time-saving tips for painting a room

Marian ParsonsDecorating, home improvement, My House, Painting & Refinishing, Tips and Tricks, Tutorials27 Comments

I shared the other day that I painted three ceilings and one room in just a few hours…while the boys were at home…in my jammies.  Truth be told, I could’ve painted the living room and the hallway, too, but I was getting a little sick of looking at a roller!  So, several readers asked how I get things done so fast and I thought I would share my tricks.

These tips will help you get a room painted faster, but before you plan a painting marathon, remember that I paint a lot!  When you do something a lot, you get better and quicker at it.  So, be patient with yourself if you’re a novice or a once-in-a-while painter.

Here are my time-saving tips…

1.) Do as much prep work the day before as you can.  Take down the pictures, remove switch plates, curtain hardware, etc. and fill in the holes with lightweight spackle.  If you’re going to put everything back up, don’t worry about filling the holes, but still remove things from the wall.  Also make sure the room is clutter-free and clean.  Run a vacuum over walls and baseboards to get rid of fuzz and cobwebs and give a light scrubbing to areas where something has splattered on the wall (especially in kitchens & baths).  Getting that prep work done ahead of time gives you a head start on painting day.

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2.) Work on one wall at a time.  I used to move all of the furniture away from the wall into a big cube in the middle of the room.  That’s what you’re supposed to do, right?  For me, that makes a bigger mess to clean up at the end of the day and it’s just more upheaval.  Scoot the furniture away from one wall, so you have enough room to work with a roller and step ladder, then paint that one wall and move the furniture back.  Don’t put the furniture directly on the wall, since it’s wet, but generally put it back in place, so it’s out of the way.  I have found that it’s easier and quicker to put a room back together when it’s done like this.

3.) Be a one-person assembly line.  Work on one task at one time.  Cut in one entire wall with a sash brush and then go back and roll the paint.  Put the paint for cutting in in a cup, so it’s easy to hold and carry up a ladder.  This will prevent climbing up and down the ladder to dip your brush…thus saving time!

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4.) Use a roller extension pole.  I used to climb up and down a step ladder when I was rolling paint and only used extension poles for ceilings and rooms with walls over 8′.  Now, I use them for all rolling (unless I’m in a tiny bathroom and then I use a small extension pole.)  This allows you to paint the entire wall in an average room without bending over or climbing a ladder.  It also allows you to reach behind furniture that might be moved only a couple of feet away from the wall.  It’s easier on your body and saves time.

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5.) Use a straight edge instead of tape.  I am a fan of painter’s tape, but when it comes to cutting in around trim, it just takes me longer to apply the tape than to simply cut in carefully.  Now, I have a very steady hand, so I can cut in along trim without using tape and it looks nice and straight.  If you can’t, pick up a metal straight edge with a handle to use along trim and ceilings.  Simply wedge it between the wall you’re painting and the ceiling or trim and run your brush along it.  Move it with you as you go and you’ll get a nice, straight line.  Just use a small amount of paint for this method, though, so it doesn’t bleed under.  Also, keep a damp paper towel or clean rag  handy to wipe the paint off every once in a while.

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6.) Use quality paint.  I know it’s so tempting to buy bargain paint, but quality paint not only looks better, it does save you time.  When you only have to do one coat instead of two, that’s a huge time saver and quality paint can make that difference.  It also has better body, so there are fewer drips, roller marks and it’s easier to cut in with.  I always use either Duration by Sherwin Williams or Aura by Benjamin Moore.  They are expensive when compared to other paints, but really worth it.  If you’re on a tight budget, Sherwin Williams’ SuperPaint is a nice, less expensive option.

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And, I won’t list this as a tip, because it’s a little obvious, but it’s always nice if you can paint with a friend.  I do most painting solo, but sometimes have a hand and it’s always nice when I do.

I painted the dining room (along with the ceilings in two other rooms) a few weeks ago and then tackled the living room today.  I wanted to show you how different the colors are, even though the change is from one white to another white.  It makes for an underwhelming reveal, but you can see the difference side-by-side…

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The dining room (to the left of the arch) is painted in the new color, Pearly White, and the living room (to the right) is painted in the old color, Aria Ivory, both by Sherwin Williams.  I love Aria Ivory, but I wanted to switch to a white that was a little cooler and cleaner.

