Painting a home’s rooms is a rite of passage for many homeowners and an affordable alternative to hiring professional painters. However, while cracking open a can of paint and slapping a fresh coat on a wall can be easy, doing a professional-looking job isn’t always so simple.

  1. Apply when the air is dry

The only thing more tedious than watching paint dry is watching paint dry when it’s humid. Painting in high humidity means paint is more likely to drip and will take longer to dry. To avoid this, try to do your painting during dry weather, or ensure your HVAC system can keep humidity under control. One benefit of humid conditions, however, is that you can take more time and correct any errors since the coat will stay wet longer.

  1. Check and inspect

You can’t just throw a fresh coat of paint on any surface without some prep work. For starters, cracked, flaking or peeling areas will need to be scraped or sanded and then rinsed before you can apply new primer and paint. If not, the old coat may simply peel off along with the new one. Greasy spots should also be washed down with soap and rinsed clean, so the oil doesn’t interfere with the new paint. No matter the surface, always be sure to wipe down work areas with a damp cloth to ensure the new paint can bond to a pristine surface.

  1. Keep with high quality

You often get what you pay for when it comes to painting supplies. High-quality paint, brushes, roller covers and even painters tape is usually worth the investment. Premium paints require fewer coats, stand up better to the test of time and may be available in low- or no-VOC varieties that cut down on noxious fumes. Good brushes and roller covers will help provide even, efficient paint coverage, and high-quality painter’s tape is your best bet for preventing drips and smudges.

  1. Get the nap you need

Not all roller covers are created equal. If you have walls with lots of texture, you’ll need a thicker nap on your roller cover to match. Too little nap, and the paint won’t be evenly applied to the wall. However, if your nap is too thick, you might actually create a textured effect with the paint. Take a close look at your walls’ textures and research the appropriate nap or ask a salesperson for advice.

  1. Protect from unwanted paint

Even with the tidiest brushwork, painting is a messy job. Don’t skimp on time or supplies when it comes to covering your floors, furniture and hardware before you get to work. Drop cloths are an absolute necessity. Plastic sandwich bags held in place with tape are great for covering doorknobs. Light switch and outlet covers should be removed before the job.

  1. Prepare with primer

Some paints claim they don’t require primer, and on a smooth, clean surface, that’s probably true. However, if your walls are less than pristine, or if it’s been more than eight years since your walls were last painted, applying a separate coat of primer first is recommended. Bonding primer will help you cover especially tricky surfaces such as high-gloss paint or glass.

  1. Achieve balance with boxing

When is the same paint color not the same paint color? Sometimes, when it comes from separate cans. To ensure your coat comes out even, you’ll want to combine and thoroughly mix all your paint in a single container, a process known as “boxing”. Research how much paint you’ll need for your job or ask a salesperson for help estimating your needs.

  1. Paint with purpose

Begin by cutting your edges at the ceiling and baseboard using a brush, then break out the roller. Be sure to paint from top to bottom, so you cover up any drips, splatters and other mistakes as you go. With your high-quality paint and roller, the paint should flow on easily with minimal pressure. Plan ahead so you don’t need to paint over areas that have begun to dry. Going back over paint that’s no longer wet can leave marks and streaks that will remain in the final coat.

By following these pointers, you’ll be ready to paint like a pro. Best of luck with your project!