If you’re looking for an easy indoor weekend home improvement project as cooler weather sets in, a fresh coat of paint is one of the most effective — and often least expensive — ways to transform a space. But there’s a lot to know before you even pick up a paint brush, whether it’s how to choose the right colors and finishes or how to keep everything looking neat long after the paint dries. If you think you might finally be ready to tackle those dingy walls — or you just feel like changing things up — we’ve pulled together six of our best paint stories to help you get started.

DIY like a pro: Many people tried their hand at home improvement projects over the past year, including painting. But if you want the end product to look good, you need to do more than just throw down some drop cloths and crack open a can of paint. Writer Megan Buerger spoke with professional painters, bloggers, interior designers and entrepreneurs for their suggestions on how to make a home paint job look more professional and polished.

When to call in the pros: Some paint jobs are more challenging than others, whether it’s because of high ceilings or lots of surface imperfections, or simply because the project involves multiple rooms. Kevin Brasler of Washington Consumers’ Checkbook shares tips for determining when it’s best to enlist the help of a professional.

How to choose a paint color that won’t look dated in a few years: With numerous paint color options available, it can feel impossible to narrow down choices and pick a color that will withstand changes in trends and your personal taste. Experts suggest saving trendy colors for accent walls and small spaces that will get frequent updates, Lindsey Roberts writes. For larger spaces, stick with proven classics. Roberts spoke with color and design experts who recommended shades of beige, white, cream, navy and green for walls that will stand up over time.

Not all white paint is the same: It’s difficult enough sifting through endless white paint options, but trying to find a couple that go well together can be even more difficult. Writer Jura Koncius asked local interior designers for their go-to neutral paint color options for surfaces and trim, as well as recommendations on which ones work well together.

Keeping it clean: Even the best-looking walls take a beating over time. When it comes to cleaning and caring for them, paint finish matters more than color, writes Elizabeth Mayhew. She shared tips to keep walls chip- and smudge-free. For example, instead of vigorously scrubbing in a circle, “act quickly and gently,” she writes; a clean rag or nonabrasive sponge is all you need for everyday cleaning.

How to use paint to make a room feel larger: Paint is one of the most effective ways to transform a space. Interior designer Tracy Morris shared her tips for making a small room feel much larger in this piece by Michele Lerner. Painting walls and trim the same color is one of the her top tricks.