A fresh coat of paint allows you to reshape any room with new accents and change your home environment completely. The prospect of a newly painted room is exciting, but there are specific steps to take first to achieve desirable results. And even if painting a room yourself may seem daunting, it can save you money. Hiring a professional painter to do all the work is expensive. Plus, DIY painting helps you more easily stay within your budget.
The steps to follow to paint a room are much more than paint, brush, wall, swish, and roll. This guide covers important, professional-level painting tips that help turn a room or bedroom into a fresh, new space. Even the most inexperienced painters can get the beautiful results they desire by following these simple painting tips.
What Tools Do You Need to Paint a Room?
Before you dip a brush or roller into some paint and onto a wall, it’s best to have the supplies and tools you need close at hand. Every job is different, and each job may require specific tools depending on the state of your walls and ceilings. For example, you may have textured walls, holes to patch, a high sheen you want to reduce, dirt build-up to remove, and so on. But for most projects, here are a few basic painting must-haves that can help you become a DIY bedroom painting pro:
Drop cloths or tarps
Paint roller pad
Paint roller frame (with extension pole)
Sandpaper or sanding sponge
Bucket of warm, soapy water
If you don’t have all of these tools at hand, you’ll be able to find most items either at your local hardware store or paint center. And if your visit to the paint center also includes buying the paint you'll need, be sure to check out our guide to choosing the right paint for your project before you head to the store.
How to Start Painting a Room
Remove and Cover Items
Before you apply a layer of paint, the first tip to know is that even a professional splatters paint sometimes. It is a big reason why they prep a lot before they paint a room, and so should you. If you don't want to ruin your prized sofa or your cherished collectibles, remove those items from the room or push all items to the middle of the room and cover them with a drop cloth or tarp.
Clean Your Walls
While you may not have expected bedroom painting tips to include sanding, if you want that smooth finish, you can't avoid it. Take time to prepare the wall if you have any imperfections. Knockdown any unwanted textures and bumps from the area with sandpaper, a sanding sponge, or use a putty knife to scrape the wall flat.
Wash the walls with a cloth and warm soapy water or use a gentle degreaser like TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) to clean off all dirt and dust. Even if your walls appear clean when you paint a room, wash them anyway. Having clean walls helps your paint perform better and last longer.
Taping and Drop Cloths
After your walls have dried, it’s time to tape. And you don’t want to use any old tape; you’ll want to use the blue painter’s tape, which is much more delicate when used on all surfaces. Simply tear out arm-length pieces of tape and press them onto the areas you wish to protect from paint. Shorter lengths of tape make it easier to keep a straight line and help it stick to the surface.
Also, do not forget to tape around all the outlets, electrical switches, and fixtures. You may choose to remove the electrical plate and cover the exposed outlet with painter’s tape so you can paint the area under the electrical plate. Otherwise, tape over the complete plate, outlet, and switch to prevent any paint splatter.
Next, lay down your drop cloth or tarp. Stretch it out to fully cover the area you are painting. You may want to tape it down or place heavy items in the corners of the cloth or tarp. This helps hold the covering in place while you walk on it to paint a room. No need to trip and paint unwanted areas.
Drop cloths and tarps come in a variety of sizes, so be sure the material you use is big enough to cover the space you need. This may require you to use multiple cloths and tarps for one project. When it comes to painting, prepping your area ahead of time will save you time and frustration on the job.
Painting Wall Designs
If you want to add stencils or special designs to walls, the time to do this step is before you paint the walls. There are simple and affordable methods to create wall decorations and designs, including the use of painter’s tape to make a design. Then, when you are done painting, strip the tape from the wall and your design will shine. Preorder a stencil you like or make your own out of paperboard or recyclable cardboard to create designs or spell words or special quotes on the wall.
Before taping the stencils to the wall, use a tape measure, level, and pencil to space out the stencils properly. Don't worry about leaving pencil marks on the wall because you'll paint over them.
DIY Painting Tips
These painting tips will help you get the best results, so keep them in mind when figuring out how to paint a bedroom, basement, or exterior of a house.
Estimate How Much Paint You'll Need to Paint a Room
Whether you're planning a DIY bedroom painting job or tackling the outside of your home, one gallon of paint will cover 400 square feet. However, there are some caveats to this rule.
Let’s say a “how to paint a room video” inspired you to paint a dark maroon bedroom a light sky-blue color. Typically, you'll need more paint when transitioning from a dark hue to a light color. And if you paint a room with a rough-textured surface, you will need to estimate for a bit more due to the use of a thicker nap-roller.
It's also helpful that you consider purchasing the highest-quality paint you can afford. Premium paint is easier to apply, provides excellent coverage, and could last longer than its cheaper counterparts.
Using the Right Roller Nap
The roller nap you use to paint a room also matters. Thicker naps tend to hold and use up more paint whereas thinner ones hold less but can shred on textured surfaces. Here is a quick rundown on the thickness and their proper usage:
- ¼ inch– best for super smooth walls with no texture at all
- 3/8 inch – best for smooth and semi-smooth walls
- ½ inch – use on semi-smooth to textured walls and ceilings like a popcorn ceiling
- ¾ and 1 inch – use on heavily textured walls, ceilings, and brick or cement walls.
Roller naps come in different sizes and range from three to nineteen inches in length. The nine-inch roller frame and pad is the most commonly used size by both homeowners and professionals.
Paint Tips on Techniques to Try
If you have a steady hand and a little more painting experience, you could “cut-in” your border without taping. The first step before using your roller is to create a straight border with your paintbrush. Always use a two-and-a-half-inch angled brush to cut-in; you'll have better control of your brush-and-paint distribution. Simply dip into the paint and paint a roughly three-inch border tightly along the edge of the ceiling and trim, and in corners.
Pro Painter Tip: Dipping the paintbrush and then wiping off the paint on an edge is a common practice, but it wastes time and paint. Leave more paint on the brush by dipping the brush about one inch into the paint and then tap the brush against opposite sides of the paint tray. By leaving more paint on the brush, you can cover more surface area before you need to reload.
Now, you’re ready to roll. Any method of rolling paint onto the wall is fine if you can get an even coat. One technique guaranteed to bring you an almost perfect coat is doing the “W” method. Here are the steps to get an even coat from the W technique:
- Fill your roller well with paint
- Start in the top corner and roll a big “W”
- Fill in the spaces of the “W” with your roller
- Reload roller with paint and roll out another “W” just below the previous one
- Fill in the second “W”
- From the bottom corner, roll the roller up and down the full height of the two “Ws”
- Level out any heavy areas of paint
You might see some unsightly stripes created by unequal layers of paint accumulation; these are known as lap marks. They happen when you roll over partially dried paint. (Latex paint may stiffen in less than a minute in warm, dry circumstances.)
Maintaining a "wet edge," where each stroke of your roller overlaps the preceding stroke before the paint can begin to dry is the key to avoiding lap marks on interior walls.
Professional-Grade Tools Work
If you want to stay on budget with your project, you may think one way to do that is to avoid purchasing the more expensive tools you'll need to complete the job. Here’s one final painting tip: buy the best brushes you can afford. It makes a difference. If you use a cheap brush, the quality of the finished product will reflect it. Cheaper brushes also tend to lose their bristles when used too often, and can sometimes find ways to lock onto your walls as you’re painting.
Maintaining paintbrushes is also very important, so wash them well after each job to help them last longer.
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