Skip to content

DIY: Painting a room… you can do it!

September 22, 2011

This ain’t our first rodeo… my mom and I have painted rooms quite a bit in our time together. I can even remember being ten or eleven years old, helping paint my own room… Mom wanted me to know how to DIY even then. Much like it saves you money knowing how to fix a toilet or change your car’s oil, the knowledge of how to paint a room  is invaluable, especially when you like changing around things in your home.

Just a side note: I never would have thought I would have liked doing this kind of stuff a few years ago. I don’t even think I enjoyed being crafty in college or in early marriage. It’s been just in the past five years or so that I’ve actually liked being creative, resourceful and fun, and embracing that has been very gratifying to me.

Anyway, there are some great painting tutorials out there on the web. My favorite is from Making It Lovely. She does a very good job illustrating exactly what needs to be done to paint a room. Mom and I basically do similar things, but I simplified our task list a little and included it below.

Note: later on today or tomorrow, Mom details how she painted the clouds. This tutorial covers basically the top and bottom coats.


  • rollers
  • 1 roller extension rod
  • two trays (we used one for each color)
  • Visqueen
  • lots of rags or scrap cloth
  • small brushes
  • sponge brushes
  • painter’s tape
  • bucket
  • nearby sink
  • paper towels (you never know)
  • a few garbage bags
  • hammer (to secure the paint lids between coats)
  • paint stirrers (I used old wooden chopsticks)

Basic Instructions and Key Points

+ Ask your mathematically-inclined husband to figure out the square-footage of what needs to be painted (not the square-footage of the room, but of the wall… big difference). These numbers will help you decide how many cans of paint you need.

+ Roll out the visqueen to protect and cover your carpet or floor as well as all furniture. We had a large dresser that we covered and protected, but it turned out to be a great stand to hold all of our supplies (and drinks!). We secured the visqueen to the wall by taping it to the bottom baseboard that we were not painting. If you paint all the way down to the carpet, I may suggest securing the visqueen with bricks or other heavy things you don’t mind getting paint on.

Primer is a must, but it always seems like a pain in the butt to do… as if you’re not actually painting. For the last painting project, Mom and I used a tinted primer and then the paint, but this time, we were working with two different shades. Introducing… primer IN THE ORIGINAL PAINT. Wow what a time and money saver. You can just paint with primer every time… we only needed two coats of actual paint, and the primer in it helped the drying process dramatically. Score one for Mom and all of her art-know-how friends at home.

+ Get ready for painting. This seems silly, but preparation is the most taxing and least fun part of the whole process. (Imagine me saying the following while rolling my eyes…) You’ve got to lay down the visqueen, then bring in the ladder, then cover up the area by the sink that you’ll use, wipe down the walls, cover up nail hole with spackle, then load up and stir the paint, and prep space so you can be ready to clean. Blah blah blah. Preparation is no fun, but it’s a huge help later when you’ve got paint all over your hands and you need to go to the bathroom. Just sayin’…

+ If this is a two-woman project, one person can paint the edges and corners, and the other can use the roller to do the large-scale painting. Mom and I alternated this a few times, and this was helpful because the neat-edge-and-corner person will of course get fatigue. Rolling the paint really is more fun. Switching off tasks between you and your partner is much more fun as well as effective for having a thorough, clean painting job.

+ We didn’t tape off the chair rail, the baseboards, or anything like that, mostly because it seemed frivolous. Many people tape things off, and that’s great! But if you have a steady hand and are careful, you can save yourself a lot of exhaustion by not taping. We had the original can of paint for the baseboards, so we just went back and patched up where we slipped up. It was also great to go back anyway, mostly because there were other bumps and scrapes that we could cover up in addition to our paint mistakes.

+ Plan out your timeline before the painting begins, especially if your painting partner has a plane to catch. Here was our schedule:

  • Mom arrives: Friday, 1:30pm
  • Lunch, planning and to the paint store: 2-4:30pm
  • Preparation and painting the top section: 4:30-7pm
  • Dinner: 7pm
  • Painting the bottom half: 8pm
  • Go to bed!
  • Leisurely breakfast: Saturday, 10:30 am
  • Top section painting: 11:30am
  • “Cowboys and Aliens” at the movie theater (actually pretty good movie): 1:30pm
  • Bottom section painting after snack: 4:30pm
  • Dinner: 7pm
  • Clouds begin: 8pm
  • Rest, chatting and wine: 10pm
  • Wake up and breakfast: Sunday, 9am
  • Finish clouds and other edging: 9:30am
  • Cleanup, packing and showers: 11:00am
  • Off to the airport again! 12:30pm

See? We had to get it all done and in very planned-out times. Thank goodness for fast-drying primer.

+ The first coat will always take longer than subsequent coats. You’re going over old paint that is soaking up all this new stuff. Plus, you’re acutely aware of everything that you have to cover up. (You can get away with missing spots on the 2nd coat!)

+ I said this in an earlier post, but there is no concept of time while painting. Neither of us wore a watch (very unusual for us but important when you don’t want to get paint on it), and we were very engrossed in important discussions throughout painting. (What else are you going to do but talk your face off?) Then, all of a sudden, one of us would say, “Gosh I’m hungry,” and realize that it was way past dinner time… Especially when you can see an end in sight with each phase of the project, you only see the finish line, not how long it is taking.

+ It’s very easy to be wasteful and lazy during this process. Painting a whole room (including the ceiling) can be down-right exhausting. So, what’s an extra garbage bag here, a roll of paper towels there? But, this is where you’re really put to test regarding being wasteful and environment-friendly… think before you just clear out the clutter and toss a rag out. You can be smart and cost-effective even during a time when you just don’t care as much.

I’m sure I missed a few tips, but these are my basic recommendations that really stood out to me. Preparation, time-management, and wine are key to painting a whole weekend, this I know! But, it was a very fun project, and I’m thrilled with the results.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    September 23, 2011 4:37 pm

    You forgot during “Rest, chatting and wine !0:00 pm”, we completed two baby registries online. Oh, we’re good, but you’re right exhausted.


  1. Maggie’s Room… the Nursery is Complete! « Kate Schmate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: