Painting a room is one of the quickest and most impactful ways to give your home new life. The problem? Most homeowners who hire professional painters will pay somewhere between $380 and $790 for a 10-by-12-foot room. Ouch! Going for a whole house refresh? That could cost between $941 and $2,431 on average, according to HomeAdvisor’s Home Interior Painting Cost Guide.
You’ll slash those costs by doing it yourself, but beware: A bad job could launch you into a vicious cycle of painting again and again (and again) to cover up mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you learn how to properly wield a brush and roller.
Here’s how to paint a room in a way that will reap fantastic results.
Buy the right materials
Set yourself up for success by buying the right equipment. Aside from paint, of course, you’ll need paintbrushes, rollers, trays, tarps, and painters tape (no, the edger tool won’t cut it). Don’t skimp on what you buy.
“Really cheap paintbrushes do not work. These cause more problems by not applying the paint properly,” says Dwayne Siever, founder of the Real Milk Paint Co. “Buy a higher-quality brush or foam brush, and you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation.”
Test your paint
Before you jump in and lay down the first coat, paint a sample on the wall and give it time to dry. You want to make sure the texture and color work well in the room, and both can change from how it looks when wet.
To save yourself time, money, and aggravation, buy two or three sample-size paints in varying shades and finishes (paint stores will mix any shade you want for a small fee), and try them all on the wall at once.
Prep the room for painting
Got your paint all set? Hold on, partner—you still have some more prep to do. Start by covering any remaining furniture and the floors with plastic tarps or sheets you don’t mind ruining, and don’t be stingy.
“Be sure to cover the whole floor, rather than moving a painter’s cloth around the room where you’re painting,” says Siever. Moving a dropcloth will interrupt the painting process, which is not good if you want a seamless paint job. Plus, it may get folded and end up smearing paint on the surfaces you’re trying to protect.
Next, run painters tape along the edge where the wall meets the ceiling, making sure the corners are fully covered. Then clean the walls; the cleaner the surface, the smoother your new paint job will be.
“Clean dirt off with TSP (trisodium phosphate) or any other residue-free cleaner,” says Siever. “For painting over glossy paints or surfaces, sand lightly with 220 grit for better adhesion.”
Paint the room
It’s finally time to paint! Just make sure you do the edges first, top to bottom, with a foam brush. Once you’re ready to work on the main part of the wall, use a roller and apply gentle pressure. Keep it slow and steady.
“Rolling too fast will spray paint around the room,” says Siever.
And don’t stop or move to another section before you reach the borders you painted earlier.
“When you are painting a wall you need to keep a wet edge. Do not stop in the middle of a wall,” says Siever. If you stop and come back later, you’ll end up with uneven patches.
Once you’re done, leave it be. Wait for the manufacturer-recommended amount of time before touching the wall or removing the painters tape. We know you’re eager to see your fantastic paint job, but jumping the gun will cause smudges. Wait it out for the best results.