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Thinking About Repainting? Here’s What You Need to Know

Whether you’ve moved into a new house, or just need to change things up, at some point it’s time to redecorate. Changing the colors of a room’s walls can have a dramatic impact, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, painting can be a dreadful experience and have disastrous results. Here are the basics to achieve a fine finish.

Pick out the right paint. Paint finishes range from glossy to flat, with a number of options in between. High-gloss paint is easier to clean marks off of, but you might not find it as nice to look at as a flat or eggshell finish. Rooms with moisture and a lot of activity, such as the kitchen or bathroom, should have glossier walls, while bedrooms and dining rooms can be matte.

Check if you need a primer. Different wall materials may require different kinds of primer. Generally, if you’re painting drywall, latex primer is just fine. If you’re unsure, someone at the paint counter of your local hardware store will know the answer.

Cover the floor with a tarp. Newspaper works in a pinch on hard surfaces, but you’ll have to use multiple layers or it might bleed. On carpeted floors, a tarp is necessary ¾ newspaper will tear.

Don’t forget to remove light switch covers! Even if you plan to paint them the same color as the wall, you’ll want to do so separately. If you leave them on, the paint will adhere them to the wall. If they ever need electrical service, removal will ruin the paint job in the area and you’ll have to do it again.

Tape out anything important. Light switches should be covered just in case there’s a drip. When taping along long stretches, such as floor moldings or door and window frames, use arm’s length strips so you can easily control the tape. If there’s a small crevice between the surface you will tape and the surface you will paint, place each strip with the very edge inside the crevice. That way, you can be sure that absolutely no paint gets on a surface you want to protect, but the tape won’t block any area on the surface you’re painting.

Work top to bottom, wet to dry. Working from the top to the bottom, wet to dry helps keep your brushwork looking even. If you drip a little, it’s all right because you’ll brush over it. However, if you were to work bottom to top, drips will be harder to notice ¾ until they’re dry and unsightly, that is.

“Cut in” edges. Cutting in means using a brush for areas too small to navigate with a roller, such as corners or up against a window frame. Load a 2- or 3-inch brush with a small amount of paint. Wipe off any excess on an area you haven’t painted yet. Then, angle the brush and use downward strokes to paint along an edge. Paint out 3 or 4 inches to give yourself some leeway when using the roller.

Roll paint close to edges. Roll paint on as close to the edges you cut in as possible. This will prevent a noticeably different texture left from the brush from outlining the edges of your paint job.

Roll in a “W” Motion. A “W” motion will cause your strokes to cross at an angle somewhat randomly. This will help prevent noticeable vertical or horizontal streaks. Be careful not to use too much pressure or excess paint will squeeze out along the edges of the roller, leaving thick lines of paint.

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