Steps to painting a room

28 April 2020

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to change the look and feel of a room is by painting it. However, it isn’t something you should do without some thought. A messy paint job or a bad colour choice can ruin an entire room.

I Love Wallpaper’s Filtered Homes campaign found that 25% of people surveyed said that their biggest decor regret was going too dark with their paint choices, 12% chose the wrong shade of paint, while 20% regretted going for beige or magnolia paint. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on the steps to painting a room, so go ahead and give it a read before choosing a colour and breaking out the brushes.


Steps to painting a room


What do I need to know before painting a room?


Some of the first steps to painting a room are the most important: picking a colour and a shade of paint. Consider your mouldings, ceiling and floor, and any furniture you plan on having in the room. There are plenty of handy online and augmented-reality tools to help you visualise what your painted room might look like, but nothing can give you a perfect prediction of what the finished product will look like.


The best way to get an idea for colour is to paint a test patch on the wall using a paint sample, after all, you’re going to paint over it anyway. This sample will show you how the paint looks on top of the existing colour and will let you see how it catches the light in your room throughout the day. 


The final steps to painting a room before you get started are to calculate the amount of paint you’ll need and gather all of the tools. You’ll need some sugar soap to clean the surface, a few brushes, a roller and tray, some fine sandpaper, a bucket, painter’s tape, and possibly some caulk and a caulk gun. Painting isn’t a quick process, so make sure you leave enough time to do a good job, factoring in the time it takes for paint to dry.


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What is the correct order to paint a room?


The process of painting a room begins with preparation. Remove as much furniture as possible from the room and cover the floors with drop cloths. Prep the walls by dusting them or wiping them down with a damp cloth. Caulk any cracks or nail holes, and then sand them smooth using fine sandpaper. Apply painter’s tape around any fixtures, windows, appliances, or anything else that you can’t move and don’t want to get paint on. 


“Painting yourself into a corner” is more than just a saying! It’s essential to plan out the steps to painting a room in a logical order. Begin with the furthest and hardest to reach sections of the room and work your way toward the exit, remembering that you won’t be able to step or lean on areas you’ve already painted. 


The next steps in painting a room vary depending on your specific case. If you’re using a primer, that will be the first coat you apply. A primer is necessary if you intend to paint a dark wall in a lighter shade, and optional if you are re-painting the walls in a similar tone. If you’re not using a primer, it’s time to get started with the first coat of real paint. 


Sometimes cans of paint have subtle colour variations, so it’s critical to mix your paints to ensure a uniform colour across the wall. If you’re taking on a large project, you can combine several gallons of paint in a large bucket. If you’re taking on a smaller project, the best technique is to use the first half of a can of paint, then open the next can and mix it with the remaining half and continue this for every can you open. 


There are a few necessary precautions and steps to painting a room safely. Most importantly, ensure that you have adequate ventilation by opening windows and doors wherever possible or using fans to limit the fumes you inhale. If neither of those options are possible, you may need a respirator or mask. You may need a ladder while painting, and if you’re going to use one, make sure there’s someone else around who knows what you’re doing – it’s surprisingly easy to forget that you’re up there while you’re focused on painting, and we’ll tell you first hand that a fall like that can hurt!


Painting one wall over two sessions can leave a noticeable line in the paint. You need to clean up, even if you’re going to be resuming your project the following day. - that means cleaning off your brushes, either with soap and water or paint thinner (white spirit also works), and leaving them to dry. Remember to close cans of paint and cover lid-less containers with cling film. 


Steps to painting a room


What are the steps to painting a wall?


Begin by painting around any features – windows, outlets, and fixed furniture, for instance – using a brush. Painters call this process ‘cutting in’. These first steps when painting a room are the most important since they are where the most noticeable mistakes can be made.


Once you have cut in from the features, it’s a simple matter of using a roller to fill in the blank spaces. Dip the roller in the tray and make sure to roll it a few times to get excess paint off – your roller shouldn’t be dripping; it should be mostly dry before you lift it out of the tray.

Paint around a meter at a time, using a long, repetitive V pattern to apply the paint in vertical strokes.


When the first coat has dried, apply a second coat. Take extra care not to leave any drips or irregularities in the paint, since this coat will be the one that matters. The final steps to painting a room are to remove the painter’s tape, wait for it to dry, replace your furniture, and appreciate a job well done!