We’ve had a few emails and Facebook comments asking us to do a post about how we paint/prep a room, and with the completion of the guest bedroom painting process last week, we figured now was as good a time as any. There are certainly any number of ways you can go about painting a room, but we thought it would be fun to put all of our painting tips/methods/suggestions into one post. On top of that, this will be a good post for us to refer back to if we have the question come up again. Our methods may not work for every type of room/walls/situation, but this is how we do it…

How to Paint a Room //

STEP ONE // Pick a color. Before we decide on a paint color, Ash and I take a trip to the paint store to scout out the colors and collect a few paint swatches. Our first stops for paint are normally Lowe’s and Home Depot, but we’ve been known to stop by Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams if we’re not finding what we’re looking for. Another favorite paint source of ours is Restoration Hardware (we used their paint in our master bedroom and Ash’s office).

We never pick a color right there in the store. Ash would be a nervous wreck if we did that. We normally take home a bunch of swatches, pick two or three favorites, go back to the store and buy a tester for each of our top contenders. Once in a while, a color jumps out at us in the store, so we buy the testers on the spot. Regardless, if it’s a paint color we haven’t used before, we always paint a swatch on the wall before we buy the full gallon.

Paint Samples //

When we go to put our test color(s) on the wall, we paint a 12″x12″(ish) section on each wall of the room. This ensures that we see what it looks like in all lighting situations and at different times of the day. We normally let it hang out on the wall for a couple of days before pulling the trigger and committing to a color. Ash has a good eye for colors, so she’s normally the one to make the final decision if we’re up in the air between a few options. She’ll normally text me while I’m at work to let me know which color she’s decided on, and I pick up the paint on the way home from work.

STEP TWO // Gather supplies. When it comes to paint supplies, there are a few specific brands/styles we like to use (kind of like finding the perfect brand of shoes and you only buy them from there on out). We’ll get into those specifics later in the post, but here’s a general list of the supplies we use when we’re painting a whole room:

How to Paint a Room //

We’ve painted every room in the house (we’ve even painted a few twice thus far), so we have a lot of paint supplies on hand already, but there are always a few things we have to pick up from the store. Like, for instance, roller covers and paint trays. We normally just buy new ones each time we paint a room. They’re pretty cheap, and well worth the convenience of not having to wash them out for re-use and find a place to store them.

Quick Tip: If you prefer using metal paint trays instead of the disposable ones, put the tray in a plastic shopping bag before you pour the paint in the tray. When you’re done painting, pull the shopping bag handles toward the opposite end of the tray and turn the bag inside out. This will save you a good chunk of time when it’s time to clean up.

STEP THREE // Prep the room. Basically, prepping the room consists of clearing out the artwork/accessories in the room and covering surfaces that need to be protected. We also remove outlet and switch plate covers. I’ve seen plenty of places that decided to just edge around the covers, and they never turn out right. The extra 2 minutes it takes to do this is well worth it.

How to Paint a Room //

Nine times out of ten, we don’t tape off the baseboards and moldings before we get to painting – I prefer going at it free-handed. However, when it comes to painting around light fixtures, window rods or other hardware that can’t easily be removed and put back up, ScotchBlue™™ Painter’s Tape  is our best friend. It comes in a bunch of varieties, but our favorite one is the Edge-Lock. For smaller projects (like this one), we (especially Ash) likes to use the half inch painter’s tape that is specially formulated for freshly painted surfaces.

When it comes to protecting the hardwood floors, Ash and I are split. She likes to cover the floors around where she’s painting, but I don’t like to bother with it. Basically, she’s a messy painter and I’m not. Sorry, Ash. You know it’s true. Either way, we still use a drop cloth to sit the paint cans and supplies on while we work. We’re big fans of the Scotch Blue Heavy Duty Non-Slip Drop Cloth. Previously, we just used the typical cheap plastic sheeting, but our friends at 3M really hooked us up when it came to drop cloths. The heavy duty drop cloth has a non-slip, rubberized coating so it doesn’t slide around the floor. Seriously, if you have hardwood floors, this is a must-have. I like it so much I might actually start using it in my work area while I’m painting. Yeah… I get a drip or two of paint on the floor from time to time, too. Just don’t tell Ash. Word on the street is that it also works great on carpeted areas.

