you can do this

How to Paint a Room Smarter

Photo: Universal Pictures

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all been spending an inordinate amount of time at home. Some of us have used the time to pick up new hobbies, read great books, or even redecorate. If you’re in that last group, one of the easiest ways you can change up your space is with paint. It’ll brighten up your apartment, and if you pick the right color, you can relieve stress and improve your mood — something all of us could benefit from right now.

As a longtime contractor and serial do-it-yourselfer, I have decades of painting experience. Here are some of the best tips, techniques, and tools that I’ve picked up along the way. We’ll start with the simplest one: The best paint for interior surfaces is acrylic latex paint, which has excellent adhesion and cleans up with soap and water. See below for the rest.

Buy the right tools

Of the dozens of different painting tools available, you’ll only need two paintbrushes and two paint rollers. For brushes, get a 1½-inch-wide sash brush and a 2½-inch-wide sash brush. I prefer sash brushes to standard paint brushes because their angled bristles allow you to apply paint very neatly and smoothly in corners, along edges, in tight spaces, and along the tops of walls at the ceiling.

To paint broad, flat surfaces, use a standard 9-inch paint roller with a 3/8-inch-thick nap paint-roller sleeve. (Nap refers to the fluffy surface of the sleeve.) If you’re painting a particular rough or heavily textured surface, like concrete or those horrible old popcorn ceilings, use a thicker ½-inch nap roller cover.

You’ll also want to pick up a 4-inch mini trim roller, which lets you roll paint onto areas that are too narrow for the 9-inch roller. This includes spaces above doors, around bookcases and between windows.

Condition your paint roller

Before using a new paint-roller sleeve, it’s important to condition it, so that it will easily and consistently absorb paint. Slide the new sleeve onto the paint-roller frame, and spin it as you liberally spray it with water from a mister. Remove the excess water by spinning the sleeve quickly, then use the dampened, conditioned sleeve to immediately apply paint

Get an extension pole

One of the very best wall-painting accessories is a paint-roller extension pole. The adjustable, telescopic pole screws right into the threaded end of the paint-roller handle, extending your reach by 3 to 12 feet.

Cover your drop cloth