DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY INTERIOR PAINTING: A LITTLE TIME AND TINT GO A LONG WAY FOR IMPROVING ROOMS!
The walls in a home provide the background for everything in it. Your family photos on the wall, those intimate holiday gatherings, every decoration and every memory in your home are displayed against the backdrop of a wall. If you’re unhappy with the color that wall is painted, you’ll be unhappy with all those memories. Don’t let this happen to you; with a little paint and a few simple tricks, you can repaint your walls and refresh your home.
You probably already have a paint color in mind, but if you don’t, your local home improvement or paint supply store will have huge displays showing hundreds of different paint colors that you can choose from. Browse around, sleep on it, and select a color or color scheme that makes you happy.
In order to figure out how much paint to buy, you need to do a little math. Measure the length of each wall that you plan to paint. Add all these measurements together, and multiply that number by the height of the wall. Count the doors and windows, and subtract 20 for each door and 15 for each window.
The large number you have now represents the paintable square footage of your walls. Each gallon of paint will cover about 350 square feet of wall, so divide by 350 to see how many gallons you need. If you plan to do two coats (recommended especially for dark colors), double that number. We recommend rounding your estimate up to account for spills and for touch-ups later. It is also a good idea to order ALL the paint you expect to need at one time, so it is all mixed at the same time and therefore matches exactly.
Don’t forget the primer! If you are painting new walls (i.e. directly on the drywall), this is important because drywall will absorb much more paint and demand more coats if it is unprimed. It’s also a must for painting over a dark color, to ensure that the old color does not show through. Even if you’re painting over a light color, though, primer is a good idea. It is designed to help the new paint stick to the wall, even if the surface is damaged or dirty. It’s an extra step, but it provides you with a much easier job and gives professional results.
Most of the tools you need are fairly obvious, such as trays for the paint, ladders, and the like. Don’t forget to get some dropcloths to protect your flooring! You’ll also want some painter’s tape to protect your doorknobs and trim around doors and windows. Some manufacturers now produce special tools to help with filling in the edges.
Roller or brush? Many first-time painters feel more secure with a brush, but we recommend choosing a roller. A paint roller provides a much more even coat of paint, with no brush lines, and gets the job done much faster. You may still need a brush for small corners and hard-to-reach areas, though.
The amount of time you need depends on how much wall space you are painting, but also is heavily influenced by drying time. It will only take a few hours to prep and paint each wall, but each coat has to dry thoroughly before the next coat (usually overnight). Because of this, it will usually take a whole weekend to paint either an accent wall or an entire living room, even though one is obviously much bigger. If you are painting many rooms, or are including special techniques like stripes or stencils, you may need up to a week to finish the project.
Since drying time is so crucial, the best time to paint is when it is the least humid in your area (less water in the air means it’s easier for water to evaporate from the paint). Heat also helps the drying process, but the hottest times of year are often the most humid. Spring and fall are generally the best time of year for painting. If you live in an area that is humid year-round, you may want to invest in some fans to help keep air moving around the room to speed the drying process.
Techniques and Tricks
Before you begin to paint, apply painter’s tape liberally to all the trim areas that you’re not painting (or are painting a contrasting color). Spread your dropcloths at the foot of the wall.
Painting technique is simple, and actually pretty fun! If you’re using a roller, use it to create large W-shaped lines of paint. Repeat this shape all over, layering and overlapping it to fill in the whole wall. The W shape ensures even coverage and texture and helps to eliminate paint lines.
When you’re done for the day, clean your rollers and brushes thoroughly. To protect your paint, press a layer of plastic wrap from your kitchen down on the surface of the paint in the can; this will prevent the paint from developing a “skin.” If you are getting up early and painting with the same colors in the morning, you can cover your trays (and even your rollers if you are brave) with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator so you can get a faster start.
Homeowners are often intimidated by an interior painting project because of its size and the time it requires. It’s true that painting can really take up a chunk of time. But it’s also easy and fun, and yields lasting results that make a huge impact on your life in your home.