Fancy yourself a handy DIYer but never painted a room? This blog’s for you! Painting a room provides a quick, budget friendly way to spruce up any space. But it’s not as simple as just picking up a brush. From prepping to planning to the actual painting, there is a lot that goes in to painting a room.  Paint like a pro in no time with our step-by-step guide: 

Choosing a Colour

So, you’ve chosen the room you want to paint and now it’s time to pick the colour. Every room has a purpose and a person/people it’s use is intended for. Whether it’s a baby’s nursery, a living room, a teenager’s room, or a meditation room, the choices for colour are endless. It’s a good idea to start with some inspiration. Look to magazines, Pinterest, or even other people’s homes and gather ideas and styles that you like. Pay attention to the amount of light that filters into the room, as this will determine how light or dark a hue you will want to go with. Too dark a colour will close in the room and possibly feel unnerving. It’s important to pick a colour that you can live with for some time as you probably don’t want to be painting it again any time soon.

Many people are now choosing to add a little extra personality to their rooms by painting the ceiling a different colour than white. This sound great in theory but might be a little adventurous for your first painting endeavour, so maybe stick with white for now.

After you’ve narrowed your choices down to a handful of general colours, go to you’re the local paint store of choice and gather some paint chips to take home. Once in the actual room you are painting, these choices should narrow down even further. Tape the ones you like the best to the walls and look at them in different lighting. The colours will look very different in the daytime as they will in the nighttime. It is then easy to choose the colour you will be able to live with and even enjoy! Get a few people’s opinions on the colour you think you are leaning towards but be careful not to get too many opinions as this can only confuse matters further.

Making a Shopping List

Now that the room and paint colour is chosen, it’s time to go shopping! Go back to the paint store with the paint chip of the colour you will be using. They will be asking you a few questions that you should be prepared for like;

What kind of paint do you want to use? Every brand of paint has at least three levels of paint depending on use and quality. The mid-range paint is normally a good choice. It should be 100% acrylic for durability and smooth application. The price point is also more affordable than the top- level as recently just like everything else, paint has gone up as compared to only a few years ago.

What kind of sheen level would you like? The sheen level is basically how shiny you want your walls to look. Gloss sheens have the highest light reflective characteristics. Next in order is semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, and then flat or matte sheens. Many people opt for eggshell on their walls as historically it tends to be easier to wash with no streaking. But, with todays paint quality even the lower sheens have good washability and are often advertised that way. Decorator’s and designers tend to choose the matte finish on walls because it shows the true paint colour off beautifully in every kind of light. If you are painting something that has to be washed or scrubbed down often, like cupboards & baseboards, you will want to go with a higher sheen level. The choice is yours, just be sure to be prepared when this question is asked.

Would you like water-based or oil paint? This is purely down to individual preference and the job it’s needed for, but these days most people lean towards water-based paint. They offer a finish just as good and without the smelly, toxic elements that oil does. Water-based paints are also easier to clean up after. Depending on the project you are working on, you can also use a hybrid paint like Benjamin Moore’s Advance. It is self-levelling, dries to a hard oil finish and is water clean-up. This is an excellent choice for painting cupboards or furniture. Note, it takes a couple of weeks for the smell to dissipate.

How much paint do you need? Be sure to measure your room by square feet before going to the paint store to ensure you will have enough to complete the job. Length x Width is how you get your square footage. Typically, one gallon of paint covers 350-400 square feet of space. That’s enough to paint a small bathroom. Even though many paint companies advertise their paint covering in one coat, this is as rare as finding a needle in a haystack so, be sure to buy enough to do at least two coats.

What kind of sundries (supplies) do you need? Depending on what you already have at home, you’ll want to make yourself a checklist. This list should consist of the following: Drop cloths, plastic sheets, painters’ tape, paint tray & inserts, rollers & sleeves, latex (paintable) caulking, brushes (a good, angled brush for cutting in), spackle, sanding blocks, and latex gloves. If you don’t have a 2-step ladder and a 6-foot ladder, then it’s a good idea to buy them. You will thank yourself 100 projects down the road! It’s also a good idea to buy a small hand-held bucket to carry around when cutting the outlines. You can use a plastic container you have at home but having a handle makes the job easier.


You now have everything you need to complete your first paint job so, what’s next? Prepping! Like most DIY projects, the rule of thumb is – you should spend twice the amount of time prepping as you do painting. A good prep job will determine the outcome of what your new room will look like. Start by clearing out the room as much as possible. Take everything that is loose and not needed away so that nothing gets knocked over or broken while painting. Remove all electrical plate covers. Next, and a step that should never be skipped is cleaning. Wipe down all surfaces including baseboards and the tops of doors and sills. Put down drop cloths to protect the flooring. Cover all furniture with plastic to protect for any over-spray that may fly in the painting process. Take out all nails and screws that have been holding up your artwork. If you don’t plan on putting them back in the exact spaces, fill the holes with spackle. This should dry quickly and then you can sand them smooth. Caulk the spaces between baseboards and door jams. This will ensure a flawless looking end result between trim & wall paints. Lastly, if you don’t trust your hand to be steady enough to paint straight lines, use painter’s tape to create them.


You’re all prepped and ready to actually paint! Professional painters always start with the trim and doors first. Put some trim paint in your hand-held bucket and go to town! Most trim is painted white or some version of it, and often requires three coats. Be patient and don’t skip this step. The final product will be worth it! Allow a good 30 minutes in between coats for proper drying time. Next is the wall paint. Start with trimming everything out then, rolling out the walls. Roll the paint in a Y or V to begin, this will give you good distribution and then smooth out a section at a time. Before you know it, the whole room will have one coat of paint! Don’t judge the paint colour on the look of one coat as it can often look very different from the finished result. After the first coat has dried and you’ve had lunch, do it all over again, and voila – you have a fabulous new room!


It’s a good idea to wait until the paint has completely dried before you start cleaning up. This ensures that any flying debris from a drop cloth or drop sheet doesn’t imbed itself right on your freshly painted walls. Lifting drop cloths should be the last thing you do anyway.

Pour any paint remaining in the tray back into the paint bucket and reseal with a mallet or hammer. Be sure to cover with a cloth before doing this as paint left on the sides could splatter and make a mess.

Clean your rollers and brushes, preferably in a laundry tub or stainless-steel sink, so as not to stain your kitchen or bathroom sinks. Put ladders aside – you will need them to later remove any tape left over, or to hang curtains and or blinds. Last but not least, you can finally remove the drop sheets from furniture and drop cloths from the floor. With all these items removed, you will be able to see your masterpiece in all its glory!

Post Painting Tips

Your new, fabulous room is now painted and emptied of all painting supplies. So, how long should you wait before putting everything back in its place? The usual rule is 24 hours to one week. This gives the paint time to properly cure and not dent if bumped into. It is now safe to put socket covers back on, hang pictures, window coverings, and your furniture back in its place. If you don’t want to wait this long to do these things, at least wait until the paint is completely dry and be very careful when working closely to the walls.

Note- Freshly painted walls should never be washed or even wiped down within 60 days of being painted. This can cause streaks, dis-coloration and paint being lifted right off its surface.


There aren’t many DIY projects that give the amount of satisfaction that a freshly painted room gives. The instant gratification of a room transformed into something that only days before was merely an idea, is almost palpable. Whether you are painted your home to sell it or just to love it even more than you already do, it’s always a job worth doing. If you are selling or in need of a new home to love, the team at McGarr Realty is always here to make it a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Give us a call today!

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