5 Steps You Need to Paint a Room

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It’s a comfortable evening in your home, lounging on your couch while browsing through the shows made available by your favorite subscription. It is then that you finally notice something different. There seems to be something sticking from your wall near the television. You stood up, and on closer inspection, you realize that it’s not something that is sticking. The wall paint is flaky, and it’s starting to fall apart. You look around your room, and you notice that it is not just on that wall. All the walls need a new coating of paint.

Every three to seven years, this kind of occurrence is typical. It is not something you need to worry about too much, but it still requires correct knowledge on how you can do it yourself.

I’ve been there also, so you’re not alone in this. Let me help you out with this project. For starters, let’s check the walls and ceiling.

1. Examining the Room

Before buying everything you need for this project, we need to check first the surface of your walls and ceiling if there is any damage. The surface needs to be smooth before painting over it.

If you find any damage, you will need a spackle (for plaster) or joint compound (for drywall), a putty knife, and sandpaper. For a small hole, you can opt for a hole filler instead. For loose paint that’s already coming off, you would need a scraper.

You also need to check the quality of your wall to determine if you will need to purchase a primer. Here are the things you should watch out for:

  • A porous surface like untreated wood or paper
  • Stained surface
  • Glossy surface
  • Skim-coated drywall (when there is a thin coat of drywall compound over the drywall)
  • If you plan to change from dark color to light color paint

Once done with the room check-up, you can now get the materials and tools needed for this project.

2. Tools and Materials Checklist

  • Tape measure
  • Paint scraper
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths (use canvas which is ideal as an anti-slip as well, but for furniture, you can use plastic sheets instead)
  • Screwdriver
  • Sponge or rags
  • Pouring spout
  • Paint stirrer
  • 5-gallon paint bucket (for big room project)
  • Screen or paint grid (9-inch for 5-gallon bucket; 6-inch for 2-gallon bucket, a 4-inch grid for 1-gallon cut-in buckets and small trim rollers)
  • Paint roller (the roller should be able to fit the paint bucket that you’ll use)
  • Roller cover (3/8” nap roller for easy work, 1/4” nap roller for a smooth finish)
  • Angled sash paintbrush (2” to 2-1/2” for cutting-in edges, 1” to 1-1/2” for narrow trim, instead of buying these separately, you can buy them as a pack on Amazon)
  • Paint cup (optional, but I do prefer using this one: Bercom 2500-CT Handy Paint Pail (Link to Amazon)
  • Paint roller extension handle or ladder
  • Primer (if needed)
  • Paint
  • Chemical-resistant gloves (for handling paint remover)
  • Paint comb (optional for cleaning paintbrush)
  • Paint stripper

And if you have damaged surfaces or holes:

  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Fiberglass drywall tape
  • Spackle, joint compound, hole filler (choose depending on what you need, but for a quick and easy fix I usually opt for the 3M PPP Kit (link to Amazon)

Quick Tip: Choosing Your Paint
If you find any stains or molds in the room, you should use an oil-based primer or shellac-based primer. If the room is in a relatively good condition, then use a latex-based primer.

Quick Tip: Measuring the Walls
If you want to be precise on how much paint you will need for this project, then you need to start measuring. It takes approximately a gallon of paint in covering up to 400 square feet of an area. A gallon will be able to cover all the surfaces of a small room. For an average-sized one, it typically takes two gallons of paint. If you plan to do a second coating, double the number of gallons.

3. Painting the Room

Aside from the tools and materials required for the project, you need to know how to paint. Remember, you will be spending days, months, or even years, in that room you’ll paint. You might as well do a great job while you’re at it.

Room Preparation

Depending on the state of your room, these are the tasks to prepare it.

  1. Use a scraper and sandpaper to remove old paint that is already loose.
  2. Fix dents, cracks, or holes with a hole filler, joint compound, or a spackle. Use a putty knife to place it in the damaged area, then use sandpaper for a smoother finish.
  3. Clean the walls with a sponge or rag.
  4. Remove the socket and switch covers with a screwdriver. If you don’t have a screwdriver, you can cover it with the blue painter’s tape.
  5. Plan on which part of the room you want to start painting first. Stick blue painters tape on the edges and corners that you don’t want to paint over. Overlap the tape and make sure it’s sticking well so that no paint will seep through.
  6. Place canvas drop cloth on the floor, and plastic sheets over your furniture and items that you don’t want to get painted.

