There are several steps to complete before you actually start painting.
Select the correct paint
Color isn't the only paint decision you are going to make. Water-based latex paints are the most popular, but you can also choose an alkyd, or oil-based paint (more durable than water-based but more difficult to apply). You'll also have to choose the finish - enamel, hi-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell or flat. Some finishes are more appropriate for a particular room. For instance, hi-gloss or semi-gloss is generally recommended for bathrooms because they repel water better than other finishes. There are also special paints for the bathroom and kitchen that are formulated to resist mold and mildew.
Is your head spinning yet? One of the many things that a professional painter provides is knowledge. A painter can advise you of the pros and cons of different types of paint and make recommendations for your particular home.
Clear the room
Remove everything off the walls (including window treatments, switch plates, outlet covers and light fixtures) and as much furniture as possible. Move the rest to the center of the room and cover both furniture and the floor with drop cloths. Okay - you're ready to focus your attention on the walls.
Assuming you want your room to look magnificent and inspire accolades, the next step is to prep the walls. Meticulous preparation is critical to achieving a smooth, flawless finish - skip this important step at your peril.
- Clean the walls with household soap and a damp cloth. To remove stubborn stains or greasy spots you can use trisodium phosphate (TSP).
- Caulk any holes, cracks and blemishes with spackle. Deep imperfections may require patching.
- Sand the trim and repaired areas
- Apply primer
- Cover any remaining stains with a stain blocking primer
- Tape off the area - baseboards, door frames and trim with blue painters tape
Now that you know what is involved and the time commitment required, you may be warming up to the idea of hiring a professional painter. Check out our list of painters in your area. For more information about how to select a contractor, read Choosing a House Painter.
Note: This article has focused on interior painting, but the challenges and considerations involved in painting the exterior of your home are similar, with the added bonus of a trip to the emergency room should you take a tumble off the ladder.