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They say that there’s nothing quite as boring as watching paint dry. But with all of this newfound time on your hands, getting around to painting a room in your home might be the next best project to check off your list.

If you’re feeling on the productive side, don’t be afraid to grab your tools, pick out your paint, and take on the project yourself. Here’s what you need to know about painting on your own at home, from the best painting practices to common mistakes to avoid.

What you'll need

Before ordering a ton of new materials online, try to hunt down some key materials in your home—you might have more than you think and can reduce the number of online orders you’ll have to wait on. Here are the basics you’ll need:

How to paint a room

1. Prep the space

South West Farmer: Prepping your workspace with a drop cloth or plastic covering is a key part of the process. Credit: Getty Images / SDI Productions Prepping your workspace with a drop cloth or plastic covering is a key part of the process. Credit: Getty Images / SDI Productions

When it comes to painting a room, beginning with a clean slate is essential. ‘It starts with proper prep work’, says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor. ‘Unless you’re painting fresh drywall, some level of surface prep will be needed to achieve a pro-grade A+ finish’.

Make sure your walls are completely ready to go by scraping and sanding off any cracked or peeled paint from a previous paint job. Give your walls a good clean (soap and warm water will do) and remove any excess dust or buildup with a vacuum if necessary. Let your walls completely dry overnight.

‘A single coat will usually do the job, as long as you go with a top-rated self-priming paint’.

Next, ensure you have a drop cloth to cover the entirety of your floor space to avoid any unwanted paint splatters. Move all of your furniture to the centre of the room and wrap them up in plastic or a covering of your choice.

To keep your windows and walls paint-free, there are a few tools you can use. ‘A handy tool is a paint edger—a pad with guide wheels that make it easy to “cut in” around windows and doors’, says DiClerico. ‘If you don’t have this tool, you’ll need painter’s tape to protect adjoining surfaces’.

Before jumping into the paint itself, let’s talk primer. You more than likely won’t need a separate primer for the job. ‘Most of the major paint brands offer paint and primer in one, and they do a very good job, so it’s usually not necessary to apply a primer coat’, says DiClerico.

2. Choose your paint finish, base, and colour

South West Farmer: Consider what colour you'd most enjoy in the space, and feel free to consult paint fan decks, samples, and even apps to help you decide. Credit: Getty Images / AleksandarNakic Consider what colour you'd most enjoy in the space, and feel free to consult paint fan decks, samples, and even apps to help you decide. Credit: Getty Images / AleksandarNakic

Semigloss, matte, satin—you’ve got paint finish options. Choosing the right paint for you can be based on aesthetic preference and size of the room. For most basic jobs, DiClerico recommends an eggshell finish, also known as a satin finish. ‘It’s in between matte and semigloss, so it’s durable and wears well but isn’t too shiny’.

As for water-based versus oil-based paints, the majority of interior paint projects call for water-based paint, also known as latex paint. Oil-based paints contain toxins, making them a more hazardous choice for room painting. Typically, oil-based is used for smaller projects, like painting pieces of furniture.

For choosing the paint colour itself, you can purchase paint colour fan decks to browse colours from your home rather than the DIY shop. Another option is downloading a house paint app to test out the colours digitally—major brands like Benjamin Moore and Dulux have colour apps available to download.

With all of this in mind, don’t be afraid to do your research and play around with paint samples. You can order samples to be sent to your home to get a better feel for what paint is right for your room.

3. Invest in the right paint

South West Farmer: High-quality paint can mean better coverage, and cost-savings in the long run. Credit: Getty Images / gorodenkoffHigh-quality paint can mean better coverage, and cost-savings in the long run. Credit: Getty Images / gorodenkoff

A common mistake that DIY painters often make is not investing in the appropriate paint for your project. DiClerico recommends that you avoid economy paints as they tend to go on thin. ‘You’ll have to apply two or even three costs to get good coverage’, says DiClerico.

That isn’t to say you have to break your budget in buying your paint, just avoid the cheap stuff.

4. Order your paint

South West Farmer: Make sure to leave enough paint to do touch-ups. Credit: Getty Images / Bill Oxford Make sure to leave enough paint to do touch-ups. Credit: Getty Images / Bill Oxford

To determine the amount of paint you’ll need for the job, try a paint calculator like this one from Dulux. It’s always nice to have extra paint for touch-ups, but there’s no need to have an excess amount of paint left over after the project’s done.

5. Start painting

South West Farmer: Use long strokes with a roller to get the most even coverage. Credit: Getty Images / ArturNykUse long strokes with a roller to get the most even coverage. Credit: Getty Images / ArturNyk

Get ready to mix your paint—grab a paint stick and begin stirring to ensure all the ingredients blend smoothly. Make sure you stir regularly throughout your painting project.

When going in for your first coat, be sure to roll out excess paint onto a painting grid or tray to get even coverage. Use long strokes with the roller to cover the majority of the wall, then smaller, more detailed strokes with a brush to get the corners of the wall. Just one coat of the colour itself should be good, according to DiClerico. ‘A single coat will usually do the job, as long as you go with a top-rated self-priming paint’.

This might seem obvious, but patience is the trick to perfecting a paint job. Water-based paints and oil-based paints have different recommended drying times. A general good rule of thumb, however, is to wait a full 24 hours to ensure it’s dry.

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