Avoid Wasting Time: Here’s How Long it Really Takes to Paint a Room

There are multiple ways to paint a room yourself. You can slap a coat of paint on the wall and call it a day, or you can take the necessary time to do the prep and ensure a quality result. Most homeowners will likely settle somewhere in the middle. They may buy high-quality painting supplies, but skip priming because they don’t feel like it. Some start out very precise and admittedly get a little sloppy when their strokes as the project drags on. While it sounds like a good idea in theory, many well-intentioned homeowners underestimate how long it actually takes to paint a room themselves.

Like many things, how you start determines how you finish and if you want a magazine-worthy transformation you’ll have to follow the steps and take your time.

In our series on whether you should hire a painter or paint the walls yourself, we’ve discussed how much it costs to paint a room and even how to paint on a budget, but how much time does it take to paint a room yourself?

Read: Should I Paint the Walls? Questions to Ask Before Tackling Your Next DIY Interior Paint Project

Factors that Impact How Long It Takes to Paint a Room

While we wish we could offer you a magic formula for calculating exactly how long it will take to paint a room, there are a lot of variables that can make the time vary wildly, particularly room size. We can, however, help you consider all of the steps so you can make a good estimate of how much of your weekend you’ll be knee-deep in your painting project.

Shopping for Paint and Painting Supplies

You’ll need to build in time to shop for high-quality painting supplies if you want a high-end finish.

Take time to survey and measure the room you’ll be painting. Note the number of windows, doors and architectural features like baseboards, fireplaces, and crown molding which will add more detail work to the project. Will you be doing one coat or two? Are you switching from a darker color to a lighter one and need to prime the walls? Look for holes and chips you’ll need to repair before starting to paint so you can shop accordingly. The perfect shade is not going to shine on an imperfect canvas.

If you haven’t already chosen a paint color, make sure you look at the room at different times of day and coordinate your color with both your furnishings and any adjoining rooms. Consider the trim color and whether you plan to paint the ceiling.

You’ll probably need to budget about an hour to visit a hardware or paint store to shop for the following:

  • Brushes, rollers, roller trays, and extension poles, if needed.
  • A ladder
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wall repair supplies including spackling, a putty knife, and sandy sponges
  • And paint, of course (Check out Sherwin Williams’ paint calculator)

Pro tip: If you’re having a paint color mixed, put your order in as soon as you arrive at the store, especially if you’re shopping on a Saturday morning or holiday weekend. While your paint is being prepared you can shop for supplies.

paint prep

Prioritize Prep Work

The most common (and regrettable) mistake that most DIY painters make is skipping the prep. While it’s tempting to get to the fun (and potentially messy) part of your paint job, unless your vision for your living room is a Jackson Pollock painting, you need to prep to ensure a polished result.

Thorough interior paint prep includes the following steps:

  1. Move the furniture to the center of the room and cover in painter’s plastic.
  2. Remove light switch, vent, and outlet covers.
  3. Cover your floors with fabric drop cloths that extend at least three feet from the wall.
  4. Patch any chips and dents in the walls.
  5. Clean any pet hair, grease, and dust off of your walls.
  6. Tape around the trim, including crown molding, baseboard, windows, and door frames.

Let’s discuss wall repair for a quick second because this is a step you can’t miss and can add on considerable time, especially if you’re a novice with spackle repair. Repairing chips in the wall is a multi-step process that Home Depot suggests can take “under two hours.” Drywall patches are similar and you’ll need to budget in 15-30 minutes of dry time for each patch, in addition to the labor.

Depending on the room size, amount of wall repairs, and how much trim you have prep can take one to two hours.

For more details on how to prep a room for painting check out: Interior Paint Prep for Your Next Home Project

time to paint

Let’s Get Rolling: Time to Paint

According to the real estate site Ownerly, it will take one to two hours to apply a coat of paint in a 10’ x 10’ room.

While prep work can be tedious, the thrill of rolling that fresh coat of paint on the walls is usually the fun part. But before you rush the painting process, take the time to cut in, or outline the room, with an angled brush for a cleaner finish. Once you’ve finished cutting in the paint, use an extension pole to expand your reach and minimize moving a ladder around the room. A larger roller may save you time as it covers more surface area per stroke.

Because, “many hands make for light work” recruiting a trusted friend or family member to help out can be a timesaver.

Clean Up Your Mess and Store Your Supplies

While it may be tempting to head straight to the shower (or to bed) after you’ve spent the afternoon painting, you’ll want to properly clean and store your supplies if you plan to use them again. Scrape the excess paint off your brushes, wash them in warm water and dish detergent. You may need to use a brush comb to remove all of the paint. Shake the water out, reshape the brushes and leave them somewhere flat to dry and return them to their original packaging, if possible.

Keep the furniture in the center of the room waiting for the paint to dry and you’ve had a chance to see the coverage in case you need to touch up any areas.

It’s likely that you’ll allocate at least an hour for cleaning up the work area, storing your supplies, moving your furniture, rehanging pictures and replacing outlet covers and switch plates.

Hire a Residential Painter: Minimum Stress + Maximum Result

Time, cost, and quality are likely your greatest considerations when deciding whether or not you want to take on a home painting project yourself. There are several ways you can paint on a budget but you can’t get the hours you spent painting your home back. And while you can take your time and do all of the prep right, there’s no substitute for the pros when it comes to paint.

At Riggins Painting we’ve painted hundreds of homes and businesses in the greater Memphis area. We can take the stress out of shopping, prepping, and painting and deliver a result you’ll be proud to show off. Contact us for a free estimate.

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