steps to painting a room

10 Steps to Painting a Room Like a Pro

Last Updated on October 13, 2020

These 10 steps to painting a room like a pro will make sure that at the end of the day, your corners are crisp, your coats are even, your ceilings are free of splotches, and your vision is on-point.

A freshly painted room can have a huge impact on your decor and add value to your home – all for a relatively low price tag.

But before you grab your roller, let’s talk about making a plan.

10 Steps To Painting Like A Pro

Whether your style is minimalist, modern, country-chic, or classic, these 10 steps to painting a room will give you a near-flawless DIY room. There’s nothing worse than spending hours painting only to be unhappy with the result.

Let’s dive right in with step one: planning your vision.

1. Plan Your Vision

All great projects start from an idea – something that inspires you. It could be a colour, a painting, an object, or a photo you saw on Instagram and would love to replicate.

steps to painting a room: step one, make a plan

Whatever your taste, make your decisions during your planning process and stick to them. Starting to paint without a clear idea of how you want the room to look in the end can lead to an awkward, non-cohesive look.

Here are a few tips to get you dreaming of possibilities:

  • You don’t have to paint the room just one colour – sometimes choosing a focal wall in a darker or lighter tone can bring a modern look.
  • What about an accent wall? You can pick a bold colour to really make the room pop, some beautiful decorative wallpaper, or get crafty with different patterns of wood paneling.
  • Are you feeling daring enough to try the new coloured ceiling trend?
  • Will you be redoing the flooring any time soon? Think about your long-term plans for the room as well.
  • What colour and style will you choose for your baseboards?
  • Will you be upgrading the room with any new accents – light fixtures, door handles and windows, light switch panels? If so, what finish will you choose?
  • Have you considered adding wainscoting to a hallway, dining room, or living room for an elegant upgrade?
  • If you’re repainting a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room, have you considered adding some complimentary tile or a backsplash?
  • Painting a room with cabinets, like your kitchen? Think about if you want to refinish them or paint them (while you have the brushes out.)

2. Choose Your Colours Wisely

It can be overwhelming to choose a colour when there are so many choices. It’s certainly one of the most nerve-racking parts of this whole process.

  • Start by choosing a theme for the room as a whole – do you want it to be warm? Cool? Colourful? Neutral? Elegant? Cozy?
  • Think of the furniture within the room and what colour would compliment it. Neutral tones tend to enhance natural fabrics, whereas darker paint colours help a statement piece pop.
  • What is the purpose and size of the room you’re painting? Light and bright colours tend to be more inviting for a kitchen or living room – they also make a small room look larger.
  • Do you like bright colours? If you pick a vibrant colour, make sure you love it enough to live with it daily and be prepared to repaint if you move (especially if it is a bedroom.)
  • Once you know the colour, choose the finish – glossy? Semi-gloss? Matte? It’s up to you!
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your options, get a variety of samples and set them in the room for a few days.
  • Colours will look different in the actual space and as the lighting changes throughout the day.
  • Many local paint companies like Dulux, Sherwin-Williams, and Heer’s Paint & Decor also have tools on their websites to help you see the various colours.
  • Before you paint the entire room, paint a small patch of the wall to double check the colour is what you were anticipating.

Here are five of them most popular interior home colours:

3. Use the Right Tools

Each paint project is unique, so the tools you’ll need will depend your vision from step one. There are a few must-have items that will be essential for achieving that professional look, but the most important thing is not skimping on the quality:

  • paint sticks
  • paint rollers (make sure the roller you’re using is the proper thickness (a low-quality roller can leave an unwanted texture on your wall)
  • drop cloths
  • paint brushes (of various sizes for small, delicate details)
  • paint trays (consider how many you’ll need for different colours)
  • sandpaper
  • painter’s tape
  • putty knife
  • old clothes

Do you need to remove wallpaper before you can get started? You’ll need specific tools to help with that – there are several methods both natural and chemical that are effective.

