When we talk about the subject of how to paint a room, it’s more than just grabbing a brush and smearing a certain color of paint on your walls. In fact, it’s much more complicated than that; but in a good way! This article will show you just how much freedom and choices you have when painting a room, plus all the information you need in order to do it.
Why Should I Paint a Room?
For newly constructed rooms, painting the walls is necessary in order to cover up ugly drywall or concrete. On the other hand, repainting a room is a good way to change it up a bit; to add flavor to your room, or perhaps mix and match the colors of your décor. We’re going to talk about all of this and more in just a sec.
When to Paint a Room
Before we dive in to the actual tutorial on how to paint a room, let’s talk about the climate and seasons that are best to paint in. The reason for this section is that the method and materials used in paintin g may vary depending on the type of climate/season you’re in.
Painting in cold climate/season
During winter or fall when the temperatures drop considerably, or if you live in a particularly cold country, you’re going to find that painting a room will be much more efficient. Why? Well, the paint will adhere to the surface much better in the cold weather, resulting in less peeling/cracking paint. This is because the humidity and dryness is not present, which will take away the moisture from the paint quickly.
However, there are certain problems that arise when painting in cold weather. The number one con is that you have to turn the heating up. This is because a room that’s too cold will have trouble letting the paint settle in and dry properly; meaning extra expenses on your utility bill.
Moreover, the paint fumes can’t escape without opening a few windows. Obviously, this will also increase heating costs when you have the heating on, but this problem can easily be remedied with proper ventilation and a few neat tricks on how to get rid of paint smell.
Painting in warm climate/season
Painting during the summer is optimal if you want to get rid of the smell easily since you can open up a lot of windows. However, painting in a hot climate is a bit more difficult to execute, since you have the number one problem of the paint drying too quickly.
If the weather is too hot or windy, the paint will not settle in your walls too nicely and may crack and peel over time due to evaporation of water. On the other hand, if the weather is both hot and humid, the paint may have trouble drying properly.
These problems can be remedied by adding 10% water to your paint or adding ice cubes to the painter’s bucket before adding the liner. This will prevent the paint from losing moisture too quickly, and should be applied in especially hot countries.
Best condition/s to paint in
Based on the pros and cons of painting in hot or cold climate, I’d say painting in moderate to cold climate is much easier and will give lasting results, albeit a little more costly. When painting during the winter, you can have a finished product that doesn’t peel or crack too easily, which can happen when painting in the summer.
However, if you live in a country that is constantly hot, you can apply the tips above on painting in a hot climate in order to achieve maximum paint adherence and avoid wastage.
The bottom line is; painting in moderate weather (not too hot and not too cold) is the best way to go.
How To Estimate the Budget
Painting a room the DIY way can set you back about $200-$300, which makes it a great and affordable project to give your room a makeover. Now, estimating the budget should come before anything else, which includes estimating the amount of paint you would need.
How do I determine the size of a room?
The first thing you need to do is find out the exact square footage of the room to be painted. For this part, take out your steel measuring tape and measure the height and width of your walls. Once you’ve listed down the values, you can start calculating for square footage.
To do that, simply add the height measurements of the walls, and multiply that by the sum of the width measurements. Afterwards, measure all the windows and doors (which you won’t be painting) in the room, then get the square footage of that as well. The last step is to subtract the square footage of the windows and doors from the first value that you’ve calculated.
What type and how much paint do I need to buy?
Let’s talk about the types of paints for a sec. There are three types; flat, semi-glossy, and high-gloss. Generally, flat paints are recommended for rooms that need constant cleaning, but glossier paints are also easy to clean plus stain-resistant. Of course, the type of paint will change the price you need to pay.
So how do you estimate the amount of paint you would need? I recommend trying a paint budget calculator to determine the ballpark range. On the other hand, you can also estimate for yourself by using the 400 square feet = 1 gallon of paint standard.
Keep in mind that you also need to add 10% to the amount in order to make sure that you have enough paint, and the amount will vary if you have textured walls, plus if you want to paint the ceilings as well. To include the ceilings to your estimation, simply get the square footage of the entire ceiling of the room.
