Bill Head

A new coat of paint can change the mood of a room and is one of the most affordable ways to freshen your décor. Doing it well takes time, but the results are well worth it. Careful preparation is key. Take the time to prepare the room and you’ll get better results and save yourself a lot of time and money. Follow our tips to make sure the effort you put into the job is reflected in the finished room.

Choose your paint wisely. Before you buy paint, know what kind of paint is already on your wall. Dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a white cloth and rub it on the wall. If the paint softens and wipes onto the cloth, it is water-based. If it doesn’t remove any color, then it’s an oil-based paint. If you’re changing the type of paint, you’ll want to sand the walls first, and then apply a primer that corresponds to your topcoat. Measure the walls, both lengthwise and height. Most pros will recommend one gallon per every 400 square feet. You’ll need more if you’ve got a lot of heavy texture on the wall, or if it’s unfinished. Consider how you’ll use the room when deciding between flat, eggshell, semi-gloss or gloss finishes. Glossier finishes are more durable, but they can show more imperfections.

Now for the fun part: choosing a color. You can find inspiration from a favorite piece in your décor, or by looking at room scene photos of home for sale on to see what’s trending in homes you admire. Choose a few sample colors and paint them on some foam boards. Move the boards around the room during different lighting conditions to see how the color changes from day to night and how they interact with the colors in your room. Once you’ve determined the type of paint you need and a found good color match, it’s time to prepare the walls.

First, clean the walls. Dust them from ceiling to floor with a long handled mop. Take care to clean moldings and trim with a soft brush. If the walls are dirty (think fingerprints around light switches), make sure to wipe them down. Paint won’t stick to grime. Remove anything hanging on the wall, including nails and switch plate covers. Fill nail holes and other nicks with spackle and let dry. Be sure to sand the wall lightly to ensure even coverage. If you have patches, you should texture and prime them before you go any further to prevent dull spots in the finished result.

Use painters’ tape to mask off edges and trim. As you secure the tape to your wall, press the edge down evenly into the texture without stretching the tape to ensure good adhesion and prevent paint bleeds. If you’ve got curved surfaces, use a tape with a crepe backing. They’re a little stretchy and give better coverage around curves. When the room is fully prepped, use a brush to paint a bit of base color along the tape edges to prevent seepage. Let this dry for 24 hours before applying your new color. Again, let each coat dry for 24 hours before applying the next coat or removing tape. Remove tape by using a sharp blade to score along the tape edge and then pulling the tape back over itself.

The MetroTex Association of Realtors represents more than 17,000 are real estate professionals across North Texas. Visit to find a new home or a qualified Realtor.

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