How to DIY Paint a Room Like A Pro (9 Easy Steps)

Published on

Thinking about DIY painting a room? Here are 9 easy steps to painting your room like a professional painter.

Unquestionably, painting a room is more than just picking up a paint brush or roller for both homeowners and contractors.

If you ask any seasoned painter, the secret to painting a room properly is all about prep work. In fact, over 60% of your time and energy should be focused on prepping a room to paint.

how to paint a room diy walls

This is done way before opening the first paint can. Not to mention, focusing on prep step-by-step will save you tons of time and money during any DIY wall paint job.

Indeed, a focus on preparation work is how professional painters achieve those stunning photo finishes.

In this step-by-step room painting guide, Improovy’s experts teach you how to prep and paint walls like a pro. Within 9 easy steps, you’ll learn how to make your DIY room painting job turn out beautifully!

Homeowner Pro Tip: Professional painting and drywall repair prices are the lowest of the year this month. Get a free painting price quote online in minutes now.

Prefer a Room Painting Video Tutorial?

Improovy’s Head of Production, Mike Kremsreiter, shows you how to paint a room in his latest video tutorial.

1. Plan your room painting surfaces

The first step is to decide which room surfaces you will be painting. Are you only painting the room’s walls or are you freshening up the ceiling and trim as well?

In addition to walls, ceilings, and trim many rooms also have doors, closets, and windows.

If you just need a room refresh or are a beginner-level DIY painter you should stick to only painting the walls. Learn if you should wash the walls of a room before you start painting.

plan room painting surfaces

But if you are worried that the ceiling and trim will look dirty next to freshly painted walls, you should paint all the surfaces.

Keep in mind that ceilings are harder to paint than walls and require extra equipment like ladders. Likewise, most color changes or accent walls add a level of complexity and require multiple coats.

No question, the surfaces you plan to paint in the room will affect your DIY paint job approach. As a result, it’s wise to start planning before selecting paint colors.

Wondering about the average cost to paint a room? Our room painting price guide has all the answers.

2. Choose your paint colors

With thousands of paint shades to pick from, choosing the perfect color for your room is stressful. The first question to ask yourself is will you be matching the current shade or changing wall colors?

If matching the current wall color, first look for the old cans of paint used in the room last. If unavailable, cut a section of drywall and bring it to the paint store for matching.

Need help finding the perfect room wall color? Improovy ranked the 10 best interior paint colors this year to help you out!

choose wall paint colors

Alternatively, you might want a new color altogether.

The easiest way to choose a new paint color is to buy sample quarts from the paint store. That way, you can apply a test patch to see the wall color at different times of the day.

Another option is to buy a peel-and-stick paint sample from a site like Samplize. Moreover, some retailers offer online visualizers where you upload a photo of a room yourself.

Lastly, you can book a virtual paint color consultation with an interior designer. Similar to the free color consultation offered by Sherwin-Williams.

3. Buy your paint supplies and tools

Nearly all interior room painting projects require the following paint supplies and tools to start:

  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint roller
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint tray
  • Rags
  • Spackling compound
  • Paint roller extension pole
  • Putty knife
  • Painter’s tape
supplies for room painting

Some painting projects require advanced equipment like ladders for rooms with tall ceilings. Also, depending on the surface texture you may need to purchase brushes with special bristles or thicker paint roller covers.

Finally, you’ll have to select paint sheens. Accordingly, we recommend eggshell or satin for walls, semi-gloss for trim, and flat for ceilings.

4. Calculate how much paint you need

The rule of thumb when calculating how much paint you’ll need is that one gallon covers 400 square feet.

So if you are painting 4 walls in a 10ft x 10ft bedroom with ten-foot ceilings, you’ll need 1 gallon.

Similarly, we recommend only buying a quart or two when painting trim in a standard room.

