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What Do I Need to Paint a Room?

Posted by Christianna Cannon on 8/24/2018 to Decorating Ideas
What Do I Need to Paint a Room?

How to Paint a Room


Is there a room in your home or office that needs a bit of refreshment? Maybe stains have accumulated on the walls, or maybe the paint is damaged. Maybe you're just sick of the color, or maybe you're repurposing a room entirely and want a fresh start. Painting the walls (and possibly the ceiling) may be just what this room needs for a new breath of life.

This article will explain the supplies you need, and guide you through the necessary preparation as well as the painting process.


Choosing the Right Type of Paint

paint in cans

There's a significant difference between indoor and outdoor paint. Both are formulated to resist the specific environmental hazards that cause them to wear down. While outdoor paint is made to be fade- and mildew-resistant and survive the changing temperature of seasons, indoor paint stands up to the needs of an interior space. The different chemical composition of indoor paint makes it more stain-resistant and easier to clean without damaging it.

You also need to understand the difference between oil-based and latex-based paint. Oil-based paint is tougher but takes longer to dry and needs to be cleaned up with mineral spirits or turpentine. Oil might be a better choice in some situations — its durability makes it great for trim and baseboards, especially in high-traffic rooms where shoes are likely to scuff against it. However, latex paint is easier to use overall, with a much simpler cleanup and faster drying time. It's fine for walls and ceilings and is still tough enough to use on baseboards.

Oil and latex don't adhere to each other, so if you're repainting an already-painted room, you'll need to use the same kind of paint that was already there. If you don't know whether a room is painted with oil-based or latex-based paint, there's a quick test you can do: put some acetone nail polish remover on a cotton ball and gently rub the wall. If any paint comes off onto the cotton ball, it's latex-based paint. If not, it's oil.

You are going to need a primer as well. Many first-time DIY painters skip the primer, but this is a mistake. Primer produces good conditions for the paint to adhere to the walls, brings the color out, and results in a great finish that just can't be achieved with a simple extra coat. If you're covering an existing paint job, all-in-one paint and primer works great, but if the room has never been painted before, use primer and paint separately. Get the same type of primer as the paint you're going to use: oil-based paint needs an oil-based primer, and latex-based paint needs a latex-based primer. You may also want to look into primers like Kilz that help block stains and kill mold.


How to Pick Your Colors

Only you know which color you really want to paint your room, but we have a few tips to help you decide. Lighter colors add the illusion of space, so they're a great way to open up a smaller room. On the other hand, darker colors help make a large room seem smaller and cozier, so they might be just the ticket for a room with high ceilings. This decision can completely alter the feeling of a room, so keep it in mind as you choose your colors.

Some homeowners like to choose colors based on personality and mood, especially for bedrooms. Others take inspiration from popular décor trends. Still, others prefer to keep it more traditional, while still making it fresh and friendly. And don't forget you can paint every room in your home differently depending on the function and needs of the room as well as the mood you want to create.

Take your time choosing colors, and don't just look in the store, either — bring swatches home and tape them to the wall so you can see how the color will look in the room's lighting. Don't be afraid to stick a swatch to the ceiling, too. Just use a ladder and not the furniture!

Once you've chosen the colors and you're ready to buy your paint, it's important to get enough at once so you don't have to go back for more. Not only is it annoying to run to the store in the middle of a project, you also run the risk of the color not quite matching up. No matter how precise paint mixing is, there's still a tiny margin of error that can mean one batch is just slightly different from the next. To make sure you get enough paint, measure the room first and use the formula that one gallon of paint covers 350 square feet. Then add extra for touchups, and especially if you have highly-textured surfaces.


Preparing a Room for Painting

Before you paint even a single stroke of primer on the wall, you need to prepare the room. Clean the walls and ceiling thoroughly to remove all dust and dirt that could impact the look of your final finish. You may need to sand and scrape stubborn parts of the walls or places where the last paint job came out unevenly. You'll also need to patch any damage to the wall and then sand it down once dry. 220 grit sandpaper or sanding sponges work great for these tasks. Wear a respirator or dust mask while you clean and scrape the walls, as paint dust is hazardous. Get eye protection too, and use it during both preparation and painting. If you're going to do the ceiling too, wear a hat to keep paint out of your hair.

You'll need to protect the flooring and room contents from any errant paint drips or spatters, so remove what furniture you can and cover the rest. If you need to scrape the walls, protect the room contents before sanding so you keep the dust off too. Midland Hardware has a great selection of drop cloths perfect for protecting your floor and furniture from both dust and paint.

When cleaning is done, cover any leftover places you don't want the paint to go. Use painter's tape to prevent paint from getting on trim, plugs, light fixtures, switches, doorknobs, windows, and everything else. Don't forget the tops of ceiling fans! You can cover the blades with strong garbage bags and secure them with tape.

The final step of preparation is to make sure the room is adequately ventilated. Paint fumes are harmful, so keep doors and windows open if at all possible. You might also want to use a fan to circulate air from outside the room. For ultimate safety, continue to wear your respirator.


Tools and Gear for Painting

painting supplies

It's best to paint a room using a roller for the bulk of the walls and a brush for the edges near the tape and other small areas. Strongly-textured surfaces need a larger-knap roller to make sure the paint gets into all the nooks and crannies, but they often hold too much paint for a smooth wall, so choose accordingly. You'll also need to pick your brushes based on the paint you're using: latex paint needs a synthetic brush, while oil paint needs natural bristles.

You'll need paint trays and paint grids for loading your roller without drips, and you'll need buckets for painting with a brush. A ladder and extension pole can help you safely reach high areas and easily get around obstacles like ceiling fans. You should also keep plenty of rags nearby to help with drips and spills.

Midland Hardware carries a complete selection of painting supplies, including all you need to get the best results.


Tips for Painting

One of the most common mistakes new painters make is getting way too much paint on their brushes and rollers. This wastes paint, makes a mess, and shortens the life of your tools. The best way to use a roller is to dip it only about a quarter into the paint and then roll it in the pan to get it covered. Similarly, never dip your brush all the way into the paint — avoid getting paint in the ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles). Long, smooth strokes are always best. You can find some comprehensive, excellent painting tips here.

Don't be afraid to switch to your brush when you need it. You do want to apply a coat as quickly as possible, but you don't want to sacrifice quality to do it! Switch between the roller and brush as needed, but if you aren't going to use one of them in the next few minutes, wash it out right away. This prevents harm to the tool as well as stopping dried paint particles from forming, which will end up on the wall and ruin your finish.

At least two coats of paint will produce the best results, but if you don't wait long enough between coats, you'll end up ruining the coat you just put down. If you don't know how long to wait (it doesn't say on the paint can) just wait 24 hours to be safe.


Finishing Touches

When your paint job is complete, consider other enhancements you can make to the room. You could add some wall stencils (get ideas here) or paint furniture to complement the room. You might want to pick out new drapes or curtains. Depending on your flooring, it may be time for a new rug to bring more colors in. A freshly-painted room is a new start, so the possibilities are endless.

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