DIY tips

A Room for Improvement OwnerWelcome to my DIY tips blog

My name is Kevin Schaben.  I am the owner operator of A Room for Improvement Painting and Wallpaper Removal Omaha.  In this section you will find trade tips.  On this blog you will find many tips on the interior and exterior of your home.  You will also find videos on removing wallpaper.   I am not shy about sharing my 15 years of knowledge with the do it yourselfers out there.  I only ask that you like the page and freely ask questions.  402-630-9957

Painting Exterior Trim

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Exterior Painting Trim


Tips for painting a home exterior


Red Exterior Door Trim

  1.  Exterior Preparation

When painting exterior trim on your home, make sure and use a high quality semi-gloss exterior paint

Why choose a semi-gloss paint for your exterior trim?  The reasons can be both aesthetic and performance.

Generally semi-gloss paint goes on smoother  than a flat paint providing a more seamless finish, and semi-gloss paint is also more durable.  Having a better looking and more durable finish provides several advantages:

better resistance to grime and dirt buildup

better ability to stand up to harsh weather conditions

better durability, like the movement you generally receive on doors and windows as we open and close them repeatedly.

In addition, if shutters, doors and windows become dirty with grit and grime, semi-gloss exterior paint washes much easier than any flat paint.  Scrubbing these surfaces does not wear it down as quickly as a flat paint would.

Choosing a semi-gloss paint is also preferable aesthetically.  Generally this type of paint has better color retention also.  Trim colors tend to be darker so this could be an important factor.

Another important factor is your selection of paint brands.  If you choose a poor quality paint the sheen will not guarantee a durable finish.   Below I have listed some excellent choices that you can find in almost any market.

Behr Premium Plus Ultra ®

Sherwin Williams Emerald

Diamond Vogel Evercryl


When choosing a paint make sure you look for a product that is 100% acrylic.  Having a fully acrylic paint will give you the best possible performace.

If you have any questions you can email me or visit my Exterior Trim

Home Exterior Painting tips

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Exterior Painting Tips


Tips for painting a home exterior

Exterior of home

  1.  Exterior Preparation

One of the greatest mistakes a homeowner can make is prepping a home improperly.   If you miss this most important step you are simply wasting time and money.  To insure you have a good start, power wash the home a full week before the other work is to begin.  This will ensure ample drying time.  When power washing start with the tallest surfaces first and work your way down.  After this process is done, scrape away any loose paint with a scraper.


  1.  Smooth down rough edges

When finished scraping the paint, sanding down some of the rough edges with sandpaper will provide the best end result.  If you use an electric sander for tougher jobs, make sure you use the correct grit of sandpaper.  Heavier grits may make the finish even worse.  With any type of sanding wear a mask.  Houses built before 1978 could contain lead paint.  Please check for proper safety guideline on


3.     Use a Primer

Use an exterior primer for any new or existing bare wood.  This is an absolute must for adequate preparation.  If any areas seem to be chalking or breaking down this process should be completed on those areas as well.


4.        Replace soft or rotten wood

Check the exterior for soft or warped pieces of wood.  It is very important these areas be replaced.  An area that is soft tends to spread.  Make sure all of the lower edges of wood get a coat of primer where they begin to swell.


5.         Caulking the home

Locate any gaps or cracks where water can enter the home.  Caulk these areas to ensure they do not deteriorate.  With caulking, it is important to buy a better grade of caulk.  I prefer to use a urethane based sealant for a long life.


6.         Applying paint

The best finish for an exterior is using a brush and roller.  This works the paint into the surface of the home and provides a more unified appearance.  Pay very close attention to the areas they eyes do not see.  It is those areas that are often missed time and time again.  Paint the lower edge of the siding to prevent swelling and extend the life.  Sometimes two coats of paint are needed.  For a more durable finish, consider using a sheen on an exterior other than flat.

