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Done correctly, painting can be the most cost effective way to liven a room. Done wrong, it's a disaster. The key is all in the details!

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND: SUFACE PREPARATION and treatment will save any simple paint job from turning disastrous. If you're working with a cracked and damaged wall, a little caulking and surface work is needed before any painting is to be attempted. Remember that paint is only an overcoat. It cannot repair damage to your walls and often, will not hide it. MOISTURE is the biggest enemy of paint. It will cause paint to crack, peel and discolor. If you have a problem room (such as a bathroom or kitchen) where moisture collects, consider installing a ceiling or ventilation fan.

HINTS:

1. Using rich, deep colors in large rooms will make them appear smaller.

2. Light and soft tones in small rooms will suggest a spaciousness.

3. Painting doors and baseboards the same color as the walls will give the room a larger feel.

4. Warm colors in rooms that are not well-lit can help add brightness.

5. A room facing north or east can be made to feel warmer using tinted shades of whites, particularly roses and peaches.

6. Rooms facing south or west can be made to feel cooler with green or blue based whites.

7. The water in latex paints can help to cover blemishes in ceilings. Using oil based paint will likely have the opposite effect.

8. If the area you're painting is currently covered with wallpaper, it must be removed first. Wash the surface with warm water after removing, to get rid of any traces of glues or pastes and allow to dry.

9. It is best not to paint in a cold room. Paint will be slow to dry and will not adhere correctly unless you are painting at room temperature.

PREPARATION: It's most important to CLEAN and PREPARE the surface you're going to be working with. To remove oil, dirt and grease stains from walls, use any common dish detergent mixed with water. When removing mildews and molds (particularly in bathrooms), a stronger surface cleaner of one quarter cup of household bleach mixed with three quarts warm water works well. Clean with a soft brush and sponge, rinse and be sure to allow the area to dry thoroughly before painting.

REMOVE items like switchplates before painting. Tape the screws to the back of the plate and set aside for easy reinstallation.

TAPE wood floor boards and wallboard that will not be painted, to prevent any accidents.

COVER the floor with a thick covering of newspaper or drop cloths and be sure to do the same when leaving other items in the room.

PRIMERS can be used to prepare your surface, as well. Some experts insist on them, others say they don't make a difference. You can find more information about primers at your local hardware store. In many instances, priming a room will help to cover old stains and allow the paint to spread more evenly and are applied before painting begins with a paintbrush or pad.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED: BRUSH, PAINTPAD or ROLLER

Having PAINT THINNER on hand will allow you to clean up spills quickly. A damp cloth can be used in areas where accidents have not yet dried.

PAINT. If you're dealing with high moisture areas such as bathrooms or kitchens, a washable latex paint may be in order. Most latex paints work well for inside rooms. There are a variety of different styles and brands to choose from, so take your time in the paint department before making your decision.

Now that you've prepared your surface and pulled all of your supplies together, it's time to begin. It's easiest to open a can of paint by using a pry bar (supplied by your paint store) or screw driver. Use the tool to gently pry loose the lid, and set aside. Stir the paint gently for at least five minutes, taking note of the consistency and any foreign material that may have collected. Remove spots of dried paint or debris from the paint with a rag before applying.

When painting a large area, it's best to begin from top to bottom. That way, you'll cover any "runs" or accidents as you work your way down. Don't saturate the area. Most often, two coats of paint will be needed, so applying one even coat the first time around is all that's necessary.

Once your paint has been applied, take a break. It will take between four and eight hours for the normal room to dry. Repainting an already damp surface is never recommended. So, give yourself a much needed respite and allow the paint to firm up. After the paint has dried, survey the room for any places you may have missed. Turning on a bright light is always the best way to locate blemishes and spots. Your room will most likely need a second coat, so after you've gone over any mistakes you may have made along the way, you can begin applying a second coat.

FINISH UP Once your second coat has been applied and you're certain no more painting will need to be done, it's time to remove the tape you put in place. It's important to do this while the paint is still wet, in order to avoid damaging your new surfaces and to leave the cleanest possible edge.

AFTERCARE Now that you have a new room, you can help to keep your paint in tip top shop by remembering these simple guidelines:

1. Paint thinner will remove crayon and pen stains from all painted surfaces.

2. Dish soap and a sponge are all you'll need to cleanup washable paints, though stronger cleaners can be applied without fear of damage.

3. For big fixes (stains you can't remove from walls), apply bleach and water to the area to clean, removing as much of the stain as you can. Allow the surface to dry. Repaint the small area in question, carefully blending paint into the already existing paint job. This technique works best on washable finishes, but can work in other areas, as well.