If your beige walls are driving you up-the-wall, it’s time to paint your room. Adding color to your home’s walls is the easiest way to transform a room from plain to stylish. It’s also the cheapest; changing the furniture and flooring in a room costs thousands of dollars, while a gallon of paint costs just $50.
And unlike installing hardwood floors, painting a room requires no special skills. With a bit of time and patience, you can transform your room in one weekend. But don’t rush out and buy the first color you see on a paint chip. Colors can change depending oil the light; a paint chip that looked yellow in the store might look green on your living room walls.
Buy a quart of paint in your preferred color, and paint test squares on every wall in the room. At different times of the day, wander around the room and look at the test squares. If the color isn’t what you wanted, head to tile hardware store for another quart of paint in a different color. It might seem like a hassle, but buying a single quart of paint in a color you like is much cheaper than buying four gallons of paint in a color you hate.
Once you’ve found a color you like, you’ll need to figure out how much paint to buy. Multiply the width of your room by the length, then multiply that number by the height of the ceiling. Just say you have a 10 by 10 feet room, with a ceiling height of 8 feet. You will need enough paint to cover 10x10x8 =800 square feet. One gallon of paint covers 350 to 400 square feet, so you will need approximately two gallons. If you’d rather let a computer handle the calculations for you, you can find several paint calculators online.
Few homeowners want their walls to look like Swiss cheese. If nails and screws from hanging pictures have left their marks on your walls, you’ll need to fill the holes. First, take all furniture and hanging artwork out of the room. If any drywall nails are popping out of the wall, hammer them back in. Using a putty knife, fill the holes in tile wall with point compound. Once dry, sand the entire wall smooth with 120-grit sandpaper; primer and paint adhere to rough surfaces better than smooth.
Be sure to wear a face mask, as the fine dust can irritate your lungs. Next, vacuum the walls or wipe them down with a microfiber cloth to remove dust. Using a paint brush, apply a thin coat of primer to the patched spots. Once the primer has dried, sand tile patched spots again to smooth out the brush strokes. Paint belongs on a wall, not a floor.
The next step in painting a room is to lay drop cloths over the floor; avoid plastic drop sheets, since the slippery surface could be a safety hazard. Remove all light and outlet plates, and tape over the electrical outlets and light switches with painter’s tape. A paint roller is the perfect tool for applying paint to a large expanse of wall. But try painting a comer with that roller, and you’ll end up with a mess.
To paint every nook and cranny of a room, you’ll need to cut in using a paint brush. Dip an angled brush into your paint until only the bottom half of the bristles are submerged – this is all the paint you’ll need. Tap the excess paint on the side of tile bucket, and then carefully paint a wide band of color around all the areas the roller can’t reach – the trim, ceiling, baseboards, and comers. Start painting about an inch away from the edge of the trim.
Many first-time painters cover baseboards and trim with green painter’s tape to prevent any smudges from shaky hands. But painter’s tape can cause problems greater than a drop of blue paint on white trim. Paint can seep under the edge of the tape, leaving behind a discolored baseboard. And if left on for too long, painter’s tape can pull paint off the wall.
You can avoid these problems by cutting in freehand; if your hand slips and you get paint on the trim or ceiling, simply wipe it immediately with a damp cloth. Once you’ve finished cutting in a section of the wall, you’ll need to start rolling. You should always maintain a wet edge when painting. If you let your cut-in edge dry before rolling over it, you could end up with dark spots on your wall or – worse still – the second coat could pull the first coat of paint off the wall. Before you start painting, make sure your roller is free of lint – rub it, wash it, or defuzz it with a lint brush.
Dip your roller into the paint tray and roll the excess paint off on the tray’s grate. Don’t put too much paint on the roller, or it will drip and splatter all over you and the wall. Roll the paint onto the wall in a V shape to distribute the paint evenly, then go over your V in long, even strokes, applying an even pressure to the roller. Make sure you overlap the cut-in edges along the ceiling and trim to cover any visible brush strokes.
Never stop painting mid-wall; if you need to stop for the day, finish at the comer of a wall to avoid dark lines and paint pulls. Most paint jobs require two coats. Let the first coat dry completely before starting on the second. Follow the recommended drying times. On the paint can: if you are painting in humid weather, you might want to add an extra hour or two of drying time. If you want to paint your baseboards and trim, follow the cutting-in technique you used on your walls.
Use a small, angled sash brush to cut in along the edge where the trim meets the wall. If you are using a semi-gloss or a high-gloss paint on the trim, lightly sand the dried surface between coats. Once the paint on the wall is dry, take the tape off the electrical outlets and light switches. Lift the tarps off the floor, and move your furniture back into the room, taking care not to scratch your now pristine walls.
Store any leftover paint in re-sealable plastic containers; if your kids or pets scratch the walls, you can use the leftover paint for touch-ups. The last step is the easiest – sit back and admire your work.
Painting a room can be laborious and tedious, but the result – a stylish room that is the envy of all your neighbors – is well worth the effort.