Roll Up Your Sleeves, It’s Time to Paint!

Love the paint color you've picked out! You’ve done your due diligence and you’re about to head out to the store to pick up gallons of that gorgeous color your walls have been begging for! But wait. Now what? How many gallons do you buy? Do you need to do anything to prep the walls? How much time should you set aside for this project? Keep reading.

How many gallons?

You’re going to need to do a little math. Add the length of the walls and multiple that by the height of the room to determine the square footage of your space. Don’t put away the calculator, because you’re not done yet. Now subtract the square footage of each door and window in the room. If you want a rough estimate, you can assume 20 sq. ft. for each door and 15 sq. ft. for each average-sized window. Now you have an approximate idea of how large a surface area you’ll be painting. A gallon of paint will provide one coat to roughly 350 sq. ft. of wall. 

How many coats?

No matter what color you’ve selected, plan on applying at least two coats for an even, complete finish. Darker colors might require 3 or 4 coats for a proper finish. Don’t forget to factor each coat into your surface-area figures above in order to ensure you’ve bought enough paint. Multiply your square footage by the number of coats to determine exactly how much paint you’re going to need. 

But wait, first things first.

You’ve determined how much paint you’ll need, but before you run out to pick up your gallon(s), there’s more to add to your shopping list. A fresh coat of paint deserves a smooth canvas. You’ll need to spackle existing nail holes, fill cracks, and prime the wall. All of that requires supplies. You’ll also need a role of blue tape, rollers, brushes and other related items. Make your shopping list and pick up all your supplies at once before you roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Do you need to skim coat?

Good question. There are a several reasons why you’ll need to consider a skim coat (aka applying a layer of mud/joint compound to the wall.)

  • Are you covering existing decorative texture treatments?
  • Are you blending an existing dry wall with a newly installed section?
  • Are you working on a section of wall that has been patched and repaired?
  • Are you refinishing walls that were recently adorned with wallpaper or other treatments like stenciling and painted patterns?

If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, you’ll want to read up on skim coating here: The What and Why of Skim Coating.

Prime. Just do it.

There is not a question here. Yes. You need to prime. If you’re working with new drywall or recently skim coated walls, primer will help seal and ready the walls for its new hue. If you’re painting a lighter color over a darker one, primer will help quell the bold shade and ready it for its more muted replacement. If you’ve simply spackled and sanded nail holes and/or repaired small cracks with mesh and spackle, prime to ensure a more uniform finish to your final color. 

How long do you wait between coats?

Just because your wall looks dry and feels dry to the touch doesn’t mean it’s ready for the next coat. At minimum, figure you’ve got enough time to fit in dinner and a movie. In other words, give your walls at least four hours between coats. Poor ventilation, cool temperatures, high humidity and other facts can slow the process down, however. It you want to be safe, consider calling it a day after one coat and pick up where you left off the following day.

by Anjie Cho