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The Right Way to Paint Your Home’s Interior

[Updated: May 08, 2020 ] May 05, 2020 by Matthew DiLallo
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The COVID-19 outbreak is keeping most of us inside these days, and one of the more productive ways we can use this time is to refresh our homes and make them more enjoyable. A relatively easy and inexpensive DIY home renovation project for those stuck at home is repainting the interior.

That's the project I've found myself doing for the past several Saturdays. As a former professional painter, I thought I'd share a few tips to make it easier for you to tackle this project in your own homes.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance

The most important thing to do before starting an interior painting project is to prepare. There are a few basic steps to take before beginning any painting project:

Gather your supplies

Proper painting supplies include the right paint type, finish, and amount for the project as well as the brushes, rollers, tape, drop cloths, rags, and other tools needed to get the job done. There's nothing worse than realizing you have the wrong paint type or not enough halfway through the job.

Make sure you've allocated enough time for the project

Painting can be very time consuming since it's labor-intensive and your paint needs to dry between coats. Don't get overly ambitious and assume you can get an entire wing of your home repainted on a Saturday afternoon.

Prep the whole room before you pick up a brush

Remove switch plates, tape off the trim, and put down drop cloths or plastic everywhere you plan to paint. While you might think you can save money by only purchasing one drop cloth and moving it around, that decision could end up costing you more in the end. I was painting my home office a few weeks ago and accidentally knocked over a half-full can of paint, which missed most of the drop cloth and spilled all over my new carpet. I spent half the afternoon trying to clean it up -- to no avail.

Avoid surprises

If you have pets or small children, make sure they can't get into the space you're painting. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending time cleaning up paw or handprints throughout the house.

Pro tips for DIY painting

I learned a few tricks of the trade when I worked as a professional painter in college that have come in very handy as a homeowner. Here are a few that should make your next painting project go much easier:

Paint container tips

Pour some paint into a separate container (for example, a cleaned-out paint can from your last project or a large plastic soup container from a takeout order). A separate paint bucket is much lighter (and safer) to carry up and down a ladder than a newly opened paint can. Also, never leave a paint-filled container on a ladder when you're either moving it or not in the room. Accidents can -- and very often do -- happen.

Wetting your brush

Dip the brush into the container and slap it (gently) against the sides instead of scraping it on the edge of the can. This method leaves more paint in the brush, which will help you cut in faster and should limit the number of coats.

Cutting in

Cut a full brush length away from the edges (roughly two inches). By widening the swath, you reduce the risk of accidentally hitting the vaulted ceiling or trim with the roller.


When rolling a wall, start in a corner and saturate an entire three-to-four-foot-wide section from the ceiling to the floor with paint, and then smooth it out by rolling back to the edge and then out again. By rolling thick, lengthwise sections, you'll end up with an even coat and a nice, smooth surface.

The trim

If you don't plan to give your trim a fresh coat of paint, make sure you cover it with painter's tape or plastic so you don't get any roller sprinkles on it. On the other hand, if you're planning to paint the trim, do it after rolling the wall.

Stopping points

For quick cleanup on a painting project you couldn't finish, tightly wrap your brush or roller with plastic wrap and store it in a cool place for up to a week. It will prevent the paint from drying out so you don't have to spend as much time cleaning up on a partially finished project.

Make sure your next painting project goes as smoothly as possible

Painting your home's interior can be one of the easiest and most rewarding home renovation projects because you can quickly and cheaply transform a space. These tips will hopefully make the results of your next interior painting project turn out even better, while also helping you avoid some costly missteps.

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