Painting 101: Answering All the Painting Questions we get asked most!

March 14, 2022

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The painting questions have been rolling in since we revealed our painted bedroom! When do you spray, vs roll? When do you hire out a painting job? Things like that, so we thought we could maybe address it all here as a reference! Also included are our go-to painting products we’ve been using for years!

Rolling, vs. brushing, vs. spraying

Generally we opt for spraying vs. rolling when there’s added trim to the wall, whether it’s planking, wainscoting, beadboard, or box trim. Spraying gives you a smoother coat, and getting full coverage with a brush won’t ever compare. This is the biggest reason why our bedroom was sprayed, because of the added beadboard on the ceiling, and box trim on all the walls.

Farrow & Ball London Clay

The downside of spraying (and the reason we don’t do it every time) is that there’s a lot of prep work involved! There can be a lot of overspray, so you have to tape and cover everything you don’t want to risk getting painted. Prepping can take the most time, but once you’re set, then spraying is a breeze. For the study, we taped off the floor and ceiling, knowing that the middle section would get covered with wallpaper.

Sherwin-Williams Sheraton Sage

Another great time to spray is when the ceiling and crown is getting painted along with the walls!

For a room like Greta’s, where there’s no wall treatment, and only the 4 walls are getting painted, it was easier to roll. Having to tape off and cover the ceiling, crown, baseboards, and windows just to spray would have been taken more time than actually rolling.

Brushing typically goes hand-in-hand with rolling. We use a brush to cut in around the edges, and then roll the rest. If we were painting over trim, we would use a brush for that as well!


What sheen do you use?

Most paint brands have about 5 different sheens which is basically just how shiny your paint is. It ranges from flat (matte), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss (or high-gloss). We typically use eggshell on our walls, but note: if your walls or ceilings have a texture–the higher the shine, the more details you see, so you may want to opt for a more lower sheen like flat or eggshell to minimize imperfections, rather than highlight them. For bedrooms, I actually prefer a matte or flat finish because I think they are calming, especially if you’re going to do a darker color. If it’s a lighter color, I might bump it up to eggshell. Farrow & Ball, actually has their own paint sheens. Modern emulsion is a very velvety, matte finish that’s wipeable that I actually prefer for walls and ceilings. (This is what we used in our bedroom).

Some people don’t like to use flat or eggshell on their walls because it can be trickier to wipe. Paint has come a long way though and I think this has less to do with the sheen, and more to do with the quality of paint you use! Just something to consider if you’ve been shying away from flat or eggshell sheens.

For trim, baseboards, crown, or maybe a wainscoting, I like them to pop a little bit with a higher sheen! If the walls are flat or matte I would do a satin trim. If the walls are eggshell, I would do semi-gloss! Again, Farrow & Ball plays by their own rules, and my preferred mid-shine sheen is Modern Eggshell, which is what we used for all the window casing, door casing, doors, crown, and baseboards.

How to transition paint from room to room?

This is probably the most frequent question we get when it comes to painting and there’s a few different ways to do it! If you’re painting the trim around a door (like in our bedroom) then the question to ask is what will you see when the door is closed? On the inside of the room, you don’t want any of the outside color showing through. On the outside, you don’t want to be able to see any color from the inside. This typically means that we tape off the door casing, right where the door stops.

When there’s no door involved from room to room, I prefer not to change colors unless there’s trim involved like a cased opening. Have I done it? Yes, I can think of the music room in our previous home, and we just taped off where we wanted the paint to start and stop. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s okay to do that since there’s an archway involved?

Benjamin Moore Fading Twilight

Swivel Chairs | Rug | Sconces | Coffee Table | Vase | Mirror | Fox Art | Portland Art

In our living room, there’s two cased openings that lead to the dining room, and the hallway connecting to the front entry. The pigeon paint color stops where the trim ends, and the inside casing begins. The pictures show it better than I could explain it!

Farrow & Ball Pigeon

TableHanging Lantern | Tree ArtVase | Peach Stems | Bay Leaf Stems

Now the big question, what will I do if I end up painting the dining room a different color? Would that inside casing become the color of the dining room?? I don’t know if I have a hard rule for this, but rather I would take it on a case to case basis.

As for accent walls, and color blocking, it’s not really my thing. Of course do with that what you will, but I don’t love to start and stop paint within a room, unless there’s trim. For example the wainscoting in the study, and trim, and crown are all painted. I’ve dipped my toes into accent walls years ago, and I think it has come and gone.

What about the windows?

For our bedroom, we actually painted the window sashes to look like we have black windows! Eventually we may need to get our windows replaced (hoping we can get them repaired, but we’re researching–talk about drafty), but this was a great way for me to try out black windows and confirm how much I love them! The stiles and rails (the grid part of the window haha) are wood too, and rather than taping off each square, we used a trusty mask and peel product. All you do is just brush the product onto the window glass (the part you DON’T want painted), let it dry and then paint! Once you’re finished, you peel off the mask, leaving clean painted lines.

Hiring Painters Vs. DIY

One of the first painting jobs we hired out was in Faye’s princess room in our last house. There was so much trim work involved and by the time install was done, we couldn’t imagine painting it. We haven’t hired out every room since, but we saw the value of hiring it out more.

Generally we hire after a big trim install, if there’s tall ceilings involved, or if there’s multiple sheens or multiple colors. So basically any paint job that’s a bit more complicated we leave to the hands of professionals. After DIYing every paint job for the last 13 years, I guess I’m okay handing the job over now. Professionals can be so knowledgable when it comes to knowing when to prime, what primer and paint to use, etc. Plus, sometimes they get a discounted rate for purchasing paint.

