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The Ins And Outs Of Painting A Room

by Allison E. Beatty
Repair-Home Columnist

Painting brings color and a sense of renewal to a room. While there are many "tricks of the trade," even novices can paint effectively without hiring a contractor.

Prep Work is Key

The key to a good painting job is the prep work. Assuming that you are painting walls that do not need major repair, start by looking for cracks to fill, nails to remove, or other problems to fix. Use a putty knife to spread joint compound into minor walls cracks, spreading it as smooth as possible. Lightly sand the area after it dries.

If your walls need major repair, a professional contractor may be the best choice, particularly when you have old plaster walls. This type of home improvement work is messy and requires much finesse.


If you plan to paint the baseboards and crown molding, caulk where the wood meets the walls to create a smooth, paintable surface. After the caulk has dried, wash the walls and ceiling with a mild cleaner and let it dry.

Using Primer

Add a coat of latex or oil based primer over the repaired areas and let it dry. Primer can prevent wall stains or dark paint from bleeding through to the new paint.

The Painting Begins

Remove furniture or cover it and the floors with drop clothes and you're ready to start putting the paint on the walls. If you're new to painting, consider using blue painter's tape to mask off the woodwork, windows, ceiling, and other areas as you paint. Apply the tape lightly and remove it slowly as you finish each area. Otherwise, the tape will pull the fresh paint off the walls.

Always start by painting the ceiling and letting it dry for 24 hours. Use an angled brush to "cut in" where two walls meet. Go over the cut ins with a roller, getting as close to the edge as possible without getting paint on the adjacent wall or ceiling. After everything dries, paint the trim for the final touch.

Painting is an inexpensive and reasonably easy do-it-yourself home improvement project that quickly transforms a room. You may want to start in a small room or closet until you get the hang of it.

About the Author Allison E. Beatty has been a writer of home improvement columns for 15 years. Her articles have appeared in numerous national newspapers and magazines, and on home improvement Web sites.