If you have any questions you can email me or visit my Exterior Tips

Painting over wood paneling

Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Painting over wood paneling



priming panelingWhen painting over paneling, it is important to start off with a good surface.  Find any loose areas that may be separating from the walls.  Secure those areas with small nails

Fill holes with a wood filler and sand

Caulk any gaps where the paneling may be separating or trim pieces that may be pulling away.Spackle grooves

 It may also be appropriate to spackle large areas.


Sanding panelingSand the entire surface with a fine grit sandpaper.  Pay special attention to any burs or rough areas.

Wipe down the surface with a degreaser or denatured alcohol.

Prime the paneling with a bonding primer.  This will help provide a durable undercoat for the paint.


Use a mohair roller to apply paint to the surface of the paneling.  Apply even coats until fully covered.  Trim the surrounding areas with a brush.  Omaha Painting Company

painted paneling

Correct Temperature to Paint A House

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Working outside

Exterior Painting Temperature

Correct Temperature to Paint an Exterior

When choosing to paint an exterior it is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the back of the can. This is a guideline and there are other important factors you should consider.
1. Typically the correct temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees.
2. The paint in the can should also be between those temperatures.
3. If it was very cold the night before, consider the current temperature of the siding. You’ll want to make sure the siding isn’t too cold.
4. If you are in an area with greater humidity, your dry times will take much longer. Finishing a bit earlier in the day would be recommended to allow the paint to fully cure if you are expecting a drop in temperatures.
5. Consider the surface you are painting. While the siding may be an appropriate temperature, a strip of metal flashing may be several degrees hotter or colder.
6. If the home had some overnight moisture lingering in the morning, it may be best to wait for the surface to warm up first. It is not uncommon to see the surface of the house begin to steam when the sun first hits it.
7. Lastly, use good judgment. This guide can help you in your decision but ultimately many factors could change your decisions.

If you have any questions you can email me or visit my painting website

Good Luck!

When to say when

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Kevin Schaben is the Owner/Operator of A Room for Improvement Omaha

Working outside

We are in the very heart of the busy season.  Phone calls pour in, appointments are forgotten and promises are broken.  Welcome to the world of a small business.

The issue actually begins during the slow season.  As a painting contractor, this time starts in the winter.  We lower our prices due to more competition and less work during that time.   In short, you get hungry.  Every job you take on matters.  During the busy season jobs come and go.  Calls don’t always get returned.  This is not a good way to run a business but it is a reality.  This year I have taken a different approach.  I’m slowly learning when to say when.  At the beginning of the year I went 3 months with no time off.  I have tapered away from that and now I have spread out my schedule a bit for those emergency jobs for long time clients.  When I take a phone call I let them know an expected time frame for us before I waste everyone’s time on a bid.  I only promise what I can deliver.  It’s just good business.

Know when to say when.


Kevin Schaben

Call today for aFree Estimate in the Omaha, Metro








Selecting the right paint sheen

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Kevin Schaben

Often times I am approached by homeowners who are confused on which sheen to choose for a particular room. I have found out throughout the years that this confusion is definitively warranted.  Paint manufacturers don’t always utilize the same system when it comes to labeling.  Sherwin Williams for example have a paint line called pro mar 200.  Originally the sheen’s that paint offered were Flat, Satin and Semi Gloss.  Many painters complained about the Satin being a lot duller than other Satin finishes they were used to.  They didn’t want to change the Satin product because they were worried about confusing people who already used that product.  For this reason Sherwin Williams decided to add an EggShell finish to their line up.  The chart below would not apply in that instance.  For that reason its always good to ask when you are purchasing just to be sure.  I have found the below guide to be correct 95% of the time.  Good Luck!


