Home Improvement

How to Paint a Room: Complete Guide for Beginners

Painting a room is not difficult if you follow some simple guidelines. Here's our beginner's guide to painting a room in your house
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Painting a room is one of the best investments you can make. Remodeling, refurnishing, or installing new carpet can be very expensive. However, giving your walls with a fresh coat of paint or repainting your room with a new color makes a dramatic difference for a fraction of cost.

Do you need a professional to make your new room look professionally painted? Not if you do proper planning and use the right techniques and equipment. Your painting project will be even more cost effective if you do the job yourself, and painting a room is not difficult if you follow some simple guidelines.

What You Need

  •  Fine and extra fine grits of sand paper
  • Paint and paint stirrer
  • Paint rollers and roller frame
  • Paint tray and liners
  • Pad painter or edger
  • Small touch-up brushes
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Cleaning rags
  • Paint
  • Spackle and a putty knife for holes or gouges
  • Paint roller extender pole

Buy a few standard 9-inch paint rollers. If you are painting a flat wall, foam rollers will work. If your wall is textured, you will need the fuzzy type of roller usually made of lamb’s wool.

For smaller sections on your wall, such as the area around windows, you will need some of the smaller 3-inch rollers. You should also buy some 1 or 2 inch paint brushes for any hard to reach places and for touching up afterwards.

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Choosing the Paint

Before choosing your paint color, it is best to take a swatch home. Colors often look different in the store than inside a home due to varied lighting. A flat finish works best on most walls.

If you are painting a kitchen or child’s room, you probably want to use a semi-gloss for easier cleaning. However, be aware that gloss finishes can give your wall a garish appearance if you are using a bright color.

Look at the paint can to determine how much you need to buy. Get enough for two coats. If you need additional coats, you can return for more paint as long as you remember the exact color and brand you are using.  Use latex or water-based paint.

There are some instances in which you might also need a primer. If you are painting a wall that was originally painted with oil-based paint or if you are using a very deep color to cover a white wall, you should buy a can of tinted primer.

Preparation is Key

Start by cleaning all of the surfaces you plan to paint. T.S.P paint preparation cleaner does the best job and the amount can be adjusted for either light or heavy cleaning. Make sure to rinse well with a clean cloth.

If you have any holes or small gouges in your walls, you will need to fill in the holes with spackle. Just apply enough to cover the hole, and level with a putty knife for easy sanding.

Fill any holes with spackle using a putty knife
Fill any holes with spackle using a putty knife

When the spackle is dry, roughen all of the surfaces thoroughly with fine sandpaper. It is not necessary to press down hard unless you are sanding an unusually rough area, but you do want to sand the entire area to make sure the paint sticks.

It is not necessary to use an electric sander, but if you do, use a very light setting.

Take a clean cloth and wipe down the walls once again. Make sure you remove all of the dust created during sanding.

Tape Off Areas

Now you are ready to apply painter’s tape. Although this tape is not absolutely necessary, it will save you a lot of headaches later in the process. Unless you have a very steady hand or a great deal of painting practice, you will probably not be able to paint a perfect edge.

Apply the tape to windowsills, baseboards, architraves, ceilings or any surfaces that you do not want to paint. If it butts up against a wall you plan to paint, you should apply tape to it. Carefully apply the tape along the edge, slowly unrolling it as you go.

Apply tape to get straight edges
Apply tape to get straight edges

If you are going to repaint a surface such as a baseboard with a different color, it is not necessary to tape it because you will be covering any smudges at a later date.

The final step of preparation is to cover your floors with drop cloths. Put them along all of your walls. If you are painting the ceiling you must cover the entire floor. It is best to use  painter’s tape to attach drop cloths to your baseboards, so paint does not seep underneath.


If you are using a primer, begin with this for your first coat. Open your paint or primer can with an opener or flat screwdriver. Stir the paint until it is smooth and even in consistency. Pour some into your lined paint tray.  Wipe excess paint of the edge of the can, and close it tightly by tapping lightly with a hammer.

If you intend to paint your ceiling the same color as your walls, begin here. Use your pad painter to paint a two or three foot section of the edges going across and down. Use your roller to fill in the section. Roll across and then down over the same section to fill in all of the gaps.

Apply the paint with a foam roller
Apply the paint with a foam roller

If you are using the same color for your walls you can move on to paint the entire room using the same technique you used for the ceiling moving across the wall from the top and then down the wall. If you are using two different colors you will need to paint the ceiling first, let all coats dry completely and then tape the edges of the ceiling before moving onto your walls.

It is best to use a ladder to reach the highest areas because you will have more control over the paint roller. If this is not possible, use an extension pole.

Sand your walls with very fine sand paper quickly and lightly in between coats.  Make sure to wipe with a wet cloth afterwards. This may seem like an unnecessary, time consuming step, but it will help give your paint a nicer finish.

You will need at least two coats or one coat of primer and one coat of paint. You will not be able to tell how many additional coats you need until your paint is dry. Continue to apply new coats until you can no longer see the old color showing through.

Finishing Touches

When your paint is completely dry, remove all tape from the walls.  Inspect your work. Even the most carefully taped and painted walls will often have areas that need touch up around the edges. Use your small brushes to fix any areas that need touch-up.

Use a small brush to touch up any small details
Use a small brush to touch up any small details


Giving your room that beautiful, new look is not all that difficult, but remember that it is not something that can be done in a single afternoon. Taking the extra time to prep your painting surfaces is the key to making that do-it-yourself paint job look professional.

Brian Jackson

Brian has worked in the construction industry for over 30 years, He brings this experience to HomesOutline where he advises and edits the content in our home improvement sections. Contact Brian@HomesOutline.com

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