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…
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.
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:
- Paint (here’s a handy paint calculator)
- Paint Stirrers
- Paint Can Opener
- ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape
- A 2″ Angled Brush
- 3 Roller Covers (we use 3/8-inch nap)
- 1 or 2 Roller Handles
- Drop Cloths
- Patch + Primer Compound
- Fine Grit Sand Paper (just in case, but we rarely have to use it)
- 1 Solo Cup (Yeah, I know. The song is now stuck in your head.)
- Disposable Paint Pans
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!