If your Instagram feed is full of DIYers turning dreary old rooms into Architectural Digest-worthy spaces, you’ve probably got the itch to do some decorating of your own—and that often starts with a fresh coat of paint. Whether you’re dreaming of an accent wall or looking to spruce up an entire room, painting can feel daunting, but we promise the process is far simpler than you think. While picking your paint colour and deciding where to put it is definitely the fun part, prepping your walls and gathering all the right tools is just as important. So before you get rolling, here are the answers to the biggest beginner questions, plus a checklist of everything you need to get your painting party started.
Do I have to wash my walls?
Even if your walls look clean, any hidden dirt (like cobwebs, fingerprints and dust) will stop your paint from adhering as well. Think of it like washing your face before putting on makeup—a clean canvas is always best. First move all your furniture out of the room or gather it in the centre and cover with drop sheets. Then, clean walls with a trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner or mix warm water and dish soap with a little elbow grease and rub those walls down using clean rags. Once you’re done, grab some more clean rags or a damp sponge and rinse your walls. Let them dry before moving on to sanding and patching.
What if there are holes in the walls?
You can easily fill any holes and correct bumps and imperfections by smoothing with a lightweight spackling compound and a putty knife. Just place some compound on the wall and smooth it out with the knife. Check the compound’s instructions to see if it requires a specific type of sanding sponge or sandpaper (220-grit is a popular choice) and, once it dries, sand until the repaired areas are flush with the wall surface. To remove any dust left behind, give your newly filled surfaces a wipe with a damp cloth and let them dry before painting. Clean up any mess your patching and sanding has sprinkled around the room.
How do I know what type of paint to buy?
Paint brands like Sico offer a selection of paints for different purposes. How do you know which one is right for you? Our quiz helps you determine the perfect formula for your room and walls. Here are the factors to keep in mind:
- What room you’ll be painting
- How much traffic the room sees. For instance, entryways, bathrooms and kitchens are the busiest areas of the home
- The current colour of the walls
- The final shade you want
Sico Clean Surface Technology is a paint-plus-primer option that’s great for high-traffic areas that require a lot of cleaning, like kitchens and bathrooms. Sico Prestige is a great choice for home decor enthusiasts because the paint’s colour protect technology means that your perfect shade won’t fade. And, as the name suggests, Sico Endurance will pass the test of time. It’s tough and scratch-resistant, perfect for busy households.
How much paint will I need?
Once you’ve taken our quiz, then pored over a million paint swatches to finally find the perfect shade, you can use a paint calculator to determine exactly how many gallons of paint you’ll need (it’s roughly one gallon per 400 square feet). Unless you’re using a one-coat paint, assume you’ll be doing two coats when you do your calculations and opt for a bit extra to handle future scuffs and stains. You’ll also likely need to prep your walls with primer paint, which blocks stains and helps your top coat adhere—the exceptions being if you’re going from a light colour to a dark colour or your paint has a built-in primer.
Pro tip: if possible in your local store, have your primer tinted grey if you’re going from a very dark colour to a lighter colour. This helps cut down on the number of coats of paint you’ll need.
To tape or not to tape?
Unless you have the steady hand of a surgeon, you’re going to want to use painter’s tape. Frog tape is an industry fave, and you’ll get the best application using your putty knife to really seal the tape down (otherwise you may be looking at some paint seepage). Tape around all the door and window frames and along all your trim—anything that touches the area you’re painting. To get really straight, precise lines, overlap smaller pieces of tape and, once you’re done, let the tape set for an hour or so to ensure that it’s fully adhered. You can remove all the outlet and light switch covers with a screwdriver and tape over the outlets and switches to keep paint splatter at bay.
Should I be worried about paint fumes and dust?
Weather permitting, throw open those windows and, if possible, run a large fan in the room you’re painting. Bonus: this will help the paint dry faster, too. While a lot of paints today are low in VOCs (voluble organic compounds), you’re still better off playing it safe.
Now that you’ve got answers to your biggest questions, here’s everything you’ll need to paint any room like a pro.
Your painting tools checklist:
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- Face mask
- Clean rags and/or sponges
- TSP or dishwashing soap and warm water
- Spackling compound
- Putty knife
- Sandpaper or sanding sponge
- Painter’s tape
- Canvas tarps or drop cloths
- Interior paint
- Paint stirring sticks
- Paint tray
- Flat paint brush (for “cutting in”)
- Angled paint brush (for corners)
- Paint roller with extension pole
- Paint roller covers