A new coat of paint is the best way to alter a room’s appearance and mood. For a small investment of time and money, you can update any living space. But painting is more than just applying a coat or two of paint to the wall. In order to get professional results and beautiful finished product, there are certain steps that need to be followed.

Basic Steps

  • Preparing the area: There should be plenty of air circulation and ventilation in the room that is about to be painted. Before painting the walls, all the hardware in the room and anything hanging on the walls should be removed. If possible, furniture should be removed from the room. All other furniture should be pulled away from the walls.
  • Repairing walls: A new coat of paint should be applied to a clean, hole free surface. All holes and imperfections in the wall should be repaired.
  • Cleaning and taping the walls: After everything in the room has been removed and/or covered, it is time to wash the walls and remove dirt, dust and other substances.
  • Priming: New construction and patched or repaired areas will need to be primed before painting. Priming seals the surface and helps the paint cover more evenly.
  • Actual painting: After the walls have been repaired, cleaned, taped and primed, it is time for the actual painting. The order in which you paint a room should be top to bottom. The following areas should be painted in this order: ceiling, walls, windows and doors, trim.

Types of Paint

  • Solvent-based (oil or alkyd):
    In oil-based paint, the liquid solvent is mineral spirits. Oil-based paint dries slower than latex – usually taking 24 hours to cure. It needs to be cleaned up with turpentine or paint thinner.
  • Water-based (latex):
    The liquid is water. An advantage to latex paint is that it dries relatively fast, which may or may not be desirable in hot weather or direct sunshine. Clean up is faster, requiring only soap and water.


A primer will help paint adhere to the surface, providing a more uniform appearance. Use a primer when painting over new wood, drywall, bare wood, or repainting over existing bright or dark colors. Primer blocks tannin, water, grease and smoke stains that can bleed through your topcoat. With primer, your paint will last longer and look better because it improves adhesion of the topcoat.

Before you use any primer, properly clean the surface. Always use a latex primer on drywall. Don’t use an oil-based primer unless you are putting up wallpaper or covering a stain. Oil-based primers raise the grain of the drywall and make the finish look uneven.


Many people spend a considerable amount of time picking out just the right paint and then pick the cheapest brush possible. While inexpensive, disposable brushes are fine for many painting applications, some projects, like painting your house and trim, require the superior performance of a quality paintbrush. And, to keep that quality brush in peak shape you need to maintain it correctly.

Color Washing Your Walls

Color washing is one of the more forgiving faux finishes. It’s not very complicated or messy and it usually does not overpower a room. Color washing is also a very subtle finish that always produces dramatic results.

Faux Finishes

Faux finishing is one of the quickest and least expensive ways to bring color and dimension into any room in your house. Faux finishing requires no more preparation than any other home painting project; however, typical faux finish effects require multiple coats of paint, requiring dry time in between each coat, translating into days of work. WallMagic uses a patented dual roller approach that combines your colors on the wall all in one easy step, dramatically cutting painting time. Most kits include an instructional video with detailed step-by-step instructions and color selection guidance.

For rooms where you want to make a bold statement, use a strong solid color scheme like pure reds, blues and yellows. For a more mellow feeling, use cooler blues, greens and purples; they’ll provide subtle color that doesn’t overpower. If you want something neutral but updated, today’s shades of brown, beige, grey, white and taupe create a modern yet conservative look.