The Dos and Don’ts of Painting

By Joanne Loos Posted in: DecorImprovePaintThe Fix is In

One of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to transform a room is to change the color. You can do this on your own. Just remember these essential dos and don’ts:


• Clean the walls first. Even the smallest amounts of dust and dirt can prevent the new coat of paint from adhering. Use soap and water and give it a clean rinse. Then, prime the surface before you start.

• Purchase a test amount of paint. Paint a foam board and hang it on the wall in various areas to see how it looks with the lighting. Next, calculate how much you’ll need and purchase it all at once: one gallon for every 400 square feet.

• Start at the highest point. Paint ceilings before walls and save baseboards for last.

• Keep a damp rag handy. Mistakes will happen, so it’s best to catch them right away.

• Cover your paint. Paint skin can form on paint that’s left uncovered, even if it’s only for a quick, 10-minute break. Use lids, damp cloths or aluminum foil.


• Use plastic sheets to protect your floor. They won’t absorb paint, so they can get slippery and messy. Opt for drop cloth instead.

• Forget about doorknobs. You can take out switch plates, but there are some fixtures you can’t remove, like doorknobs. Protect them from splatters by covering with plastic bags or tape.

• Use paint straight out of the can. Strain it first to remove small strands of hard paint. Pour the fresh paint through a paint strainer or old pair of pantyhose and into a bucket.

• Start without cutting in around ceilings, trim and corners. This will help you avoid marks from rollers. Do it one wall at a time so the paint is still damp when it’s blended with the rolled paint.

• Leave painter’s tape on too long. If paint dries while the tape is still on, you could end up peeling paint off. Some experts say to skip the tape by using an angled brush and steady hand.