10 Tips For Painting A Room

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One of the easiest ways to save money re-decorating is to paint a room yourself. Use these easy steps to save hundreds of dollars per room on painting!

10 Tips For Painting A Room

10 Tips For Painting a Room

One of the easiest ways to save money re-decorating is to paint a room yourself. It can cost anywhere from $200-$500 to have one room painted. You can paint it yourself for under $30. Here are some tips that we have used to save money painting:

  1. Check your local hazardous waste recycling center for free or low cost paint. I’ve painted many rooms and pieces of furniture just by checking their free paint section. I painted my entire house for $45 using three of their low cost five gallon buckets of brand new but leftover construction paint.
  2. Use a vinyl tablecloth or sheet to use as a drop cloth (see notes below) or spend $1.00 for one at a thrift store. They are are heavier than the plastic drop cloths at the store and will last for many rooms of painting. Hang over a clothesline or fence to dry before folding and storing.
  1. When removing the outlet and switch covers, put the screws back into the holes so they don’t get lost. You can also put the covers and screws in a zip top sandwich bag.
  2. Line your roller pan by putting a plastic grocery sack or trash sack (inside out if it has writing on it) on the paint tray. Then you can just invert the sack when you’re done and throw it away. You can also line with foil.
Line Your Roller Pan with a Grocery Sack
Paint Tray - The bag is getting sloppy, but not the roller pan
Invert the messy bag from the roller pan and throw it away
  1. Poke four or five holes with a nail in the groove on the top of the can. That way the paint doesn’t get stuck in the groove around the edge of the can and make a mess when you put the lid back on.
  2. Use the paint at the bottom of the paint can when it’s nearly empty to paint the trim. I got enough paint out of this “empty” gallon to do the entire room’s trim. Also, pour a small amount of paint into an old small plastic container to use for trim instead of lugging the paint can around. I like to use a container with a lid. This way when I am all done and everything is put away I have a little in my container for touch ups. I also keep one paint brush out that I store in a plastic bag and don’t clean for a few days for touch ups.
Use the leftovers at the bottom of "empty" paint cans to paint trim or to touch up
  1. Don’t use painter’s tape. Painting is just like coloring inside the lines in school. Use a small, one-inch, angled paint brush and slowly go around the edges. It takes less time than putting up and taking down tape. Keep a wet rag by your side in case you make small mistakes. Some tape also lets the paint bleed through, so it’s not a very clean finish.
  2. Store your rollers and brushes in a plastic grocery sack between paintings. You don’t have to clean them after each use if you keep them from drying out. Refrigerate overnight or freeze them if you are not going to be painting for several days or weeks.
  3. Turn the ceiling fan on in a room to speed up drying time.
  4. When you’re done with your painting clothes, turn them inside out as you take them off. This way, you don’t accidentally get wet paint on anything but your head. 😉

Here I am in my messy paint clothes

“How is it that the lady on HGTV paints in a cashmere sweater and high heels? If I can get off the couch to paint at all, it’s a miracle! ;-)” -Tawra


After we originally posted this, we had several people email about these paint tips. Wow, I never knew painting could cause such a controversy!

First, about putting the rollers and brushes in a bag in the freezer or fridge if you aren’t going to be painting for a few days: One reader said she ruined her meat because the bags broke down. When we say put them in the freezer we mean for a few days or weeks, not months or years! Also double bagging would be a good idea. Another reader said that she thought the fumes would not be good. I personally don’t see a problem with this. If the bag is sealed then not much gets out.

Another lady wrote about using a sheet as a drop cloth. I guess I didn’t make myself clear. I use a sheet to cover things but on the floor where the paint is sitting I put extra newspaper, plastic or a shower curtain, vinyl tablecloth or anything else that is more durable under the paint in case it spills.

The same reader said, “it’s a better idea to tape the screws to the back of a wall or light switch plate or better yet, place them in a Ziploc bag with only these items in there. I have known many people to get a bit of a shock when trying to put the screws back in the electrical box and with a bobbling screwdriver have the head slip and BZZZZT! I did it ONCE and never again.”

Ok, I agree! When I said screw them back in I used my fingers and not the screwdriver. Nothing was sticking out of the wall and I wasn’t poking anything metal into the socket. So use common sense on this one and either tape them on the back or screw them back in with your fingers.

Here is a common tip for saving on paint that I don’t think really saves: “Buy tinted primer to put up first. It keeps the paint from being sucked into the wall (especially if it’s textured sheet rock that has never had new paint on it). If you’re painting over a dark color with a lighter one it will help keep it from bleeding through.”

I hear this tip all the time and it makes no sense. They say it’s saves time and money. How? You are still putting on two or three coats of something whether it’s paint or primer. Unless it’s had something like water or smoke damage or is a new wall why waste money and extra time cleaning brushes using primer?

