While painting a room in your home can sound like a daunting task, you shouldn’t worry! Painting a room is just a matter of measuring, moving, prepping, and painting.
By taking on the project yourself, you can assure yourself big savings. Painting a 10 ft. x 12 ft. room normally costs up to $800 when using a professional. By painting a room on your own you could cut your total costs by more than half.
In these easy-to-follow steps, we’ll guide you through the process of painting a room in your house.
1. Measure your room
To find out how much paint you’ll need for your project, be sure to measure your room and figure out your dimensions. A gallon of paint will usually cover 350-400 square feet.
To figure your wall and room area, multiply wall length x height. Once you have the area for each wall, add the numbers together to get the dimensions of your room.
2. Choose your colors and finish
Before you paint or prep, you’ll need to choose your colors and the finish on your paint. Different colors are recommended for different rooms, but be sure to do plenty of research on current trends. You don’t want to invest lots of time, labor, and resources into an out-of-style room. If you purchase paint at a dedicated paint store or home improvement center, the workers will typically help guide you to the current trends.
You can also see our interior paint guide here.
The finish will be determined by which room you’re painting. You’ll want a glossier, tougher finish for high traffic or exposed areas like bathrooms, kitchens, children’s bedrooms, and trim. For areas with less traffic, such as dining rooms and adult bedrooms, you’ll want to use a satin or matte finish.
3. Get your supplies
If you’re DIY-ing the project and you don’t have any painting supplies, you’ll need to head to your local paint or home improvement retail store. For interior walls, a water-based or latex paint is typically used. Water-based paint can also be used for the trim work, but pros often recommend an oil-based enamel for wood trim, window sills, and cabinets. Oil-based paint is slower-drying and uses paint thinner as a solvent instead of water, but it’s more durable than its water-based cousin.
For brushes and rollers, there are varying widths, bristle combinations, and angles for different types of projects. Water-based paints use different brushes than oil-based paints, and vice-versa. To be sure you’re getting the right supplies for the your specific job, make sure you consult with your paint retail expert for advice. They can also guide you to any paint buckets, trays, roller handles, and any other materials you’ll need.
Tip: It may be tempting to buy the most inexpensive brushes, but quality paintbrushes produce a better finish and are easier to work with. The same can be said for roller covers. Good medium-level supplies are also workable, just stay away from the low-quality items unless your budget absolutely requires it. In this area, you really do get what you pay for.
4. Move your furniture away from the walls and cover your work area
Painting interior rooms can sometimes be a messy venture, so you’ll need to move your furniture at least 4 feet away from the walls. This will give you plenty of room to work and allows for any ladders or step stools. If you really want to be on the safest side, remove the furniture from your room completely before beginning to paint.
You’ll also need to cover any floor areas or furniture that would be vulnerable to paint splatters of spills. Plastic barrier sheets are reasonably-priced and effective, while canvas drop cloths are more durable and reusable, but more expensive. If you have carpet or another floor covering that can be permanently stained by paint, be sure to take extra lengths to cover every square inch. You don’t want paint blotches on your rug or hardwood floors for years to come.
5. Prepare your wall surfaces
Surface preparation can vary from room to room, and depends on what’s already on your walls, but it’s a crucial step in the painting process.
Prep work may contain any of the following tasks:
- Removing any pictures, curtains, hanging nails, or other items on your walls
- Filling any holes in your wall
- Removing wallpaper or other coverings down to the bare drywall
- Sanding over paneling or other textured surfaces, then filling any cracks with shrink-free spackling paste or putty
- Removing cracked or chipped paint
- Removing trim work to get into corners and wall seams
- Taping off window sills and trim with painter’s masking tape for sharp seams and avoiding splatters
- Basic cleaning of your wall surfaces to remove dust or grime before the new paint goes on
- Priming over previous oil-based paint surface before you apply a water-based paint
- Using one or more primer coats on ultra-absorbent surfaces such as bare wood before you paint
6. Test your colors
Once you’ve chosen the colors for your room, make sure you test a small patch on your wall first. You can either paint the wall directly or paint a small board or drywall scrap to hold against your wall.
Colors on a paint swatch in the paint store or home improvement center can look vastly different than when the paint is actually put on your walls. The lighting in your room is going to be much different than that of a retail space filled with fluorescent lights and shadows.
If you can’t decide on a color, you can buy small test samples from your store to check in your home. If you paint a patch of your wall and end up disliking the color, it can always be painted over during your project.
Tip: If your room has large windows and lets in lots of natural light, the color you choose at the store will often have a lighter look once on your walls. If your room is lit primarily with incandescent lights, your paint colors will take on a warmer tone.
7. Paint the walls and trim
When you finally get to the actual painting, you’ll want to start at the top and work your way down. If you plan on painting the ceiling, start there, then move down to the walls, and finally the trim.
You may need to prime your walls first. You’ll also want to brush a band of paint around the ceiling, trim, wall seams, and windows before you use your rollers. This will make it easier to paint in corners and around accents.
If you’re using multiple coats, be sure to let the first coat dry first before you add another. Water-based paints typically dry in a matter of hours. Oil-based paints can sometimes take a day or longer to dry. Heat and humidity play a large role in drying time.
Tip: To aid drying times between coats, be sure to use fans to circulate the air in the room. This can sometimes cut drying times in half. If you’re using oil-based paint, you should be using fans and ventilation anyway, due to the harsher fumes and stronger odor put off by the oil coating and paint thinner.
8. Move the furniture back and let the paint cure
Once you’ve finished your painting and let your walls dry, it’s time to remove all your supplies and put the furniture back in place and enjoy your handiwork.
Be especially mindful, however, when placing items back on the walls and moving tables and couches back against the newly-painted surfaces. Even though the walls are dry, the paint will not actually cure for another 20-30 days. That means that your walls are still extremely vulnerable to paint scratches and peeling during this time.