How to do IT: Painting a Room!


Painting a room is one of the most dramatic, inexpensive ways to create an entirely new look and feel in a space.

Once your decorateITonline professional has helped you select the perfect color palette for your room, you’re ready to begin.


Shopping List

– Masking Tape

– Paintbrush for trim

– Roller Sleeve

– Roller Cage

– Roller Tray

– Roller Tray Liner

– Cotton Rags

– Ladder

– Extension rod or broom handle (if painting ceiling)

– Utility Knife

– TSP (if painting a heavily soiled surface)

– Oscillating portable fan

– Paint


Choosing the right type of paint: For most interior applications water-based latex is an ideal choice as it has low emissions, dries quickly, and can be cleaned up using soap and water.  Oil-based paints require solvent-based cleaners, and require additional ventilation as they emit more toxic gases.  Latex paint is available in a variety of sheen levels that will determine the texture and clean-ability of the painted surface:

Flat: This has the lowest reflective value and has a matte, suede-like feel and texture. Suitable for low traffic areas where clean-ability isn’t an issue, it can be used in dens, master bedrooms, and theatre rooms to provide a light absorbing backdrop.

Eggshell: By far the most versatile paint type, eggshell paint has a low to moderate sheen which is great for hiding small flaws and can be cleaned with soap and water (after an ample curing period).

Satin/Pearl: Similar to eggshell, with just a hint more sheen to it, satin or pearl finish (depending on the manufacturer) imparts a warmth and depth to the surface and is suitable for most areas of the home.

Semi Gloss: Great for doors, baseboards, and trim, semi-gloss paint is durable for surfaces that take a beating, and is scrubbable and resistant to chips and scratches.

Gloss: Similar to semi-gloss, with a bit more sheen. Suitable for surfaces that are free of flaws and scratches. Highly scrubbable after proper curing time and quite resistant to chips and scrapes.

High-Gloss: Mainly used for cabinets, furniture, and decorative elements, high- gloss paint has the highest reflective quality, but as such should only be used on surfaces that are free of any flaws or scratches as the sheen will draw attention to any textural ambiguities.  Only in oil base.

Try to choose better quality paint. This will save you both time and money as higher quality paints have a higher coverage rate and will require less coats to complete the job.   Also, if you purchase the paint a few days (or more) prior to starting the job, make sure to stir the paint for several minutes prior to using it, as the pigment may have started to separate, causing an uneven finish.

Preparing the surface: To ensure proper adhesion of the paint and to create a smooth, consistent texture make sure to start off with a clean, dry, and properly primed surface. Use a wet cloth to wipe down the walls and remove any surface dust. For extremely dirty or greasy surfaces, or those with staining from cigarette or cooking smoke you may need to use TSP (tri-sodium phosphate, available at most paint and hardware stores) and water to provide a clean, clear surface on which to paint. Next, fill any holes or imperfections in the walls with a suitable drywall filler. Make sure to leave ample time for the filler to dry, then sand the repaired areas with a fine grain sandpaper to a smooth finish (deep or large holes may require more than one round of filling and sanding to get a perfectly smooth surface). A coat of primer/sealer should be used on any surfaces that have not previously been painted, that have been painted with oil-based paint, that have been patched or filled, or that had been painted in darker colors.

Masking: Remove all hardware, switch plate covers, light fixtures, and door hinges if possible. For any items that cannot be removed, use professional-grade masking tape blue or green (it really does make a difference!) to cover them up. Apply masking tape in a long, continuous strip to prevent paint from seeping between the layers. Go back along the taped edge with a plastic putty knife, pressing firmly to make sure the tape adheres to the surface to prevent paint from seeping underneath. Make sure to cut off any excess tape.  Lay a canvas or plastic drop-cloth on the floor to avoid spills from getting on it (with a plastic drop sheet you can use masking tape to attach it to the edges of the wall to prevent it shifting).

