The Joy of Painting: A Beginner’s Guide to Interior Painting
Painting adds new life to a room like nothing else can. It makes everything look fresh, clean, and new. And there’s no equal for what paint can do for your decor: it can take a room from boring to vibrant with minimal money and a few hours’ work.
The downside to paint is that if you’ve never done it before, it can be a daunting job. Just trying to pick a color can have even the most decisive painter-to-be pulling their hair out. And, once you get past that, the helpful people at the paint counter will ask you whether you want it in flat, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, or, that ever-confounding “eggshell” (which looks pretty much like “flat” to most people.) And you haven’t even picked up a roller yet!
This article will break it down for you. Here is the easiest way to get a great paint job.
The first thing to do is look at your room. You need to consider two main things here:
- What kind of mood do you want the room to evoke?
- What pieces (furniture, art, textiles) will you need to take into consideration to give your finished room a cohesive feel?
Paint and Mood
The first thing to think about are your favorite colors. Many of us have strong emotional reactions to color. A good thing to consider if you’re not sure is to take a look at your closet. Chances are, the colors you wear are those that make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and attractive.
If you don’t want to take a cue from your wardrobe, consider how you want to feel in the room. If it’s a bedroom you’re painting, consider calming tones like blues, greens, and lavenders–or a bright sunny yellow to wake up to in the morning. In general, warm tones (reds, oranges, yellows) make us feel energized, while cool ones are soothing.
Working With What You’ve Got
You’ll have to take into account the color of any furniture or art that you plan on keeping in the newly-painted room. The best way to make sure everything will work is to either take a swatch of your upholstery fabric (or a pillow, if you don’t have a swatch) with you when you select your paint. The other way is to purchase a few small cans of paint in different shades, put them up on the walls, and live with them for a few days. Either way, it’s best to figure it out before you paint, rather than after you’ve finished the entire room.
Flat: This has no sheen at all. Out of all of the different sheens, flat is the most difficult to clean.
Eggshell: This has slightly more sheen than flat, and is a little bit easier to clean.
Satin: This isn’t exactly “shiny” but it does have a soft sheen to it. This is the least amount of sheen I would recommend using in a room.
Semi-Gloss: This is by far the best choice for any interior room. It has a nice lustre, and smudges (even crayon) wipe off easily with a damp cloth.
Gloss: This is very shiny. It works well for highlighting mouldings and window trims, and cleans up easily.
Tools of the Trade
These are the best tools to buy to give your room a flawless finish:
- Paint roller and several roller covers. Go with a low nap (thickness of the roller cover) for most walls; a high nap is best for textured walls.
- Paint tray
- Extension pole (for painting the ceiling)
- Brushes or paint pads. Paint pads are a good choice here for the novice painter because they don’t leave brush marks. You will be using brushes or paint pads to “cut in” along the edges, as well as to paint trim. Try using a brush first.
- Plastic or canvas dropcloths
How To Paint The Interior
- Move as much furniture as possible out of the room. Use dropcloths to protect any furniture that must stay in the room while you paint. It’s also a good idea to protect floors with dropcloths as well. Use canvas on the floor (plastic is too slippery.)
- Clean any greasy smudges or crayon marks off of the walls with a cloth and some spray cleaner (whatever you use to clean your kitchen counters.) Greasy smudges will show through your final paint job, so get rid of them now.
- Remove any light or electrical outlet covers. Place masking tape over switches and sockets to protect them from paint.
- Use masking tape to “mask off” areas you don’t want to paint, such as trim. You could just try outlining these with your paint brush, but the masking tape will give you a cleaner line.
- If you are painting a light color over a dark color, or your walls are very grimy, you’ll need to prime. Apply primer the same way as paint (explained below) and then let it dry and follow up with one to two coats of paint.
- Cutting In: This basically means painting all of the edges and corners that your rollers wouldn’t be able to fit into. Areas that should be cut in with either a paint brush or paint pad include: over and under mouldings, around window and door trims, in corners, and where the walls meet the ceiling.
- Once you’re finished cutting in, it’s time to get out the roller. The best way to roll paint out is to use long, even strokes. Saturate your roller in the paint tray, and start rolling it out. Once you start running out of paint, go back to the tray. For ceilings, attach an extension pole to your roller. It will make the job a lot easier.
- Wait for the first coat to dry. Most rooms need two coats.
- Apply the second coat the same way you applied the first, cutting in first and then rolling out.
- Clean up. Pull off any tape you used to protect mouldings. Wipe up any drips with a damp cloth. Replace light switch and outlet covers.
- Admire your work!
Transorming your rooms with paint is a rewarding project. And it’s easy enough that you can change your rooms as often as the mood strikes you.