I painted the boy’s room over the weekend in a rich navy called Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore.  I’m still working on the furniture and accessories before I’m ready to show that off, but it looks so sharp!  Like a pair of smart dress blues.  And surprisingly, in the low, sloped ceilinged room, it doesn’t make it feel smaller or darker.  It makes the antique pine floors pop and the bright white trim frames out the room nicely.

Next up is the hallway and stairwell.  I haven’t painted those walls for about seven years and they are getting pretty dingy, especially with the boys dragging their fingers along as they run up and down the stairs.  We’re planning to refinish the floors soon and I’m trying to get the painting done before, so I don’t have to be concerned about drips.  I’ll keep picking away at the home projects between working in the studio and will hopefully have some “reveals” before Christmas.  That’s the goal, anyway.

Speaking of Christmas, I am really looking forward to decorating for Christmas this year.  The past few years of Christmas in September for retail and again in November for a home tour and in February for a photo shoot and April for a freelance article has sucked a bit of the joy of decorating for Christmas out of me.  I still loved Christmas, but the idea of decking the halls just didn’t sound fun.  I’ve had a bit of a break from that crazy schedule, so I’m ready to go this year!  I’ve already been eyeing the juniper trees that line the drive to my sons’ school (I’m going to ask if I can “prune” them a little) and I just ordered some white chico chokes, which sort of look like dried artichokes, to tuck into fresh greenery.  Kriste & I also have a bunch of fun DIY Christmas projects to share.  So, there’s a lot to look forward to!

time-saving tips for painting a room

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27 Comments on “time-saving tips for painting a room”

  1. Marian…I visit your blog every day and read all your posts in silence (my poor English is part of that silence). You are so inspiring… not only because of your great ideas and creativity but because of your discipline and perseverance at work. I love to read all your activities and how well organized you are with all.
    You transmit me want to do so many things too, thank you!
    Besos from Argentina,

  2. thanks, old girl. i’m the most haphazard painter on the face of the earth. this is a good guide for me to get my act together and paint like a grown-up. lst thing i painted was the ceiling of the porch on my studio. i had haint blue paint dripping down my arms into my armpits! this is not acceptable grown-up behaviour!

  3. I get bored with paint colors quickly, so I find myself painting a lot, too. I also love the same Sherwin-Williams paint that you use, and although it is very expensive, I usually wait until it’s on sale to make the purchase. They have a 30% off sale every few months and that helps a lot with the budget. Also, I love the fact that they keep records in the computer so that you can refer back to colors used previously if needed. Looking forward to the reveals of your painting projects!

  4. Here is a little tip (thanks Dad) I have shared several times on my blog…when you take the lid off a can of paint, you will see a little “channel” or “groove” around the rim of the can that the lid seals into. Before you start painting, take a nail and hammer and punch little holes all around that channel…about every 2-3 inches. It allows any paint that gets in that groove to drip back into the can…prevents splatters when you reseal the lid and keeps paint from “gunking up” so you can properly reseal the can. You can also take a rag dipped in water (latex paint) or mineral spirits (oil-based) and wipe out that channel if you plan to store the paint long-term…and always store paint in a “controlled environment”…where it won’t get hot or cold. It will last for YEARS! Makes touch super simple if you have leftover paint that has been properly stored!

  5. Thanks for the tips Marian. Choosing a quality paint is probably the most important and I am a big fan of Sherwin-Williams Duration paint. We have used it on both our interior and exterior. Our exterior was painted over 6 years ago and it still looks fresh and bright. Power washing the exterior every year also helps to keep it looking good as well.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for Christmas!! I need some fresh inspiration.

  6. Marian,

    Every time I visit your blog, I leave inspired and energized. Thanks for sharing your ideas, tips, and heart with your readers. Sure do appreciate you!


  7. Bless your heart! I was just thinking yesterday (and many days since you posted you had painted a room so quickly) about what your tips would be for painting a room. I have a lot of walls to paint and these tips will come in handy. I can see where the extension pole is going to help tons! Thank you!!!

  8. Perfect timing for those painting tips as I am getting ready to paint our master bathroom. Keep up the great work. I love your blog, you are such an inspiration to me!