Edging: Using a 2 1/2” angled sash brush (always check to make sure the brush you use is recommended for the type of paint you are using), dip it 1” into the paint, then pull it out and gently press it against the lip of the paint container (to prevent drips). Starting at the top corner, gently drag the brush along the edge (pressing too hard will cause paint to bleed onto the adjacent surface) and continue until the paint starts to thin. Then, smooth out any brush marks, drips, or bubbles, before dipping the brush into the paint again. Only cut-in small portions at a time so the paint on the edges will still be wet when you roll the middle part of the wall. For small or intricate areas you may need to use a smaller brush. Expect to spend up to $20.00 for a good brush.

Rolling: The first thing to consider is the type of roller you will use. For a typical wall surface, choose a roller sleeve with a 3/8” nap (nap refers to the thickness of the “fuzz” that will hold the paint), for fine surfaces like wood trim or doors, use a 1/4” nap roller sleeve, for light to medium textured surfaces a 1/2” nap is recommended and for heavily textured surfaces like stippled ceilings and stucco use a 1” nap roller sleeve. Expect to spend about $5.00 on a good roller sleeve, and $10.00-$20.00 for a roller cage.

– Line the roller tray with a disposable plastic roller tray liner (this will keep you from having to clean out the tray every time you use it).

– Fill the roller tray with enough paint to cover the section you are working on (keep in mind that you will be working on small sections at a time in order to maintain a “wet edge”).

– Dip the roller in the paint to load it, then roll it back and forth along the ramp of the roller tray to distribute paint evenly over the roller sleeve.

– Start by painting a vertical strip adjacent to the wet edge of the brushed-on portion, going from top to bottom, until you start to run out of paint on the roller. Roll over any drips or thicker beads of paint to smooth them out.

– In the middle section of the wall, roll the shape of the letter “W” adjacent to the wet edge of your vertical strip, then smooth the paint out vertically to fill in the wall. Continue with this motion until you get to the end of the “cut-in” section. Look over the surface while the paint is still wet to make sure there are no drips, bubbles, ridges, or missed areas on the paint.

– Continue the process from the beginning for the other walls in the room, starting with cutting-in the edges again.

– Let the paint dry for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours between coats (as different paints can have varying drying times, check the paint can label for the manufacturer’s recommendations on drying time).  An oscillating fan placed in the center of the room also helps the paint to dry faster.

Other things to keep in mind:

Ceilings: Use a long pole attachment (or a broom handle) to elongate the roller cage. Try to keep a wet edge at all times. For flat plastered ceilings you can use the same roller attachment and process as on the walls. Textured ceilings will require a different type of roller attachment. If you touch the ceiling and bits come off, that means it has never been painted and will require spraying by a professional painter (oil based paint is recommended) to avoid a mess. If it has been painted before you should use a 1/2” nap roller for a light to medium textured surface and a 1” for a highly textured surface. Many paint manufacturers also offer white ceiling paint that goes on with a slight tint, then dries white, to make it easier to see the portions you have already painted, and to avoid missing spots. Primer is not required for ceilings.

– While waiting for your previous coats to dry, wrap the roller sleeve and paint brushes tightly in plastic wrap (if using latex paint) to keep the paint from drying out and to save having to wash them out between coats. If you will be leaving the paint to dry for several hours, or overnight, wrap the brushes and rollers and place them in the freezer.

– If using latex paint, use warm water and a mild dish soap to clean brushes and rollers once you are done. Make sure to rinse them until all traces of the paint have been removed. Stand roller sleeves upright on a paper towel to dry. For brushes, lay them on the edge of the sink (with the bristles over the basin) or hang them to dry.

– For oil paints, a solvent based cleaner is required to clean out the brushes and roller.  Check with your paint retailer to determine the right product for the type of paint you are using and also about the local regulations regarding the disposal of paint and solvents.

– Before removing masking tape take a razor blade or utility knife and cut the edge of the tape where it meets the paint. This will prevent the tape from peeling off the paint when you remove it.

– The paint on the brushed “cut-in” edge portions tends to go on a bit thicker than the rolled portions, so the edge may not require as many coats as the rolled sections of the wall.

So, with just a bit of simple preparation and the right choice of materials, your painting experience can be as easy and rewarding as every aspect of the decorateITonline experience.  If you have any questions, email them to If we feature your question on our blog, we’ll send you a $10.00 gift certificate toward your next Store purchase (of $50.00 or more)!