Giving your walls and ceiling a fresh coat of paint is one of the quickest ways to improve the appearance of your home… or completely ruin it if you have no idea what you are doing. Cheap brushes, hastily purchased paint, and incorrectly applied painting techniques can all turn what was initially an exciting DIY project into nightmare material. But you don’t have to go down that road. Brew some coffee and check the tips below to paint your home interior like an expert would.
Step 1: Carefully Choose Your Colors
Consider the purpose of your room
Generally speaking, you will be working with two types of paints:
- Warm paints. Colors, such as red, yellow, beige, and orange are considered to be vivid or “warm” since they evoke emotions and spark the imagination. These go well in kitchens, dining and living rooms, and other busy household areas.
- Cool paints. This type is represented by Colors, such as green, blue, brown, and grey. These Colors are known to have a soothing effect on the mind, which makes them perfect for your bedroom, nursery, or home office.
Note: You can always ask for professional advice and color consulting or simply find what is the best color for your specific type of room with one of our many handy guides.
Test first (Always)
Don’t be fooled by the color card at your local hardware store. While certainly helpful, it can give you a very misleading idea of how your chosen tint is going to look on your walls.
Instead, purchase tester pots of different shades and apply them on several A4 sheets. When the paint dries out, tape the sheets on a wall to see if the Colors are going to match the rest of the room.
Take lighting into account
Sunlight or bright LED light bulbs can significantly alter your paint’s appearance and should be taken into account while you’re shopping for supplies.
To eliminate any surprises, paint a piece of foam board in your chosen shade and periodically move it around the room. This will help you get a better idea of how your paint will look during the different hours of day and night.
Consider the room’s dimensions
Among the most common mistakes when painting – failing to measure the square footage of the room before visiting the store to calculate how much paint you’ll need for your project. For instance, some interior experts will recommend that you purchase a gallon of paint for every 400 square feet.
You may, however, need to buy more than that if your work also involves painting rough, unprimed, or textured surfaces. The good news is that, even if you buy too much paint, you will still be able to use the leftovers for future touch-up work.
Box your paint for a consistent color
When you purchase your paint, avoid using it on a bucket-by-bucket basis. Ensure that your Colors will stay consistent throughout the entire project by mixing all the paint you have into one large container.
This process, known as “boxing”, will ensure that you will not end up fixing multiple bright or dark spots that stand in stark contrast with the rest of your wall or ceiling.
Step 2: Clear the Area
Carry out a thorough inspection
To achieve an impeccable paint finish, you need to be aware of any imperfections that your walls or ceiling may have. Here’s how you can fix scratches, dents or other signs of damage:
- Lightly sand, scrape, and rinse any cracks, flakes, or peeling areas before applying a fresh coat of primer and paint. If you skip this step, the old paint will crumble under the weight of its replacement and you will need to start your work from scratch.
- Wet a sponge with dishwashing soap and water to deal with greasy spots on walls.
- Wipe your walls and ceiling with a damp cloth to remove accumulated dust.
Protect your items against spills
The easiest way to protect your belongings is by moving them out of the to-be-painted room or rooms. If that is not possible, make sure to cover the furniture, floors, and electronic equipment with old blankets, drop cloths, and plastic bags to protect them from any rogue drops of paint.
Next, disconnect all light sources in the premises. You can also cover up your doorknobs with small plastic bags that you can then sturdily secure with tape. Lastly, remove all light switch and outlet covers – this will only take you five minutes, but will save you lots of scrubbing potential unnecessary damage to your property.
Get your equipment ready
Below, you’ll find some of the painting essentials that no painting project can go without.
- Brushes, rollers, painter’s tape. High-quality brushes and rollers with extension poles will provide you with better surface coverage, which will save you hours of tedious paint re-application. A premium painter’s tape will also protect your skirting boards from spills.
- Tools and supplies. These include, but are not limited to a putty knife, sanding paper, sealants, primers, a paint can opener, a paint stripper, a ladder, and canvas drop cloth.
- Trim guard. The trim guard is especially useful when you need to paint a trickier section of your wall, for instance in areas where the wall meets the skirting board or the ceiling.
While wall painting is a relatively safe activity, you still need to take a few precautions to ensure that everything goes according to plan. Goggles and gloves are absolutely necessary if you are dealing with chemical paint strippers or paint thinners since they can leave bad skin burns.
A quality dust mask is also recommended when you need to sand any surfaces to avoid inhaling any dust or paint particles. Wearing long pants, an old long-sleeve T-shirt, and slip-on footwear is also highly recommended – spills will always happen, so it pays off to be prepared for them.
Extra tip: Avoid using plastic sheets since they will not absorb paint spills and will get slippery really fast. Using a canvas drop cloth will ensure that your stepladder is stable at all times.
Step 3: Prep the Surfaces
Pretreating walls and ceilings
While you don’t necessarily need to use a primer if your walls have already been painted, you still need to do some maintenance work to ensure that your new paint will stick to the surface.
- Remove stains and dust from your walls. Treat any smudges with dishwashing soap and water. Once you’re done, rinse everything with water and let the walls dry overnight.
- Scrape off old paint flakes. Use a paint scraper to make the surface nice and even.
- Fill in grooves, dents, and holes. You can mask such imperfections with polyfilla of your preference. Make sure to carefully apply the material with a filling knife, then use a wet knife to smoothen the patched-up area. Sand the spots only once they’re fully dry.
Note: If your walls or ceiling are in a really bad shape, apply water-based or an oil-based primer over sturdier stains, let it dry overnight, and sand the spots with a size 220 fine grit sandpaper.
