Painting a Room: 6 Pro Tips to Take the Pain Out of It

EVEN ACCOMPLISHED DIY-ers and veteran home-improvement wizards find paint projects so demanding and exasperating they outsource them to pros. Still, said Portland, Ore., painter Mike Snelson, “there are things that can be done to mitigate the frustration.” Preparation, for one. “This is probably where most homeowners get lost because prep takes patience,” he said. Here, six other pro tips to make your next project less arduous.

To stack furniture before you cover it, set seats and small tables upside down on big chairs and the sofa.


F. Martin Ramin/ The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Jill Telesnicki

1. Create a buffer zone

The maestros recommend at least 3 feet of elbow room between the wall and any obstacles. Stack furniture in the center of the room (think chairs and small tables upside down on a sofa). If the pile becomes unruly, two smaller heaps work just as well. “Cover the stack with heavyweight canvas,” said Twin Cities painter Nick Slavik. Added James Greenwood, paint and color specialist with Graham & Brown, “Tape the canvas down for extra protection from splashes.”

2. Protect doorknobs…

…lest they get unintentionally splattered. Mr. Slavik’s prophylactic? Slip a plastic bag over the hardware, then tape the edges. In the case of an awkwardly shaped handle, “try aluminum foil,” said Mr. Greenwood.

3. Bag fixtures

Remove any glass, including bulbs, from hanging light fixtures. Unscrew the decorative plate and slide it down the chain, then wrap and tape all components with a plastic bag.

Wrapped in plastic and kept cool, wet rollers and brushes won’t dry out overnight.


F. Martin Ramin/ The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Jill Telesnicki

4. Tint white primer

For a more vibrant finish, shade the primer close to, but not darker than, the top coat’s color, explained Mr. Slavik. For bright hues like reds and yellows, primer tinged with gray will ensure uniform coverage, he said.

5. Use efficient extension poles

“It takes time to move ladders around and to get up and down them,” said Dave Rychley, president of national franchiser 360 Painting. A pole extends your roller, and you needn’t bend down to load it up again. “It will save your back, shoulders and legs,” said Mr. Slavik.

6. Skip cleanup

Yes, really. When you quit for the day, keep paintbrushes and rollers from drying out by wrapping them tightly in a plastic bag or plastic wrap, said Nicole Gibbons, founder of online paint store Clare. Then secure them with a rubber band or masking tape. Keep the swaddled tools in a cool place—the refrigerator works perfectly.


What are your tips for painting a room? Join the conversation below.


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