Back-to-School: a Perfect Time to Paint

Now that school bells are once again ringing, it’s a great time to ring in the fall home painting season, according to Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert at the Paint Quality Institute.

“With kids out of the house, interior painting is several grades easier, and with proper planning, you can ace the job in record time,” says Zimmer, who offers some tips for mom and dad painters with school-age children:

Start by finishing your “homework” early, she advises. Pick up color cards at your local paint store, plan out your color scheme and purchase paint and sundries ahead of time, not on the day you want to paint. Also, favor top quality 100% acrylic latex paint in a glossier finish to get a painted surface that is more “kid-proof,” i.e. easier to clean.

The night before painting, slide furniture away from the walls and cover it. Wipe down the surfaces you’ll be painting, and patch any nicks or holes in the walls. Remove switch-plates and outlet covers. Then apply painter’s tape as necessary to protect the ceiling, woodwork and anything else you want to keep free of paint. 

“With shopping and prep work completed beforehand, you’ll be able to plunge right into your painting as soon as the morning school bus leaves,” says Zimmer. 

Begin your painting by doing the largest wall first. When you finish that, you’ll have an immediate sense of accomplishment and confidence that you can complete the job before the kids return.

Use an angled trim brush to “cut in” the edges of the wall – applying a 3-inch strip of paint where the wall meets the ceiling, and adjacent to doors, windows and molding. Then use a roller to cover the wall in 3-foot by 3-foot sections, working from one side of the wall to the other. Roll out the paint in a “W” pattern, then fill in the pattern and move on to the next section. 

Repeat the process on the second-largest wall, and proceed from one wall to the next until you finish the room. If you must stop painting to pick up the kids, or for any other reason, don’t stop mid-wall or you may be left with a visible line in your paint color.

If you are also painting the trim, the best practice is to wait until the next day. However, if you started your project early enough and the walls are completely dry, you can move right on to that phase of the job.

Starting with the first wall you painted (where the paint is driest), apply painter’s tape to the wall right next to the trim. Taping off the woodwork in this way will not only speed your painting, it will also give the room a neater finished appearance.

Using a 2-inch angled brush, work from top to bottom, painting crown moldings and chair rails (if any) first. Same thing with doors and windows – paint from the top down, so you can smooth out drips as you go. Paint the baseboards last. Then allow all the trim to dry overnight before removing the tape.

Once the tape is gone, stand back and admire your handiwork. And thank your lucky stars that school is back in session: It makes things a lot easier when it comes to home painting!

For more information, visit the Paint Quality Institute blog at

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