How to Paint a Room //

If we’re painting a bedroom, we always cover the bed with a drop cloth. Dripped paint isn’t as easy to clean off of cloth as it is a hard surface like a floor. This $4 investment can save a lot of headache later. And, of course, like with a “cloth” of any kind, Bentley thinks it’s especially for him and makes a perch to watch the painting process.

STEP FOUR // Patch holes or dents. We like to patch any holes in the walls that aren’t going to be immediately covered up by artwork or other wall decorations. It just looks and feels nicer to know everything is “back to new” as Ashley puts it. During our most recent room-painting session, we had a lot of holes and a few dents to fill.

How to Paint a Room //

3M Patch Plus Primer is smooth like butter, doesn’t require any sanding afterward (if you put it on thinly enough), and is ready to paint once it dries. I used my handy-dandy Bondo Spreader to push it into the holes and scrape off the excess. It worked great on all of our little blemishes. I like using Bondo Spreaders in particular for this job. They’re inexpensive, easy to store, and even easier to clean. Just wait for the putty to dry, flex the spreader, and most of the dried putty pops right off.

STEP FIVE // Get to painting. Around here, I’m the official edger. I really like Wooster’s 2″ angled brushes for cutting in around ceilings and molding. Any larger and the brush feels unwieldy; any smaller, and you have to go back with a larger brush to paint the area that you can’t get to with the roller. Also,when buying a brush, don’t go cheap here. A nice brush will give you much cleaner edges than an inexpensive one.

How to Paint a Room //

A lot of people get nervous about edging. While it’s not my favorite thing in the world to do, it doesn’t really give me pause anymore. To start the edging process, I pour some paint into my blue plastic cup with finger grooves. I know what you’re thinking: “Finger gooves? Who cares? How important can they really be?” but hear me out. The finger grooves help you hold on to your cup, and they also help you pick the cup up the same way every time. That way, you’re only wiping the brush on one side of the cup, which means less chance of getting it all over your hands or brush handle if you need to set it down. We always buy a 3-pack of roller covers so we can just throw them away, rather than trying to clean them when we’re done. Rather than using some expensive container made specifically for edging, I just use a disposable plastic drinking cup. Side note: I seriously don’t care about ergonomics when it comes to drinking from a cup, but if you can find the cups with the finger grooves on the sides, it makes for a much nicer edging experience. Again, I buy a pack of the cheap ones so I don’t have to worry about washing them out when I’m done for the day.

Once I’ve got my groovy cup loaded up, I get to edging. Basically, I take my 2-inch angled brush and place it parallel to the edge, then I apply pressure and rotation such that the bristles flare out toward the edge. At that point, I just have to focus on a very small area at the edge of the brush, and all the bristles around it are pushing paint toward that edge. If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about (or if you’re completely and utterly baffled), this video gives you a general idea of how I do it.

STEP SIX // Roll. I get usually get a 20-30 minute head start on the cutting in, then Ash comes in with the roller and starts rolling the walls. This process is pretty self-explanatory… even, over-lapping “W” shapes.

STEP SEVEN // Second coat. Even though we buy paint with primer built in, we normally still have to do a second coat. We generally wait about an hour to start on coat #2, or we just come back the next day if we’re super busy.

STEP EIGHT // Clean up. Well, if I did it right, I don’t usually have much to clean up. The first thing I do is put any leftover paint back in the can and hammer the lid on. At that point, my paint pans, roller covers, paint stirrers, groove-tastic paint cup, etc. can all be thrown in the trash. Once I’m done with trash duty, it’s just a matter of rinsing out my brush and putting away the drop clothes.