This chart was furnished by Home Depot

  • Offers an elegant low-sheen finish
  • Best for low-traffic areas
  • Smooth surface
  • More washable than flat sheens
  • Living room
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Foyer
  • Family room
  • Hallway
  • Kitchen
  • Trim
  • Provides a smooth, subtle finish
  • Camouflages imperfections
  • Ideal for low-traffic areas
  • Absorbs light
  • Holds dirt and is more difficult to clean
  • Rubbing with cleanser may burnish the finish
  • Living room
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Ceiling
  • Family room
  • Hallway
  • Can be scrubbed clean with ease
  • Offers a smooth, high-shine finish
  • Ideal for surfaces that require frequent washing
  • Trim
  • Woodwork
  • Molding
  • Doors
  • Cabinets
  • Kitchen
  • Bath
  • Can be wiped clean
  • Provides an elegant finish
  • Soft sheen reflects light
  • Ideal for more active rooms
  • Extremely versatile
  • May be used indoors or outdoors
  • Family room
  • Playroom
  • Laundry room
  • Kitchen
  • Guest bathroom
  • Dining room
  • Children’s bedroom
  • Trim
  • Shutters
  • Doors
  • Can be scrubbed clean with ease
  • Smooth sheen reflects light
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Easy to wash
  • May be used indoors or outdoors
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Cabinets
  • Doors
  • Trim
  • Molding
  • Hallway

Room for Improvement

Paint your home like a Pro

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Kevin Schaben

Paint like a Pro

Interior painting can dramatically increase the value of your home.  It also provides an atmosphere created just for you.  It can however, be very expensive.  Follow these tips to get a professional product.


  1. Remove pictures from the wall and cover furniture with plastic.  Cover the floor with a tarp.
  2. Fill nail holes, cracks and imperfections with joint compound.
  3. After sanding, roll over the repaired areas with an oil primer.  This provides a stipple like a previous painted surface
  4. Tape baseboards and trim with blue painter’s tape. It often helps to use a putty knife to push down the edges of the tape
  5. Using a good quality brush, trim the edges of the room.  Start just below the edge to be trimmed and move the brush slowly until you reach the trim.  The bristles will bunch up and give the user advanced control.
  6. Pour paint into a paint tray.  Load the roller by moving it back and forth until the roller has an even amount of paint.  Sometimes it helps to attach a small pole.
  7. Apply paint to the wall like a “W” shape, approximately 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet.  Fill in the rest of the “w” creating a rectangle.  Repeat the process above and below the area until you have three roller width rows completed floor to ceiling.
    • Continue around the room until the entire room is painted
    • On the final coat draw your roller from floor to ceiling in a single line down.  This prevents flashing
  8. Remove the painter’s tape.

Things You’ll Need

  • Plastic sheet and tarp
  • Blue or green painter’s tape
  • Joint compound
  • Sanding sponge
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint tray
  • 3/8 inch Paint roller
  • Good quality paint brush
  • Ladder

Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors in Your Home That You Can Live With

Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Simple Tips for Choosing Paint Colors in Your Home That You Can Live With


When giving color consultations or bids, I often hear the words, “I want to paint it neutral colors so if we sell the house it will appeal to more buyers.” While I understand this thought process, it still seems a little disheartening to hear. Why disheartening? It’s disheartening because homeowners are missing out on enjoying the home they live in for the sake of worrying about resale. It’s important for people to remember that if they don’t care for tan or neutrals, they shouldn’t paint with them just because another person might buy their home based on these colors.

Choose colors that offer continuity throughout the house and make you happy at the same time. It is possible to have the best of both worlds! Forget “resale thinking” and paint your bathroom lime green if it makes you happy. Why shouldn’t you enjoy your home and add “special touches” to it to be unique and make you feel good?

If you choose an eccentric color because you like it, great! But keep in mind that continuity is key. While looking at the color wheel, there are several things to consider when understanding color continuity:

Most colors do well with hues in the same family (different shades of blue, for example) or the colors next to them (orange and violet are both on either side of red).

