint around doors and windows. Pour paint in the roller pan and apply paint with the roller on the walls.

By following these simple tips, your next painting project will go smoother and look more professional.