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Use Color to Paint Like a Pro

Use Color to Paint Like a Pro

Delight your family and friends this season by giving your rooms a makeover — learning how to use color like an interior designer can create rooms that have a cohesive, inspired and welcoming look that your visitors will love.

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    • Step 1: Learn How Patterns and Colors Work

      Almost every room has a pattern in it. It might be in a picture, a rug, a bedspread or the fabric on a favorite chair. Use the colors in this pattern to come up with the color palette from which you will work. Remember, it's much easier to start with a pattern and determine a color scheme than try to find a pattern to fit into a given color scheme later on.

      From within your pattern pick three colors: a light, medium and dark color. These three colors will form the foundation of your palette. Lighter colors should be used as a background. If a color seems too vivid, it can be "knocked down" with a touch of gray or white. The floor color should be a bit darker than the walls and ceiling. This helps "ground" the room. Window coverings and large furniture pieces should have the medium-tone color, especially if it has a tinge of the wall color mixed into it. Darker colors should be used as accents, i.e., accessories and small furniture pieces. Use these for "punch" and distribute them evenly throughout the room. Be sure to take into consideration any existing pieces that will remain in the room as well as the various wood finishes present.

      Helpful Tips

      The feeling of a room can be created by using different combinations of color. By rotating the three colors, you can place greater emphasis on the background or furniture. Typically your eye will gravitate towards the darker, deeper colors such as burgundy, red or royal blue.

      Always check how the colors you choose look in both natural and incandescent light to be sure you're using the right color for your tastes.

      Monochromatic Colors
      For a calm, quiet room, select a neutral color like brown or gray and apply different shades or values of that color to various elements of the room. This approach is pretty popular because it allows you to vary the look of the room by changing the accents and accessories. You can add interest to the room by using a variety of textures on the floor, walls and furniture.

      Related Colors
      For a relaxing effect, select a color scheme composed of related colors: greens and blues or rose and peach are two examples. Keep the strength of the colors similar for a pleasing look.

      Contrasting Colors
      Use colors that strongly contrast one another to create a stimulating, lively environment. You can select similar colors in their dark, vivid hues or select complementary colors.

    • Step 2: Prepare the Room and Prime Walls

      Before you begin, remove hardware and fixtures from the walls and ceilings with a screwdriver. Remember to turn off the breaker or fuse for the room before working with electrical components. Remove electrical switch plates, cable TV outlets, phone jack covers, curtains and decorations and cover edges with painter's tape. It's best to move any furniture you can to another room. If that's not an option, move your furniture to the center of the room and cover it with tarps or drop cloths.

      Before you paint, remember to prepare the walls. Wash the wall surface using a damp cloth, mild detergent and water. Patch any holes and wall damage with spackling compound. Scrape off flaky paint using a putty knife.

      Helpful Tip

      Use synthetic brushes, such as polyester or nylon, with latex paints. Natural bristle brushes work best if you're using oil-based or alkyd-based paints.

      Always prime if you're painting a lighter color over a darker one. On flat-painted walls with minor repairs, you may only need to spot prime. For walls with larger areas of patching plaster, use True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Primer/Sealer.

      Priming doesn't require as much care as painting, but you'll use the same technique. Start with the ceiling, first covering the perimeter and unpainted areas around the fixtures. Moving in 6'-square sections, use a series of overlapping "W" strokes from right to left, then back from left to right. Spread the primer evenly using horizontal strokes. Continue in 6'-square sections until the entire surface is primed. 

    • Step 3: Apply Ceiling Brushwork

      Mask the perimeter of the ceiling with painter's tape. Next, "cut in," or outline, the entire room with a brush to reach the areas a roller can't. An angled sash brush works well for cutting into corners. Get as close as you can, applying the paint about a 1/4" from the edge of the surface. On your second pass, apply more pressure to carefully push the paint into place.

      Helpful Tips

      To roll closer to edges without making a smeary mess, put your hand inside a plastic bag and slide the paint-soaked roller so it extends about one inch past the end of the roller handle cage. This allows you to roll right up to edges and cover any brush stroke messes.

      When doing ceiling brushwork, it's easier to pour paint into a smaller can like a coffee can. That way you don't have to lug a heavy paint can up the ladder with you.

