Recently, I got my master bathroom professionally painted (from white to white, that is, in preparation for greater things to come). Normally, when it comes to small painting jobs like a room or an accent wall I would have been all for PIY (paint-it-yourself). Not this time (I’ll elaborate in a future bathroom refresh post). Seeing the painting has me remembering all the times I’ve painted and how it wasn’t quite as quick and easy as it’s made out to be. Here’s the truth about PIY and, especially for first-timers, hgtv-watchers, and home-magazine-readers, all the things you should consider before you even go near a roller.
Painting a room is a pain in the (insert word here). Yes, I said it. I’m bursting all the bubbles. If you’ve ever read or watched any sort of home decor show, magazine, or website, they always make painting sound like the easiest way to transform a room quickly and cheaply. Perhaps. Yes, it can be high impact. Yes, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other renovations or decorating you could do (key word is relatively). Yes, it’s relatively low commitment (though after you go through the process once you may consider it a bigger commitment than what you thought you signed up for). BUT it’s not as simple as buying a paint brush and a can of paint and having a painting party. Heard that one before?
There are at least 7 other things (some very un-fun) you should be considering before you take one step closer to the paint.
- Finding the right color – Depending on how decisive or indecisive you are this could possibly be the most difficult task. There are 3 trillion possible paint brands, shades, and sheens out there. Do you go to Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore? Do you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot? What’s the difference? IS there a difference? Choosing paint colors could be a post on its own. In fact, choosing shades of white could be a post on its own! I won’t get into that here. In general, you’ll want to consider the overall look you are trying to achieve, if you want your walls to be a feature or recede, and the style and palette of your furniture and decor. Where the paint is going will factor into the type of sheen as well as the impact and look you’re going for. Getting paint samples (not just the chips) is highly recommended. Paint colors and sheens will change in different lighting situations and different times of day. If you’re decisive and know what color you want you may be able to quickly narrow down to the right shade. If you’re indecisive and don’t even know what color you’re starting with you may end up with splotches of paint all over your walls for months before getting yourself to commit.
- Prepping the room – (This is where it starts to get un-fun. Already?) It’s best to remove everything from the room. You might be tempted to just cover and work around furniture but it’ll be much easier to have an empty room and as much space to work and move around as possible. You’ll have ladders, paint cans and trays lying about and paint brushes and rollers in the air. Also, you’re less likely to trip over or step into the paint tray if you aren’t also bumping into furniture.
- Prepping the room some more – If you have a windowless, featureless room like a shoebox, you’re lucky. But most likely you’ll have windows, vents, outlets, baseboards, a ceiling, and other features that you don’t want painted. Taping these off to protect them from paint takes time and some precision. Don’t forget the floor. General rule is if you don’t want the new paint color on it, cover it up or remove it because you WILL get paint on it. If you have holes in the walls you’ll also want to patch them up. Also, clean the walls and baseboards. You don’t want to be painting over dust and grime. Prepping is really about giving yourself a clean slate to put fresh paint on. Taking the time to prep will give you the best results.
- Priming – Speaking of best results, if you already have paint on the walls, which most likely you do, you’ll also want to prime. If you have any color on the walls darker than the purest white, you’ll want to prime, especially if you’re wanting to paint it white or any shade lighter than what’s on the wall. Otherwise, the paint will show through and you won’t get the true color you thought you picked out. If you’re painting the walls really dark you’ll probably get away with not priming and just painting multiple coats.
- Watching paint dry – No work on your end. Just time. If you live in humid climates or even if it’s a rainy day, paint will take longer to dry. You may even need a fan or heater to help speed up the drying.
- Painting – Finally, at last, the moment where you get to break open that can of beautiful paint you’ve been waiting for. Depending on the quality of paint and your walls you may need multiple coats. More drying time. And are you up to speed on your painting techniques? If you’re painting a wall, but not the ceiling do you have it taped off? Or another method is called “cutting in” where you basically paint a frame around the edges of the wall with a paint brush before you get to use the paint roller. I’ve done it, and it is painstaking, slow, and requires a steady hand. I highly recommend searching YouTube for painting how-tos and techniques. Here’s one to check out: How to Paint a Room : Painting Walls by Cutting In Side note: if you’re painting trim or doors that becomes a step up from beginner. Streaky doors are a sure sign of PIY. The best is to spray paint on doors, but if that’s not possible you can give door painting a try with these techniques: How to Sand and Paint an Interior Door
- Cleaning up – Ok so you’ve prepped, primed, and painted your butt off and the room looks beautiful. Now you have to clean it all up. Legally, you likely can’t just dump extra paint down the drain or throw it in the trash. You’ll want to check what the proper disposal method is in your area. Then, you’ll want to carefully pull off all the tape and dispose of all the paper and plastic you used to mask the whole place. Then you have to replace all the vent, outlet, light fixtures, etc. And you’ll want to wash and dry your brushes really well or they won’t be usable the next time. Then you’ll want to clean off the paint you got all over yourself and in your hair. Hopefully, you wore clothes you don’t care about. Be careful you didn’t step in paint dripped on the plastic sheet on the floor so you don’t track it all over the rest of the house.
(Image Source: Morgane Sezalory via My Scandinavian Home)
Phew, that’s a lot to take in! Still want to paint? Since this post is already quite long I’m breaking this into a two-parter. Next, I’ll cover two more truths to painting you may not have realized.
What’s your experience with painting? Easy peasy? Not so much? Tell us below!
Wondering if you should consider new paint? Check out Why good bones matter in your overall design and tips for designing around it.