Note that adding a little bit more to your supplies is sort of like a golden rule for DIY projects, like in estimating the number of shingles you need to buy. This will make sure you don’t waste any precious resources like time or money to buy more supplies.
How do I paint a room for cheap?
Painting a room for cheap can be possible when you want to paint uninhabited rooms in your house like the attic or basement. For this endeavor, you may opt to buy the cheapest flat-finish paints available. Plus, you can use old brushes or rollers if you really want to save money.
To reuse old brushes and rollers, you would have to clean them thoroughly after every painting job. Usually, warm water and liquid soap will do the trick; and the paint will come off much easier if you wash it right after painting. Make sure to clean the brush thoroughly before reusing it to avoid mixing of paint.
How to Choose the Right Color of Paint
The next time that you go the hardware or home improvement store, check out their available pallets and take a few samples with you. Choosing the right color for your room is sometimes more difficult than painting it, because you’ll be seeing that color for a long time.
Here are some tips on choosing the right color to help you start:
1. Choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.
Of course, no one likes overly contrasting colors in a single room, unless you want to go eccentric. You want the colors to blend well with each other.Selecting 2-3 colors that are near each other on the color wheel will allow your eyes to relax in the room, and help you rest well. Thus, when painting a bedroom or den, choose two or three colors that are almost similar.
Selecting 2-3 colors that are near each other on the color wheel will allow your eyes to relax in the room, and help you rest well. Thus, when painting a bedroom or den, choose two or three colors that are almost similar.
2. Match the colors with your furniture
Unless you’ll be doing a total makeover, matching the paint colors with your furniture can enhance the style of your room. If you have dark furniture, choose a lighter color to create a nice contrast, and vice versa. On the other hand, you can also do the opposite of contrasting and match dark furniture with dark paint, and light furniture with light paint.
3. Apply a gradient color
When painting an entire room, which includes the floors and ceilings, you can apply a gradient. This means painting the floor dark (or applying dark carpet/darkening floorboards), a neutral tone to the walls, and a light color for the ceilings, creating a dark to light gradient from bottom to top.
4. Match the color to the room
Of course, you need to think about the activities going on inside that room before you choose a color. The reason for this is that color affects psychology; and that means the color of the room can affect mood.
The general rule is to choose neutral or light colors for rooms that you want to rest or work in. For the bedroom, den, or office, you can choose a light blue, beige, tan, light green, or any pastel color that will allow your eyes (and your mind) to relax and focus.
On the other hand, for rooms that you use for socializing, cooking, and eating, such as the dining room and kitchen; you can choose colors that pop. This can be reds, yellows, and other lively colors on the color wheel. Moreover, lively colors (especially red, yellow, and green) can make the food look more appetizing.
Choosing light vs. dark colors
The main difference between light and dark colors, aside from their effects on mood, is their ability to make a room look more spacious.
A light color of paint is recommended for smaller rooms because light paint (when combined with a nice amount of sunlight) can make a room look bigger than it actually is. On the other hand, darker colored rooms can make a room look more homey, comfortable, and warm.
When you’re having trouble choosing between light and dark colors, consider the size and type of the room, as well as your personal choice. If, for example, you’re going to repaint a small bedroom, consider lighter colors to make the room seem less cramped, as well as to promote relaxation.
How do I choose multiple colors for one room?
Interior designers will tell you to follow the Rule of Three, which states that you can choose a maximum of three colors of paint per room. Choosing more than three can create a chaotic and less appealing design, while choosing only one color will make the room boring.
When choosing multiple colors, you need to plan out the design of your room first. Figure out which part of the room to paint and what color, and envision that design before you choose your three.The color combination will depend on your design plan. Thus, I recommend checking out a few ideas first.
Here are some examples:
What do I need to prepare?
Before you head on to the home improvement store and start putting all the things in the “painting” aisle inside your cart, let’s talk about all the essentials first, and then alternative tools after.
First off, the essential tools of painting a room include:
- Brushes (wall brush, trim brush, sash brush)
- Paint tray
- Paint bucket
- Painter’s tape
- Extension pole
- Tarp or drop cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Closed shoes
- Mask or respirator
- Protective eyewear
These are the bare essentials of a DIY painting job. To save time and effort, make sure that you have all these inside your shopping cart before you go home.
