Learn how to paint a room like a pro, plus how to paint trim and ceilings. We also have tips on planning your DIY painting project, paint prep, how to buy paint and more.

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What You Need for This Project

Preparing to Paint

Step One

Buying Paint

One gallon will cover about 400 square feet. Multiply the length times height to get the square footage for each wall and add them up. For the trim, multiply the length (in feet) by 0.5 for the width. 

When using more than one gallon of paint, mix them in a 5-gallon bucket to ensure color consistency.
Step Two

Planning Your Paint Project

Painting an entire room might take a couple of days to complete. Plan ahead, and make sure you have plenty of ventilation while working.

Also, plan on working from the top down. Paint the ceiling first, then the walls, and finish with the trim.


Step One

Get Your Paint Brush Wet

To paint the edges, or cut in, dip a brush about a third of the way into the paint and don't scrape it against the sides.

Tip: Use a small paint bucket when you're cutting in. A small bucket will be much lighter and easier to handle when you're going up and down the ladder.
Step Two

Start Painting!

Holding the brush as you would a pencil, paint with smooth strokes, feathering out the edges to prevent runs. Getting a little bit of paint on the trim won’t matter since you’re painting that later, but try not to be super messy.
Step Three

Paint the Ceiling Edges

On the ceiling, cut in first along the ceiling line. Then switch to the roller.

For the walls, cut in one wall at time then switch to the roller. Painting can be a lot easier with two people. One person can cut while the other uses the roller.

Painting Using a Roller

Step One

Prep the Roller Pan or Bucket

If you’re using a 5-gallon bucket, insert a roller grid. For pans, use a liner for easy cleanup.
Step Two

Load the Roller with Paint

To help the paint load, first dampen the roller cover with a wet rag. Dip just a little way into the paint and roll onto the grid or liner a few times to even it out. Resist the urge to submerge the roller - it’ll make a mess.
Step Three

Paint in a Zig-Zag Pattern

Starting a few inches away from the edge, roll the paint on the ceiling or wall in a zig-zag pattern. Overlap your lines and go slow to avoid paint spatter. Don’t press and squeeze the roller against the wall to get more paint out of it, just reload.

Work in 4-foot sections. For walls, work at the top, then the bottom.
Step Four

Go Over the Edges

Once you get some paint on the walls you can go back along the edges. Turn the roller sideways to get really close to the ceiling and baseboards.
Step Five

Remove Buildups & Runs

To remove buildup and runs, lightly roll over the painted area from the ceiling down to the floor. Apply very little pressure.
Step Six

Apply a Second Coat

Paint one wall at a time. Apply two coats.

Painting the Trim

Step One

Apply Painter's Tape

After the walls are completely dry, apply painter’s tape along the wall-trim edge. Press it down with a plastic putty knife.
Step Two

Paint the Trim

Paint the trim with a brush. 
Step Three

Remove Painter's Tape

Carefully remove the tape shortly after painting. Don't wait for the paint to dry completely. This will prevent peeling. A knife can help cut along spots where the tape is stuck. Some tapes have specific removal time recommendations so check the package.

Clean-Up: Latex Based Paints

Step One

Pour Any Excess Paint into the Can

Use your brush to scrape paint from the pan back into the original paint can. Firmly press the lid back onto the can.
Step Two

Rinse Paint Brush

Run the brush under warm water and use a comb or nylon cleaning brush to help remove the paint from the bristles.
Step Three

Add Soap

Rub some hand cleaner into the bristles and rinse again.
Step Four

Leave to Dry

Reshape the brush and hang to dry.
Step Five

Start Cleaning Rollers

For roller covers, use a paint multi-tool to remove the paint under running water.
Step Six

Leave to Dry

Allow the roller to dry in an upright position, then store in a paper bag or cardboard box.

Clean-Up: Oil Based Paints

Step One

Use Paint Thinner to Start Cleaner

Cleaning oil-based paints can be a challenge. Sometimes it’s best to let your tools dry and throw them away. However, if you plan on saving your tools you’ll need mineral spirits, paint thinner or lacquer thinner, a cleaning comb or brush and two metal containers or glass jars with lids. One container will be for clean solvent and the other for dirty solvent.
Step Two

Dip Paint Brush in Solvent

Pour a little solvent into one of the containers, just enough to dip the brush about halfway.
Step Three

Work Out Excess Paint

Dip the brush into the solvent and work out the excess paint/stain. As the cleaning solution gets dirty, change it out for fresh solvent. You’ll need to do this several times. When all the excess paint or stain is out of the brush, clean it one more time.

Check with your local recycling center for solvent disposal instructions.
Step Four

Reshape & Dry

After cleaning a synthetic brush with a solvent, use soap and water for one last cleaning. Reshape the brush and hang to dry.

Skip this step if using a natural bristle brush. After cleaning with a solvent, reform the brush and hang it to dry.

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