How To Paint Home Interiors

Interior Painting Help

How to Prepare for Painting

Preparation is key to a successful paint job. Before you begin, make sure your room’s interior surface is properly prepared.

  1. Remove draperies, pictures, and switch and outlet cover plates.
  2. Arrange drop cloths to protect carpeting, furniture, and any areas not to be painted.
  3. Fill holes, imperfections, and cracks with caulk or spackle.
  4. Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust on walls and baseboards. For high-use areas you may need to use a mild detergent to remove contaminants such as grease or problem stains.
  5. Tape off woodwork and other areas not to be painted at the time.
  6. Be sure to prime any new or bare surfaces and problem areas. If you have chosen a color that is substantially lighter you may also need to prime.

How to Choose the Right Product & Sheen

Latex vs. Oil

There are two types of paint – latex and oil.

Latex paints are water-based and offer excellent durability, flexibility, and easy soap and water clean up.

Oil-based paints also provide excellent durability and are known for their smooth application properties. Paint thinner is required for cleanup.


The next feature to consider is sheen. Wall sheens can vary depending upon the room: Ceilings are usually a flat sheen and moulding is often a satin or semi-gloss. The lower the sheen, the less light that will reflect off the surface. Generally, lower sheens offer a warm, designer look and help hide surface imperfections.

Conversely, the higher the sheen, the more light that will reflect off the surface. Higher sheens also offer enhanced durability and washability, and tend to be used in high-traffic areas. Use this chart to help decide which paint sheens are right for your project.

Flat/Matte Ceramic Matte Eggshell Satin Semi-Gloss Gloss
Living Room
Dining Room
Game/Kids Rooms
Accents, Trim, & Accessories
Doors, Windows,
Molding, Cabinets

Painting Supplies Checklist

Items you may need before you begin:

  • Putty knife
  • Caulking gun
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Wipe up cloths
  • Step ladders
  • Extension pole

How to Choose the Right Tools

  1. Brushes

    Polyester blend for latex paints; natural bristle for oil-based paints. 4″ brush for large surface areas; 2″ angled brush for trim and detail areas.

  2. Roller and Roller Tray

    Nap sizes vary depending on surface type. Generally, the smoother the surface the shorter the nap.

  3. Power Roller or Airless Sprayer

    Used mostly by professionals. Please read instructions completely before use.

Estimating Paint, Weather, and Primer Help

Estimating = How Much Paint Will I Need

To determine the square footage of the interior of a room, multiply the width of the walls by the height of the room. Next, divide this number by 400. This will give you the number of gallons you need to purchase.

Remember, darker colors generally require more than one coat of paint.

Using a Brush

For best results with a brush, dip half the length of the bristles into your paint. Tap the brush gently against the side of the can but do not wipe it across the lip. Hold the handle near the base, applying light pressure with your fingertips to make the bristles flex slightly.

Using a Roller

For best results with a roller, slowly roll it back and forth in the lower end of your roller tray until it is well covered. Then use the ridges in the upper portion of the tray to remove excess paint. Roll on the paint using even strokes to ensure a uniform look and coverage.

What Order to Paint Walls

Painting Ceilings

Start with ceilings first. Using a brush, paint a two-inch-wide strip on the ceiling where it meets the wall. Then, start in a corner and begin rolling across the short length of the ceiling continuing to where it ends.

Painting Walls

Tape off any woodwork, window frames, and door trim first. Paint a two-inch-wide strip along the areas near the trim with a brush. Then, using a roller, create the letter “M” on your wall. Fill in the area, rolling from left to right until the surface is completely painted.

Remember to roll on the paint with even strokes to ensure a uniform coverage.

Download Printable PDF How-To Guide