Just get two cans of paint instead if you don’t really need the primer. Then you’ll have some leftover paint if you need it for something else. If you need the primer, get it, but if you don’t need it, it really doesn’t save money or time. If you spend $25 per gallon on paint and the primer is significantly cheaper, then go ahead, but I have never found expensive paint to be worth the additional cost over inexpensive paint.


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  1. rose says

    also i might add, if you have a teenager in the neighborhood who needs to be kept busy, get them to paint … 😀 …

  2. Seville1000@yahoo.com says

    Check for “Oops” paint at places like “Home Depot” or “Lowes”. They have really good cans of brans new paint for $5.oo a gallon.

  3. says

    There’s something else I don’t see anybody talking about and that is if you need your house painted–Rent a pressure washer and pressure wash all the loose paint, then get to work with some paint that is exterior paint–I got mine for free from excess at a municipal agency (call up and ask) and I got the paint for the trim at the local dump. It ttook me two weeks to put two coats on my house but it saved me a couple thousand from paying a professional to do it. I painted the house 4 and a half years ago and it still looks good. I’m not saying you’ll always have a choice about what color you get but that was a major expense I didn’t have to pay for.

  4. Susan Dobbins says

    I go to the major paint stores and buy their “mistints” at a cost of $3-5 a gallon. I have rental properties and often will get several cans of $3 paint and mix together in a 5 gallon bucket. You can get a few rooms done and have extra for next time touch ups. Also, most colors will mix into a neutral tone. I am currently repainting a room that I wanted a touch of green, I had bought a quart of a bluish green and mixed with some neutral tans and got the perfect very light olive green. Sherwin Williams is a great source for mistints, you have to ask them, though. They keep in back room and do not tell people about them. I get some very good paint extremely cheap. It is very durable and most are washable. I have gotten large quantities and painted exterior of buildings, too, this way. Worth looking into.

  5. Brianna Beaver says

    Excellent tips! I just helped my parents paint our rental property; we knew about freezing the rollers, and we didn’t put tape up.
    The problems arose when we enlisted some free help; paint got everywhere and some rooms were done poorly and had to be redone. Make sure the help you get is help that you can trust! Some people weren’t careful and got paint all over the floors and whatnot.
    Next time we need to paint, I’ll definitely remember to ask about mistints. We spent a lot of money on the paint we got [saved a bit cause all the bedrooms were the same colour].
    Tip: If you need white paint, don’t get ‘Ivory’ or ‘Swan White’. Just pick a can up off the shelf. If you don’t end up opening the can, it can be returned like that.
    Also, check for primer deals. We bought a 5 gallon bucket of primer for 50$ [CAD], even though we were instructed to buy 2-3 gallon cans. 2 gallons would’ve put us at 50$ anyway, so we opted for the big one as we were literally painting the whole house. We used most of it. There was a spout for pouring, but we never used that. The lid was difficult to get off. It was also hard to stir! We used a flimsy yard stick, but made sure to stir again after we poured what we needed out. It was cheaper than other 5 gallon tubs [as high as 150, i think] because you had to sand it before you painted. But since sanding isn’t methodical, it didn’t take too long. Just sand circularly [as if brushing a horse] and then make sure to sweep down walls [cover bristles with damp cloth] quickly after. I’d say it was worth the money.

    • says

      Brianna, I know just what you mean about sloppy painters. It’s sort of a joke in our family because when certain male members volunteer to paint we immediately say no way. We haven’t yet decided decided if they are sloppy so they can get out of painting or if they really can’t paint. I think it is the latter. : ) : ) But some people really do have a hard time painting.

      People we aren’t sure of (like the young grandkids) we start them on outside painting like fences. Some of them can really do an amazingly good job. Tawra’s oldest son helped us paint the outside of her house when he was only 9 and not only did he do a super job but he loved it and wanted to do more. Yeahhh!!!! So I let him take over my section. :)

  6. says

    We bought one of the weber battery powered roller. You pour the paint into a container that you can carry over your shoulder and paint.
    My husband can do our living room in an hour.
    He loves the quickness and I love the fact that he says the paint container is too heavy for me so I don’t have to paint except the baseboard and around the windows.
    We can do 2 rooms a day with no problem.

    • says

      I may have to check that out. I paint EVERYTHING!!! Whenever I go into the doc to get my neck worked on the doc says “what have you been painting now?” Haven’t painted anything since the house 2 years ago. :-)

  7. says

    tawra, it doesn’t ever drip either on the ceiling or the walls.
    so few drop cloths are needed and you just flush out the machine with the garden hose or the shower head for clean up.
    If you paint the kitchen in the morning you can cook supper the same night and eat in the room as well.

  8. Pat says

    One painting tip I learned from a son-in-law–when painting, put your jeans/pants and shirt on inside out. that way if you get paint dripped on your clothes, it won’t show, even if it doesn’t wash out.

  9. Joy says

    Just a quick point on “expensive” vs. “Cheap” paint. My husband is a contractor and he says that the cheapest paint is never worth it. You end up putting more coats on. He isn’t advocating expensive paint…but one or two levels up from the cheapest is better.

