You’ve decided to paint a room in your home. You’re excited and a little nervous! Don’t worry! With the right tools, paint and techniques, this task is doable, even for a novice. Before you begin, it’s important to learn the basics. The following are tips and tricks to help you create a perfect paint job.


Select the right tools: Quality tools will make your paint job easier and help ensure success. You’ll need:

  • High-quality roller sleeves and handle;
    • a ⅜ inch sleeve for most finishes
    • a ¼ inch sleeve for glossy finishes
    • a thicker, ½ or ¾ inch sleeve for rougher, textured walls
  • Paint tray
  • Extension pole
  • Stepladder
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint brushes
  • High-quality paint 
  • Rags for clean-up
  • Paint can opener

Choose a location for the tools: Establish a spot to keep all your tools, preferably just outside the door of the room you’re painting. You want the tools within reach but out of your way. 

Clear the space: If possible, take out all the furniture. If you can’t remove it, pile the furniture in the middle of the room and cover it with a drop cloth and/or plastic. Take everything off the walls; paintings, hinges, door knobs, light switch plates, outlet covers, light fixtures, etc.

Prepare the surface: Preparation is critical to a successful paint job.

  • Wash the walls using a sponge, mild soap and warm water.
  • For tough stains, use TSP (trisodium phosphate).
  • Use a bleach and water solution (3 parts water to 1 part bleach) when your walls have mildew or mould (bathroom, basement – any humid spaces). For smoke stains, use a sealing primer such as Blockout.
  • Scrape chipping paint.
  • Fill holes. Use a lightweight spackling compound and a putty knife to fill small holes or cracks. Use wood filler for trim work. Let it dry.
  • Lightly sand patched areas, starting with a 120- or 150-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper and finishing with 180 to 220.
  • Wipe with a tack cloth to remove dust or vacuum surfaces. 
  • Remove hardened caulking that has become brittle and pulled away from the trim.
  • Apply caulking to seal the gaps between door/window trim and walls, the spaces between baseboards and the wall and the joints in a frame. Control the flow of caulking by adjusting the trigger pressure and the speed at which you pull the tip along. Smooth the fresh caulk with a wet finger.
  • Tape the edges of trim, floor, carpet, ceiling, baseboards, moldings, door casings, light fixtures and windows with painter’s tape. To stop paint bleed, run a putty knife over the tape, firmly pressing down to form a good seal. 
  • Prime if necessary.  If you’re doing a simple colour change, you may not need to prime, but for more drastic colour changes (say, from a dark colour to light) you may need a specialty primer to help your project along.

Cut in: This refers to painting along the ceiling line, corners, windows, door, molding, outlets and switches.

  • Begin about an inch away from the area you’re cutting in.
  • Hold the brush horizontally with respect to the floor and ceiling,
  • Paint a roughly 12-inch stripe on the wall.
  • Use a downward stroke when painting at a corner and a sideways stroke when working along the ceiling, baseboard or trim.
  • Turn your brush 90 degrees so that it angles into the wall and go back to the beginning of your stroke.
  • Using long, even strokes, cut in a thinner line of paint that gets right up to the trim or wall corner.
  • For drips, wrap a damp cloth around a spackling knife and run it along your paint line to remove excess paint.
  • Cover four-foot sections of ceiling line and corner. Then use a roller to fill in the wall space.
  • Work quickly so the cut-in portion does not dry before the section is complete.

Roll on the Paint: You’re ready to make headway!

  • Pour the paint into your tray.
  • Load your roller by rolling along the raised roll-off area of the pan.
  • Touch the paint, but do not immerse the roller sleeve.
  • Roll each section of the wall from the top down.
  • Use long strokes in a W pattern.
  • Overlap each row about 8 cm.
  • Use light pressure.
  • Paint manageable-sized areas to maintain a wet edge.

Dry and recoat: Be patient! Proper drying is crucial to a good finish.

  • Check your paint can for recommended drying times.
  • Allow the paint to dry.
  • Brush on a second coat.

Clean-up and storage: You’re almost done!

  • Remove painter’s tape, drop cloths, and furniture covers.
  • Clean brushes and rollers.
  • Hammer the lids onto the leftover paint.
  • Mark cans with colour, the date used and the surface painted.
  • Store paint in a cool dry area.

Other tips:

  • If you need to take a break or will be painting again the next day, wrap your brushes in plastic wrap and seal them in a plastic bag. If you need to store them longer than overnight, pop the bag in the freezer. Remove them from the freezer an hour before you intend to use them. 
  • Use razor blades to remove paint drips from windows, tiles and/or glass.
  • Rather than storing it in a large paint can, put leftover paint in a glass jar or pint-sized paint can. Mark the container with important information (date, colour name and number, where purchased, room used in, type of paint, sheen, etc.).
  • Use natural bristle brushes for oil-based paints. Use synthetic bristle brushes for water-based and/or latex paints. Choose brushes that taper to a chisel edge to help with cutting in. 
  • If you choose to use pad painters for straight lines and corners (flat, handheld devices with a refillable pad made from polyester, fleece, or foam), be careful not to apply too much paint.  
  • Paint rollers with a plastic core last longer than those with a cardboard core. 
  • When you paint the ceiling, protect your hair with a scarf, shower cap, or old baseball hat and your eyeglasses with plastic film. 


If this all sounds like just too much to undertake, contact a professional residential painter. They’ve got the equipment, skills, experience and time to provide a quality paint job. They’ll make your home shine!


Need help transforming a space with paint? Want help with colour choices? Call the Calgary residential painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 917-0579. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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