10 Tips for Painting a Room (that I learned the hard way…)

Paint_CansMoving into this house was the easy part. Painting it is turning out to be the biggest challenge.

There was a smoke problem being evidenced by the huge black cloud on the ceiling near the fireplace.  There were five dogs in this house, all of whom seemed to slobber on the walls near the doors and windows.  The house had mold, especially along the floors.  And so much of the woodwork was so damaged, in some places it was easier to simply remove it and start over.  New woodwork around the windows really upgrades an old room.

Here’s what I’ve learned, invariably the hard way.

1.  Inspect the walls first.  Do this while using a dust mop to remove cobwebs and loose debris.  Are there holes, dents, or clumps and/or fuzzies from previous paint rollers? Now is the time to repair.  Basic Dap latex caulking worked well repairing my ceiling cracks.  It’s pliable, invisible, and took the paint well.

2.  If you have to sand the wall, there is a flat-mop-looking tool that can save you All-Wall-Super-Sander-Drywall-Pole-Sander-view2-4969_lgtons of time.  The only way to describe it is to imagine a kitchen sponge mop with a sandpaper cover.  It is probably made for drywall work, but it is perfect for this application.  It works best if you have someone following you with a strong vacuum hose pointed underneath to catch all the dust, decreasing the amount of clean up.

3.  Use a pink-to-white plaster repair product, and mark the location with a piece of blue tape where you’ve done the repair.  This saves time in finding it to sand it, and it assures that the spot is totally dry before you do.

4.  Choose your paint wisely.  Don’t skimp on cost and it’s smart to buy the little sample color paint first.

5.  Choose the correct paint.  These walls had a slight sheen to them, so not knowing exactly what kind of paint it was, I assumed it was an enamel and chose to prime the walls first.  I used Kilz Oil Based because it seemed to cover well and stick solid.  I also painted what woodwork was left with the same primer, alleviating the need to separate the two surfaces.  I went through a separate roller because of the oil, but it was worth it. Latex flat paint adhered tightly to the oil based primer, and I’ve seen no bleeding of the old paint.  Same thing with the latex enamel on the woodwork.  It looks great.  And, YES, you can put latex over oil-based primer.

6.  Paint the walls before the woodwork.  The simple explanation for this is that flat wall paint dries to a hard finish much faster than any latex or oil enamel.  This means you can use paint tape on the flat paint wall and it will not pull up as easily as the enamel.

rainyday7.  Don’t paint on a rainy day.  Even with the “low odor” paints available, the absence of the smell is not necessarily the absence of the chemical.  You’re breathing it in, and that means  those chemicals are entering your bloodstream.  Give up a few nice sunny dry days for painting, and keep the windows open and fans going.  A paper mask is a good idea when painting a ceiling.

8.  Don’t rush the process.  The more the first coat dries, the better the second coat will adhere.  It is possible to “remove” the first coat by putting on the second coat too early.

9.  Contain your mess.  You may think you’re not spraying paint with your roller, but you are.  Paint gets airborne easily, and you’ll know what I mean when you find a thin film of paint on a piece of furniture that wasn’t even in the same room.  When covering the entrance to the room is not an option, cover the furniture in any adjacent room too.  Also, remember your feet when leaving the room.  I found some small tracks on my new wood floors, and luckily for me they came up relatively easily.  A good tip when taking a plastic cup of paint up the ladder, when you put in down, put it in a larger pan so that it can’t tip over.  Also the pan will catch any drips you may not have seen.

10.  And the most important tip of all:  Buy all the paint you need in advance.  Don’t even consider going back for more of the same color if it is custom mixed, and believe me when I say that a stock paint (for the ceiling) with the same item and lot number can be a different color.  I found this out the hard way by buying the paint from two different Lowes stores because one had run out.  I now have to paint the entire living-dining room combo ceiling again, and I am devastated.

I’m not a professional painter, but I’ve painted enough rooms to think that I knew it all.  I didn’t, and I hope this helps you when you start your painting project.  Good luck!


About Patsye

I am an older woman and artist. I love to craft. I love to sew and knit and crochet and needlepoint. I love to paint and draw and make art with my hands. Being creative is what gets me up in the morning. Art is my tea, my fresh air, my good book, and my cats all rolled into one. I have much to share and hope you'll visit often.
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7 Responses to 10 Tips for Painting a Room (that I learned the hard way…)

  1. cubbyholes says:

    Oh I wish I had read this when I was painting. LOL. You would have saved me much aggravation. Now I know better, but what a learning curve. Great job! Jeanie

  2. Debbie says:

    What a great, concise set of instructions! You are so right about the importance of proper preparation. And although it’s not my favorite thing to do, painting does give you more bang for your buck (and your back!) than almost anything else!! Congratulations on your progress!

  3. Mary Jane says:

    Oh, gee, my neck aches just thinking about this. Hope you are by now almost done, and that the rooms look terrific!

  4. Ruth says:

    I am catching up with your entries… where is your new home? I’ll stick to painting on my paper thanks 🙂 Ruth

    • Hi Ruth: Smart move. I’m near Asheville, NC. I love it and will write soon with all the details. Also I’m in a watercolor class at the local community college, and I love it and the instructor. She’s wonderful. P

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