Everyone always says that paint is the cheapest, quickest way to update your home. And yes, technically that’s true. Painting is cheap you can buy a gallon of the good stuff for about $25. But getting your home painted, however, is not cheap. In fact, some professional estimates say you could expect to pay $2,000 or more for about 1,250 square feet.

That’s why DIY interior painting is such a great project. But you can’t just slap on some paint. Here are some tips for a pro paint job with an amateur price.

1. Choose your color wisely

Have you ever painted a room that looked great, but over the next 24 hours your lovely “terracotta” seemed to morph into “salmon?” To avoid a color quandary, test your colors by painting them on a large poster board. You can move the board around throughout the day and evening so you can see how it looks in different lighting.

2. Choose your formulation

Do you know your flat from your glossy? Try an eggshell finish for paint that’s a lighter hue and for living rooms, bedrooms, and other rooms that don’t see heavy traffic. Use semi-gloss for kitchens and bathrooms since it’s easier to clean when it comes to stains, spills, and scuffs. Same goes for baseboards, wood shelves, kitchen cabinets, and door trim. And if you really want to make a dark color pop, try a gloss.

3. Buy the right supplies

A quality paint job requires quality tools. Here’s what to look for:

  • Painter’s tape: it should be easy to apply and remove, yet adhere well enough to allow for edges that are crisp, not feathery.
  • Brushes: a high-quality brush will hold more paint and apply it more evenly. Talk to your paint supply store about which type of brush you should use, whether that’s natural-bristle, blended nylon/polyester, or polyester, depending on the type of paint you’re using. As for brush shapes, an angled one will work better with corners, while a square one is good for applying paint on large surfaces.
  • Rollers: Again, seek an expert opinion so you choose the right one for the job. You’ll want to consider the size, fabric type, and pile depths. A general rule of thumb: fluffier rollers are for textured walls, flatter ones are for smooth walls.
  • Drop cloth: Choose a drop cloth that’s made of heavier, absorbent canvas rather than plastic, which can get slippery. Also get one that’s big enough to cover the whole floor so you don’t have to constantly move a smaller one around — you’re bound to miss spots or drag paint spills across the floor in that scenario.

4. Prep is key

Move all your furniture either out of the room or into the center. Ensure you’ve patched any cracks and holes so you have a smooth canvas to work with. And remember, patient taping will result in a much better end product.

5. Finally … paint

You’ll want to start with the edges. This needs to be done meticulously, so work slowly and carefully. Finally comes the fun part: rolling that wall! Aim to use steady pressure. And avoid paint splatters by not rolling too fast.

6. Quitting time?

Don’t take a painting break and stop in the middle of the wall or it will look uneven. And since cleaning up can be a hassle, wrap your roller or brushes in plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge. They’ll be ready to go when you are.

Now that you’re on a DIY kick, find out how you can get your pantry in order, and discover the secret uses of baking soda.

Know what else contributes to a beautiful home? Quality homeowners insurance. Make sure you have what you need to protect your home and belongings.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.