Ready to make over a room? Painting is the easiest and most inexpensive way to give a space a fresh look. Here’s how.
1. Try out the color. Narrow down your options to three or four shades of the same color, then purchase 3-oz sample cans to test-drive them. Apply the paint to foamcore boards or repositionable adhesive Small Wall sample boards, which are designed to mimic a wall’s surface ($7.99 for two 12 x 12-inch sample boards; MySmallWall.com for store locations). Let dry, and place in different areas throughout the room. See how both artificial and natural light complement the color before buying.
2. Choose the finish. “The more wear the walls will get, the higher the gloss should be,” says Brian Santos, author of Painting and Wallpapering Secrets. Traditionally, “presentation” rooms, like a formal living room, qualify for the more easily marked-up flat finish, which some designers think has a richer color. Choose gloss for more high-traffic areas, like hallways or the kitchen, and use a satin or semigloss for trim. When possible, opt for paint with built-in primer to speed up results. Although more expensive, this type of paint cuts down on time by combining the prime and main coat processes.
3. Prep your walls. Clean your walls before painting them; Santos suggests replacing your typical cleaning agent with rubbing alcohol (put it into a spray bottle to easily apply it to the walls). “It degreases and de-glosses without using toxins,” he says. Let dry for 15 minutes before proceeding to fill holes and cracks with lightweight Spackle.
4. Protect other areas from paint. Carefully place painter’s tape along the edges of the walls, trim and any door handles or outlets to prevent paint from straying. Be sure to adhere it firmly onto the surface so paint can’t get underneath the tape. Scoot furniture toward the center of the room and cover it with old sheets; cover the floors near the walls with a plastic or canvas dropcloth.
5. Prime the walls. If built-in primer was not available in your shade, choose an interior primer. Consider getting it tinted at the hardware store if you’re painting your walls a darker color; you won’t need as many coats of paint as you would on bright white.
6. Paint the trim first. Allow for imperfection by painting the trim before the walls. “This is the simplest way for most people to get the nooks and crannies between the wall and the wood,” Santos says. Be sure that the paint has dried completely, then mask off the trim and paint the rest of the room.
7. Paint the walls. Use a small brush to get into corners, edges and areas a roller may not be able to tackle. When it comes to larger surfaces, think “up, down, up, load,” Santos says. In other words, load your roller brush with paint and, staying within the same zone, stroke up, then down, then back up. These motions dump, set and lay the paint onto the walls. Be sure your final strokes all go in the same direction to give the wall a uniform-looking texture.
8. Allow paint to dry. Most paints take at least six hours to dry, but Santos recommends painters allot nine hours for dry time to make sure paint sets thoroughly. Wait until it has dried to apply a second coat, then allow that to dry completely as well. Most paints require two coats, but if you are painting over a very different color or painting a dark shade, a third might be required. Once the final coat has dried completely, carefully remove the tape along the edges and trim.
9. Clean up. Reseal any partially used cans or transfer the leftover paint into an airtight container to store it (be sure to write the color name and room on the lid so that you can identify it for touchups!). If you have leftover water- or latex-based paint you don’t want to keep, allow the excess to solidify (leave the can open, or mix in cat litter to absorb moisture) before putting it in the trash. Oil-based paint is considered hazardous waste, so you should contact your local government to find out where to take it. For more information about disposing of paint supplies, visit earth911.com/paint.
This article originally appeared on WomansDay.com and is republished here with permission.