1. Plan your approach Start by thinking about how you want the finished project to look and remember that you’re not limited to four walls or an entire room in the same color. Consider painting an accent wall in a bold hue or highlighting moldings in a contrasting shade or finish. And don’t forget to look up and see whether the ceiling could use a refresh as well.
2. Choose your color Browsing through fan decks and paint chips can be overwhelming. Start by figuring out the general color characteristics: Do you want a warm or cool shade? Neutral or saturated? If you have existing furniture or art, you’ll also want to consider how the shade will complement them. Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, pick a few shades and get samples—lots of direct-to-consumer brands, like Backdrop and Clare, will send you adhesive swatches you can slap on the wall for a better sense of shade (and it’ll save you a trip to the store). Test the colors to see how they look in the room at different times of day.
3. Pick out your tools and materials Every project is unique and you may need different tools depending on the paint you choose and the condition of your walls, but there are a few must-haves:
– Paint – Paint roller – Paint roller extension pole – Drop cloths – Paintbrushes – Paint tray – Sandpaper – Painter’s tape – Rags – Putty knife
4. Determine how much paint you’ll need Whether you’re painting a powder room or the exterior of your house, the general rule of thumb is one gallon per 400 square feet, says Carl Minchew, vice president of color innovation and design at Benjamin Moore.
5. Prep the walls and the room You don’t want to damage your favorite sofa or that heirloom Grandma gave you, so empty the room of all the furniture. If you don’t have enough space to relocate everything you own, push it all to the center of the room. Cover the pieces with a drop cloth or lightweight plastic sheeting and do the same with the floor, as well as any cabinetry or countertops that might be in danger of excess splatter.
6. Mix your paint Use a wooden paint stick to stir the paint, and re-stir often throughout the project. Paint that isn’t stirred consistently can lead to the ingredients separating and you’ll risk compromising the true color you’re going for. If you’re using more than one gallon of paint, combine the cans in a large bucket in case there is a slight variation in color.
7. Pick your painting techniques Your paint is mixed and your roller is at the ready, but make sure to plan a strategy before you get started. Work from the top of the room down, starting with the ceilings. Planning a bold focal wall? Paint the adjoining light-colored walls first.
8. Don’t forget ventilation Watching paint dry is no fun. Make sure your space is well ventilated throughout the project by opening windows and using fans. “Keeping the room warm and a fan blowing definitely helps speed up the drying process,” the cousins say. “If it’s a damp day, it will take much longer for the paint to dry.”
9. Clean up You’ve done multiple coats, but it’s not time to relax just yet. Remove all the painter’s tape and gather drop cloths, making sure any spills or splatters are dry before you move them. For latex- and water-based paints, clean brushes with soapy water, though oil-based paints will require mineral spirits. You can use a painter’s brush to clean and reshape bristles.
10. Give yourself enough time The amount of time your project will take depends on the size of your room, how you’re painting, and your skill level. For instance, using a dark shade on the walls and painting the ceiling and trim will take longer than just doing the walls in a neutral color. While some spaces can be done in a few hours, others may take several days. Be sure to budget more time than you think the job will need and don’t forget to take prep and cleanup into account.