I finally did it. I stripped, sanded and stained the deck. It was a bit more work than I was expecting but the payoff was well worth it. Gone are the huge swaths of peeling paint and stain, waiting to poke themselves into your bare feet.

Now the entire surface is gleaming with a deep maroon and fending off weather like it was always intended. I have always lauded painting as a very inexpensive way to re-invent a room or a home.

It is a great way to change the personality of a space and, in our case, liven up a tired and worn looking deck. I think our cheeseburgers are going to taste better now! Let's dig in today with some tips that are sure to help you succeed with your next project.

The first tip today is focused on light. There are two parts to this. First of all, when choosing your color the experts recommend always leaning towards the "lighter" shades. So, if you are looking at a specific color, the advice here is to select and test (more on that below) a color a bit further up the lightness spectrum.

In practice, while we may love a specific color, once it settles and dries on your walls it will inevitably appear darker than originally thought. I think part of this is our eyes being fooled by the harsh lighting in the store but the other piece is that paint just looks darker once they are "in" the room and dried.

The second piece of this is to actually give your chosen color(s) a more thorough test. I tend to be a bit impatient and just want to start throwing paint on the walls. The far better approach is to grab a couple sample colors ā€” they are small and inexpensive ā€” and do a "real" test in the room you are going to paint.

This accomplishes the goal of seeing the color in its dried, vertical form (different from you looking at a swatch in the store) and, more importantly, allows you to see the color at all times of the day.

The sun is going to hit those walls in all sorts of different ways throughout the day. The best (only) way to get a real feel for this is to paint a section of each wall so you can really evaluate it.

While you are in the "sample swatch" mindset, consider doing a full accent wall. It turns out these are still in style and really have a big impact on a room's look and feel. Just like above, and especially in smaller rooms, I encourage you to go lighter with your color on that wall. The lighter shades can open up a room and not feel like that wall is a gateway to the abyss.

"I love the lack of permanence an accent wall affords you," Badger Realty agent Denice Tepe said. "It allows you the freedom to experiment a bit without the commitment of covering an entire room."

Another area that can add a big impact to a room is the trim. I will say that the actual application of paint to these areas is a big pain in the butt. But with a little patience and lots of masking tape, you can apply the same strategies as above to ensure you achieve the desired effect.

A great process would be to tape off all of the trim in the room and test out a few different colors. You won't be so concerned with the sunlight on these parts, but more so the coordination of the two colors.

Once the paint has had a chance to dry and you've made your choice, you can now simply attack the rest of the trim with your winning color. You'll be glad you took the time for testing.

Don't forget to look up. One of the more commonly overlooked areas of the home, when it comes to painting projects, is the ceiling. I fully understand the dread when it comes to painting a ceiling.

I once helped a friend tape and mud the sheetrock on the entire first floor ceiling of his home. Even with those awesome stilts that we got to wear, it was simply exhausting. That aside, the ceiling has a big impact on the overall look of the room.

It should also be noted that you want to be sure to use the flattest finish you can stomach when repainting this area. The lower the shine, the fewer blemishes will jump out at you. You don't really have an appreciation for how bumpy or rough your ceiling is until you're up there face-to-face with it. Trust me on this one and go with a flat or matte finish up there.

And speaking of finish, that is one area that you really don't want to overlook for the walls as well as the ceiling. There are a myriad of finishes available and each can bring its own level of personality to the room.

Of course, a more glossy finish helps with smudges and crayon marks, but can also be a bit overwhelming if that room gets a ton of sunlight. Circling back to the top of this article, this is also where those sample swaths come in super handy. Not only should you be sampling different colors, but different finishes of the same color will highlight how important the testing part really is.

I'll reiterate that I love painting and really love how impactful this inexpensive project can be to a home or even just a room. Take your time up front and do a bit of testing so you can be much more confident in your decision once you break out the rollers. See you at the paint shop.

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