Interior painting is one of the easiest home improvement tasks for a person to do themselves.  Doing your own interior painting is fairly simple if you know these helpful interior painting tips so that you can avoid major mistake and finish with a fresh and professional-looking product.

Before You Start

First, clean your walls and surfaces so the paint can better adhere to them.  It takes more time to clean but don’t just paint over dirt and dust.  For the best results, put in the extra effort.

One easy way to clean dust and cobwebs from small surfaces like baseboards and window sills is by using an old large paintbrush. 

How much paint should I buy?

As a rule of thumb, every 400 square feet on a regular surface can be covered by one gallon of paint.  If you’re working on a textured surface it will need a bit more than that.

Wait to buy a whole gallon of new paint; buy a smaller sample first (maybe a pint sized jar) to test the color out at home. You can even paint a small piece of wood or board to walk around and see how your chosen color looks under different lighting.

If you’re repairing drywall or patching something with Spackle, make sure to sand and prime that space prior to painting.  Otherwise you will have visible blotches in your wall with a texture that doesn’t blend in well.

Move furniture to the center of the room and cover it or move it to another room and remove everything you can from the walls, including picture frames and even light switch and outlet covers (just don’t lose the screws!).  It is better to have has much open surface area as possible so that you can have cleaner lines and edges as opposed to trying to paint around objects.

What You’ll Need

The basic supplies you’ll need for interior painting are as follows: paint, primer,paint stirrers, a paint can opener (a screwdriver will do), roller handles, roller heads, brushes, painter’s tape, drop cloths, paint trays or paint grids, a ladder, paint roller extension pole (optional).

Some professionals suggest using a paint grid with a five gallon bucket instead of using a paint tray.  This can save time and can be less messy.

A paint roller can’t reach everywhere, so a good standard brush to use is what is know as the “flagged” paint brush, meaning the bristles are cut at different lengths and come to a point in the middle, giving you smoother paint strokes.

Should I use primer?

YES.  The reason primer is so important with drywall patches or new surfaces is due to the absorbent properties of unpainted or dry materials.  When you use primer first, it fills up tiny holes and small flaws in the surface so when it comes time to paint the actual color, that means less coats of paint will be needed.  The result it a smoother surface and clearer color, especially if you’re dealing with bold or dark hues. 

Paint Like a Pro

There are several interior painting tips you need to know so that you can paint any room like a pro.  The most convenient and efficient order to paint a room is to start with the trim, next paint the ceiling, and lastly paint the walls.  Make sure to use painter’s tape around all edges when painting walls and painting trim to avoid sloppy borders or paint dripping accidents.

You can mix all of your paint cans of the same color together in a five gallon bucket to ensure an even color throughout the entire room (when mixed at the hardware store, colors can vary slightly from gallon to gallon).

Try to paint as much surface area as physically possible with the roller to keep a consistent texture and only use the brushes to finish edges and corners as necessary.

Note when using oil based paints:

 “When using oil-based coatings, keep paint away from heat, sparks and open flame. Do not smoke. Extinguish all flames, pilot lights and heaters. Turn off stoves, electrical tools, appliances and any other sources of electrical ignition. While painting and until all vapors are gone, keep the area well-ventilated.”

The key to avoiding lap marks is to maintain what is known as “wet edges.”   That means that every stroke of your roller should overlaps with the previous stroke BEFORE that section of paint dries.

If you find yourself in a position where you need to stop temporarily before finishing a wall, feather out your paint by applying less pressure to the roller as you move outward until you run out of paint. This will make smoothly blending back into your paint job a lot easier.

When working with painter’s tape, don’t just rip it off once the job is done.  That will create jagged edges and the adhesive on the tape can pull up flecks of the new paint.  Instead, once the paint is dry, use an X-Acto or utility knife while slowly peeling away the tape with your other hand to make sure you have clean and crisp lines.

Other Helpful Tips

Make sure windows and doors are open so that you have good ventilation in the room while working around paint fumes.

Since roller heads are such a pain to clean, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them or keep them somewhere cool when taking breaks.  You can do the same for paint brushes, wrapping them in plastic and sometimes even with a wet cloth first.  Use masking or painters tape to seal the plastic and keep air out so the paint won’t dry while you are gone.

Cleaning paintbrushes at the end of a project is very important.  Soap and water is the best way to clean non-oil based paints out of brushes. 

How do I clean up oil-based paints?

For cleaning brushes that used oil-based paints, use a paint thinner or mineral spirits with to wash out the brush.  To get oil paint stains off of your skin, dip or soak a dry rag in paint thinner and wash off that way.  For a less pungent solution for your hands, try using vegetable or olive oil on a dry rag.

Keep leftover paint for touch ups down the road.  Make sure to write down the name and number of the paint color on the the can or tape the paint swatch to the can in case you need to buy more of the same color later.


We hope these interior painting tips help you get started on your own home improvement projects. If you have any questions about interior painting or would like to find out Kopeck Custom Painting’s estimate for your project, call us today!