Let’s not forget that we also need to prepare time and energy for this DIY project. If you’re doing an average-sized room, it can take only a weekend for a whole paint job. My number one tip is to prepare ahead and ensure that you have enough time to finish the painting. By doing so, you can do away with too big gaps in between drying.
How about using sprayers?
An alternative tool you can buy is a paint sprayer that uses air to spray paint on your walls, but using this type of method has certain indications plus pros and cons.
I only recommend using a sprayer to paint your rooms if you have a LOT of painting to do, but too little time to actually do so. Using a sprayer can paint a lot of rooms in a few hours, which would otherwise take you a few days to paint with a brush and roller. It’s a quick and efficient way to paint rooms, but these are the cons:
Con # 1
The paint sprayer method will use up more paint than the traditional brush and roller way. Not a lot, but up to 25% more paint than if you’d go the traditional way. But this cancels out if you’d otherwise hire professional help to paint the rooms for you.
Con # 2
You’d need to mask EVERYTHING; from floors, ceilings, light switches, ceiling fans, light fixtures, doors, windows, and all other things you don’t want the paint to splatter on—including yourself.
How to Paint a Room
Now that we’ve tackled on how to estimate the budget for a painting job, how to determine the right type and color/s of paint, and which essential tools to prepare—we can move on to the tutorial proper: how to paint a room.
Painting a room is one of the simplest DIY jobs there is, and your experience as a painter won’t matter that much if you follow the instructions correctly. So be confident! And remember: patience and perseverance are keys to all home improvement projects.
1. Prepare the room
Before you start painting, you need to prepare the room. Remove all objects from the room, including furniture, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and everything else that can be removed. After that, lay down a drop cloth or a large tarpaulin on the floor.
The next thing you would need to do is apply the painter’s tape to trims and edges of doors, windows, baseboards, light switches, and electrical outlets. You can do this by carefully applying a line of painter’s tape to the edge of the frame, and pressing it down completely with your fingers or a brush.
You can also take this opportunity to do wall repairs; so you may need to take out your hammer for this. Remove peeling or cracked paint from the wall and sand down painted woodwork. You would also need to clean all the surfaces with a damp rag. Allow the walls to dry before moving on to the next step.
Moreover, you must also ensure that you have proper ventilation and temperature in the room. If you’re going to paint in the winter or fall, turn the heat up until the room is warm enough for the paint to dry easily.
In the summer, turn the air conditioning on if the weather is too hot; make sure to open up a few windows as well. In both cases, you will also need to ventilate the room well enough for the fumes to escape.
A good tip to reduce the amount of paint smell is to lay down a few buckets of water with lemon slices on the floor (or any odor-absorbing object like charcoal). The water can help absorb some of the odors from the paint.
You can also use this time for repairing any wall damages or cracks before painting over it.
2. Prepare your materials
We’ve talked about the materials you would need for this painting job in the sections above. Ensure that they are complete before starting your project.
To prepare multiple gallons of paint of the same color, mix them in a big painter’s bucket to ensure uniformity of the shade. As for the brushes and rollers that you will use, make sure that they are clean and free from any debris or old paint.
Once you’ve prepared your paint, you can now pour a bit onto a painter’s tray (for rollers).
3. Apply a primer
Before anything else, apply a primer to your wall. Primers are cheap and are easy to apply, so take the time to do so before painting your room. A primer will allow the paint to adhere to the surface better while preventing stains from bleeding through the paint.
4. Start on the trims
Before you start, know the proper way of dipping a brush into the paint. This can be done by dipping two-thirds of the bristles into the paint, then brushing the excess paint off the edge.
Another cool trick is to wrap a rubber band around the paint can vertically, and use the rubber band to remove excess paint. This can reduce the amount of paint spilled over the edge of the can.
Dip a brush into the paint bucket and start cutting in the trims of the door frame, windows, baseboard, etc. Use a trim brush for frames of the doors and windows, and a sash brush for more complicated spaces such as around a light fixture.