    • says

      I’ve tried expensive and cheap paint and honestly can’t tell a difference. We had to get paint that had primer in it match the color of this house and I ended up having to put on 3 coats!!! It was nuts! No more $35 paint for me!

    • says

      Sometimes I wonder if it not so much how expensive paint is as the type, kind and brand. I don’t notice so much difference when I buy expensive or cheap but boy some brands are so much worse then others.

  10. Leslie says

    When doing touch ups after using a roller, try using a sponge brush and carefully “blotting” the paint on instead of using a bristle brush and making brush strokes, or at least make the final strokes ones that are blotted. The touch ups blend in much better. This works especially well when touching up small areas that don’t warrant getting out a roller.

  11. Bill says

    RE: painting tips. I still believe it is less costly to use a good one coat primer when repainting a light color over a dark and vis versa (unless of course you have a lot of time and a lot of inexpensive paint to use as your new undercoat). I painted 2 walls in our master bedroom a burgundy color over a light ivory and ended up having to paint 3 times (yes even two coats of a quality paint did not work). So when we changed and covered up the burgundy with a light taupe we used a good one coat primer and it worked. I think we used kilz brand and would use it again.

  12. Saragrace says

    My father gave me this tip when we bought our first house and had to paint all 2000 square feet cheap. Go to an outlet store and buy a 5 gallon bucket of high quality paint in the lightest neutral you can find. Next, go to a paint store and choose a light color on a swatch of colors (ordered light to dark). Buy a quart of the darkest color on the swatch. At home use a drill mixer attachment to very slowly add the dark quart to the 5 Gallon bucket (test on the wall as you add and let it dry) once you reach the desired color paint away. Be sure to paint several coats on a piece of board in case you ever need a computer color match for touch ups. Using this method we painted my whole house in glidden top of the line paint for under $100 (including paint supplies). Normally this would have cost an easy $400 in the same paint purchased and tinted at a big box store. Finally, between coats wrap your brushes and paint pan and rollers in foil then plastic bags and store in the fridge. That way there’s no clean up between coats.

  13. Margaret says

    I bought a wooden side chair with an upholstered back and seat. It was really cheap, so I thought I would have some fun with it and paint it a wacky color (neon Yellow?) with an interesting fabric on the seat and back.
    I want to have a shiney laquer finish on the wood. How do I go about achieving this?


    • says

      For high shine you can either use high gloss paint or apply several layers of polyurethane following the instructions on the can.

  14. Bea says

    Tawra, You look so cute in that picture. I just love your smile AND your mom’s. Your kind faces always cheer me up.

  15. Fay says

    What about those “reality” redecorating shows. The first thing they do is paint! It’s probably the least expensive thing you can do, adds color, makes everything look cleaner, updates an older home. One tip, in the kitchen I paint with paint that can be scrubbed. Another tip, I buy the holiday flannel backed tablecloths (after the holiday, of course) and use them with the flannel side up. This allows the paint to be absorbed, but won’t let it soak through.
    This makes me want to paint.

  16. says

    I love these tips. I have been wanting to distress a desk I got but I didn’t want to waste all that money on many layers of paint. Now I know how to get it cheaper and with less mistakes! Thanks.
    What suggestion do you have for using a stencil? Spray gluing it down or tape?

  17. says

    In order to avoid getting protected in color, spray subjected skin with food preparation spray. Often the paint should occur right off-without scrubbing. This procedure is effective with latex or oil-based paints.

  18. Mary Jane says

    We refurbished some ancient, unfinished panel covered inside doors in our house last winter. My husband patched any holes or deep scratches and then we decided to use a deep dark colour in a semi gloss. Our town is small with one hardware store. We checked for mis-tinted paints and only found a dark deep maroon colour and a dark chocolate brown; a gallon of each. We bought both. We wanted the chocolate colour to be the final colour, so we used the maroon as the primer. Turned out excellent. This could work well with most dark colours, just put the darkest colour on last. A similar idea would probably work with very light neutrals and whites. Saved a lot of money using mis-tints in a medium quality paint.

    • says

      Yes this does work with light neutrals too. I have used beige under white, light green under dark green. I often mix my colors too. If I have dark grey I keep adding white to it to get the medium grey I want. I keep odds and ends of white on hand just for this purpose. I once had a small amount of black paint and some white and kept adding the black to get the grey I wanted. Used red in white to make pink etc. One thing too I often like the colors I mix better because I can get closer to what I want. Since most of my paint is leftover or something I get free from the recycling center I don’t have to worry that I have wasted a bunch of money if I mess it up. Although even my mess ups don’t get thrown out because I can throw caution to the winds add a bunch of odds and ends to the messed up paint and usually end up with a pretty brown that can be used on my fence, storage shed or some place like that.

  19. Jerry says

    One tip that I was given years ago was to store unused paint with the container upside down. That way, any “skin” that may occur on top of the paint will be on the bottom of the container when you reopen it.


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