4. Determine the amount of paint needed

The rule of thumb with paint is one gallon per 400 square feet, this is a rough estimate of course. Thanks to HomeISD, you can check how much paint you’ll need with their Room Wall Paint Calculator.

Two gallon cans of paint cover up to 800 square feet, which is enough to cover an average size room. This is the most common amount needed, especially when considering second coat coverage.


You may need extra paint if you are covering a dark colour with a lighter one, if the paint has a deep colour base, or if the wall is highly textured.

You may want to consider applying a grey tinted primer before you start to help reduce the number of coats. It’s also good to have some extra paint on hand in case of touch-ups or minor projects.

5. Prepare the Room

You don’t want paint all over your floor and furniture, do you? Follow these five steps to prep the room for painting:

  • Take all of your furniture out of the room (if space is an issue, move all of the furniture to the middle of the room.)
  • Cover your floor and any furniture in the middle of the room with a drop cloth or plastic sheet to protect from splatter.
  • Grab the painter’s tape and apply it to all edges in the room: corners, baseboards, windows, doors, vents, fixtures, the ceiling, and crown moldings.
  • If needed, use the putty knife to help seal the tape tight. (A tighter seal means that paint won’t get under the tape and it will pull away dry.)
  • Remove outlet and light switch covers.
  • Use your sandpaper to smooth out any flaked or peeling paint.
  • Use soap and water to give the wall a quick wipe to ensure a clean, adhesive surface for the paint.

6. Mix Your Paint

Open your paint cans and check the colour. If there is a slight variation between cans, combine them into a larger bucket.

Grab your paint stick and stir your paint thoroughly before pouring it into your paint trays. You’ll want to stir your paint periodically throughout the project and only put small amounts into your tray at a time to avoid waste.

7. Test Your Technique

Before putting brush to wall, you’ll want to decide on a technique.

  • Give it a few practice strokes in a less visible area to get the hang of it.
  • Start at the top of the wall and work your way down.
  • If you’re painting an accent wall that’s a darker colour, paint that wall last. That way if the lighter paint happens to splatter, you can easily paint over it. You’ll want to wait until the lighter colour has finished drying first, then use your painter’s tape to avoid bleeding.
  • Take it one wall at a time.
  • Grab your brush and cut in, painting along the molding and the corners from top to bottom. Try to paint in a logical pattern.
  • Only dip your paint brush 1/3 of the way into the paint to avoid getting too much on the brush and wasting it.
  • If there are two of you, have the second painter use the paint roller to cover the wall, making sure not to get near the intricate spots. You’ll get those with the brushes.
  • Do not rush.

If you’re confident in your painting skills, you may want to attempt adding a texture to your wall or using a stencil to create an intriguing pattern:

8. Ventilation

It’s very important to keep your area well ventilated throughout these steps to painting a room with the help of windows and fans.

Keeping the room warm and dry are the best conditions for painting and it will speed up the drying process.

9. The Clean Up

You’ve applied both the coats and it’s finally all dry – now what?

It’s not over yet, but you’re close.

Slowly and carefully remove al of the painter’s tape from the edging, careful not to cause any imperfections. Make sure any splattered paint is dry before you collect the drop cloths and plastic sheets.

With water-based paints, you can use soap and water, while oil-based paints require mineral sprits. To help reshape and clean bristles, use a painter’s brush.

10. Take Your Time

The amount of time it takes will always depend on the size of the room, the style you’re looking to achieve, how many people are helping, and your own skill level.

Some spaces can take a couple hours, while others are full weekend jobs. It’s good to budget more time for a project than less, because the best way to make a mistake is by rushing.

Painting is an amazing way to help you turn any drab room into a masterpiece, especially if you’re looking to spruce up an area before selling.

Now that you know the steps to painting a room like a pro, there’s no better time than the present to begin your DIY project!

You’ve mastered the steps to painting a room. Looking for more helpful DIY tips?


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