Enemy of Debt - DIY Interior Painting: How It’s Done, and How Much You Can Save

Do It Yourself projects are a great way to save money, if you’re willing to put in a little sweat equity. Last week my father and I did exactly that by painting a living room in my home. If you’ve never painted a room before, the proposition of doing so may be a bit frightening. But as with most projects, it’s all about getting a little education about how to go about doing it. Since we’re all about helping each other save money here at Enemy Of Debt, I’m going to share the process of how I painted my living room.

Step 1: Move Your Stuff

To paint a room, you’re going to have to move everything away from the walls. Whether you plan to tackle the room one wall at a time, or the entire room at once, the process applies. The objects in the room to be painted can be moved temporarily into a separate room if possible, or you may find it easier to just slide everything to the center of the room. I use large plastic bins to hold nick-knacks that were hanging on the wall, or sitting on shelves.

Step 2: Remove Outlet and Light Switch Covers

Using a screwdriver, remove all outlet and switch covers in the path of your painting. To prevent losing them, I put all covers and screws into a gallon sized plastic bag.

Step 3: Tape Out

Run painter’s tape along baseboards, door and window frames, and anything else that you want to protect from paint. I personally do not put tape around outlets and switch covers, as you can easily paint close enough to those items to make the line not visible once the covers are reinstalled. You can put tape along the ceiling, however most people use an angled brush and “cut in” the paint slowly and carefully without tape.

Step 4: Trim

The first three steps are all prep work, but now it’s time to open the paint can. Using a brush, I recommend a 2” or 2.5” width, paint around the items protected by painters tape including the ceiling regardless of whether you taped it off or not.

Step 5: Rolling

If things seemed to be going slowly up until now, your progress is about to accelerate. Get your paint tray and roller ready, this is the fun part. Apply paint to the walls using the roller, overlapping the trimmed paint getting as close as you feel comfortable to the painter’s tape. This will ensure as much of the wall as possible has the same texture from the roller.

Question: How many coats of paint are needed?


The answer to this question is subjective. Many people would say at least two coats are required. In reality, however, it depends upon how the paint covers, how good of a job you did applying the paint, and how perfect you want it to look. If you can see holes in the color, or some of the previous color shows through, then you may want another coat. Also, if you want as few of roller marks as possible you may want multiple coats.

However, if you don’t notice roller marks, and the paint covered well, one coat may be sufficient for you.

Step 6: Putting It All Back

Optimally you would wait 24 hours before removing the painter’s tape, otherwise it may pull paint off as well. Once the tape has been removed, the outlet and switch covers can be re-installed and all your objects put back to place.

Supply List

Now that we’ve described the overall painting process, natural questions to ask would be:

What supplies do I need to paint a room?

How much do the supplies cost?

Here’s a list of the supplies I purchased, and how much they cost:

Paint (2 gallons of paint, each costing $30): $60

9” Rolling Package (one pan, two rollers, two roller covers, one 2” brush): $20

4” Roller (for smaller spaces): $20

4” Roller Cover: $7

Drop Cloths (used old bed sheets): FREE

Painter’s Tape (several rolls): $10

Total: $117

Cost Savings

The going rate for a professional painter is anywhere between $25 to $100 an hour. For our estimation purposes let’s use a rate right in the middle of $62.50 per hour.

My father and I spent about 7 hours on the painting (not including moving things off the wall, and putting personal possessions back, which many painters will require you to do). Using our rate of $62.50 per hour, the cost to paint our room would have been:

Labor: $62.50 x 7 = $437.50

Paint: $60

Total : $497.50

By painting the room myself, I saved $380 and I have supplies to paint additional rooms in my home.

Doing your own painting isn’t difficult, but it is time consuming. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can give your home a fresh new look at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone.

Do you do your own painting? Have you ever hired someone to paint for you? How much did it cost?

Copyright © Enemy of Debt

Show more