Cutting in may be a little difficult for beginners, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Just make sure to go slow and steady, but still fast enough to avoid brush marks or paint splatter.
If you accidentally paint over a frame or light switch, for example, immediately remove the paint with a 5-in-1 tool.
5. Paint the walls
Now that you’ve painted your trims and edges, start painting the walls with a roller. Roll in the roller onto the tray, and remove the excess on the tray’s angled platform.
Afterwards, start painting a section of the wall one by one. You can use the roller like this: 1) paint up a single strip from bottom to top, and then make a zigzag pattern going down. For best results, make swift and smooth motions with the roller.
For the corners, on the other hand, use a wall brush for spaces that the roller cannot reach. Do so with a smooth stripe from top to bottom of the wall.
How do you know when to reload your roller with paint? If the roller no longer sounds wet and squelchy, simply dip it again in your paint tray and you’re good to go. Paint and reload until you have finished your first coat.
Most paints will not look good enough with the first coat, so allow your paint to dry completely before adding a second or even a third coat. By that time, you will have achieved your desired shade.
Seems pretty easy, right? Well, I’d say anyone can paint a room, even beginners with no experience in painting at all!
If you’re going to take a break, make sure to wrap your rollers and brushes in cling wrap or plastic to avoid them getting dry. Replace the lids on the paint buckets and cover the paint tray as well.
6. Paint the ceiling
If you’re going to paint the ceiling, do so with an extension pole attached to your roller. This way, you can do away with using a step-ladder (do not use a chair!) and be more efficient.
To paint your ceiling, push the roller away from you and create a pattern similar to painting the walls, until the first coat covers the entire ceiling. Let the first coat dry completely before adding your second coat.
7. Fill in the trims
Now that you’ve finished painting the ceiling and walls, it’s time to fill in the trims; a more difficult part for beginner painters.
First, remove the painter’s tape as carefully as possible to prevent leaving adhesive residue on the trim. Then, you can start painting along the edges of the baseboard/frames/etc. with a sash brush (angled brush). Do so with smooth and careful movements, as to avoid brush marks and arrive at a near perfect result.
Moreover, make sure not to overload the brush with paint as to avoid dripping on the trims. If you accidentally do so, clean the paint off immediately. Then, allow the first coat to dry completely and apply a second coat if needed.
This can be a difficult step for inexperienced people with less than steady hands, but do not let mistakes discourage you. Think of it as practice for your next painting job! If you don’t want to mess up a big room, then practice in a smaller or less frequented room like a guest room.
8. Clean up
You’re almost done! By this time, congratulate yourself on a job well done. But there’s more to do, and that’s cleaning and replacing all the furniture in the room.
Remove the paint apparatus from the room before anything else, and clean your brushes and rollers immediately to store for future use. Remove the drop cloth last.If the room has completely dried and most of the smell is gone, re-install the fixtures you have removed previously and replace the furniture in the room.
How do I paint irregular surfaces?
Some rooms have irregular surfaces such as angled ceilings and semi-circle walls. For the former, you can still use a roller and paint the surface from top to bottom. While for the latter, you can use a wall brush to paint the semicircle wall. Of course, using a roller is no longer an option for this type of surface.
How do you paint large rooms efficiently?
For larger rooms that would take too much time with brush and roller painting, you can opt to use a sprayer. This can be a more efficient method to paint large and even multiple rooms quickly. However, you would need to carefully cover everything that shouldn’t be painted with plastic and painter’s tape.
In this endeavor, you would also need a little more experience in order to avoid overspray and to apply the paint evenly on the surface.
How to paint rooms with tiles?
If you have a bathroom with half-tile walls, for example, you can apply the same principle as before when painting. Simply separate the edge from the rest of the wall with painter’s tape, use a roller, then paint the edge of the tiles afterwards with a smaller brush.
Accidentally spilled paint can easily be removed from tiles because they don’t readily absorb paint. If you’ve applied a good grout sealer on your tiles, spilled paint won’t likely stain the grout as well. Just make sure to clean it up quickly!
Is traditional solid color painting not your style? Then this section is for you! Here, we’ll talk about the creative options that you have when repainting a room, such as using stencils and applying experimental patterns.
