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How to Prep a Room Before Painting

Before we found a home, we knew the first of the many DIY home decor projects we would need to tackle was painting.  I’d always wanted a house with gray walls and so after many trips to Home Depot to grab paint swatches and paint samples, we decided on a gray we both liked.  We knew a lot was involved to prepare a room before painting, but boy oh boy!

Prep room for painting

The original plan was to hire painters, but after the estimates we received, we didn’t want such a large portion of our budget going to painters.  When we lived in DC, we painted E’s house so it wasn’t that we couldn’t do it, we just didn’t want to do it.  It’s funny how things seem expensive when it’s really not what you want the majority of your budget to go to isn’t it?

Prepare a room before painting

Painting such a large house has taught me a lot!  I want to share 3 tips with y’all today.

How to Prepare a Room Before Painting

Have a plan

Y’all, painting is hard work, but preparing a room before painting is even more hard work!  You have to have a plan before you start.  You can’t just run to the hardware store, buy some paint, and slap it on the walls.  It just doesn’t work that way. If it was that easy, everyone would do it.

Once we decided we were going to paint ourselves, we thought about what colors we wanted.  I’m a color person and E is not; I wanted gold and purples and oranges.  I’m modern, he’s more traditional and Victorian.   As you can see, our styles and tastes are very different, which is the exact reason we decided to keep the colors neutral.

We got swatches galore and went through them until we found colors both of us could be happy with.  If I never see a paint swatch again, I tell ya, it will be too soon!

Having a plan for painting your house involves,

  • deciding on a color palette for your home.
  • choosing a time to start.  Do you have time to paint during the day?  Do you work so that means you only have time on the weekends?  Do you plan to take time off from work and just knock it out in a week (or however long based on what you have to paint)?
  • thinking if you’re going to need to enlist the help of friends and family?  If you do, then you need to factor in their schedules as well.
  • If painting more than one room, or in our case, an entire house, how are you going to carry the colors throughout the house?  After much deliberation and based on the layout of our house, we decided to make the entire first floor gray, as well as the walls as you walk up the stairs to the 2nd and 3rd floors, the hallway of the 2nd floor,  and the bonus room on the 3rd floor.  Each room on the 2nd and 3rd floors will be a color that complements the dark gray in the hallways (see I managed to get my love of color in there!).
  • deciding what gets painted first?  For us, it was the kitchen because so much time is spent there-it really is the heart of our home.  I cook 5-6 nights each week and I didn’t want to cook in a kitchen I didn’t even want to look at, ya know?

Try it first

The second step to prepare a room before painting is to try the paint first.  Our first paint idea was tan.  When I went to Home Depot to grab tan swatches, on paper, they looked great!  We decided on 4 of the tan colors, I purchased swatches and painted a small part of the wall to see what they looked like.   Remember this: just because it looks good on paper, doesn’t mean it’s going to look like that or even look good on your walls.  We did this every time we painted a room.

Unpainted room

That was so true for the tan colors once they were up.  That’s why we moved to the gray and we went through 2 rounds of swatches and samples before we found the right one.  We have a huge stone fireplace in our family room.  I love it, but a lot of my  decor choices are based on that fireplace because it really is the focal point of the house.

Living room

Before making any final decisions, we also looked at the colors on the wall at different times of the day.  This is an important tip; once you’ve painted a portion of your wall to see what the color will  look like, look at it throughout the day.  We painted the samples in the early evening around 5:00 pm and let them dry.  Once dry, the next day, we looked at them with the lights on in the living room.  We looked at them in the morning when the natural light is high in that room-we pulled the blinds completely up, and we looked at them in the afternoon.

paint swatch

One of the reasons the tans didn’t make it besides they were just too plain and had no life, was because the couple we really liked didn’t look too great in the artificial light; they were fine in the morning and afternoon with the natural light.

So before you go and buy all of those gallons of paint, make sure you view the paints on your walls at various times of the day!

Know your paint

I’m a Behr girl-always have been.  I guess that’s because it’s the paint my parents always used and because it’s a primer and paint all-in-one.  As far as I’m concerned, that means less painting and who doesn’t love that?

If you don’t know anything about paint, I suggest going online and doing your research as well as going to your local hardware store and asking questions.  You want to make sure you are an educated painter!

Here are a few resources to help you get started.

There are so many different types of paints, why you use a particular one, and how you want it to look so it pays to learn before you dive in.  After reading the above resources, you will definitely have a good start to learning about paint and you’ll also be better prepared to ask questions when you do go to purchase your paint.

Get the right supplies

This one is super important.  Y’all if you don’t have the right supplies, I don’t care if you have a plan and the right paint; you’re going to create more work for yourself through time, money, and frustration.