Quick Tip: To clean freshly-spilled oil-based paint, clean up with paper towels, water and dish detergent. The dish soap will cut the oil in the paint and make it easier to clean up. We learned this the hard way. Oh, and if you’re having trouble removing paint from your hands, try using a bit of vegetable oil or shortening. Then use a bit of dish soap to get the oil off of your hands.

Handy Touch Up Paint Storage /

Another step for clean up is putting a bit of the left over paint in a small mason jar. Ash talks more about it in this post, but we do this to have the paint handy for quick touch-ups. Since we implemented this system, touching up scratches/marks/dents have been much more convenient and cuts down on time and frustration.

STEP NINE // Check for touch-ups. We usually wait until the next day to place the extra paint in its final storage space and put the furniture back in place. Especially if you’re working on the room at night, things might look different in the morning. You’ll almost definitely find a few spots you missed.

How to Paint a Room //

So, there you have it… how to paint a room 7th House style. Yeah, painting isn’t the most fun you can have on a Friday night, but it sure is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to completely change the mood of a room. Hopefully this was helpful for those of you who have requested a post of this nature. If you have any painting tips to pass along, be sure to share them in the comments!

How to Paint a Room //

For more information about 3M products and DIY tips/ideas, check out 3M DIY on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    This was actually super helpful. Thanks. It’s always nice to hear the products that others use/swear by.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    WOW! This is SO helpful! Thank you for posting all of this!

  • Reply
    Rachel M
    October 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I love how you two work together to get stuff like this done. It’s refreshing!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    My hubs doesn’t use Painter’s Tape either but it’s an absolute must for me. I don’t see how he does it. Or you!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    This post is so timely because we’re getting ready to paint three rooms in our rental and it will be the first time we’ve ever painted a room. So thank you for this!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I’m with you tarps or painter’s tape when I cut in the edges either….if you take your time, don’t load the brush with too much paint & watch what you are doing you can’t make too much of a mess. Also if you see a drip, wipe up right away. One other tip…if you don’t finish painting all at one time just put the roller or paint brush in a plastic bag & pop into the fridge for the next day!!! It saves alot of clean up…I do it all the great!!!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    You may have mentioned this is previous posts, but what kind of paint do you use?

    • Reply
      October 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      We use flat paint for all rooms except for bathrooms and kitchens (though we don’t have paint in our kitchen). We use satin there because it’s easier to wipe down.

    • Reply
      October 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      We usually use Behr Ultra Premium (the kind with the primer built in), but we’ve been known to use other brands if we feel like the colors are better.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    It’s always nice to find new tips to making painting a room an easier task, thanks for sharing! I wanted to add one thing to your tip on lining metal paint trays with a plastic bag: Make sure to either put the bag on the paint tray inside out, or make sure if there is some type of printing on the bag, that it is not inside the tray. Lesson learned the hard way, the wet paint will pull the ink off the bag and transfer the color to your walls.

    Steph @ One Mile Home Style

    • Reply
      October 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Ehh, good point! Thanks for the tip : )

  • Reply
    October 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    All really great tips! To be environmentally friendly though, I like to try to reuse as many supplies as I can, such as drop cloths and rollers. I find that they can all be cleaned pretty quickly and easily with some hot water!

  • Reply
    Elena @ The Silberez Life
    October 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Love the step by step directions/tips! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. This makes me feel so much more comfortable and prepared to tackle our next painting project. You guys ROCK!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Great tips for painting, now any advice on how to deal with little 5 year old girls who demand every room be painted purple and won’t accept no for an answer? *Sigh…*

  • Reply
    October 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

    great tip! do you have a place here where you list all paint colors to date? love your Blog Ashlee and Greg!!

  • Reply
    October 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Knowing how to paint a room effectively is something that every homeowner should know. Thanks for the guide.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2014 at 9:15 am

    LOVE the paint color! What color is this?

    • Reply
      January 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      It’s Anonymous by Behr in flat finish.

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