I spent most of last weekend painting in my new house and thought it was the perfect time to share a few painting pointers with you.
There’s a ton of great painting information available online that I referred to before starting. Learn how to pick brushes, apply paint, and more. Get the lowdown on almost everything paint-related from the ladies at BeJane. Or follow my step-by-step advice on how to tackle a weekend painting job successfully—and with minimal hassle.
STEP ONE: Select your color scheme and check out paint samples to find the right hues. Some manufacturers and stores offer small paint samples that you can purchase and apply to your wall—a good idea if you want to ensure the color you picked looks right.
STEP TWO: Estimate how much paint you’ll need. This handy calculator will help, or learn how to figure it out yourself. It’s a good idea to add a cushion—say, 15 to 20 percent of the total paint you need—to allow for mistakes, touchups, and such. (Oh, and if you think there’s a chance you may end up needing a second coat but don’t want to buy all that extra paint until it’s necessary, make sure the paint store is open over the weekend! I ended up needing a second coat on a couple of walls and had to run back to the store to pick up another gallon.)
STEP THREE: Pick your paint. There are two main types of interior paint: solvent-based (oil or alkyd) and water-based (latex). For most interior painting, I recommend latex paints, which dry quickly and clean up easily with soap and water. (Oil-based paints usually take 24 hours to dry and cleanup requires turpentine and paint thinner—no fun!)
Once you’ve selected the type of paint, determine the finish you want. Different manufacturers call the finishes different names, but flat, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss are common.
Flat paint is a good choice for large walls and ceilings. It has a glare-free finish that hides imperfections so surfaces look smooth. Use it in formal living rooms, dining rooms, and adult bedrooms.
Satin paint combines a slight gloss with the cleanability of a flat finish. It’s perfect for high-traffic areas including halls, children’s bedrooms, and family rooms. It also works well on woodwork.
Semi-gloss has a lustrous finish. It’s durable and easy to clean, making it a good option for high-traffic or high-humidity areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Use it on closet doors and trim too.
Gloss is shiny and easy to clean but shows imperfections more than other finishes. Limit its use to wood trim, cabinets, doors, and furniture.
Paint companies offer all sorts of paint options to further muddy the paint-picking waters. Consider what paint characteristics are most important to you as you select your paint. Durability? Coverage? Something else altogether? I went for low- and no-VOC paints from Sherwin-Williams because I didn’t want my house filled with chemicals. They worked great and hardly smelled at all! (Stay tuned for more about low- and no-VOC paints later this month.)
One last paint-selection pointer: quality matters. Cheap paint doesn’t go on near as well as the good stuff so it’s worth it to pay more. If you don’t want to break the bank, keep an eye out for sales. (I snatched up all the paint for my house for 30 percent off from Sherwin-Williams.)
STEP FOUR: Buy your supplies. In addition to purchasing the paint, you’ll want to acquire a number of tools and materials. You may need the following:
• Primer (figure out how much to buy much like you did with the paint)
• Spackling compound
• Putty knife
• Tack clothes and damp rags
• TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) to clean the walls
• Drop cloths
• Rubber gloves
• Painter’s tape
• Paint trays and liners
• Paintbrushes (in a variety of sizes to accommodate cutting in and painting tight spots and trim)
• Paint rollers
• Extension pole
• Multipurpose (often called 5-in-1) painter’s tool
• Paint edger
• Painter’s shield
STEP FIVE: Prepare to paint. The preparation stage involves:
• Moving furniture out of the room (or at least moving it to the middle of the room and covering it up)
• Removing items such as switch plates, outlet and phone jack covers, hardware, and curtains
• Placing drop cloths on the floor
• Caulking gaps around windows and doors
• Filling in nail holes, cracks, dents, and other uneven spots with spackling compound and a putty knife
• Cleaning surfaces
• Taping around windows, doors, baseboards, and other items that you don’t want to paint
• Priming as needed
Now I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you’re a weekend painter like I am, you can get away with skipping a few steps here and there.
Because I haven’t moved into my house yet and had ripped out the old flooring, I didn’t bother with a drop cloth.
Nor did I caulk a darn thing (although if you do need to caulk, use these pointers). I did fill in nail holes and cracks (look for spackling compound that goes on pink and dries white—it’s easy to know when it’s dry that way). And because the walls were relatively clean, I skipped the TSP and simply wiped dirty spots down with a wet rag.
In my experience, however, taping is a must (use blue painter’s tape!). Even though it takes quite a bit a time, it’s well worth the trouble in the long run because it allows you to paint faster and worry less about ending up with paint where it doesn’t belong.
And priming? I skipped that too because the walls were relatively clean, in good shape, and had already been painted. If you’re painting on new construction or are painting with a dark-color paint, you may want to prime first because priming seals the surface and helps the paint go on more evenly. If you’re using deep hues, tint the primer to match the paint.
STEP SIX: Stir the paint and get to work. Most painting experts recommend tackling the job in this order: ceiling, walls, windows and doors, and trim.
With an extension pole, ceiling painting isn’t as bad as it seems. Starting in a corner, paint the edge of the ceiling along the walls with a paint edger. Then roll the paint on the rest of the ceiling with the technique detailed below.
For the walls, “cut in” above the baseboard, at the ceiling, and in the corners of the walls with a small angled brush. Then load your roller with paint and cover the walls, beginning in a corner near the ceiling. Some pros recommend painting a large M shape, others saw paint a W. I forgot which letter to use and painted N shapes. It worked just fine. Regardless of the letter you choose, paint over the letter horizontally to fill it in. When you finish painting one block of wall, move on to the one next to it, blending the edges of the blocks together until you cover the entire wall.
Allow the paint dry completely before continuing. Depending on the brand of latex paint you use, this will take three to four hours. If necessary, add a second coat of paint once the first coat is dry.
Once the walls are dry, paint windows, doors and woodwork. Stay tuned—in future posts we’ll tackle the best ways to paint these items. Or take a look at a few pointers for painting these and other items. And you can always get help from Martha.
Oh, and one pointer I discovered that’s worth passing along: If you aren’t finished painting with a certain color at the end of the day, wrap your paintbrushes and rollers in plastic wrap (or just use a plastic sack like I did) and stick them in the fridge overnight. This will keep the paint wet so you don’t have to spend time cleaning brushes and such until the project is finished.
The Home Know-It-All