Do It Yourself: How to Paint a Room Like a Pro

Are you getting ready to show your house to prospective buyers? Do you want to make everything look picture perfect, but worry that one room desperately needs a makeover?

Many sellers get a house ready but find that one particular room is in need of a paint job. In many cases it is a small, neglected storage area, a rarely used guest bedroom or even an out-of-the-way sitting room. If you possess basic painting skills and want to tackle the job yourself, employ a few tricks of the trade to get the job done quickly and correctly.

It’s all about planning

Getting great results from a one-room paint job is actually quite simple, as long as you do each part of the task in the proper order. Professionals develop an intuitive sense of sequence after a few years of experience. All painters have their own techniques and specialties, but few deviate from the basics when it comes to setup and preparation.

After that, applying paint is the easy part! Even then, be sure to follow the unspoken rules of the trade and you will end up with a perfectly painted room. If you think you’ve got what it takes to transform that one little room into a showcase for prospective buyers, then tape the following guidelines to your paint can and get started.

  1. Enlist a helper

Smart do-it-yourself painters use at least one helper. Maybe you want someone to only help with setup or cleanup. It is often useful to have helper “on call” in another room to bring you refreshments, stabilize a ladder, answer phones (you might have paint on our hands!), or just keep the dog from barging in. If your assistant is a young person, make sure he or she can handle the job.

  1. Acquire the right equipment

Talk to the staff at your local hardware or paint store to see what you need. A one-room job shouldn’t cost you very much. You don’t want to have to interrupt the project to run out and buy things. Reading through the rest of these steps will give you a clear idea of what it takes to paint a room.

  1. Buy or rent a power roller

This is a judgment call on your part. For about $70, you can purchase a reliable power roller and use it for any future painting tasks. It is money well spent if you value your back muscles and overall comfort.

  1. Remove fixtures, nails and faceplates

Step 4, and you’re still not ready to apply paint! Use a screwdriver to remove every light cover, faceplate, nail and small protrusion of any kind. If you are skittish about electrical outlets, turn off the room’s power during this step. Put all the parts into a small plastic and store them somewhere until the job is done. Place tape over the openings where faceplates and covers were, being careful to make the tape coverage smaller than the original cover.

  1. Clean the walls and ceilings

Dust first, then use water or weak cleanser to make sure all surfaces to be painted are clean and free of any loose particles. Cobwebs, crayon marks, smudges and fingerprints can make paint application difficult.

  1. Prep the surfaces

After step 5, go the extra mile and fill in cracks, crevices and gaps in the surface. Use standard filler and let it dry before continuing. Gently sand any sections that are rough, but don’t overdo it. Experienced painters do all this prep work the day before applying paint. That lets the filled areas dry completely. Apply primer to the entire room for a professional effect.

  1. Take regular stretching breaks

Painting and related prep work is a strain on the human body. At least every half-hour, stop and stretch those back, leg and arm muscles. Don’t forget to do few neck rolls and massage your hands.

  1. Carry a wet rag or two

Before applying a drop of paint, put one or two wet rags in an accessible place. They will come in handy for scooping up stray drops.

  1. Cut-in between wall and ceiling

At last, you are ready to apply paint. Use a trim brush to cover a strip where the wall meets the ceiling. Immediately paint outward from the cut-in area onto the ceiling, doing a two- or three-foot section at a time.

  1. Keep those corners wet

Start in a random corner, applying paint with a trimmer or brush. Keep the corners wet as you paint into them.

  1. Roll the ceiling’s width

Unless the room is a perfect square, roll paint along the width of the ceiling, not the length.

  1. Paint the walls, one at a time

While the ceiling is drying, paint walls from top to bottom, one at a time

  1. Paint the trim, top to bottom

When walls and ceilings are 100 percent dry, use blue painter’s tape to mask areas around trim, moldings, windows, door frames and baseboards. Start high and work toward the lower sections.

  1. It’s cleanup time

After trim is dry, remove the blue tape and clean the entire area. It is usually smart to vacuum the rug or clean the floor after all the equipment is out of the room.

Painting a room can be a rewarding job and a true learning experience. The skills you pick up and the confidence you acquire will prepare you for bigger, more complicated jobs in the future.

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