How to Paint a Room: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Space

Bob Thomas


Painting a room can be a fun and rewarding DIY project that can transform the look and feel of your space.

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, this step-by-step guide will help you paint a room with ease and confidence.

Let's dive in!

Quick Summary

To paint a room, follow these steps: 1) Prepare the room, 2) Protect surfaces and furniture, 3) Choose your paint and tools, 4) Prepare the walls, 5) Cut in the edges, 6) Paint the walls, and 7) Clean up and enjoy your new space.

Prepare the Room

Before you begin painting, it's essential to prepare the room.

This includes:

  • Removing all furniture and decorations (if possible)
  • Covering the floor with drop cloths or plastic sheeting
  • Removing electrical outlet covers and light switch plates (make sure the electric is turned off) or just tape around them if you're not confident in removing the covers. 
  • Taping around windows, doors, and baseboards with painter's tape

Protect Surfaces and Furniture

If you can't remove all the furniture from the room, move it to the center and cover it with plastic sheeting.

Don't forget to protect your floors with drop cloths as well.

Choose Your Paint and Tools

Select the right paint and tools for the job:

Paint Type
Tools Needed

Water-based paint

Paint roller, paint tray, paintbrushes, roller extension pole

Oil-based paint

Paint roller, paint tray, paintbrushes, roller extension pole


Paint roller, paint tray, paintbrushes

Pro Tip: Consider using a paint-and-primer-in-one product to save time and money.

Prepare the Walls

Before painting, make sure your walls are clean and free of any dirt, dust, or grease.

Fill in any holes or cracks with spackling compound, and sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper (150-180 grit) for a smooth finish.

Cut in the Edges

Using a 2-inch angled brush, carefully paint the edges of the walls, around windows, doors, and baseboards.

This technique, called "cutting in," will create a clean edge and make it easier to paint the rest of the wall with a roller.

Paint the Walls

After cutting in the edges, use a paint roller to apply paint to the walls.

Start at one corner of the room and work your way across in a "W" pattern, making sure to overlap each section.

Allow the first coat to dry completely (usually 2-4 hours) before applying a second coat for an even finish.

Clean Up and Enjoy Your New Space

Once the paint is dry, carefully remove the painter's tape and replace the outlet covers and switch plates.

Dispose of any used paint responsibly, and clean your brushes and rollers with soap and water (for water-based paint) or paint thinner (for oil-based paint).

Finally, move your furniture back into place and enjoy your freshly painted room!

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. How long does it take to paint a room?

  A: The time it takes to paint a room depends on factors such as the size of the room, the number of coats needed, and the drying time between coats.

On average, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. Be sure to factor in prep and cleanup time as well.

Q. How much paint do I need to paint a room?

  A: To estimate the amount of paint you'll need, measure the square footage of the walls you plan to paint (length x height).

Most paint cans will indicate the coverage per gallon, typically around 350-400 square feet.

Divide your total square footage by the coverage per gallon to determine how many gallons you'll need.

Remember to account for multiple coats.

Q. Should I use a paint sprayer or stick to rollers and brushes?

  A: Paint sprayers can save time and provide a smooth, even finish.

However, they can be more expensive, require more prep work to protect surfaces, and have a steeper learning curve.

For most DIYers, rollers and brushes are more cost-effective and user-friendly.

Q. Can I paint over wallpaper?

  A: It's possible to paint over wallpaper, but it's generally recommended to remove the wallpaper first to ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish.

If you must paint over wallpaper, make sure it's firmly adhered to the wall, clean, and in good condition.

You may need to prime the wallpaper first to prevent colors or patterns from bleeding through.

Q. What's the best order to paint a room?

  A: Start by painting the ceiling (if necessary), followed by the trim (baseboards, window frames, and door frames), and finally the walls.

This order allows for easier touch-ups and a more professional-looking result.

Q. How do I choose the right paint sheen?

   A: Paint sheen affects the durability and appearance of the paint.

Flat or matte finishes hide imperfections but are less durable, making them ideal for low-traffic areas.

Eggshell and satin finishes are more durable and washable, suitable for living rooms and bedrooms.

Semi-gloss and gloss finishes are highly durable and easy to clean, making them perfect for kitchens, bathrooms, and trim.

Q. How do I ensure proper ventilation while painting?

  A: Adequate ventilation is crucial for your safety and the paint's proper drying.

Open windows and doors, and use fans to circulate air throughout the room.

If possible, paint on a day with low humidity to help the paint dry faster and more evenly.


With a little patience and the right tools, painting a room can be a simple and enjoyable DIY project.

Follow these steps, and you'll have a beautiful new space in no time. 

Suggested Products:

  1. High-quality interior latex paint: A top-quality paint like Benjamin Moore Regal Select offers excellent coverage, durability, and is easy to clean. It's available in a wide range of colors and finishes, helping you achieve the perfect look for your room.
  2. Reliable painter's tape: ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter's Tape is a popular choice for its strong adhesion and clean removal. It helps create sharp, clean lines and protects surfaces from paint bleeding, ensuring a professional-looking paint job.
  3. Premium paint roller: The Wooster Brush R959 Roller Frame and Cover ensures even paint distribution and a smooth finish. Its high-quality design minimizes shedding, reducing the need for touch-ups.
  4. Quality paintbrushes: Purdy paintbrushes are known for their durability and precision. Using these brushes for cutting in and painting trim will help you achieve a clean, professional finish.
  5. Sturdy paint tray: The Wooster Brush BR549 Deluxe Plastic Tray is durable and easy to clean, making it a perfect choice for holding paint while you work. Its deep well and ramp design help prevent spills and ensure even paint loading on your roller.
  6. Telescoping extension pole: The Wooster Brush Sherlock GT Convertible Extension Pole allows you to reach high walls and ceilings without a ladder. Its secure locking system and comfortable grip help make painting a room safer and more efficient.
  7. Effective drop cloths: Canvas drop cloths, like the Trimaco SuperTuff Heavy Weight Canvas, provide reliable protection for your floors and furniture. They're absorbent, slip-resistant, and can be reused for multiple projects.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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