A Newbie’s Guide to Interior Painting

If you’re new to DIY, an interior painting project is a perfect way to get started. Painting projects are low risk and save you money on professional painters. While there is potential to make a number of mistakes, they’re all easy to avoid. Follow this guide during your next interior paint project, and you’ll finish without a wayward drip.

Step 1 – Buy Paint

When buying paint, follow this rule of thumb: it’s better to buy too much paint than it is to run out of paint. That said, there is a science to buying the “right” amount. One can of paint covers about 400 feet–you can do the math or use an online tool. If in doubt, buy more paint than you think you need. You don’t want to run out because the next batch may look different. You should also buy one extra can of paint for touch up jobs–you won’t regret this.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Walls

It can be tempting to start painting as soon as you get home from the hardware store. However, a little preparation will save your walls from dirt, dust, and hair. First, clean the walls with soap and water–even dust can mess up a coat of paint. If you’ll be painting over a glossy coat of paint, use a deglosser before you begin. You can also sand the walls, but be careful–it’s easy to damage the texture. When you’re done washing and deglossing, let the walls dry completely. A little water can prevent paint from setting.

Step 3 – Protect Your Home

Spilling paint is one of the easiest mistakes that new painter can make. While it’s relatively easy to clean up latex paint spills, oil-based paints are considerably more difficult. To protect your home from unsightly stains, remove all furniture from the room before you start. Then, cover the entire floor with drop cloths. It may be tempting to buy a single cloth and move it around the room as you go, but it’s risky.

Step 4 – Use Painter’s Tape

When painting a home, painter’s tape is invaluable. It’s specifically designed to repel paint without ruining your walls. Apply tape around all baseboards, fixtures, and outlet covers. You’ll can also use painter’s tape to create lines. After you finish, use a putty knife or scraper to smooth out air bubbles and seal the edges.

Interior Painting

Step 5 – Apply Primer

Primer is a necessary evil. It may be irritating to add multiple coats of paint, but primer prevents earlier coats of paint from peeking through. What about the paint/primer combination products? Only use one of the two-in-one products if you’re planning to painting over a surface that has already been painted before. You should also make sure that the previous coat of paint is the same sheen as the two-in-one primer. For example, it’s not a good idea to use semigloss two-in-one primer over glossy paint.

When you’re ready to start, remove small children and pets from the project site. After you pour the paint, remember to put the lid back on the paint can. When applying the primer, pay special attention to holes that have been patched with plaster. After you finish, let the primer dry completely before adding the next coat of paint–24 hours is a good rule of thumb

Step 6 – Paint the Ceiling

For the inexperienced painter, ceilings can offer unexpected challenges. First, make sure you purchase ceiling paint. It’s less shiny than wall paint and only takes one coat. You’ll also want to test your popcorn ceiling before you ruin the texture. Finally, make sure you paint the ceiling before painting the walls–this protects the fresh coat of wall paint from unsightly drips.

Step 7 – Paint Your Walls

You’re finally ready to paint the walls. Paint with even stroke, and make sure to cover the entire surface. Don’t try to conserve paint, but don’t wasteful. You want to apply one generous, even coat at a time. You should also take care to keep your roller clean. If it touches the ground, it can transfer dust and dirt to your wall.

Are you ready to get started? If you feel overwhelmed, there is no shame in hiring a local painting company to do the job. Try weighing the cost of professional painters against the cost of supplies  and the value of your time. If you have any additional questions, you can also ask the an employee at your local hardware store.