Painting a Room Basics

Improve a room with a coat of paint - it's never been easier. Find advice from designers and painting contractors about how to paint, what type of paint, brushes and rollers to use and how to paint a room like a pro.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

There's not an easier or more inexpensive way to change the look and appeal of a room than with a fresh coat of paint. You can give any room a new personality with a splash of color and create a new backdrop for your furnishings.

Take the advice from designers who use the color of paint to enhance its furnishings. For instance, a pale color is a good background for a display of collectibles or a nice contrast for dark furnishings or floorcovering. Use neutral shades to create an impression of openness in a room that doesn't get much daylight. A dark color is a good choice when you want to create a cozy and relaxed feeling in a large room.

Even if you're not handy, you can paint a room because today's paint and do-it-yourself painting gear make it easy. Use latex paint with a flat finish on walls and a semi-gloss finish on woodwork and trim. Latex paint provides a tough durable finish and it's easy to clean up with water.

To calculate how much paint to buy figure that a gallon of paint covers approximately 350 square feet. If the walls are rough or porous or unpainted they'll absorb more paint and may need two coats or a primer coat before painting. A primer costs less than paint and seals the surface before painting.

Most painted walls require only one coat. When you buy paint, make a sketch of the room with its dimensions (length, width and height of walls) and the number of doors and windows. You'll find a pro at the paint counter who can help you calculate how much paint to buy.

Choose a 3/8-inch nap paint roller with a sturdy handle and tray to apply paint to the walls and flat surfaces. Use a 2 -3-inch brush to cut-in paint in the corners and at the ceiling joint and to apply paint to the woodwork and trim. You can avoid bending over and reaching into high corners by using an inexpensive roller handle extension pole. You'll also need a ladder, blue painter's masking tape or pre-taped masking paper with self-stick edges and drop cloths

Before you paint, remove all decorations from the walls and move furniture to the center of the room. Cover the floors and furnishings with drop cloths or old sheets.

You'll get the best results by painting walls and woodwork that are clean and smooth. Repair any holes or cracks with a spackling filler and then lightly sand them. If there are any stains, apply a spray primer such as B-I-N to block out the stain so it doesn't bleed through the paint. Make a clean swipe of the corners and along baseboards to remove any dust or cobwebs. Then apply the masking tape along the edges of trim and around anything else you want to avoid painting.

Follow the directions on the paint can about stirring and mixing it. Begin outlining the room with paint using the brush along the ceiling and wall joint and then down the corners of the wall. Then cut-in paint on the walls around doors and windows. Pour paint in the roller pan and apply paint with the roller on the walls.

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