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How to Paint a Room

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Adding color to a room can change its look and feel. With a little patience and some basic knowledge, a professional-looking paint job is something you can do. Painting technique is everything. Too much paint will run or drip. Too little paint will look patchy. Whether you’re using brushes or rollers, getting it just right is a 3-step process: apply the paint, distribute it evenly, and smooth for a seamless finish.

How to Paint a Room

  1. Step1_PrepareYourArea

    Since paint can splatter, cover floors and furniture too heavy or large to move with drop cloths.

  2. Step2_PrepareWalls

    Sand any rough areas on walls you’ll be painting, then use a damp cloth to remove dust. It’s a good idea to quickly clean all walls and molding with a damp cloth as well. This will help your paint achieve a smooth finish.

    Section off areas you want to protect, such as base and crown molding, with painter’s tape.

  3. Step3_PrepareYourEquipment

    Make sure your brushes and other equipment are free from dirt, dust, and lint. Make sure you have everything you need before you start, including paint stirrers and rags to wipe away small spills and drips.

  4. Step4_StirAndDip

    If you’re using multiple gallons of paint, combine them all into a large paint bucket so you have a consistent color. When you’re ready to start, it’s important to have just the right amount of paint on your brush. Too much paint will look patchy.

    Stir your paint thoroughly with a paint stirrer, then dip your brush in the paint-about 1/3 of its bristle length. Wipe the bristles against the inner lip of the can or bucket to remove excess paint.

  5. Step5_StartWithTheEdges

    Place the narrow edge of the brush against the wall, right below the ceiling or above your baseboard, applying just enough pressure to bend the bristles and draw the brush along the edge.

    Be sure to keep an eye on the edge and avoid brush marks by using long, narrow strokes to paint from dry areas into wet areas. Add additional paint as needed.

  6. Step6_PaintWallCorners

    Use the wide edge of the brush to paint wall corners, applying paint evenly, moving from high to low areas. Again, use long, narrow strokes from dry areas into wet areas to avoid brush marks.

  7. Step7_PaintLargerAreas

    Many people find it easier to use rollers for larger areas, but if you choose to use a brush, hold it at a 45-degree angle, then apply the paint with two or three diagonal strokes. Press lightly—just enough to flex the bristles. Spread the paint evenly with horizontal strokes.

  8. Step8_SmoothSurface

    Lightly pull the brush down, from the top to the bottom of the painted area. Lift the brush from the surface at the end of each stroke.

  9. Step9_RollerPreparation

    Paint rollers — on an extension pole or held by hand — provide great results and can be easier on your back than using a brush. If you choose to use one, start by wetting the roller with water for latex paint, or mineral spirits for enamel, to remove lint and prime the roller.

  10. Step10_LoadYourRoller

    Dip the roller into your tray to load it with paint. Roll it back and forth on the ramp to distribute paint evenly into the roller. The roller should be full, but not dripping, when lifted from the paint tray.

  11. Step11_ApplyPaint

    Start by making an upward diagonal sweep. Use slow, even strokes to avoid splattering. There’s no need to press hard. Let the tool do the work.

  12. Step12_DownThenUp

    Bring the roller straight down from the top of the diagonal sweep. Then shift it to the beginning of the diagonal sweep and roll it up, completely unloading the roller.

  13. Step13_DistributeThePaint

    Use horizontal back-and-forth strokes to evenly distribute the paint over the rest of the area. Keep your strokes slow and consistent.

  14. Step14_SmoothTheArea

    Smooth the painted area by drawing the roller lightly up and down from top to bottom. After each stroke, lift the roller and return it to the top of the area.

    Repeat until your room is completely painted.

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