Colors look good with their opposites. While looking at the opposite sides of the color wheel, you can see that red and green are opposites. This concept is called the “complementary.” Warm colors always have cool complementaries, and vice versa.

If you choose to paint a wall two different colors above and below a chair rail, you may want to consider complementary colors or different shades of the same family.

A question some people have asked is, “should I choose my paint colors first or pick my colors from my room decor that I already have?” My answer is: choose whichever of the two means more to you. For instance, if you have a quilt that your grandmother made you and you want to showcase it, pick a color to match the quilt and accentuate it. Conversely, if lavender makes you happy and you want to paint a bedroom with it, choose it first then pick out decor.
Owning a home is the American Dream. It’s something most of us have had to work hard and save up for. Home is a place you can go to after a long day at work and put your feet up. It’s also a place where memories are made and dreams birth new life. My whole point in writing this article is to say that there are concepts that you can follow to make color selection easier, but there is no right or wrong way to choose colors. It’s ultimately about making your home a place to call your own.

Kevin Schaben

Interior house painting

Selecting Color

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

This is a fantastic color selection tool provided by Sherwin Williams.

Upload your photos to change the colors of your own home.

Wallpaper Removal DIY

Posted by on Jul 13, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Wallpaper Removal DIY

I helped write and edit this article about Wallpaper Removal

Kevin Schaben

I also have videos on the topic  Video 1   Video 2  Video 3

Removing wallpaper can be a pain, but you can make it easier on yourself with the right equipment and approach. Read on for a comprehensive look at how to get the job done.


Preliminary Steps

  1. Lay drop cloths over carpet and anything else you want to protect. Use small nails to attach to wall edges if necessary, but keep in mind that drop cloths move around a lot even if you nail them. Moving furniture out of the room to be stripped will make your life easier.
  2. Shut off all circuit breakers to any room outlets and lights. If you have a job and an active weekend social life (and therefore intend to do this at night after work), invest in a halogen work lamp and a long extension cord.
  3. Keep the covers in place and tape over the exposed area. This keeps water from getting inside during the removal process. Even outlets without power are dangerous to get wet and can pose a fire hazard. You may remove the paper underneath towards the end of the process.
  4. Figure out your walls are made of. This let you know how gentle you have to be while stripping your wallpaper. Most walls are made either of plaster or drywall. While plaster is hard, durable, and fairly water-resistant, drywall is nothing more than paper-covered gypsum and shouldn’t be allowed to get too wet. The easiest way to tell the difference is to tap the wall in various places; if it sounds hollow, you have drywall. If you use a wallpaper removal method that involves liquid or steam, go easy on your drywall.
  5. Determine what type of wallpaper you have. There are many kinds of wallpaper, but the removal process will go a lot smoother with the strippable type or peelable-top-layer type than the traditional varieties. To test this out, work your putty knife under a corner of the wallpaper, loosen it, and try to peel it back with your hands.
    • If the whole thing peels away in one piece, you have strippable wallpaper. A bottle of champagne is in order.
    • If, much like a cheap label, only the surface layer peels away, leaving a papery bottom layer, your wallpaper has a peelable top layer. This isn’t as easy to remove as strippable wallpaper, but you should still consider yourself lucky that you don’t have the traditional kind.
    • If you cannot peel your wallpaper away from your wall by hand (or can only peel a thin strip away at a time), you have traditional wall paper. You will have to remove it either with stripping solution or a wallpaper steamer.

Remove Strippable Wallpaper

  1. Find and loosen a corner. Strippable wallpaper is easily removed and can often be pulled off in one piece.
  2. Strip the wallpaper off the wall. If the sheet tears, find a new corner and start over.
  3. Wash away residue. Clean with soap and hot water, rinse, and then dry with a clean towel or rag.

