Unless you are painting an entire house (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, kitchen and living room) it really is one of the best, fastest and most cost-effective ways to do a refresh in your home. Painting provides a way to give a room a whole new look, allows your teenagers to express themselves within their personal domains and it can even liven up a tired-feeling home before a showing.

With all that said, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that preparation is super important when it comes to painting. How you prepare can literally determine the success of your project. The unfortunate message that you are going to get from today’s article is that grabbing your brushes and the left over paint from the basement right after finishing your coffee this morning is likely not going to be the best course of action for a successful project.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can get yourself (and your walls) ready before you dip that roller in the goods.

One of the first things I always encourage folks to do is to purchase a handful of paint samples and get them up on the walls. As I’m sure you have learned, there are a billion different colors to pick from regardless of which store or brand you are choosing from. Trying to pick a color in a store with industrial lighting (and without the presence of your carpet or furniture) is simply impossible. The best option for picking a color is to grab a few samples and paint a few square feet on a couple of different walls. I think we have all seen the vast difference in perceived colors between walls, in a corner, at different times of day and even different seasons. The other advantage to this step is it gives you a few days to ensure that you have all the supplies you need.

Many of us live more than a hop skip and a jump away from our local hardware store. For someone like me (with a limited amount of patience) having to stop what I’m doing and run back to the store for a vital part or tool is beyond frustrating. Wasting an hour or more of my day because I didn’t plan ahead is infuriating. I’m only slightly embarrassed to say that nine times out of 10 I am far more inclined to find something around the house to “make it work”. One of the best lessons I learned while I was a mechanic is the right tool for the right job really does make all the difference (and tends to prevent bloody knuckles!).

In preparing for your painting extravaganza (and while you are evaluating your painted samples on the walls), start to make a list. Items like tape, drop cloths, small brushes for cutting in, stir sticks and rags all contribute to making the whole project go much more smoothly. This is also a good time to do a little research on which brand of paint, brush and roller to buy.

A long time ago someone encouraged me to purchase high-quality brushes. I’m sure folks have their own favorites, but I’ll never buy anything but Purdy brushes. They last forever (if you take care of them) and I have not used a brush that covers better than they do. You will 100 percent find cheaper brushes on every shelf. Like most things, you get exactly what you pay for. I don’t have enough experience with paint itself, but here again the quality is going to pay you back in timesaving dividends. Get the good stuff.

One of my least favorite (but most important) parts of painting is taping off the room. When I built my house, the painting project was a blast! The flooring wasn’t put down yet and the trim was not on the windows or doors. If you have painted a finished home or room before, I’m sure you can imagine the sheer joy of not having to cut in anywhere or worry about splatter. It truly was fun to paint!

Most of the time though, you’re going to have to tape off all the trim, windows, doors, moldings, baseboards and anything else you don’t want painted. (Including the cat, of course!) Trust me when I say that spending time taping will make the whole experience go faster and be far more pleasant. Do your homework and protect your trim.

Although not necessary until the day of painting, be sure to get and use drop cloths. Even the most careful painter will have mishaps and splatters. The rest of us will have lots of them! You can make do with the plastic ones, but if you can swing more rugged drop cloths you will appreciate them more. They tend to stay in place much better and are less likely to rip. You will inevitably be painting another room on another day. The quality cloths are worth the investment, as they will last a lifetime.

Lastly, don’t forget to give your walls a careful look before starting. Small cracks, chips, dents and other imperfections are not going to be covered by a new coat of paint.

“Reviewing the condition of your walls is one of the more commonly overlooked steps in a successful paint job,” notes Badger Realty agent Kevin Killourie. “All the preparation in the world won’t hide those cracks or dents that a little spackle could have easily covered up,” he said.

Painting is one of my favorite home improvement projects because the results are immediate and profound. I encourage you to get excited about giving a room in your home a face-lift. But in your coffee-induced giddiness, don’t neglect the preparation. Push the actual paint-day off a week and focus on getting the room ready. You’ll be very happy you did and the end result will reward your patience.

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