How to Paint a Room: Should You Paint the Walls, Ceiling or Trim First?

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There is no product that can transform a room like paint. It is cost effective, it covers and seals stains and it can even improve the air quality of your home. It can also update the style of your home or make outdated finishes look new and fresh again.

If you want to tackle interior wall painting correctly, however, it’s not quite as simple as they make it look on thirty minute home makeover shows. Getting a professional paint finish requires more than opening a can and rolling your chosen color on the wall. It’s important to follow the right steps in the right order and take the time to get it perfect.

how to paint a room

Steps for Painting a Room

So how should you paint a room? What should you paint first? And what are the right steps to painting a room? Here are our best tips to paint a room.

How to Paint a Room

  1. Prepare to Paint

preparing to paint a roomIf you’ve read any of our articles, you know we are sticklers for meticulous prep work before you even crack the lid on your paint color. Prep work encompasses multiple steps, including but not limited to:

  • moving furniture out of the room or centering it (if possible)
  • removing any wall hangings including drapes
  • covering remaining furniture and floors with drop cloths
  • taping and tarping other areas that need protected like wood work, trim, windows, floor edges, etc
  • spackling holes or cracks or, in some cases, full interior drywall repair
  • sanding, scraping and removing any peeling paint from doors, trim and other woodwork
  • removing all switch and outlet covers and light fixtures
  • removing old or damaged caulk and re-caulking around windows, trim and doors or recaulking over a good bead that is existing
  • cleaning the walls of dirt, dust or mold

Depending on the age of your home, or if there is extensive damage to walls (e.g. smoke or water damage), your prep work could also involve other steps. It’s best to involve professional interior painters to help you with these kinds of projects so you can make sure that your new paint looks great into the future.

  1. Purchase the Right Tools and Materials

tools for painting a roomThe right tools and materials needed to paint an interior room are ones that are high-quality and suited for the job at hand. You’ll need a good trim brush and rollers with the right nap thickness for the paint you’re using and the surface you’re painting. Don’t skimp on paint quality, either. A high quality paint can literally mean the difference between your room looking beautiful for years and needing to re-paint sooner than you ever wanted. High quality paints have a nice sheen, lay down flat, resist bumps and dirty fingers and hold their color from the suns ultraviolet rays.

Other tools to keep nearby are:

  • a stir stick (stir your paint often to keep color consistent)
  • rags
  • a putty knife
  • paint trays/buckets
  • extension stick
  • ladders
  1. Prime Surfaces

Depending on the condition of your room, you may need to prime or re-prime the walls, ceiling and trim. This step is especially important in rooms that have smoke damage, bad smells, old stains or anything else you don’t ultimately want “bleeding” through or damaging your new paint color.

Use a high-quality primer designed for the issue you’re trying to cover. Some primers are formulated specifically to cover strong odors or stains, while others are designed to create a fresh base over bright or deeply saturated colors. A professional painting company will be sure to use the right primer for your room. You can also ask for primer recommendations at your local paint store or from your painting pro.

  1. Paint the Ceiling

how to paint a room - paint the ceiling If you’re giving your entire room a facelift, always paint the ceiling first. Ceiling paint can age over time and give your room a yellow cast. Sometimes painting a ceiling is one of the best things you can do to improve a room, especially if it’s been ignored for decades. Cutting down with the ceiling color onto the walls is absolutely fine and encouraged because you will have a cleaner edge once the walls are painted. Sometimes people skip the ceiling because they don’t notice the yellowing from time. Once the walls are painted they then see the ceiling as being old and dingy. Ceiling painting is quick and not very expensive.

Although interior ceiling painting isn’t the most complicated painting task, it takes patience to get just right. You will want to avoid big drips, streaks or mistakes on your ceiling. But when it’s done correctly, often with a flat paint, it can literally freshen your whole room and lighting looks brighter when it bounces off.

  1. Paint the Walls

The next step in painting the room is to paint the walls. Carefully “cut in” with a brush around ceilings, windows, doors, outlets, light fixtures and baseboards, then use a roller to paint the walls. Rolling into the cut line to blend is imperative so that the two different application method (brush stroke, roller nap) meld together as much as possible. A high-quality, high-coverage paint, expertly applied, can save you time and money in the long run since they typically require fewer coats.

  1. Paint Doors and Trim

how to paint a roomThe final step in painting a room is to paint the trim, windows, and doors. This one of the most tedious parts of painting a room, since it takes a steady hand and great technique to make it perfect. Always make sure to use the right tools for this type of detail work. It will make the job go faster, and help you avoid drips or smears. You will want the paint on these surfaces to look smooth and unblemished, so it can highlight or cover details as you’d like. Sometimes a professional will use a sprayer with a low PSI to achieve a smooth, factory type finish look, but each job is different.

We recommend hiring a professional for interior trim painting. They’ll know how to use the right application processes and paint for this finishing step so that your room looks complete and the finish lasts for years to come.

Should I DIY painting my room or hire a professional?

While many homeowners choose to DIY their interior paint projects, we think there are huge advantages to hiring a professional painter. First and foremost, a trustworthy professional will take extra care in preparing your room(s) for paint. They’ll make sure to identify any necessary repairs (that you might miss) and make sure that everything is restored, cleaned and protected before getting started.

Secondly, a professional will own the right high-quality paints, tools and techniques to ensure the life of the paint job. You probably will have to purchase all of these. In the end, you should love the color of your room for the next decade, without seeing too much wear and tear.

Third, as we mentioned previously, a professional painting company will paint doors and trim with a steady hand and avoid drips or smears. This step in particular can be a difficult one for even the most proficient DIYer.  All lines will be clean, all surfaces will have a smooth finish.

Finally, a professional painting company will offer a free quote so you understand pricing up front, and see what they’re saving you in hours, clean-up and mistakes. They’ll also provide a color consultation so you know you’ll love your paint color when they’re done.  A professional will get it done quickly so you can enjoy your evenings and weekends doing what you love.

Get Expert Help When Painting Interior Rooms

Our professional paint experts are ready to give your home’s interior a fresh look! We have years of experience painting interior ceilings, walls, doors, woodwork and trim.  Contact us today for a free interior painting quote.

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