But what if the last time you did this was fingerpainting in preschool? Here are some secrets of painting for first-time amateurs.
Clean the Room, Wash the Walls
It might seem like painting and cleaning have nothing do with each other. But if there's dirt, dust, or stuff to trip over in the space where you have to work, you're going to have problems. Get the room as clean as it's ever been before you even bring in a paint chip to try out colors. Not only will this help you to psychologically prepare, but it will also improve your decision-making process.
Don't forget to wash the walls as well. In most homes, a light solution of water and everyday dish soap is fine. Be sure to dry as you go and never leave liquid hanging any longer than is necessary.
Tarp and Tape Everything
If you're an advanced painter, you'll be able to use a brush without spilling a drop. But if it's your first time, assume you'll be a klutz. Every last inch of the floor should be covered with plastic tarps. Use masking tape to attach the tarps to the floor, overlapping as necessary. Mask the edges where you won't be painting as well. If you have electrical outlets, turn off the power at the breaker, remove the plates, and consider masking the interior of each hole. And then double check again that there's nothing exposed except the wall you're going to paint.
Prepare for Mistakes
Check the manufacturer's instructions for how to clean up paint spills. Some recommend a damp paper cloth; others recommend a mixture of paint thinner or turpentine. Make yourself a repair kit so that you're ready to go well before you even bring the pain in the room.
Mix, then Apply Rubber Bands
Now you're almost ready to paint. Carefully open the paint can and use a mixing stick to thoroughly smooth the paint. It should be the same color and consistency throughout. If you've got a large rubber band, carefully wrap this around the entire can so that it spans the diameter of the mouth of the opening. You can use this to remove excess paint from the brush.
Start Small, Simple, and Out of the Way
Select an area of the wall which is not the main focus of the room and is usually hidden by furniture. This is where you'll begin. Dip the brush in the paint and draw it against the rubber band on both sides. Repeat until it does not drip when you hold it for a count of five full seconds. Then stroke the brush against the wall, making a series of overlapping "x" marks. As the brush loses paint, replenish and it continue moving along the wall.
With some practice, you'll start to form a long series of cross-hatched strokes that are a consistent color. Repeat steadily, expanding but avoiding going over the same area twice. Save the edges for later.
Handling Corners and Intersections
To paint the areas that remain---also called "cutting in"---switch to a smaller brush. You want this to be tiny enough to ensure that you aren't overlapping with the painted areas too much but large enough that you can make progress. Work your way around the room.
Here's some things that may scare you when you're painting for the first time:
- Almost all paint looks darker when it's wet. Don't panic.
- You will spill drops. Clean them up immediately and keep moving
- Imperfections in the wall will become obvious. Don't worry; you didn't notice them before so others won't notice them later
- You can always make use paint you don't use by donating it to your local Habitat for Humanity chamber. So don't be afraid to buy more than you think you need
- Your clothes and skin will get paint on them. Your body will come clean, but most clothes will not.
Keep these in mind and you'll move from amateur to pro in no time!