See more of the story

Painting one or more interior rooms is a (relatively) simple and often cost-effective way to spruce up the look of your home without major remodeling.

Since painting is a labor-intensive job, it tends to be somewhat costly to hire it done. If you're willing to invest your own time and sweat, you can paint your rooms yourself and save some cash. Follow these tips to do the best possible job.

1. Take prep seriously.

Thoroughly examine the walls for cracks or imperfections, then spackle and sand them. Use painter's tape rather than masking tape to separate baseboards and floors and anywhere else that shouldn't be painted. Don't skimp on the primer. Even a smooth wall will benefit from a good coat of primer, and you'll spend less money on paint overall.

2. Select paint carefully.

This is one point where you get what you pay for. Higher-quality paint tends to be thicker and stronger, so it requires fewer coats to reach the optimum shade. This alone more than justifies the higher cost of good paint. Low-quality paint also damages fairly easily, so you'll be making more touch-ups to scuffs and marks. Pay attention to the finish.

Flat paint has a matte finish that doesn't reflect light. Generally speaking, flat finishes hold dirt and lose saturation upon cleaning. This makes flat finishes best reserved for ceilings and low-traffic areas.

Eggshell paints wash slightly better than flat paints, allowing for light cleaning when needed. But they don't hide surface imperfections as well. Experts recommend using eggshell paint in bedrooms and living rooms.

Satin paints feature a medium-gloss finish that reflects a greater level of light for a richer, pearly look. Satin finishes aren't great at hiding imperfections, but they are highly washable and will stand up to high traffic and high levels of humidity. Experts recommend using satin paint in hallways, family rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and kids' rooms, as well as on baseboards and molding.

High-gloss paint offers a mirror-like reflective finish that makes it the most durable and easiest to clean of all the paint finishes. It's typically too shiny for use on interior walls — and it will surely show every imperfection — but it's great for trim and furniture. Experts recommend using high-gloss paint in kitchens and on door and window trim.

3. Paint in order.

Start with the border, then the edge of the wall, and then paint the rest of the wall. Use long vertical strokes, which will look more professional. Use a paint roller as much as possible, which creates a smoother, straighter look and stays consistent across the job. For the trim and edges, use a small 3-inch roller.

4. Make sure you have sufficient light and ventilation.

It's also a good idea to replace the lid on your paint can after you fill your tray and put it out of the walking path when you're not using it. It's very easy to trip over a can and make a huge costly mess.

5. Take your time.

Rush jobs are the bane of painting. Apply paint evenly and patiently, and let it dry completely between coats.

6. Know your limits.

If you're getting in over your head, call a professional painter to guide you before you make things worse.