5 Quick Painting Tips Everyone Should Know

5 Quick Painting Tips Everyone Should Know, lavender paints
Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to painting a room, there are a lot of decisions to make: finding the right paint color, selecting the finish, and then figuring out where to start painting. Don't worry, the paint pros have you covered. Here are five simple painting tips that will help you achieve a regret-proof painting project. We'll start with choosing the best paint and calculating how many gallons you'll need. Then we'll walk you through the steps of painting a room, from cleaning, to applying painter's tape, to rolling on the final coat. Consult these basic painting tips before your next big home project for a beautiful result you'll want to live with for years.

01 of 05

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Paint Touchup Projects, blue paint
Getty Images

There are two types: oil-based paint (known for its sheen) and water-based paint. Nowadays, there's no need to use oil-based when painting a room. Modern water-based options, which dry faster and have less odor, offer plenty of gloss and wipeability. As for paint finishes, you can't fail with a matte or eggshell finish on walls and a satin finish on trim. When purchasing paint, be sure to stick with brand names. Bargain paints can yield disappointing results.

02 of 05

How Much Paint Do I Need?

Paintbrush and can
Wendell T. Webber

The general rule is one gallon for every 350 square feet of surface area. One gallon is generally enough paint to cover a small room, like a bathroom. Whatever number you calculate, buy an extra quart for touch-ups. A new batch of paint mixed later might not match.

03 of 05

Should I Use Primer?

Primer being applied to a green wall
Wendell T. Webber

No need for primer unless (1) you're painting a light color over a dark one, (2) the walls are badly stained, or (3) the walls are marked up with spackle from patching. In these situations, a primer will help create a consistent, neutral surface that your paint will adhere to evenly. Instead of using a separate product, though, look for a paint and primer in one to save a step.

04 of 05

What's the Order of Operations?

Paint, drop cloth and other painting suplies
Jonny Valiant

When painting a room, follow this order of steps to avoid having to redo any of your hard work:

  1. Clean baseboards and dusty ceiling corners.
  2. Apply painter's tape.
  3. Put down drop cloths.
  4. "Cut in" the corners.
  5. Paint the room top to bottom: ceiling, then walls, then trim.
05 of 05

What About the Ceiling?

Crown molding
Justin Bernhaut

Follow essentially the same technique used for walls: Roll away from where you're standing, then zigzag back toward yourself, working in small, overlapping sections. But don't try to paint directly above your head—it's too difficult to see what you're doing.

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