Painting Your Apartment 101: Tips From a Pro

If the darker days have you looking for a DIY project, painting the apartment is a great way to go–but once the light starts streaming through the windows again, you don’t want to be noticing all the flaws. Take some tips from a professional painter.

  1. Buy the right stuff. Professional (and the NYT product review site) recommend Benjamin Moore paints. They’re not do drippy and deliver better coverage than your less expensive varieties. Remember: darker colors will require more coats. As for finish, you want flat for ceilings, flat or eggshell for walls, and eggshell or semi-gloss for sills, doors, and bathrooms. Warning: Don’t buy cheap brushes unless your faux finish look includes a bunch of painted-in bristles.
  2. Pre-treat stains or touch-ups. If you have water or mildew stains, you’ll want to use a stain-killing primer like Kilz. If you don’t have stains but you’ve had to make some repairs or patches, you can use a water-based primer.
  3. Bring your shopping list. It should include:
  • 1 9-inch paint pan
  • A plastic tray for each color change
  • 2 9-inch, medium nap roller covers
  • 1 9-inch roller handle (or 2 if you have a helper!)
  • A 2 1/2 inch angled brush
  • Plastic drop cloths!!! As many as you need for floors and furniture
  • 1 roll of 2-inch masking tape
  • 1 roll of 2-inch non-stick painter’s blue tape for unpainted surfaces

If you have repairs to make:

  • 1 quart spackle
  • 1 roll of fiberglass mesh tape to cover cracks before you spackle
  • 2 sheets #120 sandpaper
  • 1 quart primer

You’ll also want these things, which you may already have lying around:

  • A clamp-on light fixture
  • Flat and Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Rags
  • Plastic quart containers
  • An extension pole/broom handle
  • A stepladder
  • Work gloves
  • Clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting paint on
  • A fan

4. Prepare!  This involves several steps in and of itself.

  • Move furniture out of the room or to the middle of the room
  • Cover or tape off everything you DON’T want to get paint on. And don’t underestimate where paint can end up.
  • TAPE plastic, newspaper, or sheets to the floor. Otherwise it will slip as soon as you step on it or there’s the slightest breeze.
  • Remove light switch plates and electrical outlet plates–word to the wise, put all screws in a quart container so they don’t roll off.
  • Make your spackle repairs
  • Vacuum and mop your floors
  • Wipe down your walls–do this the night before so they have time to dry

4. Paint!

  • Turn on the fan and open the windows
  • Shake your paint!
  • Paint the ceiling first.
  • Roll using long, even strokes, starting in the center and moving towards the walls.
  • Cut in where the ceiling meets the wall and the wall meets the baseboard
  • Roll the walls using long diagonal strokes to avoid vertical lines on your walls. Don’t apply pressure, the roller will do its job.

5. The Aftermath. Make sure you allow yourself extra time. It never goes as quickly as you expect. When you’re finished, clean your tools thoroughly with warm water, shut cans tightly, and label them with the room, surface, and date. And remember, you may need to dispose of your paint cans properly, so Google it for your area.

Happy Home Improvement!

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