Paint supplies

Now that you’ve decided on the type of paint you want, how much do you need? Luckily, there are wonderful calculators available to help you decide just that!  Don’t you just love handy tools?  Below are a few that can help you with deciding on how much paint you need. Remember to check with whomever helps you at the hardwood store because depending on the paint, you may need more or less.

If you don’t want to have paint on your base boards, ceilings, or anywhere else that isn’t a wall, get some painters tape!  You can tape this on the areas you want covered to protect them.  Please remember to remove the painters tape while the paint is still wet.  If you wait until after the paint is dry, you run the risk of not only removing the tape, but also the paint with it!

To cover carpets, floors, and appliances don’t forget drop cloths!

Paint brushes come in all different sizes, types, and styles. Just as with the paint, being an informed shopper helps a lot!  Rollers come in different sizes and naps. How do you know what’s best for your painting needs?  Below are a few resources to get the scoop on paint brushes and rollers.

Here’s a list of other items you may need:

  • Paint trays
  • Tray liners
  • Paint stirrers
  • Sand paper
  • Spackle-just in case you have some holes to fill
  • Towels you won’t mind getting messy and full of paint
  • Primer
  • Sponge brushes
  • Paint edgers

As you can see, you can’t just throw some paint on a wall!  It takes time and preparation to tackle such a project, but it is well worth it and very rewarding.  Following these 3 tips can make such a big difference as to how your rooms will look once the paint dries.

kitchen paint

What other tips do you have when it comes to painting?  Share in the comments below!



  1. Nicole says

    We like Behr paint, too. It’s always worked well for us. My husband and I recently repainted the main living area of our house. It is hard work, but worth doing yourself if you’re like us and on a budget. I love your tip for always painting swatches on the wall – it is so important to do that. Paint colors can look completely different on paper than on the wall. #HomeMattersParty

  2. Sahana says

    I have never painted a wall. These tips will come in handy when I am trying to do it for the first time. Thank you for sharing with us at #HomeMattersParty

  3. Donna @ Modern on Monticello says

    You covered some great tips in this post. It is true that paint doesn’t look the same on paper or on all of the walls in the same room. It is worth the extra time to pick the right color than have to repeat these steps all over again. Thanks for sharing. #HomeMattersParty

  4. Dani says

    The pics are absolutely gorgeous! Im very excited about changing the energy of my rooms with a new color. These tips will definitely help me prepare for the process

  5. Mandy Allen says

    Great tips, I always use good quality paint, it gives such a good finish and you end up painting less than you would have to with cheap paint. You are so right, preparation is the key! I used to decorate professionally and was always told by my boss, the end result is only as good as the effort you put into the preparation.

    Enjoy the journey!

  6. The Crumby Vegan says

    Ah your bathroom looks stunning now. I love the deep purple. We still rent apartments and have no plans to buy, but the thought of putting my own personal style on a home sounds exciting. Now I’ll have the perfect tips to use too! Thanks 🙂

  7. Emely Roman says

    I love your website! And the colors of your bathroom are gorgeous and very classy. My husband and I just recently purchase a home too and are doing all sorts of DIYs. Next up: firepit and pergola *crossing fingers*

  8. Kari says

    I’ve lost track of how many rooms I’ve painted but I’ve never once tested multiple colors. I just pick one and go for it! Once I even mixed all of the four colors I had left to make my own color. It turned into the perfect teal!

  9. Lulubel @ Tinylovebug says

    I have painted once when I was house-sharing as a Uni student and the results were debatable lol if only had access to your tips at the time. I will keep them in mind for when I will have to paint next. Thanks for sharing!

  10. sarah says

    Hello,I was house-sharing as a Uni student and the results were debatable lol if only had access to your tips at the time. I will keep them in mind for when I will have to paint next.

  11. minza says

    Hello,I love the deep purple. We still rent apartments and have no plans to buy, but the thought of putting my own personal style on a home sounds exciting.

  12. banners says

    Hello, Very nice tips! Before applying paint , one should remove the old paint pvc banners properly and clean the wall, then only new paint give you bright finishing.

  13. Charlice @ Sprayer Guide says

    Hi Lynn, thank you so much for these tips.

    I also agree that painting your room yourself is far more economical than hiring painters. I’ll bet the majority of your readers will choose this path as opposed to hiring that could cost thousands of dollars especially if they are working on a budget.

    I also appreciate you shared lots of resources in this post. One thing I found is that it becomes far easier to get similar results when you have all the necessary resources that someone else has tried.

    Keep up the good job here.


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