Besides walls and a ceiling, your room will also probably feature trims, casings, skirting boards, moldings, and other woodwork. Follow the steps below to efficiently pretreat yours in no time.
- Purchase grit sandpaper (sizes 100 to 150). Sandpaper is extremely useful for removing layers of old varnish or gloss paint. You can also use it to smoothen caulked nail holes, sharp edges or to remove the grain raising caused by water-based coating.
- Fill dents with caulk or a wood filler. Sand the repaired spots once the material is dry.
- Use a sanding sponge. Contours and shaped moldings can be tricky to sand with regular sandpaper. The pliable qualities of the sanding sponge allow you to achieve smoother and better results when sanding curves and other awkward spots. Once you’re ready, remove any leftover dust with a brush and wipe the surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Apply a wood primer on all untreated or sanded wooden surfaces before painting.
Pretreating covings and cornices
The type of primer you’ll need will largely depend on the material from which your covings and cornices are made from. For instance, plaster cornices will need to be primed with a water-based coat. Decorative trims that are made from a polymer-based material, however, have already been pre-primed during the manufacturing process.
Regardless of what materials your covings and cornices are made from, you should wait for at least a day before priming newly installed decorations since premature priming can prevent the adhesive from setting in.
A few words on caulking
Caulking is generally done after priming and can really mean the difference between an amateur and a professional finish. To mask the gaps in your surfaces properly, get a dripless caulking gun and purchase paintable acrylic-latex caulk (avoid silicone varieties since it’s nearly impossible to paint over these).
Once you load the tube into the gun, create a hole ⅛ inches wide and apply the caulk in long and uninterrupted strokes, then allow the caulk to dry.
Step 4: Apply the Paint
The basics of painting walls
First things first – protect your trim work with masking tape. The other steps are as follows:
- Stir the paint well. The paint you’ll use on your walls should not feel “runny”. If the consistency of your paint is thicker, add as much water as you need to dilute it.
- Paint from the top. Start from the ceiling and work your way down. Use a smaller brush for narrower sections between your ceiling and the upper window frames.
- Paint in “W” shapes. Many specialists in the field swear by this technique. Simply draw a big “W” on your wall with a roller that has an extension pole. Then, fill in the entire shape without lifting the roller and repeat this process until your walls are painted.
- Wait for the first coat to dry. Inspect the entire treated area for any accumulated blobs of paint and remove them with a putty knife, then sand the spots with a medium or fine grit sandpaper before moving on to apply the final coat of paint.
The basics of painting your ceiling
Painting a ceiling on your own may be hard, but it is not impossible. Check out the tips below:
- Cut in the edges of your ceiling. Use a paint edger to create 2 ½ inches-wide strips without touching the wall. If you have a cornice, use a brush and a trim guard instead.
- Mentally divide your ceiling into a grid. Attach an extension pole to your roller and paint your fictional ceiling grid square by square to achieve seamless results.
- Don’t overdo it with the paint. Use back and forth motions over the shallow end of your painting tray to remove excess quantities of paint from your roller.
The basics of painting woodwork
Staining. Varnishing. Painting. No matter what method you choose for your primed woodwork, you need to use a suitable thinner in order to dilute the finishing material. Other tips include:
- Use a trim guard for best results. This is one of the most reliable ways to apply the finishing coat, according to many experienced painters. All you have to do is gently press the trim guard at an angle until it starts leaning towards the wall surface.
- Start from the top and work your way down. Especially important if you’re painting door casings or window frames since this will allow you to quickly deal with drips. When painting window trims, you can use your trim guard to keep the glass panels paint-free.
- Apply two or more coats for a perfect finish. After you apply the first coat, allow it to dry and sand the area with a fine grit sandpaper, then apply the second coat on top.
Final remarks and takeaways:
Follow these expert tips and tricks and you’ll sure be on you path to mastering the art of painting and decorating like a professional. Although it may sound easier said than done, bare in mind that it takes years to fully master a trade.
Step 5: Apply the Finish
No painting job is complete without a coat of finish. Below, we’ll examine a few types of commonly used finishes to help you decide which one is right for your needs.
When to use flat or matte finish
- This type of finish is achieved with latex paint. The non-reflective nature of the finish makes it especially suitable for walls and ceilings.
- Applying the paint may take you anywhere between two or three coats. The exact number will depend on your wall’s condition and on whether it has been already primed.
- You can apply the paint using rollers, brushes, or sprayers. Keep in mind that while latex paint will dry faster than the other paints, you will often need to dilute the paint quite often to achieve consistent results, especially if you use a sprayer.
When to use eggshell or satin finish
- Perfect if you’re looking to add extra sheen to your surfaces. Generally, these types of finish will last you longer than flat paints and are more than suitable for walls.
- Among the two options, satin is the one to get if you are looking to create a smooth and “soft-looking” interior. An oil-based satin can also be used to finish wood surfaces.
- The sheens of both finishes may differ depending on your chosen brand. If you run out of paint, make sure that the extra paint you end up buying is from the same brand.
When to use semi-gloss or gloss finish
- Durable and shiny, such finish is primarily used to paint or seal wooden surfaces.
- Both paints have water-based versions. The acrylic enamel gloss paints are just the thing you need if you are looking to achieve a smooth, long-lasting finish. The mould-resistant properties of semi-gloss water paints, on the other hand, make them a popular choice for bathroom and kitchen walls and ceilings.
- Semi-gloss finishes are ideal for painting children’s rooms since they are easy to clean.