Steps to Paint a Room

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Stefanie Schiada
Nicole Balch
Diane Henkler
Kate Riley
Lindsay Ballard
Melissa Michaels
Steps to Paint a Room

You’ve psyched yourself up to paint your walls a new color. You’ve found the perfect shade of turquoise (okay, maybe that’s just me). You had the paint mixed at your local store, and you are ready to get started transforming your room.

But where do you start? If you’ve never painted a room before, the thought can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve painted more than my fair share of rooms, so I’m happy to walk you through the steps from start to finish.

Begin by moving the furniture you can move out of the room. Yes, you could just push it all to the center of the room, but removing it actually gives you the space to work on the top sections of the walls. You will be using a ladder and a tall roller pole to reach up high on your walls, and maybe your ceiling, and your mood will be greatly improved if you aren’t constantly bumping into your sofa. You’ll also want to remove any artwork or shelving that you have hanging on the walls.

Next, you should turn off the power to the room (by flipping the correct breaker in the breaker box) and remove your outlet and light switch covers. You’ll be able to simply unscrew the covers with a small screwdriver. This is such a quick task—there’s no reason to have paint splattered outlet covers! If you will be painting your ceiling, go ahead and take your overhead light fixture or fan off the ceiling.

Follow Nicole’s advice and assess your walls. Do you have any cracks or holes that need to be repaired? Are there any nail holes that need to be filled? Do you need to wash or dust your walls? Now is the time to address those issues.

The next step is my least favorite in all of painting—tape off your trim and cover your flooring. In order to keep your trim work and flooring paint-free, you’ll need to use painter’s tape to mask those areas. I generally put a strip of painter’s tape on the top edge of my trim and attach a section of brown masking paper (available at the paint or hardware store) to the tape to cover the rest of the trim. I used to only use a strip of tape on the top of the trim, but I’m messy and always ended up with paint splatters at the bottom of the trim. Use canvas drop cloths to cover your flooring and either plastic or canvas drop cloths to cover any furniture that did not get removed from the room. I have two canvas drop cloths, and I drag them around the room with me while I’m painting so the flooring underneath my roller and paintbrush is always covered.

Now you can prime the walls and ceiling, if you are so inclined. With the advent of paint + primer products, priming isn’t always necessary. I am old school though, so I always prime my walls separately before painting. It’s just how I was taught to paint, and old habits die hard. If you are drastically changing paint colors (like going from dark to light) or painting over a graphic design (like stripes or chevrons) I do advise that you prime separately. Otherwise, go ahead and use the paint + primer products.


If you are painting your ceiling, always do that before you move onto your walls. When you are rolling paint over your head, there is an opportunity for splatter. You don’t want to splatter on your freshly-painted walls! I usually wear a baseball cap and safety goggles too, because I’ve spent way too much time getting paint out of my hair.

With priming and painting, there are two different ways you can paint your walls. You can cut in and then roll your walls or you could do it vice versa. I prefer to cut in first, so I use a paintbrush and paint all of the areas the roller won’t easily reach. I cut in where my walls meet the ceiling, in the corners, and along the tape line covering my trim. Once that is dry, I attach a paint roller to a long, wooden pole and roll the rest of the walls. I generally try to roll my walls in a W pattern, but sometimes I get lazy and it works just fine to do it in just an up and down motion.

I always apply two coats of paint to my walls. I find that is the best way to ensure even coverage. Some paint brands brag that you only need one coat for good coverage, but don’t believe the hype! Plan on doing two coats of paint and you won’t be disappointed. I like to remove the painter’s tape on my trim while the second coat of paint is still wet.

After you have applied your two coats, don’t put your paint cans away just yet. Look closely at your room over the next few hours in the changing light and mark any areas that need touch up with a small piece of painter’s tape. Touching up paint is a way of life for the DIYer, and you just need to be prepared to go back and fix a paint drip or repaint a portion of a highly-textured wall.

If you are repainting your trim, go ahead and retape it once your walls are dry. Instead of taping like you did for the walls, you will now put a strip of tape on your wall where it meets the trim. Wipe down your trim to remove any dirt, cover your floors, and paint the trim.

Now that the painting is done, you get to enjoy your refreshed room—and if you’re redecorating, you can move on to the furniture and accessories. Congratulations!

Please refer to the Product Label, Technical Data Sheet and Safety Data Sheet for safety and detailed application instructions.

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Stefanie Schiada
Nicole Balch