Use Improovy’s room measurement guide to calculate square feet faster than a professional painter!

how much paint you need for ceilings walls trim

To illustrate, let’s say you’re painting 6-inch baseboards in the 10×10-foot room described above. Since baseboards only take up 6 inches of each wall, the total square feet of the baseboard surfaces is only 20 sqft (6 inches x 40 linear feet).

Lastly, when painting ceilings you would just take the total sqft space of a room and divide it by 400 to get the gallons of paint needed for the ceilings.

Next, we explore the highly debated matter of paint coverage.

How many coats of paint will I need?

In 96% of cases, you will need at least two coats of paint when painting a room a different color.

Likewise, popular paint colors like Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams or Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore are notoriously bad at coverage.

As a result, budget three or even four coats for these poor coverage paint colors.

And if you need a primer, we recommend asking the paint store to tint it to your topcoat color.

coats of paint rooms wall

For heavily textured walls budget at least 1.5x gallons per coat of paint. Similar to stucco, these knockdown finishes are often found in homes in Florida or Texas.

Also, try to buy the highest quality interior latex paint you can afford. To help select the best paint, here’s a guide that compares Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams paint.

All in all, it’s best to budget two coats for most room painting jobs, regardless of what new color or finish you choose.

5. Prep the walls and the room

To prepare the walls and the room for painting first move all the furniture to the center of the room.

Next, cover the furniture with a canvas or plastic drop cloth to protect against drips and paint splatter.

You’ll also want to cover the floors in the entire room with drop cloths. To make life easier, clean all surfaces to remove any dust or cobwebs before taping.

prep room before painting walls

After that, use painter’s tape to mask off the edges of the room, moldings, and windows sills or door casings for clean, crisp cut lines.

Now you can remove all light switch plates, outlet covers, and any wall fixtures with a screwdriver.

At this point, you must decide if you want to patch holes or leave them to hang wall decor back up. If leaving the holes, take photos to remember where everything was hung.

Wall preparation tips:

Before painting, buy a pole sander to lightly sand the interior walls. Often skipped, this step increases both paint adhesion and coverage.

Finally, patch all holes, caulk cracks, and repair any drywall nicks and dents. Once patched, sand and texture the areas to match your walls.

As a final tip, we recommend spot priming wall repairs with a tinted primer. In turn, this reduces any potential flashing.

6. Mix your paint

Before applying paint to your walls, mix your paint with a wooden stir stick and re-stir continually throughout your project. This prevents the solids of the paint from separating in the can and ensures consistent color coverage.

When using old paint, here is how to tell if the paint is expired.

If your room painting job requires more than one gallon, mix all the paint in a 5-gallon bucket to keep the colors uniform.

mixing interior paint can stir stick

Anytime you open paint cans, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting paint on. Without fail, you’ll end up getting paint on your pants, shirt, or shoes at some point.

Another key tip is to wear protective shoe covers to avoid tracking paint as you step outside of the room.

Do I need to prime before painting?

Keep in mind that some room painting projects require a full prime coat.

For example, if you are painting porous surfaces like new drywall or going from dark walls to light or white walls.

Likewise, you’ll need a full prime coat if applying latex over oil-based paint or painting over stained wood.

priming walls before painting

Outside of those instances, most quality paint sold in stores today is self-priming so an entire prime coat is not required. However, we recommend spot-priming any patched areas or drywall repairs before applying the first coat to prevent flashing.

Check out Improovy’s primer painting guide for more expert advice on priming the walls of any room.

7. Choose your painting technique

Now that your room is prepped and the paint is mixed, you’ll want to pick your painting technique and sequence.

First, cut in the corners and edges of the wall with an angled brush. While the paint is still wet, use your roller extension pole to roll the rest of your wall, working from top to bottom.

professional painter brushing wall

Generally speaking, a best practice is to paint one wall at a time to prevent roller marks. Moreover, use long strokes in a W pattern when rolling the walls.

Certainly, interior paint dries fast. In turn, avoid pesky roller marks by finishing an entire wall first before moving to the next.

