How to Paint a Room in Your House

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A new coat of paint will do wonders for any room in your house. Its amazing how much it will help freshen up the room and create a new feel. The process is pretty simple (and cheap), but it can take a little bit of time. ​If you’re wondering how to paint a room in your house, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to walk you through it.

How to Paint a Room

Painting is one of the simplest DIY projects you can tackle in your home, and you don’t need to hire a professional to do the job. Don’t get us wrong – hiring a professional painter will save you time. But, painting a room in your house isn’t like doing electrical work… you can do it yourself! While not complicated, it is important that you follow the steps for how to paint a room.

how to paint any room in your house

Clear the Room

Before you open a can of paint, you need to ​clear out the room​. The best time to paint is before you move into a new home or apartment. However, realistically that is not always the case. You will need to move your furniture if there is some in the room to be painted.

This does not mean you need to move your furniture out. Instead, pull furniture forward and away from the wall at least 2-3 feet. This is to give you a painting work space and walkway.

​Fun Fact: According to a Journal on Experimental Psychology study, red walls tend to make people anxious, while blue walls inspire creative thoughts and makes you more attentive to details.

If you have furniture in the room, it is a good idea to cover it with tarps. Even the neatest painter can have unexpected splashes or accidents. Take the extra time to make sure your items are protected when you start painting.

Moving your furniture and covering it can take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure all loose items and toys are picked up and put away so you don’t have a large mess. You will want to be able to freely move around the walls without tripping or being too tightly closed in.

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Tape Off Areas

Next you will need to tape off ​areas that are not getting painted. This will let you paint clean lines around areas that are painted a different color or are not part of the wall. These areas include:

  • ​Windows
  • ​Baseboards
  • ​Crown Molding
  • ​Electric Outlet Covers
  • Light Switch Covers
taping off a room to paint

You can pick up blue painter’s tape to protect these surfaces and give you clean lines. If you are feeling creative, you can also use painter’s tape to make designs and patterns on your walls, such as stripes or squares.

Of course, doing a more complex painting job will take longer than putting a single color around the room. For a standard painting, applying the tape will take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the room and how many helpers you have. You don’t want to rush through this step. Crooked tape lines will give you crooked painted lines when you lift it.

Start with Primer

​Primer prepares your surface to properly accept and receive the paint. Primer ensures that the paint will “stick” to the wall, and also helps reduce the amount of paint you will need.

​You don’t always need to use primer before painting. However, we still recommend it if you have the time, because it can only help. Here are a few situations ​that you definitely need to use primer for: 

  • ​You’ve never painted the surface before. In this case, you need to add primer to prepare the surface for the paint.
  • ​You’re changing the color of the wall. Primer helps to make sure that your old wall color doesn’t blend with the new color.
  • ​You’re painting an outdoor surface such as decks and floors. Primer helps protect against the elements and allow the paint to last for a longer time period.
using paint brush to paint a room

Move onto Brush Work

For most rooms, you can break the painting into two sections: using the ​brush and using the roller. We recommend starting with the brush and finishing with the roller. Here are the steps:

Using the Paint Brush

​You will probably want to have two brushes, each of a different thickness. You’ll want a nice thick paint brush for larger areas on your wall, usually around 3″-4″ thick, and a thinner brush for edge work, usually around 1″-2″. 

You will want to paint all of the edges in your room with the brush. While this might seem an odd place to start, you’ll be painting the larger areas with a roller, and it will “blend” the paint over your brush work. Rollers have a difficult time on the edges of your walls, so you need to use a paint brush on the edges.

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On the other hand, if you​’re looking for a fast alternative to painting by hand, ​our recommendation would be to use an interior paint sprayer which is much faster, and ​already gives off a nice finish without the need for a roller brush.


​Painting the edges of your room is often referred to as cutting, and it is essential that you do this around every wall, window, and door. Use up and down strokes with your paint brush, and don’t use too much paint at any one time. Make sure to prevent dripping and running on your wall by adequately wiping the brush off before applying the paint.

Have your strokes stay between 9″-12″ long in any one pass. While this isn’t a hard rule, we’ve found it produces the most consistent results. You also don’t need to be exact about your brush strokes – the variations are actually really good, and will help even out the paint as it dries!

Minimizing Brush Marks

You want to try to minimize the effects of the brush marks. As the paint dries, brush marks can dry and become permanent, allowing you to see the differences in the paint. Depending on the color and sheen of the paint you selected, this can be really noticeable sometimes! It is also especially true when painting porcelain in the bathroom among other pieces of furniture.

Constantly evaluate your brush work, and look for evidence of your brush. Try getting several different angles when looking, as the lighting can play a big role in how it appears. If you see any brush marks, simply paint over it with your brush.

woman painting with paint brush and blue tape

Tip: You don’t really need to add any more paint to your brush when you are getting rid of brush marks. Your brush is already wet, and will spread the paint better if you don’t add any more paint.