    • Step 4: Painting the Ceiling and Walls
      painters tape

      Start with the ceiling before painting your walls. Always use a quality latex paint like True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Paint. Use the same technique as priming your ceiling and walls, moving in 6'-square sections across the ceiling and walls. Be sure to feather the edges of the squares, using less pressure when applying paint at the edges of the square. This will keep the finish even and prevent any lines where the paint overlaps from another section. Keep working with the squares until the surface is completely painted. Without adding paint to the roller, use light strokes to re-roll from the bottom of the wall to the top (or across the ceiling) to make sure everything is even.

      If your paint is any other finish than flat, you should go over the entire surface (for very large areas, do two square sections at a time) once again with one-directional, overlapping, non-diagonal strokes to blend the paint.

      Helpful Tip

      Be sure to choose a roller cover that suits the surface texture. If you have a "popcorn" or textured ceiling, use a roller with thicker pile. Your True Value associate can help you find the right roller for your paint project.

    • Step 5: Apply Wall Brushwork

      Use the brush to do wall brushwork wherever your roller couldn't reach. Dip the bristles no more than an inch into the paint and go over areas in the corners and next to the doors, windows and molding.

    • Step 6: Paint Second Coat

      The first coat doesn't have to be totally dry, but you'll get better coverage the longer you let the surface dry. Paint the second coat in the same way you painted the first.

    • Step 7: Paint the Trim, Doors and Windows

      Paint all the trim areas around the doors and windows with True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium Interior Paint. For base molding, run blue painter's tape along the floor to prevent any drips.

      Before painting a door, you need to take off the handle or knob and the strike plate. If you have inset panels, paint those first, followed by the horizontal bars and then the vertical.

      For windows, you need to move the outside sash—the top part of the window—down. Move the inside sash up. Now you can paint the bottom part of the outside sash. Push this back up when you've finished painting it. Pulling down the inside sash, paint the top part of the outside sash and the inside sash. Make sure you open and close the window occasionally as the paint is drying so the window doesn't stick.

      Helpful Tip

      If you get paint on the glass, just wait a day and use a one-sided razor blade to scrape it off.

    • Step 8: Clean Up
      finished room

      Good brushes will last for many years if you treat them well. Use a brush comb to separate bristles that stick together near the heel of the brush. Rinse the brush out in either water or paint thinner. When the water or paint thinner runs clear, thoroughly shake out any excess liquid. Put the brush back in its protective sleeve or hang it on a nail or hook.

      Safety Alert!

      Don't throw used paint thinner down the drain. Some states don't even allow it. Find out where and how you can properly dispose of any used paint thinner.

      Pick up the drop cloths and replace the furniture. Once the paint is dry, replace the switch and outlet plates, the ceiling fixtures cover plate and the door hardware.

      Helpful Tip

      Save any remaining paint for touch-ups. For bigger touch-ups, you'll want to remember your paint color. Before you replace the cover plates, put a piece of masking tape on the back. Write the name of the paint you used in that room and you'll have the name of the paint handy whenever you have to do touch-ups.

      Congratulations! Take a step back and admire your work. With a little time and effort, you've transformed your home by adding color to your walls.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.


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$7 Instant Savings


On all paint and stain through June 23rd, 2015. For a location near you call 1-800-6-Hardware or 1-800-642-7392. Available while supplies last. Offer available at participating stores. Product, prices, and promotion period may vary. True Value retailers are independently owned and operated and may decide to opt out of the promotion.



Buy a quart of EasyCare Ultra Premium paints for $5 through October 6th, 2015. For a location near you call 1-800-6-Hardware or 1-800-642-7392. Available while supplies last. Offer available at participating stores. Product, prices, and promotion period may vary. True Value retailers are independently owned and operated and may decide to opt out of the promotion.


Paints ranked by a leading consumer magazine for various qualities. Results varied by sheen. EasyCare was priced lower than those in top ten ranking based on published retail values at time of testing.

$5 off Paint Sale!


On a gallon of EasyCare EasyCare Platinum an EasyCare Ultra Premium through January 31, 2017. For a location near you call 1-800-6-Hardware or 1-800-642-7392. Available while supplies last. Offer available at participating stores. Product, prices, and promotion period may vary. True Value retailers are independently owned and operated and may decide to opt out of the promotion.

$5 off Paint Sale!


On a gallon of EasyCare and WeatherAll paints, and Woodsman stain through November 8th, 2016. For a location near you call 1-800-6-Hardware or 1-800-642-7392. Available while supplies last. Offer available at participating stores. Product, prices, and promotion period may vary. True Value retailers are independently owned and operated and may decide to opt out of the promotion.

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