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paint a room

Painting a room is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to breathe new life into your home, whether you have it done professionally or DIY. You can paint a single wall a bold color, known as an accent wall, to completely transform a space. You can tear down old fashioned décor like wallpaper, wood paneling and popcorn ceilings, replacing them with a simple coat of paint. You can lighten a dark space with solid off-white paint on every surface, or even help an imposing raised ceiling appear inviting and cozy. It feels good to reclaim a space.


  • Have nothing in the room
  • New color will easily cover existing wall color
  • Have a simple wall texture
  • Have a wall that is in good shape with little preparation needed
  • Have the wall and ceiling be the same color


  • Remove easy furniture from the room and just cover heavy furniture
  • Prep walls according to texture style
  • Try and stick to one color for wall and ceiling
  • Add high sheen for a smooth surface


  • Cover all furniture and flooring in room
  • Paint two coats for adequate coverage
  • Significant wall prep required on damaged walls
  • Remove existing wallpaper or popcorn ceiling
  • Intricate molding and baseboards
  • Paint around built-in fixtures like wall bookshelves
  • Prime your walls for paint
  • Prepare for high ceilings

Step-by-step guide to paint a room

Recommended Preparation

  1. Remove Wall Fixtures

    It’s important to take off any paintings, clocks, and other knickknacks that you don’t want to get paint on, to provide a smooth area to work with. You also need to unscrew any electrical outlet covers to avoid getting paint on them and to make sure there’s no buildup around the edges. Cover the open sockets with masking tape.

  2. Move Small Furniture Out of the Room, Cover the Rest

    Though it can be difficult, it’s best to get your to-be-painted room as empty as possible to avoid accidentally ruining any of your furniture. Those objects that cannot be easily moved should be covered with tarp, as should the floor.

  3. Measure the Walls

    You can’t start the project without knowing how much paint you’ll need. Measure length by width of each section of wall and ceiling. If you have angles, columns, and other things to worry about, divide up the sections into rectangles without overlap and add together their length x height. If you have sections missing, like windows, measure their area and subtract it from that wall’s total.

The general rule is that one can of paint from the hardware store covers about 400 square feet. Don’t forget that you’ll be doing two coats, so you’ll actually need to multiply your total wall and ceiling area by two to calculate how many cans of paint you’ll need.

  4. Caulk and Spackle Holes

    Any hole in the wall you come across that’s not from one of the fixtures you just removed should be spackled over so you have a smooth wall to paint with no areas for paint to pool or drip out of. You should also caulk in any spots along the molding and trim that aren’t flush against the walls, and press it with a wet finger to leave a clean edge.

  5. Sand the Walls

    Cover your mouth and nose with a dust mask, open the windows, and use a sand paper brush to make all your surfaces smooth. Remove any preexisting paint clumps and any buildup of spackle from the previous step. Wipe any remaining dust off the walls, and use a wet/dry vacuum on the floors to remove all the dust.

  6. Use Primer

    Unless you have a perfect coat laid down already and just wish to paint over it, it’s best to apply a coat of primer evenly to every surface to be painted. This will help the paint hold better, ensuring a more pleasing look when done.
  7. Tape Edges

    Apply a line of masking tape around the trim of the room, door frames, and windows.

  8. Prepare Your Paint(s)

    You never want to dip directly into the paint bucket, because you could bring back dust and dirt from the wall and contaminate your main supply. Take a large plastic bucket and poor the amount of paint you need in, and stir with a wood stick to achieve a smooth, even consistency. You will need the bucket to be about twice as large as the amount of paint you want to mix within it to prevent spilling.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting a Room

  1. Cut-In the Edges of Your Room

    Using a small angled brush, use a light amount of paint about a third of the way up the brush and tap off the excess paint on the side of the bucket. Cut in a 2-to-3 inch band of paint around the edges of your walls closest to the ceiling and to your baseboard.

To do this, run a line of paint an inch from the edge of the ceiling, then turn your brush onto its tips and follow this line so you have an easy time keeping the brush level the whole way around. This will give you a buffer to help you avoid painting the molding when using larger paint brushes and rollers. Be sure to feather off the paint with the edges of your brush to prevent dripping when working with the ceiling.
  2. Paint Your Walls with a Roller Brush

    Now you can do the bulk of your painting, starting with the ceilings. Use a roller brush attached to an extension pole long enough to comfortably reach. To ensure an even coat, dampen the roller slightly with either water or paint thinner, then dip it into the roller tray. Don’t submerge it fully, instead getting just enough to cover it completely, and roll it against the grate of the tray to squeeze out the extra paint. Paint the walls with a tight zig zag pattern to prevent any unpainted spots.

First do the ceiling, then one wall at a time until your first coat is complete. Do not roll extra hard to squeeze out some extra paint when it starts running dry, as this will cause uneven application and possible runs. Just dip the roller into your tray again.

When you need to get close to the ceiling, turn the roller sideways and roll parallel to the buffer you cut in in the previous step.

  3. Apply a Second Coat

    Once everything is dry, apply another coat of paint to the ceiling and the walls, preferably in the order you did them the first time.
  4. Paint the Trim, Molding, Baseboards and Wainscoting

    Use a wide straight brush to paint the majority of the trim, and then use a small angled brush to carefully finish the trim with a straight line along the edge. Tape off the wall sections along the trim first if this will be a different color than the wall. It’s best to remove the tape before it’s completely dry to avoid tearing any paint off.

Estimated Time

5-10 hours

Required Tools

  • 1 can of paint per 400 sq. ft.
  • 2 paint rollers
  • Paint roller extension pole
  • Small angled brush
  • Wide flat brush
  • Masking tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Putty knife
  • Spackle
  • Caulk gun
  • 120-grit sandpaper brush
  • Dust mask
  • Plastic bucket

Common projects and their price

At, we’ve helped thousands of people complete their home painting projects. We’ve got a pretty good idea of how much certain parts of the project should cost. Check out the most common projects we’ve seen people do, and the average cost to complete them nationwide.
Paint house exterior
$3,729 - $4,324
Paint baseboard trim
$195 - $245
Paint interior wall
$1,363 - $1,743
Paint a room
$359 - $383
Paint interior window casing
$134 - $164

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