Finish with the Roller

​Using the paint roller is fairly self explanatory… if you haven’t used one before, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. A couple of key points to using a paint brush roller:

  • ​Make sure to evenly spread the paint on the roller. It is easy to get more paint in the middle of the roller, and you want to avoid this as best as possible.
  • Don’t get too much paint on the roller… while it might seem that this will make the job go faster, it won’t. And you’ll end up using more paint in the process.
  • Don’t start your wall painting at an edge. Start 6″-12″ from an edge, and then work back towards it. This is because there can be a lot paint on the first few rolls that needs to work itself out.
  • Roll the paint onto the wall in long, even strokes. ​We recommend using up and down strokes, and re-trace over about 25% of your previous paint stroke.
  • Don’t follow the exact same up-and-down pattern – variation is good for preventing brush roll marks when the paint dries.

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using a roller to paint a room
  • At the edges, roll as close to the edge as you can without touching it.
  • Keep a wet paint edge – this allows the paint to dry evenly. In other words, work quickly. You don’t need to rush, but try not to take long breaks.

You’ll find that brush rolling moves very quickly once you get the hang of it. Now you know why painters say the majority of the work is prep, edges, and cleanup!

​​Let the Paint Dry

More than likely, you’ll be adding multiple coats of paint to your wall. Its very important to make sure you are allowing the paint to fully dry between coats. When using oil-based paints, it can take up to 24 hours for the paint to dry. Latex-based paints will dry in 2-4 hours.

Fun Fact: Paint dries the quickest at 70 degrees. Paint also dries a lot faster when it isn’t very humid.

Test touch a spot to make sure the paint is dry before you dive in. Wet spots will be reactivated by fresh paint and will turn into globs that stick out like a sore thumb on smooth painted walls.

It is better to be safer than sorry when it comes to waiting. Enjoy the break from painting and let the walls fully dry so you don’t have to waste time doing touch-ups.

Latex Dry Time: Dry to touch: 2-3 hours
Safe for 2nd coat: 4-5 hours
​Oil Dry Time: ​Dry to touch: 4 hours
Safe for 2nd coat: 24 hours
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How Long Does it Take to Paint a Room?

​Now that you know how to paint a room, your next step is probably trying to determine how much time you should set aside for it. Depending on the room, this guide can help you estimate the amount of time you need, and plan out how long it takes to paint a room in your home. 

confused man does not know how to paint a wall rollerbrush

How Long to Paint the Bedroom

When you are estimating how long it takes to paint a room, the best way to go about it is to break down each task and add up the time. Use a guesstimate of thirty minutes to one-hour increments for each task.

For a standard size 11’ x 12’ bedroom it will take roughly 1-2 hours per coat of paint. This also includes the beginning primer paint. You will need to add an additional 30 minutes to 2 hours for the prep work. You can add or subtract time by working out how much of the following you will have to do.

  • Cleaning Dust and Dirt from the Walls
  • ​Patching and Filling Nicks and Holes
  • Sanding Dings or Small Nail Holes
  • ​Applying Painter’s Tape to Trim and various areas
  • ​Removing Outlet Covers
  • ​Covering the Pallet Bed and Other Furniture and Floor with Drop Clothes
​Tip: A helpful tip from the Fantastic Handymen (UK), you should always slightly sand a coat of paint when it’s dry, just before you proceed to the next one. Use a fine-grit sanding sponge and treat the surface.

If you are painting the trim, you will need to re-apply painter’s tape once the walls dry. Painting trim goes quickly and easily, so you will only need to add thirty minutes to an hour per coat.​

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If you are​ painting windows​, you will need to add 30 minutes more to ensure you are allowing them to dry in an open position so they won’t be painted shut. You can ​use that leftover paint​ to bring new life to older objects such as a lamp or a tea tray. ​Opt to do small projects like this in between wall coats to optimize your time.

paint can paint brush paint roller white paint

How Long to Paint the Bathroom

While bathrooms tend to be much smaller rooms in comparison to the others, painting a bathroom needs more hands-on prep work than any other room in the house.

Before you begin painting, you will need to take the time to clean your bathroom walls. While ​other rooms may not need cleaning​ or only require a light dusting, bathrooms are a wet environment. Walls are often covered in soap scum. The soap will hinder your paint from sticking properly.

​Fun Fact: Maintain color balance in a room by following this formula:
60% of the room should be the dominant color, 30% the secondary color, and 10% the accent color.

