Painting Kids' Rooms

Painting is a simple, effective, and affordable way to refresh a room. You don't have to be an expert to achieve a professional finish, but it's best if you follow their advice: Taking time to prepare correctly for the job will help make the actual painting process smooth, flawless, and trouble-free.

To paint your child's room:

What You'll Need
Have these materials and tools on hand before tackling any paint job:

  • Caulk
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood-filling or drywall compound
  • Clean, damp cloths
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • 2-inch-wide blue painter's tape
  • Plastic knife
  • Paintbrushes: flat, angular, trim
  • Paint (1 gallon for every 350 square feet)
  • Small plastic paint tray
  • Paint roller and roller cover 

  1. The easiest room to paint is an empty one. If possible, move everything out of the room,
    including window treatments, and remove hardware such as outlets and switch plates.

  2. Repair wall surfaces as needed by filling holes with caulk and smoothing any rough spots with sandpaper. Patch holes with wood-filling or drywall compound;
    let dry.

  3. Wipe surfaces clean with damp cloth. Tape plastic sheeting to floor to protect from spatters, drips, and spills.

  4. Use blue painter's tape to cover trims such as window frames and baseboards. Run the blade of a plastic knife over edges of the tape to set edge and prevent paint from leaking underneath.

  5. Use a flat brush for painting woodwork, cabinets, and rough-textured surfaces. This brush is also used to cut in, or paint around, the corners, the edges of walls, and the ceiling; a brush spreads paint efficiently and gives you more control than a roller. Cutting in also makes it easier to roll paint onto a wall, since you only have to roll large, flat areas instead of worrying about hard-to-reach places. Use an angular sash brush to paint window sashes; use a trim brush or flat brush for cutting in. When painting with a brush, pour a small amount of paint, about 1/2 inch, into a small plastic paint tray. Load brush by dipping bristles about 1/3 of the way down into paint. Lightly pat against inside of tray to remove excess. To paint, use long even strokes, always painting from bottom of wall up. Apply enough pressure to flex bristles and distribute paint. Always keep a wet edge on the surface you're painting so paint will dry evenly.

  6. Rollers spread paint quickly and easily. This makes them the preferred tool for painting large, flat spaces. However, rollers use more paint and are not as effective as brushes at covering irregular surfaces. To load a paint roller, fill tray with about 1/2 inch of paint, and dip roller into paint. Lift and run roller over tray ridges or a screen to work paint into nap. The roller should be full but not dripping. Work in small sections, loading roller as needed and rolling up and down until entire surface is covered. As with a brush, it is important to keep a wet edge when rolling paint.

Painting Ceilings

Always paint ceilings first. Use a trim brush to paint around the edges of the ceiling. Immediately continue by rolling the remainder of the ceiling with a 9-inch-wide roller. For convenience, attach an extension to roller handle so you can paint from the floor.

Painting Walls, Windows, and Doors

After ceiling dries, use a flat brush and a 9-inch-wide roller to paint walls. Cut in walls at ceiling line, corners, and baseboards, and roll remaining portion of wall with paint, always keeping a wet edge.

For windows, try to start painting early in the day so windows will be dry enough to close at night. Remove hardware, then paint woodwork with an angular sash brush.

For doors, remove hardware and, if possible, remove door. Lay flat, and paint with a flat brush.

Painting Trim

Paint standard-width moldings with a trim brush, narrow moldings with a sash brush, and wide moldings with a flat brush. Use a paint shield to pull carpet nap away from baseboards or to protect ceiling and corners. Paint top edge of molding first. The paint should cover any caulk.

Professional Painting Tips

Follow these tips for a professional-looking paint job every time:

  • To keep paint from drying out while you take a break, place the paint roller in the tray and slide the entire tray into a plastic garbage bag; seal. Slide brushes into plastic bags and seal.

  • Always follow the grain when painting. Paint horizontally with horizontal sections and vertically with vertical sections.

  • Do not paint with a brush that is still wet from cleaning.

  • Complete a paint job within 2 weeks. This contributes to adhesion between coats.

  • If bristles come off the brush, remove them from the painted surface with tweezers or by touching them with your wet brush -- they should cling to it. Then wipe the brush with a clean cloth to remove stray bristles.

  • Use painter's tape to prevent paint from bleeding under the tape edge. This tape has a unique microbarrier edge that prevents such seepage, and it won't leave a sticky residue or remove the undersurface when pulled up.

  • Use a stenciling brush to work paint into deeply carved woodwork.

  • Your painting equipment will last longer if you clean up and properly care for brushes and other tools. Clean brushes by swishing in a mixture of warm water and clothes softener. The softener helps paint slide off the brush bristles.

  • Store paint in airtight containers. Turn paint can upside down and set on a shelf so the pigments settle at the "bottom." When you use the paint again, turn the can right side up and stir.

  • Most paint products are considered hazardous and, as such, should be properly disposed of at an authorized household hazardous waste disposal site. Never pour paint down the drain, onto the ground, or into the trash.

  • Wipe empty cans out with newspaper and discard both. Hang solvent-soaked rags outdoors to dry, then launder them. Never store solvent-soaked materials indoors as they can release harmful fumes and catch fire.

Learn about the many decorative finishes you can create with paint in the next section.

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