Painting a room can be fun, but before you take a dip, get to know your paint, brush-up on needed tools and supplies, and plan for quitting time. These easy tips will get you through the painting process. A simple paintjob can add new life to your home and increase your home’s selling value significantly.

Choosing the right paint finish

Paints are categorized by the way they react to light. This characteristic is called the paint’s “finish”. Before you purchase paint you need to consider the area to be painted and make a decision about the type of finish you want for your project.

  • Flat paint is the right choice for walls that are unlikely to require frequent washing. This matte finish should be used in low-activity areas, such as hallways, living and dining rooms, bedrooms, and on ceilings. For concealing wall imperfections a flat finish is best.
  • Satin and Eggshell paint has a bit more shine to it than flat, and is also known as low-luster. Attractive and long-lasting, this finish is a practical choice that is easy to maintain. A satin finish is a good choice of paint for kids' rooms, where easy-to-clean walls are wanted; just wipe up those little fingerprints with a damp cloth.
  • Semi-gloss paint has more shine and reflective qualities than eggshell paint. A semi-gloss paint is very durable and washable, making it a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms where moisture and cleanup are major considerations. It is also ideal for trim, woodwork and cabinetry.
  • Gloss paint delivers the highest level of shine and durability. Because of its high-shine factor, it is best used on small areas such as doors, trim and other architectural areas. Limit the use of gloss paint to lower traffic areas, because it highlights imperfections more than a lower-sheen paint.

Tools for the paint job

Brush Basics
There are two types of brush bristles: natural and synthetic. If you are painting with latex paint (also called synthetic or water-based) use only a synthetic bristled brush. For oil-based paint, you may use either natural- or synthetic-bristled brushes.

Brushes come in many shapes and sizes. Wall brushes (3 to 4 inches wide) will get the job done on large, flat expanses. Sash brushes are angled and usually 1-1/2 inches wide, making them ideal for detailed areas, such as the mullions on a window. Trim brushes have a 3-inch-wide straight edge that will serve you well as you cover doors and window frames. If a brush is tapered at the tip, it will hold more paint than a flat-end brush.

Roller Rules
For paint rollers, follow the same rule as for brushes: Use only synthetic rollers for latex paint and either synthetic or natural rollers for oil-base paint. Another roller rule of thumb: The rougher the surface you're painting, the longer the roller nap should be. It’s important to use a high quality roller. To test a roller's quality, squeeze it around the middle with your hand – if it doesn’t return to its original shape quickly, invest in a better roller.

Tape Talk
If you decide to tape off baseboards, moldings, windowpanes, and doorknobs to prevent getting paint on them, be sure to use masking tape or painter's tape, which has a low tack, making it easier to peel off. Quick tip: To avoid pulling up the new paint as you remove the tape, get out a hair dryer and give the length of tape a quick shot of air as you lift it - the heat will help prevent the tape from sticking to the finish underneath.

A Paint Job Well Done

Prepping Your Paint Area
Identify flaws and cracks in the walls. Fill the cracks or flaws with a light-weight patching compound and a putty knife. Smooth it out with your putty knife, let it dry completely and sand it down until it’s perfectly smooth.

Make sure to clean and dry all surfaces before beginning your paint job. Moving from top to bottom, clean walls and moldings with damp sponges or rags.

Unless you don’t mind paint dripping on the floor, lay out drop cloths to protect your floor surface.

Painting The Walls
To paint a wall, start with the edges, then fill in the center area. Use a brush to “cut in” the edges, then use a roller to fill in the larger areas. If your space permits, attach your roller to an extension pole; this will allow you to cover more area in less time.

Because there could be variations between batches of paint, avoid starting with a new can of paint in the middle of a wall. Even a slight variation would be noticeable there.

Keep a clean rag handy to wipe up any drips or spills. Have a stash of inexpensive disposable foam brushes, too, for quick touch-ups.

When applying multiple coats of paint, allow the walls to dry completely between applications. Premature brushing of the second coat can ruin the job by pulling up the first coat of paint.

Easier Cleanup
When you take a break or stop for the day, don't worry about cleaning your brushes if you’re just going to use them again with the same paint color. Simply wrap wet brushes and rollers in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or even a plastic grocery bag. If you're quitting for the night, wrap the brushes and set them in the freezer. They'll keep until morning, and you won't have to waste time washing them out until the job is complete.

When you’re ready to clean your brushes, soaking them makes them easier to clean. After the brush soaks for a while in water or paint solvent, take it out and clean it. If you're using a roller and tray for your paint job, spend an extra 50 cents on a tray liner. You'll save the time and trouble of rinsing and cleaning out the metal tray. Tray liners are available anywhere you buy paint supplies. Or make your own by lining the tray with aluminum foil before pouring in the paint. When the job's finished, carefully peel out the foil and toss.

Believe it or not, the curing process for a fresh coat of paint takes 30 days. Don't plan on washing your newly painted masterpiece for about a month.