Quick Tip: Painting Order
There is no specific order on which part of the room you should start. For professionals, they commonly begin painting the trim, ceilings, then the walls. While for beginners, it can be easier to work from the top, then the walls, and leaving the trim for last.

Actual Painting

Select the primer or paint that you plan to use. Be careful in opening it since there will be dripping coming from the cover. Stir the paint thoroughly with a stirrer before using it to maintain its consistency. Attach the pouring spout to the lid of the paint can to avoid any mess. If you have a paint cup, you can start pouring into one. Otherwise, pour it into the paint bucket, then place the paint grid inside.

Grab your angled sash brush and dip it to the paint. To rid of excess paint, tap it against the container. Start painting the corners and edges going from the outmost side, then inwards. If you’re using a paint cup, the whole process will be more comfortable and faster to accomplish.

Once done with the corners and edges, you can proceed using the paint roller to paint the rest of the surface. For the full surface, you don’t have to paint in a straight line. Professional painters recommend painting in a zigzag pattern, covering 2 to 3 square feet of the surface at a time. Then fill out the spaces without paint in the same manner.

To reach higher walls and ceiling, use a paint roller extension handler or a ladder. Please do not try going up a chair to do the job, always prioritize your safety.

After finishing one area, you can proceed to work on the rest of the room.

Quick Tip: Removing Blue Painter’s Tape
Before you remove the blue painter’s tape, blast it with hot air using a hairdryer or heat gun. It will make sure that the tape will not destroy the finishing when you pull it off.

How Many Coats of Paint is Required?

Adding a second coat of paint will make the finish thicker, durable, and look better. Doing this will also give you ample time before it requires another paint job.

For the primer, 1-2 coats work. In general, one coat of primer is enough if you’re using a high-quality primer like Kilz Adhesion Interior / Exterior Primer (link to Amazon).

The second coating of primer will be required if you’re planning to use a lighter hue compared to the previous color; or if you are painting unfinished drywall, plaster, or wood wall.

For paint, it is a general rule of thumb to apply two thin coats for an excellent finish. But again, if you are using high-quality paint, it is rarely needed to do a second round of painting. It only becomes necessary to add another coat if the finish is not even.

The waiting time for latex-based paint is 2 to 4 hours before it settles. While oil-based paint takes 24 hours before you can paint over it again.

Taking Breaks

Painting a room can take up a day or more depending on its size and the type of primer or paint you’re using. If this is the case, instead of cleaning your tools, wrap the brush and paint roller with a plastic wrap. It will save you time, and it will keep them wet for the next round of painting.

If your break will take a day, place leftover paint on a sealable can to prevent it from drying up.

4. Finishing Up

Cleaning Up

When cleaning your tools, make sure to wear chemical-resistant gloves, especially if you’re handling paint stripper. A paint remover is commonly used if you are washing off the paint from your tools. If it is latex-based, it is actually easy to wash it out with water.

Roller covers are disposable, so don’t hesitate to throw it after the project.

You can soak the paintbrush in water or paint stripper to remove the paint. Using a paint comb will also help in keeping the brush from getting stuck with each other. After some time, rinse it and dry it with a clean rag. Keep the bristles of your paintbrush straight by wrapping it with a plastic wrap.

Canvas drop cloths are washable and reusable.

Leftover paint can be still used, so don’t let it dry up, and store it properly. Before sealing up a latex-based paint in its can, wrap the top cover with plastic wrap. For oil-based paint, adding a half-inch of water before closing it will extend its life.

Removing Paint Smell

If you used oil-based or shellac-based paint, you would notice that it produces a strong smell. Make sure to keep a window or a door open to keep the room well ventilated. Or you could use some of these items to remove the toxic smell.

  • Crushed charcoal
  • Baking soda
  • Bucket of water with lemon slices
  • Coffee grounds
  • Light a candle in a bowl of water

Admire Your Work

The best way to finish your paint job is admiring your work. It is very fulfilling when you finished a project like this. It’s also an excellent opportunity to check on parts that need a quick fix.

5. You’ve Reached the End

Congratulations!  You are now well equipped to handle a painting job for a room. But I still have my best tip saved for last.

Quick Tip: Have Family or Friends Help You
You don’t need to do this job alone. Have your family or friends help you out. It is a fun activity to accomplish, even if you have kids. (Though I swear it can be really messy)

I hope this covered all of your room painting needs.

If you do have questions or room painting experiences that you want to share, please leave a comment below.

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