Depending on your room size, cleaning can take anywhere from thirty minutes for a small bathroom to over an hour for a larger one. Next you will want to ​remove the back of the toilet tank​, so your painting doesn’t look bad behind it. Removing a toilet tank is easier than you would think. It is worth it in the end.

​Once removed, add drop cloths to the floor and tape off any trim or other areas. The prep work including cleaning the walls will take you 1 to 2 full hours. The actual paint time should be much less than other rooms, since the bathroom is smaller in comparison. It will still take about an hour between coats to let the paint dry.

How Long to Paint Open Areas

When you are figuring how much time it is going to take to paint an open area, you should take into consideration the size of the room and how much airflow it gets. This is especially true for hallways and foyers.

Open areas like hallways tend to get more air movement than bedrooms. The time between coats will be a little less. You will need at least thirty minutes to an hour of prep work to move furniture, cover the floors, and remove any wall decorations such as mirrors and paintings.

If you are painting the ceiling, begin with that first. Factor in an extra 1-2 hours to paint. You might need to add a second coat. While the ​​ceiling is drying, move onto the walls. Continuing to paint other areas while one is drying will help you cut down on the time and let you work faster.

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If you have multiple walls, focus on one at a time. ​This also keeps the paint fresh and allows it to blend well. Chances are, by the time you make it around all four walls, the first will be fairly dry.

how to paint a bedroom

​If you are painting furniture in the open areas, factor in another hour for painting. Again, you can paint other things while the walls are drying so you aren’t sitting around and waiting to paint another coat.​

Bonus: ​How to Pick the Right Paint Sheen

Exteriors: ​Exterior Siding: Flat or Satin Sheen
Doors, Windows, Shutters, Fences: Semigloss or Gloss Sheen
Porches, Floors, Decks: Specialized Paint & Sheen
​Interiors: Low Traffic Areas: ​Flat Sheen
​​Halls Walls, Trim: ​Satin Sheen
​High Traffic Walls, Woodwork: S​emigloss Sheen
​Kitchen & Bathroom Walls, Windowsills: ​Gloss Sheen

​How Much to Paint a Room?

Painting a room isn’t necessarily difficult, and it isn’t all that expensive either. If you chose to do it yourself, you’ll be able to save a lot of money.

There are many projects around your home where it makes sense to hire a professional to ensure the the job is done correctly. Highly technical tasks and dangerous tasks which use various woodworking tools are two that come to mind.

However, painting is something that you can learn how to do yourself, and save a lot of money by doing so.

how much money does it cost to paint a room

Determining Square Footage

​To determine a rough amount of money that your painting project will require, start by determining the paintable square footage. Add up the square footage of each wall in the room to come up with a total square footage that you’ll need to buy paint for.

For example, if you have a square room where every wall is is 10ft long and 8ft high, then that wall has 80 square feet. Multiply by four and you have a total of 320 square feet that you will need to paint.

If you are painting ceilings, you’ll want to add the square footage in as well. Also, if you have large windows and doors, you might want to subtract that square footage out to get better accuracy.

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​F​ast Formula: Start by adding up the total width of all your walls. Next, multiply this by the ceiling height. Divide this number by 350 (the average square footage coverage of 1 gallon of paint). This is a conservative estimate of how many gallons you need.

Paint Cost per Square Foot

​Generally speaking, you’ll want to account for one coat of primer and two coats of paint on your walls. While every situation differs slightly, the cost of painting a room can be based on this equation.

Primer generally costs between $8-$16/gallon. If you need to save a little money, you can go with the cheaper option of primer.

​Typically, you will go through two gallons of paint for an average sized bedroom. This is general (obviously) but should give you a rough number to work from.

Paint can range in cost quite substantially. Cheaper paint, such as Valspar and Behr, averages $30-35/gallon. More expensive brands, such as Sherwin Williams, can cost as high as $55-$60/gallon.

This will bring your total costs to between $80-$125 for a standard bedroom. This will vary based on actual room size, wall texture and material, and even paint color. However, this will give you a good rule of thumb to operate by.

man dipping brush in paint for he walls

​Other Costs

​There are a handful of other costs that you’ll need to factor in, especially if this is your first time painting. You’ll need to purchase brushes, rollers, and tarps. Typically these can be reused, so take care to clean each well after use, and you’ll save the cost next time you go to paint. 


Painting a room in your house doesn’t have to be daunting any longer. You can quickly learn how to paint a room in your house, and update your home.

Consider these factors and apply them to the room you want to paint to figure out how long it takes to paint a room. It is best to plan for one to two full days of painting so you know you are doing a thorough job.

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Make sure you factor in clean-up time. It can take about an hour to pick up and dispose of drop cloths, wash brushes/rollers, and then move your furniture back into place. ​

Lastly, you don’t need to break the bank painting your house – each room shouldn’t cost you very much, especially if you do it yourself.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.