1. Using stencils
This is probably the easiest option you have if you want to add a little bit more creativity to your walls. In nurseries, for instance, you can use cute stencils to make the room look more fun.
To use stencils, simply apply it on the wall prior to painting. Here are a few examples:
2. Patterns and geometric shapes
Adding funky geometric shapes to the room is a bit more difficult, and you would need to be more creative with your patterns. On the plus side, you can have total freedom on the design you want.
To add patterns to your wall, you need to use a lot of painter’s tape and layer over it multiple times. So this option can be a little more expensive because you would need multiple colors to really make the design pop. However, the results can be astounding:
3. Color combinations
If you have two colors that contrast from each other, you can use the bolder or darker color to highlight certain parts of the room. For instance:
How to Get Rid of Paint Smell
Getting rid of the odor of paint is the final step to your DIY painting job. Most paints today won’t contain dangerous chemicals and have less volatile compounds, but the smell can still be displeasing.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of the paint odors fast:
1. While painting, you can lay down odor-absorbing or odor-neutralizing agents in the room such as charcoal, onions, vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. You can also use a combination of two of these items.
2. Light a few scented candles in the room to mask the smell.
3. You can also use strong-smelling objects such as coffee grounds to further mask the smell and make painting more enjoyable.
4. Make sure the room is well-ventilated. Use an electric fan on low setting if you must.
5. Use a mask/respirator to avoid inhaling too much fumes while working.
6. Close the door to avoid letting the odors travel to other rooms or in the hallway.
How about sour smelling paint?
If the paint smells sour or rancid, it has “gone bad” and most likely has mold spores living in it. It’s very dangerous to your health and will probably cause some allergic reactions that can harm your respiratory system.
This is why I recommend using brand new and properly stored cans of paint for any DIY project.
But what do you do if you’ve already applied the paint and let it dry? It’s better to get rid of the paint and apply a new one than risk health problems. To do that, follow these instructions:
1. Buy lacquer thinner, primer, and new cans of paint.
2. Remove everything from the room, and distance pets and kids from the area as much as possible.
3. Properly ventilate the room by opening windows and turning on fans.
4. Make sure to wear protective gear: thick clothes, rubber gloves and shoes, eyewear, and a respirator.
5. Remove the old paint with a rag soaked in lacquer thinner. The smell is very strong so make sure you’ve followed steps 2-4.
6. Once you’ve completely removed the paint, apply a primer & sealer before painting the walls with a new coat.
Hiring a Professional
If you really don’t have the time to do it, or want the results to be as perfect as possible, you can choose to hire a professional painter to do the work for you. However, keep in mind that this will cost more than doing it the DIY way, around $400-$1000, depending on the size of the room and paint quality.
Before hiring a painter, you need to find out the square footage of your room so they can estimate their price. Most painters charge hourly, or for the whole project, and will add charges for materials and tools needed for it. This includes tools that only professional painters have.
Prices can further vary depending on the season. In the winter where painting jobs are scarce, professional painters charge less given the supply and demand situation. In the summer, you’ll find that painters have higher prices due to high demand.
Moreover, the price of the painter can also vary depending on their employment status. Generally, self-employed professionals may charge less than those that are part of a group.
Ask the painter to give you tips and insights on the colors you plan on painting the room, because he/she has more experience on the matter. Work with your painter and decide on a pattern/color combination you want.
What are my other options?
There are other great ways to add life to your room without using paint. Here are a few examples:
Wallpapering a room can be more costly than painting it, but it will give you more freedom on the patterns you like. It can also make a room look more traditional and homey, depending on the pattern you choose.
Applying masonry to your interior walls is a great way to make your home look classier and stylish. One wall covered with masonry and three other walls with paint in a room can add a unique touch it, which is recommended for socializing areas such as the living room.
Another nice way to add the homey and stylish feel to the room is to add wood panels on the wall. It’s definitely more costly, depending on the type of wood, but the shades of the wood can be fun to combine with earthy tones of paint.
Using tiles on certain parts of the room can add depth and focus to it. Perhaps choose a tile that contrasts with the paint to add a splash of color; which is a good way to liven up the tone of the room.