If painting all the surfaces in a room, start with the ceilings, then the walls, and paint your trim last.

painting trim after walls and ceiling

Don’t be afraid to overlap your cut line on the walls when painting ceilings or the trim when painting walls. Accordingly, this order ensures the cleanest lines for novice DIYers painting a room for the first time.

When painting the trim, remove the painter’s tape and wait for the last coat to dry before taping off the walls.

Start with trim closest to the ceiling like crown molding. Follow that by working your way down to the doors and window sills. Finish by painting the baseboards last.

8. Set up proper ventilation

No question, proper ventilation is important when painting any interior room.

The amount of airflow and humidity in a room affect paint drying time as well as air quality. Indeed, the more humid the day, the longer it will take for each coat of paint to dry.

proper room ventilation fan

To be safe, you should open a window or run a fan to allow for proper ventilation during and after you finish painting the room. Not to mention, properly ventilating a room will reduce paint fumes and smells from lingering after you are done.

All in all, setting up proper ventilation will ensure your paint project dries properly, leading to a more uniform finish long after your second coat dries.

9. Clean up and touchups

After your final coat of paint dries, pour any excess paint back into your cans and seal them with an airtight lid. When using latex paint, you can wash out paintbrushes in the sink with soapy water. However, you’ll need to wash brushes with mineral spirits if you used oil-based paint.

In order to clean rollers, use a 5-in-1 painter’s tool to squeeze off excess paint under running water.

Next, you’ll want to remove all masking tape and collect your drop cloths. To avoid accidents, make sure all paint splatter and drips are dry before collecting drop cloths.

removing tape cleanup after paint

Remember, it’s always best to keep extra paint in an airtight container for future touchups or matching.

As a rule of thumb, store leftover paint in a dry, cool space between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, the paint should be placed on a shelf outside the reach of children.

Whether you are painting a bedroom, living room, bathroom, or kitchen we hope that this step-by-step room painting guide was helpful.

For more home improvement advice from Improovy’s house painting experts, check out the related articles below.

Room Painting FAQs

Over the years, Improovy’s professional painting crews have painted thousands of rooms for homeowners across the United States. Correspondingly, here are a few of the most popular questions we get about how to paint a room.

How long does it take to paint a room?

DIY painting a room will take a minimum of two days. Your first day will be spent gathering supplies, buying paint, and prepping the walls or room. On day two, you’ll spend 5-10 hours painting multiple coats and cleaning up.

In particular, this assumes you have some basic painting experience and the room being painted is the size of a standard bedroom. You may want to add an extra day if you need to scrape, sand, and prime or patch a ton of damaged drywall. Likewise, you should budget additional days if you have vaulted ceilings in a larger room. Similarly, plan for extra days or hours when performing any major color change or adding accent walls as these will often require extra coats.

How much does it cost to paint a room?

The average cost of DIY painting a room yourself can range from $300-$1,200 not including the cost of your time and labor. This cost range includes at least 2 gallons of decent interior paint and the price of standard painting supplies like paintbrushes, rollers, drop cloths, tape, and trays.

The cost to hire a professional painter like Improovy to paint a room can range from $600 for bedrooms or bathrooms to $1,900 for large living rooms with vaulted ceilings.

Is there an easy way to paint rooms?

Yes, the easiest way to paint a room is to hire a professional painter or painting company to do it. However, avoid hiring a handyman to paint as they don’t specialize in the trade and will likely become more of a hassle to deal with.

A photograph of the author Andre Kazimierski
Written by
Andre Kazimierski
Founder, Improovy
Years Painting Experience
Houses Painted
More about the author
I have been building and scaling successful home service businesses for the past 17 years. Growing up in Chicago, I saw the struggles of contractors and small business owners first-hand. Having spent most of my life in home improvement, I founded Improovy to help bring trust back to the trades.

About Improovy

professional painter holding paint brush

Improovy is the nation's highest rated professional painting service. Get your free and easy painting quote today!