“Living without color is like living without love,” says decorating magnate Kelly Wearstler in her Interior Design MasterClass. And given this unprecedented year, we could use some (extra!) love in our lives, not to mention creative projects to brighten the days while we’re stuck at home. Whether your home office needs a jolt of energy or a bathroom refresh is in order, now is the time to pick up the paint brush. The best part: it’s a budget-friendly home improvement project. If you don’t know how to paint a room (no one really does until they try), no biggie. With some tips and tricks, you might want to start your own home improvement show— How to Paint A Room: A Busy Mom’s Guide.
Taking risk with paint can feel exhilarating (remember that feeling when you actually did something other than shop for groceries wearing a face mask?). Experiment on your kids’ rooms and powder rooms to play around with color. Not sure where to start? Wearstler suggests looking in your closet for inspiration. “What you look good in, in terms of fashion, you’re going to feel good in,” she says. So take your favorite chambray shirt and drape it over a chair. Once you find a shade that makes you giddy, pick up paint samples to spot test. “It’s helpful to see the hues up against the furniture and decorations that you will be incorporating into the room once it’s freshly painted,” says Erika Woelfel, VP of Color & Creative Services at Behr Paint Company. Before committing to a color, you’ll want to live with it for at least a day. That way you’ll see how it changes with both natural light and artificial light.
Now go forth, and tap into your creative genius with these eight easy to follow tips from Behr Paint Company experts. You’ll never ask yourself “How to paint a room and not make a mess of it?” again.
How to Paint a Room Tip 1: Give Your Trim Some TLC
You might not realize it yet, but trim is the finishing touch to any paint job. You’ll want to put in the extra effort and dust. We know: dusting is the last thing you want to do right now, but don’t be tempted to paint over all the fuzz and cobwebs. Make sure all the surfaces are clean, especially the baseboards and door frames, to avoid minor imperfections that will get locked in paint forever. Use wood filler like Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Filler, to smooth out all the divots, or worse, that unsightly space between the baseboard and the wall. One reviewer wrote, “After seeing a few woodworker reviews online expressing how much they love this product, I decided to give it a shot. I mean, how good could Elmer’s be? That’s kid’s stuff, right? Wrong. This product is, BY FAR, the best wood filler I’ve ever used. It’s smooth (not grainy), incredibly easy to work with.”
How to Paint a Room Tip 2: Don’t Get Spooked By Spackle
Old nail holes and other wall casualties—those gotta go. Spackling is easy. First, sand the area with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any loose debris. If any old caulking or paint is sticking out, remove it with Urtoypia Plastic Putty Knife then wipe down with a damp rag. “This will allow the patching material to bond tightly to the damaged areas”, says Jessica Barr, national trainer at the Behr Paint Company. Use a putty knife to spread a thin layer of spackle—feathering out the spackle about an inch or so to keep from cracking—let dry thoroughly. Finish up with 220-grit sandpaper to completely smooth out the wall.
How to Paint a Room Tip 3: Let Painter’s Tape Set
Painter’s tape is a must and you can never have too much—toss a roll to your kids to keep them occupied as you paint. It keeps ceilings and baseboards smudge free, not to mention works as a super-tool for creative projects (Use ScotchBlue Sharp Lines Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape to dream up geometric walls as a perfect weekend distraction). You’ll want to make sure your surface is dry and dust-free before you apply, then let the tape set between 30 and 60 minutes. Once you’re done painting, wait for the paint to feel dry before you peel. If you notice any resistance, use a razor blade to score along the edge of the tape. This small, yet crucial, step will keep paint coming up along with the tape. Lift up the painter’s tape and pull it back on itself, removing at a 45 degree angle. If that doesn’t work, lift the tape perpendicular and gently guide it along (it’s easier than nudging a toddler, promise!).
How to Paint a Room Tip 4: Don’t Skip the Primer
After all the time you’ve put into choosing the ideal paint color, you actually want it to appear as it should on your wall—and KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking primer is what gets the job done, especially on walls made from porous surface like drywall or brick. “The purpose of primer is to better prepare a surface for painting,” says Erika Woelfel, VP of Color & Creative Services at Behr Paint Company. Yes, primer makes it easier to paint a light color on top of a dark color, but it’s more than that. A good primer blocks water stains (think laundry rooms and bathrooms) and even seals unwanted smells à la pet-friendly mudroom.
How to Paint a Room Tip 5: Paint the Ceiling First
For a complete room makeover, start at the top and finish with the baseboards so you don’t have to prep and prime over and over and over again. The ceiling is the trickiest, get it over with first. The DocaPole Extension pole will make the whole endeavor less frustrating—not to mention keep ceiling paint out of your hair. “Once you attach the roller extension, make sure your roller is not overly saturated; this way there is minimal drip,” says Barr. “Using long strokes roll your way up and down your ceiling from the outside in. Every three feet reapply paint to the roller, so that you aren’t pressing extremely hard on the extension pole and straining your arm. When applying a second coat, you can apply the paint in a perpendicular direction to the first.”
How to Paint a Room Tip 6: Pay Attention to Paint Finish
Not all paint finish is created equal. Typically, a flat finish is least mark resistant, and glossy finish wipes well. The trouble is: a too-shiny finish looks too utilitarian. Eggshell finish gives you a good in-between, but we all know that there isn’t much room for the “in-between” when you live with kids. That’s why we like the new Behr Ultra Scuff Defense interior paint. While it goes on as a rich matte, it works like a gloss to withstand unwelcome wall art and roughhousing, making it a smart choice for high-traffic areas and kids’ bedrooms. The antimicrobial mildew formula also works great to keep bathrooms from resembling those of dorm past. It goes on thick, so you won’t have to worry about repainting the same spot over and over again. Reviewers agree: “One coat coverage in 99% of the use.” We love that it doesn’t smell and goes wet-to-dry in an hour—because honestly, who wants to watch paint dry?
How to Paint a Room Tip 7: Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure
Painting shouldn’t be something you do under pressure—we mean this both figuratively and literally. Really. “To avoid roller marks, load the roller until it’s completely saturated, and apply the paint to the wall with just enough pressure to release it from the nap,” recommends Woelfel. “Pushing too hard in an attempt get better coverage will make uneven paint lines appear.”
You also want to choose the right nap—alas, not the sleeping kind, but the fuzz on the paint roller—to apply the paint to the wall evenly. To avoid paint drip, stick to 1/4-inch nap for very smooth surfaces like ceilings and cabinets. For lightly textured walls, you’ll want to get the more absorbent 3/8-inch nap, like Bates Choice Paint Roller Covers. If you have brick, paneling or something with a lot of texture, like a fireplace, go for the 1/2-inch nap. If only you could categorize your kids’ sleeping habits this way.
How to Paint a Room Tip 8: Use a Good Angle Brush on Baseboards
You chose the perfect paint color and maneuvered that roller like a pro, but the room will look incomplete if you don’t repaint the baseboards. It’s kind of like doing perfect makeup, but ignoring chapped lips. Just like in makeup, you’ll want to use higher sheen paint, such as semi-gloss or hi-gloss to create a glass-like accent. “When applying high-gloss paint, don’t continuously brush through the finish as it has a tendency to set up quickly,” says Barr. Invest in a quality angle brush—we love the Stinger Brush Company Angle Brush with Fill-A-Blend Technology for its multi-sized bristles that release paint evenly whether you’re finessing baseboards or tricky corners.
Once your paint dries, check out more Home & Kitchen treasures and start redecorating.