6 Things To Consider Before You Paint

annie and paint wm


To get a quality paint job it’s not as easy as grabbing a couple of gallons of latex paint and slapping some color up on a wall. You can do that if you want, but consider the time, effort and money you are investing. Wouldn’t you rather have a quality job that will last?


Here are some tips, tricks and advice you may want to consider before you whip out the paint brushes.


What type of paint to use?

I often get asked by clients; “what paint should I use?” As a contractor, over the years I have learned a bit about painting. One thing is if you ask 10 people about paint, you will likely get 10 different answers. Here is mine…

As far as brands of paint, they very greatly in quality and price, so you will need to select a paint brand based on your budget and what you are trying to accomplish.

What are you painting over? Are you painting bold, dark, accent colors? Are you painting a child’s room that will change in a few years, but needs the withstand wear and tear?  Or are you wanting something with more longevity? How long do you expect the paint to last? How often do you change decorating themes and paint colors?

It is always a good idea to get the best quality paint you can afford, although if your budget is tight and you are painting over white or very light colors you may be able to get away with using a less expensive paint. Keep in mind that cheaper paints usually don’t hold up over time and often take more coats to cover.  If you are painting with or covering up dark, bold colors,   suggest getting the best paint you can and don’t be surprised if you need extra coats to cover bleed through.

 A little more about paint… sheens

When it comes to sheens of paint, here is what I suggest and why:

Kitchen and bath: Use  satin or semigloss; because bathrooms are high humidity areas use paint that is resistant to mildew and in the kitchen you will want a paint that will wipe down easy with mild spray cleaners to remove grease and oils.

Ceiling: Use a flat paint to cut down on glare from lights, some paints marked for ceilings are extra flat.

Entry, stairway, and other high traffic rooms: Durable, easy-to-clean  acrylic latex in an eggshell sheen will stand up to high traffic bumps and bruises. The added benefit, mild soap and water clean up fingerprints fairly easy without damaging the painted surface.

Paint comes in several sheens, Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi Gloss and Gloss. Each one having different qualities and lending different effects when decorating. Before selecting a sheen, you can learn a little more about the qualities of each by clicking  here.


How much paint do I need?

kit-dinCalculating how much paint is fairly easy. Add up the length of each wall and then multiply the height of the room for the total square footage of wall surface. Divide the square footage by the coverage per gallon listed on the can.

Example: Figure a 10-by-12-foot room with an 8-foot ceiling as follows (10+10+12+12) x 8 = 352 square feet; at an average of 350 square feet of coverage per can that would equal about 1 gallon (make it 2 gallons for two coats and you may need as much as 3 gallons for very dark or bold colors).  Remember that the coverage is average and will be different base on temperature, humility and skill level of the painter.

Notice I did not delete the square footage of doors and windows, that is because there is typically some waste for cleaning brushes and rollers and also why I was not concerned about the extra 2 square feet.


What tools do I need?

For painting; Roller frame and pan, Roller extension pole, Roller covers, Brushes

For prep work; Drop cloths, painters plastic, masking paper, masking tape, light weight patching compound, putty knife, small flat blade screw driver, razor knife or scissors.

Other helpful items; Ladder, rags, mineral spirits or paint thinner for oil based paint, bucket of water for latex based paint


More about rollers and brushes

Selecting the proper roller cover and brushes can make a difference in how professional your finished room looks. Here are some tips on both…

       Roller Covers

  • Smooth roller- ¼-inch nap for semigloss or gloss on smooth drywall or plaster walls.
  • Semi-smooth roller, ⅜-inch nap for semigloss, flat, or eggshell on lightly textured walls (orange peel finish)
  • Rough roller, ¾-inch nap for flat, satin or eggshell on highly textured stucco or masonry walls and drywall with a heavy knock down type finish.


  • 1-inch angled brush for small or narrow details, such as moldings and window muntins.
  • 2½-inch angled brush for window and door casing, cabinetry, and cutting in.
  • 3-inch straight brush: Best for large expanses, such as wainscoting and doors.

Quality brushes run any where from $15 to $20.  They are made of nylon/polyester for latex based paints, or natural bristles for oil base, stains, varnish and so on.  Check that you are selecting the correct type of brush for the paint you are using.


How much does it cost?

dollar-signI get asked many questions, but I would say this is the highest on the list “how much will it cost” or “Why so much”.

Paint cost per gallon can run for a few dollars for low quality flat paint to upwards of $50 a gallon for a good quality washable paint.  Like paint, brushes and roller covers can run from a few cents to 10’s of dollars.  So lets do a little breakdown, using mid grade materials and tools…


DIY Cost: To paint an average 10 x 12 room yourself. As a first time home owner expect to pay around $200.00.

Here’s the breakdown:

New Tools, roller frame, pan, pole, roller covers, brushes, tape, plastic, drop clothes, etc… $60

Primer; $35

Paint;$105 ( 1 gallon each- Ceiling, wall and trim)

If you paint more than one room, you will use some of the excess materials and reuse tools, so the cost may decrease slightly per room depending on the amount of consumable items you need (consumables are things like paper and tape that can’t be reused).


Prep before painting?

In addition to the obvious things like removing/covering furniture, wall decorations etc.  You will also want to do the following, remember a little prep work goes a long way in making for a nicer job and faster clean up.

  • Remove outlet and switch covers and put a strip of tape over the outlet or switch
  • If your painting the ceiling remove or cover air conditioning vents
  • Wrap light fixtures and ceiling fans with plastic.
  • Wrap door hardware such as hinges and knobs with tape and plastic
  • Do all repairs such as filling cracks and holes
  • Wipe down walls and trim to remove dust and dirt
  • Cover floors with drop cloths

Even if your in a hurry, don’t short change the prep work. Many homeowners are so anxious to get the paint up that we don’t take the crucial prep steps especially thoroughly cleaning the walls—remember to pay close attention to the kitchen, where there is inevitably invisible grease, oil, and food residue. Think of it this way… what happens if you paint a greasy cookie pan? If you miss this step, you will be sorry in the long run.

Removing outlet and switch covers is another area homeowners like to skip- I have even seen them painted completely over.  When you paint up to an outlet cover you run the risk of sealing it to the wall which causes damage when it is removed in the future and painting over it…  Sorry, but that is just plain lazy!

I have seen a fair number of homes where the owners didn’t pay attention to the prep work… and it not only makes for a sloppy job it causes problems in the future when you go to repaint.


How long will it take?

Prep work and painting is one project you don’t want to rush.  An average 10-by-12-foot room will take about two days, here’s why;

Day 1 Day 2
Prep: 3 hours
Prime: 2 hours
Dry time: 4 hours
First coat: 2 hours
Overnight to dry
Second coat: 2 hours
Dry time: 6 hours
Touch up and cut in 2 hours

Keep in mind that if you are doing more than one room your sequence and time will change because you will be doing all the prep first, then all the priming and so on.

An average 1600 sq foot, two bedroom house takes a quality professional painter 5 to 7 days depending on the colors and number of coats, keep this in mind as well as your skill level when estimating how long your painting project will take.

Working in this sequence may help to minimize the chance of marring already painted surfaces and help speed up the process. After doing your prep, paint  in this order working top to bottom- 1. Ceilings, 2. Walls, 3. Doors and trim

Have patience, take your time and you will be able to enjoy a quality job for years to come.


Until next time…


Life is simple…enjoy the colors!