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How to Paint a Room

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Paint is one the key to creating the atmosphere in a room. A poorly done paint job can ruin the decor in any home. Thankfully, doing the job right isn't a difficult task for any do-it-yourselfer, as long as you have the right tools and a good technique. Read on for some room-painting basics.

Prepare the Room

Clear everything away

  • Remove all wall art and as much furniture from the room as possible.

  • The floor, along with anything left in the room, should be covered with tarps or drop cloths to keep them protected from paint or sanding dust.

  • Unscrew and remove all outlet covers and switch plates. Put them together in a plastic bag so they don't get lost. Any hardware that can't be removed should be taped over.


  • Sand all surfaces you're going to paint (walls, trim, etc.), using 120-grit sandpaper.

  • Any drips or bumps in the trim should be removed with a scraper and then sanded with a coarse-grit sanding sponge. Keep a bucket of water nearby to rinse the sponge.

  • Trim can be done by hand, but sanding the walls will be much quicker and easier with a pole sander--go from the top of the wall down, sweeping the pole sander from side to side. Don't press too hard, or you could gouge the wall.

  • Keep an eye on the sandpaper; when it gets clogged with dust, switch to a new sheet.

  • Clean up all the dust with a wet/dry vacuum.

  • Wipe everything down with a clean, wet cloth.

Repairing holes

  • Fill all gaps between the wall and molding with caulk. Run a thin bead of caulk over the gap and smooth it out with a wet finger, pushing the caulk into the gap and leaving a clean edge.

  • Holes in walls should be filled with a patching compound and sanded smooth with 120-grit sand paper.

  • Wipe the dust away with a damp cloth.
If this is a first-time paint job, you'll need to prime everything. If not, you can just prime over areas that you have patched up.



  • Start by using a two and a half-inch, angled brush to cut in along the edges between trim and outlets and the open part of the wall (called the field). This will you give you some space to work with when it comes time to use the roller-- you don't want to accidently bump it on things you don't intend to paint the main color of your walls.

  • Load paint onto the brush, one-third of the way up the bristles and paint about a 3-inch line around all corners and trim. If you press down slightly on the brush, the bristles on the long end should gather to point, allowing you to paint right up to the edge of where the wall meets the trim.

  • Paint one clean line at a time, and go back to clean up any drips. If you do this carefully, you shouldn't need to use painter's tape (save this for painting windows).


  • Pour some paint into a paint tray, enough to fill it up to the grate.

  • Dip your roller in the paint and roll the excess off on the paint tray's grid. Make sure, that the roller is completely covered in paint.

  • Roll an M-like shape on the wall and go back over it with vertical strokes to spread paint between the lines of the M.

  • Make sure you paint with smooth, even strokes and slightly overlap the part that you cut in.

  • Continue this process until the entire wall is covered.

  • If you need to add a second coat, do so only after the first coat is dry to the touch.


  • Start by using a broad, flat brush to paint the bulk of the trim.

  • Do the detail work along the edges with a one- to 2-inch, angled brush, using the same technique described for cutting-in around the trim. If you do this carefully, you shouldn't need painter's tape.

  • You can paint your outlet covers and switch plates separately before replacing them.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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