10 Essential Things To Know Before You Paint a Room

Painting is one of the fastest and easiest ways to completely change how a room feels but that doesn’t mean it is a project that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of ways to mess up a paint job and end up with results you’ll hate for years to come.

When you’re getting ready to paint your home, it’s important to seek out tips from experts like commercial painting crews or interior designers. These are the people who paint walls every day for a living. They know what they’re talking about and their results prove it.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to painting your walls on your own you’re in the right place. With thousands of tips out there it’s always good to have a smaller list of tips that are proven to be helpful. Here are 10 essential things to know before you paint a room.

1. Embrace Color

Whether you prefer bold bright colors or a more subdued tone, have fun with color. While darker colors generally make a room seem smaller, sometimes the cozy look is what you want. Don’t be afraid to use a color you love as an accent wall. Unless you are painting a room before listing your house for sale, do what makes you happy. You can always change it later. 

2. Try Samples On For Size

You can buy sample size paint pots inexpensively, so go ahead and buy some. Paint a large area on at least two walls, that way you can see how the paint looks at different times of the day in many lighting situations. The undertones may change throughout the day and chances are you’ll know quickly which colour is right, and which one clashes terribly with your favourite chair.

Don’t want to live with large splotches on your walls in the meantime? You can use stick-on paint samples like “Samplize” which will let you stick the colour to your wall and remove easily after you’re finished. 

You can move the samples around the room to judge the color in your surroundings without the commitment. There’s no need to be hasty, take your time and make a choice you will be happy with for years to come. 

3. Prep Work Makes All The Difference

Good preparation is the key to success when painting. It may seem crazy to say that the bulk of your time “painting” is really time spent moving furniture, taping off areas and laying down drop cloths but prep work really pays off. It takes just one wrong move and there’s a litre of paint on the floor or a wayward brushstroke on your skirting board. Painter’s tape is your friend.

Ensuring you have the right equipment before you start is important, while plastic drop cloths are cheap and easy to procure, they can be slippery to walk on and require tape to stay in place. However, canvas drop cloth will stay in place, allow the paint to dry and can be reused many times.  

4. Do the Math

Use this handy formula to buy the correct amount of paint for your room right off the bat. Take the width of the walls and add them up. Multiply that number by the height of the ceiling. Then divide that number by 12. (Most litres of paint will cover about 12 square metres.) This is roughly the number of litres you will need to paint a coat on your room.

It’s important to keep in mind that you may need two coats. The second layer of paint helps cover any brush strokes or missed spots and allows for more even coverage. You should also plan to have at least a small amount of paint left over for touch-ups in the future. It is never a bad idea to have extra. 

5. Choose Your Finish Wisely

The sheen of the paint can make all the difference. Gloss or satin paint can withstand lots of wear and tear, so it is often used in high-traffic areas. Semi-gloss is especially good for painting bathrooms as it can withstand the humidity and the occasional wipe down. But the downside of these finishes is that they make the imperfections of a wall really stand out. 

If you have warped drywall or patched up plaster you may want to stick to a matte finish, like flat paint. While flat paint won’t clean as easily it will hide the flaws a wall may have. There are also specialty finishes to choose from such as chalkboard paint or magnetic paint, making a unique surface that is fun for children and adults alike. 

6. Know Your Surface

Does your old house have plaster walls? Then you’ll probably want to use a primer to seal the wall before you paint. Are you attempting to paint over dark paint or even a wayward Sharpie drawing? No paint type out there is going to cover those marks on its own.

It is in your best interest to prime the wall beforehand. You don’t want to finish a project just to find there’s a marker drawing showing through on your freshly painted wall. If you’ve previously painted with latex paint you can technically paint right over it but the darker pigment may come through over time.

Some paints already have a primer included but it can also be purchased separately. A primer coat helps the paint adhere better to the wall and provides an extra layer of protection for the wall. Be sure to let the primer dry completely before painting, it may seem like it’s dry within 30 minutes but it’s best to wait about 3 hours before you start your first coat of paint. 

7. Mix It Up

Don’t underestimate the importance of thoroughly mixing your paint. Some people suggest putting all the litres needed into a larger resealable bucket in order to ensure the colour is even as each can may be slightly different. While stores do mix the paint well, the last thing you want is streaks of colour on your freshly painted walls.

If the paint has been stored for a while, the pigments can separate and skin can develop on the paint. If you apply unmixed paint to the wall, you may end up with cracking paint or lumps on your wall. Strain the paint through a mesh screen and then stir with a wooden paint stick to avoid any unsightly additions to your wall. 

8. Paint the Trim First

If you are planning on painting the trim, it is a good idea to paint it first. It is easier and faster to tape up the trim before painting and you wouldn’t want to tape both! You don’t have to worry if paint gets onto the walls because you will be painting over it shortly. Since you aren’t worried about being neat you can focus on a smooth application of the paint over the wood. 

9. Don’t Forget the Ceiling

It’s easy to overlook what is overhead but don’t. Painting the ceiling of a room, the “fifth wall” if you will, can brighten everything up and make your wall color pop even more. A bright flat white color is the most popular for good reason, it offers a high degree of light bounce which means your entire room seems brighter. 

When painting the ceiling work quickly and paint in a uniform direction. It is easy to lose track of where you’ve painted and a missed spot on a ceiling can be glaring. If the ceiling requires a second coat, paint perpendicular to the first coat to allow for even coverage and avoid brush marks.

10. Remove the Tape Carefully

If you remove the tape too soon, the paint may still drip to where you don’t want it and you will make a mess. While it may seem as though you can just peel the tape up immediately, doing so can damage the walls and leave you with gaps in the color. Instead, wait for the paint to dry for a full 24 hours. 

After the paint is completely dry, take a sharp utility knife and slice through the film created between the paint and the tape. Starting in an inconspicuous area just in case, slowly pull the tape off at a 45-degree angle. Doing this will ensure your walls and trim will be unscathed and your lines will remain sharp. 


open plan home extension

Painting your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming as long as you have some good tips to keep you on track. If you keep what you’ve read here in mind you’ll be able to paint like the pros in no time. Remember you can always look online for tutorials and information. Using the right techniques might take a little longer but loving how your home looks will be well worth it.


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