Whether you’re remodeling your entire home or just a single room, there’s one thing that every DIYer both looks forward to and dreads — painting. If you paint too soon, you risk damaging all your hard work as you move into the next stage of the project. If you wait too long, you’re going to end up masking everything you own to try and keep the paint off it.

Determine the renovation order of operations before you get started painting a room.

Start by Planning Your Remodel

Don’t start by cracking open paint cans and breaking out the brushes. You need to plan your remodeling project from start to finish. Break things down, step by step, so you’ll have a better idea of what needs to be where when you’re moving from one stage to the next.

Break out your tape measure and start taking and writing down your measurements. It sounds excessive, but if you’re remodeling a room like a kitchen and you’re planning to take down all your cabinets and replace them, you don’t necessarily need to paint the walls behind the cabinets. On the other hand, if you’re going to take down the cabinets and move them to an entirely different part of the room, you’ll need to repair the mounting holes and paint the walls.

Knowing what steps you’ll need to follow as you make your way through the remodeling project, as well as choosing the right kind of paint, makes it easier to determine the best time to paint.

Removing or Painting Over

Next, you need to decide if you’re going to remove the existing paint or if you’re simply going to paint over what’s already there. The former is a good idea if you’re trying to add light colors over dark ones, or you don’t want to add lots of heavy coats to try and hide a hue that’s on the other side of the color wheel. In most cases, you’re probably going to opt for the latter when painting a room.

If your house is older and you haven’t painted in a while, you need to get the existing paint tested for lead before you start doing anything. Lead paint, once it begins to flake and chip, can be dangerous. While the U.S. banned the addition of lead to paint in 1978, if your home is older than that, you may have it on your walls.

If this is the case, you’ll need to seal it, so you don’t risk any chips or cracks. If it’s already starting to fall apart, you’ll need to pay a professional lead remover to get rid of the paint so you can safely continue with your remodeling project.

Choose and Test Your Colors

Your next step is to choose and test your colors. This is often a process of trial and error as you figure out exactly which shades work best with your design and aesthetic. Talk to someone at your local hardware store and see if they offer small samples you can try ahead of time. If that isn’t an option, pick up some color samples and tape them to your wall so you can figure out the perfect shades for your room.

If you have paint available for testing, place a small swatch on your wall and let it dry, so you can better understand what it looks like. It’s not hard to start over if it’s not the right color, but it can be a hassle. Plus, if you end up buying gallons of paint in the wrong color, it can get expensive.

Painting for an Interior Remodel

When is the best time to paint when you’re working through an indoor remodeling project? That depends on a couple of variables. First, which room are you working on? Is it a room that you’re going to use a lot once you’re done painting? Should you paint or carpet first? Common remodel projects might include:

  • Bedroom: Paint after you’ve finished the remodel, but before you move the furniture back in to prevent you from getting drips all over your bed.
  • Living room/den/study: Just as in bedrooms, paint after the remodel but before putting your furniture back.
  • Bathroom: Paint before hanging cabinets or fixtures. Allow the paint to cure completely before you start using the room to shower again.
  • Kitchen: Paint your kitchen before hanging cabinets. Have an exact idea of where you’re going to place your appliances since you won’t need to paint behind them.

Make sure you have enough paint for the space you’re applying it to. There’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of the job and run to the hardware store for an extra gallon.

Painting for an Exterior Remodel

Painting your home exterior is a lot different from what you might do in a kitchen or bathroom, but it’s something that even the newest DIYer can accomplish with ease. Make sure you’re mindful of the weather — you don’t want to lay down a fresh coat of paint only to have it washed away by an afternoon thunderstorm.

Other than that variable, in most cases, you’re going to need to paint once the remodeling project is complete. If you’re working in stages, pay close attention to the kinds of work that you still need to finish. Don’t start painting if you still have siding to hang or windows to replace.

Determining When to Paint

Choosing the best time for painting a room is more of an art than a science, and there are many variables that you need to consider before you start breaking out the roller and brushes. The most important thing to remember is that you must have a plan in place for your entire remodeling project. Consider when you’ll be removing furniture and taking down cabinets, when you’re going to paint and what the finished project will look like.

DIY remodeling projects can be time-consuming, but with plenty of planning, you can accomplish just about anything.

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