Room Painting Tips

Room painting tips: a fresh coat of paint is often the easiest and least expensive home improvement you can make, and can give a room an entirely new look in one day.

A fresh coat of paint is often the easiest and least expensive home improvement you can make. Painting an average size room costs about $50 including paint and materials. With its low cost and ease of application, it's also one of the most forgiving projects. With a little planning and the proper equipment, a gallon of paint can give a room an entirely new look in one day.

The first step is to determine how much paint is needed. Calculate the square footage of the room to be painted - for example, a 10 X 20 room with 8 foot ceilings has 480 square feet to be painted. The label on the paint can will show the coverage amount, but in general one gallon of paint usually covers about 400 square feet. Two coats are usually needed, so you'll need twice that amount.

Then, decide which type of paint is best for your project. There are several varieties of finish available - matte, flat, eggshell, satin, semigloss, and high gloss. The higher the gloss, the better it will resist stains and the easier it will be to clean. Lower gloss paints are better at hiding imperfections. Latex, water-based paints are easier to clean up than oil-based paints. It's usually better to spend a little extra for higher quality paints - they're more durable, will provide better coverage (sometimes requiring one coat instead of two), are thicker in texture and splatter less. Choose low-odor varieties for sleeping areas so you won't have to camp out on the couch till the smell clears away.

The next step is choosing a color. Visit the hardware or home improvement store for paint swatches. Cover or cut off the other tints on the color card when viewing them in your home. Some stores even have booklets that will help choose a color scheme, offering designer color combinations and color wheels that help show complimentary shades. You might also choose to buy the smallest possible quantity of a few paint shades and apply them to small areas of the wall to see how they look when applied; they can easily be covered later. Keep in mind that a paint color always looks different when dried than in the can.

Before you make that final trip to buy the paint, check to see if any preparation needs to be done to the wall before paint is applied. Are there any holes or cracks that need patching first? If you will be painting bare drywall or plaster, wood, or areas with water damage, smoke damage, or other stains, a coat of primer should be applied first. Allow this to dry before the regular paint is applied - another coat of primer may be needed if the stain bleeds through the first coat. Apply patching material as needed over holes or cracks, let dry, and sand smooth.

Your shopping list should include the correct quantity of paint, a paint tray, a roller with covers (choose according to the texture of the surface to be painted - the rougher the surface, the "fluffier" the roller cover), a two-inch paintbrush for corners and trim work, an edger, and a roll of masking tape. Optional equipment may include plastic sheeting to cover furniture and flooring, and disposable tray liners for easy cleanup.

Now you're ready to paint! Move all the furniture out or to the center of the room. Cover furniture and flooring with plastic coverings, old sheets, or newspapers to protect from splatters and drips. Open windows if possible so you won't be overcome with fumes. Remove the covers from electric outlets, switches, and telephone jacks, and take off any other removable features such as rails or shelving. Apply masking tape to any area that needs protection, such as baseboards, ceiling edges if the ceiling won't be painted, window and door frames.

Open the paint can and stir it, even if it's just come from the paint store where they mixed and shook it up. Assemble the roller, and pour the paint into the tray. For the best finish, it's preferable to keep a wet edge between sections - paint one section of wall with the roller, then use the paintbrush for areas the roller can't reach before moving on to the next section. This will also help prevent "missed spots" if painting with a similar color. Use the edger as needed in areas where masking tape can't be applied, such as on carpeting or rough-textured ceilings. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying a second coat. Allow paint to dry completely before removing masking tape or replacing fixtures.

Cleanup with water-based latex paint is simple - just wash everything off with water. If you used a disposable tray liner, just toss it in the trash. Roller covers are inexpensive, so you may choose to toss that out too. Wash off the roller frame and paintbrush, close up the paint can if there's any left (keep it for touch-ups) and you're done! If you have to stop your paint project before you're done, wrap your roller and brush in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator. That way you won't have to clean them before you're done, and they won't dry out.

The next step? Put all the fixtures back, move the furniture back in and admire your work. For very little money and effort, you've given your room a whole new look. You just might get hooked and decide to paint the rest of the house too, or try any number of "effects" that can be created with the creative use of paint such as faux finishes, ragging, or glazing. Paint is inexpensive and very forgiving - if you make a mistake, just paint over it and try again.

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