  9. Perfect timing for your painting post – I am gearing up for painting my daughter’s room “blush” and “bashful” lol. Currently has one red wall – not looking forward to that! Think your tips will come in very handy. Thanks!

  10. Behr (at the Home Depot) scored higher than Sherwin Williams in almost every finish (indoor paint and outdoors) and is half of the price. (As rated by Consumer Reports, a reliable resource). It especially rated higher in their top line paint.

  11. Love the new paint color! Thanks for the painting tips. Especially the one about not moving all the furniture to the center of the room. Love your blog!!

  12. Perfect timing! I’m hoping to get our interior painted this fall/winter, and with two toddlers, I need all the time-saving tips I can get! 🙂 Thanks!

  13. Would love to see the boy’s room…when it’s all done! You are so right about spending more on a good paint…I also always use Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore!

  14. You and I paint alike! Both my father and grandmother were painters so I grew up with a paint brush in my hands and these are some of the great tips they passed down to me. There are only a few good ideas I’d add. Buy a quality cut in brush! Keep them clean and they will last forever! Another thing my Dad taught me when cutting in is to move your arm down as you paint, keeping your wrist locked straight. You’ll get a great line every time!
    Can’t wait to see your boy’s room! Hales Navy is my favorite navy blue color of all time!

  15. Started painting our guest bath yesterday. There is so much cutting in that I am using a brush and no roller. It slow going but better to take it slow than have paint on all the trim and other things I have to paint around.

  16. Great tips! We’re contemplating painting ourselves or hiring and this post has made me feel confident that I should try…at least one room. 😉 The vaulted ceiling rooms will have to be done by the professionals though. 🙁 I love your tip on furniture moving the best. 🙂 I’m excited for you to decorate for Christmas without it being for a company or blog. I did that for this past Halloween season and lost my joy of Halloween by Oct.4th! I vowed to never do that for Christmas.

  17. Thank you! Wonderful tips and perfect timing! I am about to paint my hall, foyer, living room (before we get new floors! ) and dread painting the ceiling especially.

  18. Love the tips! Wondered if you could share which rollers and brushes you use. I’m never quite sure which are best. Thanks!!

  19. I love the inspiration you provide, Marian! I used to paint a lot but I always washed at least the top 3-4 feet of the walls first for adhesion. {per the directions.} It was the worst part of the job. Did something change and this isn’t needed anymore? I love painting, but the washing part was awful.

  20. Great tips, Marion! I always learn something from your posts! I used to paint all of my own walls however this year I hired a painter since I had vaulted ceilings and some 12 foot walls. I must say, I doubt I’ll ever paint a wall again. He did a great job and was so neat. Everything looked amazing and he was fast like you, lol. I have to agree about using a great paint. I used Benjamin Moore paint and it really is a lot better than the Behr or Home Depot type paints. There is no comparison. LIke you said, the coverage is so much better and the paint is thicker and goes on nicer. I actually painted my kitchen, pantry and hall before hiring the painter for the rest of it and it makes a big difference. I typically tape things though since I don’t have a very steady hand. This time it took the paint off the ceiling when I removed it even though I used painter’s tape so I had the professional painter do my touch ups. Can’t wait to see the navy walls in the boy’s room. I am redoing my son’s room in the spring and will use navy accents but perhaps you’ll inspire me to put the navy on the wall.

  21. Thank you for the great tips, I need half your energy. You do such amazing work, love your blog.

  22. great painting tips, thank you for these! I’ve been holding off on buying an extension pole since I count the million trips up and down the ladder as exercise 🙂 but since I’m going through a fit of repainting right now I might just pick one up!

  23. I want to freshen up our paint as well. Our porch overhang really darkens up our front rooms. I really love the color combinations you used. What is the ceiling and trim color you pair with the Pearly white? It looks so crisp and fresh!

  24. Quality work! I am really impressed at the skills you have so carefully earned! Using a straight edge? I myself would have used the tape, but should consider it for future plans. While reading this article, I thought, “why don’t you have a video up of how you paint?” I would love to see your tips implemented in a video!

    Again, I am loving what you have written on here and the work that you did (so fast!)!

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