So how much does hiring it out cost? Our room is 14’x17′ (238 sq ft) but the square footage of all the walls and ceiling is actually 900 sq ft., which is how our painters charge. Prepping, filling nails holes, and spraying our bedroom cost $2,600.

We actually polled our Instagram audience to find out what other people are paying for painters! The answers were all over the map because not every painter charges the same. Some charge per sq. feet of the room ($5-$10) and some charge per sq. feet of the painted surfaces ($1). They could charge per hour ranging from $20-$70 an hour. Another common response was just a flat rate per room, ranging from $300-$800. My question is, what if it’s a bigger room?? Other answers included:
$14k for 1480 sq. ft
$4k for 1500 sq. ft
$25k for 5000 sq. ft
$50k for 5000 sq. ft
$7400 for 5600 sq. ft (including doors, trim, ceiling, walls, garage, and front exterior)
$1000 per room no matter the size (I suppose it all evens out?)

I think if you’re wanting to hire out, maybe check out our how do you find a contractor post, but I would recommend getting a few different quotes!

Our go-to painting supplies

For any painting job that we do ourselves, here’s all of our tried and true painting supplies we’ve been using for years! Can’t wait to figure out what we’re painting next!

1. Purdy 2 1/2 in Angle Trim Brush $14
2. Dust Barrier Zipper Door $35
3. Plastic Drop Cloth $11
4. Extension Pole $16
5. Step Ladder $65
6. Drop Cloth $20
7. Plastic Liner $5
8. Paint Tray $9
9. Mask & Peel $29
10. Handy Paint Cup $2
11. Paint Cup Liners $6
12. Frog Tape $6
13. Paint Rollers $19
14. Graco Ultra Cordless Airless Handheld Paint Sprayer $602
15. Roller Frame $11
16. Graco Magnum 257025 Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer $231

Shop Favorite Painting Supplies


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What do you think?

  1. James says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. Ivy says:

    Hi CLJ! I see two different paint sprayers in your recommended paint supplies. I’m wondering if you have a preference for when to use either. We may be in the market to buy one, but I was wondering if you would recommend one over the other for tall ceilings and a lot of square footage to cover.

  3. Kelsey says:

    Hi Julia! This is wonderful thank you!
    What sheen would you use on doors in your home? Same as trim with a Semi-Gloss or Satin?
    Thank you!

  4. Jana says:

    Hi Julia and team! I personally think this is my all time favorite house. It just keeps getting better!

    As far as your windows, I am actually currently working on getting a job restoring wood windows, specifically old wood windows. I am so passionate on this subject! Passionate enough that I would suggest looking at Double Hung ( to at least see what they would say. It’s actually a myth that old windows are less efficient than new windows, they just have to be maintained and you can get wood window screens that match the window to add extra efficiency! Anyway, nobody cares but me LOL

  5. LeAnn Golob says:

    Is the Mask & Peel good for exterior windows as well?

  6. Krista says:

    So helpful, thank you! I’m curious about how you handle electrical outlets and switches? Do you ever paint them to help them blend in? If so, how do you make sure it holds up?

  7. Deb says:

    I am glad you addressed the crazy different prices in professional painters. My last painter charged per room and got a huge discount on the Sherwin Williams paint which he passed on to me. He did a fantastic job and I have never regretted hiring him for a job I could have done but would have taken me months. I think it came out to about $300 a room and one room was a family room that he had to prime and coat numerous time as it was covered in dark stained paneling and I wanted it white. I would have given up after the fourth coat….but after he was done it looked great.
    How did I find him? He was a friend of a friend who had hired him a couple times to paint houses and highly recommended him. I am hoping he will have time this spring to paint my shed. So I agree….get several quotes and find out what brand of paint and how much they are charging you per gallon before you compare quotes.

  8. Chris says:

    Hi Julia! We’ve hired a few paint contractors over time, but I’m not sure I can say they would be expert in several brands, the finishes for those brands, and have deep experienced in spraying occupied homes (vs. as yet unoccupied new builds). How/where do you look for painting contractors who have a deeper level of expertise? Thanks for this great post (and so many others). You guys ROCK!

  9. Vicki Williams says:

    Did you for get to put the primer on your lest. My and every painter i’ve talked to is Zinsser 1-2-3. Great post!

  10. rachel says:

    Have you ever painted walls with metallic paint?
    I want my dining room painted metallic mint however out painter is not confident about how it will turn out.

  11. April says:

    I’ve been dreading painting my new wooden windows. The mask product is the answer!

  12. Leah says:

    Thank you so much! We are about to hire painters for a few rooms where we feel spraying will leave a noticeable different finish. Would love to hear more on your rule of thumb for painting ceilings.

  13. JL says:

    Do you recommend painting window grids the same color as the trim (e.g. as you’ve done in your study and family room) vs. having all of your windows the same color?

    • Great question! I would say for now we’re loving taking this on a room to room basis. Eventually we plan to replace all the windows in this house to black though which will tie everything together.

  14. Yami says:

    Love what you did with the windows. What color/sheen black did you use?

  15. Olivia says:

    What color did you use for the walls and window trim in your current kitchen? Thanks so much for sharing! We’re closing on our first home next Friday and whenever I feel overwhelmed, I head to your blog and feel suddenly better about it all.

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