Remove Wallpaper with a Peelable Top Layer

  1. Find and loosen a corner of the top layer. The top layer is often made of vinyl and should pull off easily. Once the top layer is off, the backing paper remains. If the sheet tears, find a new corner and start over.
  2. Soak the backing paper with water for several minutes. Apply warm water with a rag, sponge, or paint roller (for hard-to-reach places).
  3. Scrape and peel the backing paper off the wall. Use a plastic putty knife to scrape the sticker areas.
  4. Wash away residue. Clean with soap and hot water, rinse, and then dry with a clean towel or rag.

Remove Traditional Wallpaper with Stripping Solution

  1. Score the wallpaper per the instructions on your wallpaper scorer. Putting holes in the paper will help your stripping solution to penetrate the adhesive.
  • Some people skip the scoring process because it can create small holes in the paper on the drywall. If you have a real plaster wall, this isn’t as much of an issue.
  • If you don’t want to score your wallpaper, use 120-grit sand paper with a vibrating sander. Sand just enough to take some of the color off.
  • Fill a bucket with hot water. Make sure it’s as hot as you can stand. Mix in a wallpaper-stripping solution according to the instructions on the bottle.
    • A vinegar solution would also effective, cheap, and non-toxic. Consider using a 20-percent solution, but if you’d feel more comfortable with a milder concentration, feel free to experiment.
    • Another cheap alternative is fabric softener at about 25- to 50-percent solution. It doesn’t have to be fancy fabric softener, but do make sure it’s unscented.
    • Mixing your stripping solution in small batches will keep the water hot.
  • Soak a paint roller in the hot water/stripping solution. A sponge or large paint brush also works well.
    • A spray bottle can make the solution much easier to apply but will also cool down it faster. Weigh your options.
  • Saturate one section of the wall at a time. Don’t saturate more than you think you can strip in 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Let it soak for several minutes. This will give the solution time to do its job.
  • Strip the wallpaper. With the help of a plastic putty knife, peel pieces of wallpaper away one at a time.
    • Peel upwards. This will make it easier to wedge the putty knife between the uplifted paper and the wall.
  • Wash away residue. Clean with soap and hot water, rinse, and then dry with a clean towel or rag.

Remove Traditional Wallpaper with Steam

  1. Rent a wallpaper steamer. The steaming method is ideal for wallpaper that proves difficult to remove.
  2. Score the wallpaper per the instructions on your wallpaper scorer. This helps the steam penetrate.
    • Some people skip the scoring process because it can create small holes in the paper on the drywall. If you have a real plaster wall, this isn’t as much of an issue.
  3. Steam the wallpaper in sections. Hold the steamer against the wallpaper to soften and loosen the adhesive. The longer you steam the paper, the easier it will peel off.
    • Be careful when using the steamer around drywall. The extra moisture may damage your walls.
    • Since the steamer will probably drip hot water, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves.
  4. Scrape the wallpaper as you go. Use a plastic putty or drywall knife.
    • Peel upwards. This will make it easier to wedge the putty knife between the uplifted paper and the wall.
  5. Wash away residue. Clean with soap and hot water, rinse, and then dry with a clean towel or rag.


  • Don’t fret if you mark up the wall with cuts and dings. You can always sand it, plaster it, repaint, or put up new wallpaper.
  • Use a plastic spatula (egg turner) instead of metal scrapers. This will leave fewer gouges in wallboard.


  • Plastic moldings will, in all likelihood, be destroyed in this process.
  • No matter how careful you are, the old wallpaper glue will stick to everything.
  • Wallpaper and wallpaper paste can contain toxic fungicides. Dispose of the waste and wash-water accordingly and restrict access to the area while working.
  • The whole process will take three times as long as you anticipate. It’s inevitable.

Things You’ll Need

  • Drop-cloths
  • Plastic scraping tool
  • Paint roller or sponges
    • Use a spray bottle as an alternative
  • Bucket
  • Wallpaper stripping solvent
    • Use vinegar or unscented fabric softener as an alternative
  • Steamer
  • Gloves

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Remove Wallpaper. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.