Introduction: The First Paint
The time has come - you have a vision in your mind. A vision of vibrantly painted walls. You’ve chosen your colors and you’re ready to make your vision a reality.
However, life isn’t like a game of The Sims - you can’t just paint an entire home with the press of a button. Painting your home requires work, and it needs to be done well.
Sure, you could hire a contractor, but they cost a lot of money. Why spend a week’s wage on getting someone else to do the work for you when you can band together with the family and paint your home on your own?
If you’ve never painted your own home before, we get it - it’s a little daunting.
One wrong move and your whole home could end up looking like a blotchy mess - you’ll be looking at what can only be described as a poorly done tapestry of colors for weeks. That’s why it’s important to get it done well.
When you first start out with painting your own home, you also may not know what sorts of challenges you can face painting the interior and exterior of your house.
For instance, things such as the weather can put a wrench into painting the exterior that you likely wouldn’t face when painting inside your home.
So, if you’re a beginner at painting your own home, don’t sweat. In this guide, we’re going to cover precisely what you need to know when painting both the inside and outside of your home.
While these processes are very similar, you’ll need to know what issues you may face along the way. All you need is a sprinkle of extra knowledge and you’re well on your way to becoming a painting pro!
Why Would You Paint Your Own House?
You may be wondering why exactly you should bother painting your own home. After all, you don’t want to risk making ugly errors on your living room walls for all of your family to glare at when they come into your home.
Even worse, you don’t want random passers-by to gape at your home because you’ve done a poor paint job on the outside. As it so happens, there are several big reasons as to why you should paint your own home.
The biggest reason why most people choose to learn to paint their home comes down to cost.
Hiring a contractor to paint your house is expensive - not only do you need to pay for the painting materials, the paint itself and more, but you also need to pay the cost of labor.
A professional painter and decorator may take less time than you would take to paint your home, but you could lose hundreds of dollars in fees in the process.
In comparison, when you learn to paint your home yourself, all you need to pay for is your paintbrushes, paint, and perhaps a couple of takeaway meals for anyone else you’ve brought along to help you. All in all, you’re saving a lot of money.
There are very few feelings in the world that are better than looking at something you have created.
When you paint your walls and they look absolutely spectacular afterwards, you can’t quite get over your sense of achievement.
It’s akin to the achievement of your first child being born, but your painted walls probably won’t keep you up in the middle of the night for the next 4 years.
Learn New Skills
Was it on your bucket list to learn a new skill this year?
If so, why not make that skill painting the interior of your house?
Not only will you have pretty painted walls afterwards, but you will have also worked on your personal development by learning a vital life skill.
Learning to paint your own home is an investment both in yourself and in your home.
When your family and friends see your hard work, they may even want to pay you to paint their homes too. It could even become a new career path for you!
A Valuable Bonding Experience
Sometimes, painting a whole house all by yourself can get a little tiring.
You know how the phrase goes, 2 is better than one!
You don’t need to paint the whole house on your own - you could grab a couple of pals and get them to help you, or you could ask your spouse and children.
That way, you’re all creating lasting memories together by painting your home, and it’s a meaningful way to keep you all occupied. What more could you want?
What You’ll Need: Gathering Your Tools and Materials
It goes without saying that in order to paint your own home, you will first need to invest in some decent paint.
For your wall paint, you can choose between two different types: emulsion or oil based. Each has its own benefits.
Emulsion paint is a water based product whereas - as the name suggests - oil based paint is made out of oil.
Emulsion paint is usually a little more durable than a lot of other paints.
They also differ in terms of their finish - oil based paints usually have finishes like smooth, opaque and high gloss, whereas emulsion paint has finishes like smooth, eggshell, mat, semi glossy and glossy.
Generally though, it’s usually best to opt for emulsion paint if possible.
While you could do all of your painting with a paint roller, it’s often best to invest in a couple of paintbrushes.
Paintbrushes are the best, most accurate choice for when you’re cutting in or when you’re painting trim.
Ideally, you should have three different types of normal paintbrushes in your arsenal.
First of all, an angled paintbrush that you can use to paint straight lines around the doors, windows and ceilings if you’re cutting in.
You should also get a roller cover and handle, and a small craft brush for when you need to make your paint lines around windows and doors more even.
Paint roller and Tray
If you’re painting a lot of space, you may be tempted to invest in a paint roller.
These usually make painting your home a lot easier and make the process last for less time.
If you’re painting with a roller, you should also invest in a decent tray for the paint roller.
Drop cloths help to protect your floors from any paint spills and damage during the painting process.
Trust us - trying to scrub dried paint out of your pristine hardwood floors is a painful experience.
You may think ‘I’m careful, I won’t splash the paint everywhere’ but that’s where you would be wrong.
Even professionals drip paint on the job.
To save you the heartache of ruining your floors, get some drop cloths - they’re incredibly affordable and certainly worth the money in the long run.
If you’ve never painted a room before, you may find it somewhat bizarre that we’ve included sandpaper on this list.
Sandpaper is actually a great thing to have when painting a house, as sandpaper will scrape away any older bumps and drips.
It will also scuff the surface that’s already present to ensure that the paint is more likely to cling to the surface.
To avoid making a mess of your ceilings and trim, it’s a good idea to invest in some painters tape.
It’s also handy for doing work that requires more details, such as working with glass or making stripes on the wall.
Some places are a lot harder to reach, especially ceilings and particularly tall rooms.
Unfortunately not all of us are gifted with great height, which is when we need to find some resources to help us reach those high places.
Invest in a step ladder - it’s not safe to try and balance on a chair or on the table, and your furniture will thank you for not attempting to do so.
Primer is pretty important, so it’s a good idea not to skip it!
A primer helps your paint to stick better to the surface, making it less likely that you’ve have to do a million coats of paint for the color to show on your walls properly.
A primer is usually used on bare surfaces and they usually look a white or off white color.
Painting Your House: Where Should You Start?
You’ve got your tools in hand, now it’s time to rock and roll. The only issue is that you’ve never painted your house before, so it can be tricky to know where to start.
First of all, you need to remember that painting the interior and exterior of your house requires different considerations. There’s some extra preparation that you need to do beforehand when you paint the exterior of a house.
When you’re painting a home’s exterior, you will need to wash the walls down first before you start painting. You will also likely need to apply several coats of paint onto the exterior of the house.
You may be limited by the weather too - you should avoid painting on particularly hot days, when it’s raining or when it’s windy.
When painting the interior of your house, you don’t need to worry about things such as the weather.
You will, however, need to be very careful around doors and windows to ensure that the paint doesn’t get onto them.
From there, you can choose your paint. If you haven’t chosen the perfect paint colors for your home yet, this handy guide should help you to figure it out.
To put it short though, choosing the right paint doesn’t have to be rocket science.
First of all, you should try to work out what end of the color palette you want your walls to lie on.
Do you want a room with colors as cool as a cucumber, or do you want something warmer to remind you of your days of bliss in Barbados?
You should also think about the furniture you have at home at the moment and how the wall colors will look with them.
You’ll need to consider the amount of paint that you will need to paint the home too. Generally you should be looking at around one gallon of paint per 400 square feet of space.
Alternatively you could get a more accurate estimate by checking out this calculator by Pratt & Lambert.
You should keep in mind that if you’re going to be painting a light color over a dark wall you may need more paint.
Other than that, you should follow the tips listed below for guidance on painting your home in the best way possible.
A Complete Guide to Painting Your House
Are you ready to get painting? If so, here’s a step by step guide to painting your house like a pro!
Wash The Surface You’re Painting
Before you start the painting process, you first need to wash down the surfaces, especially if you’re painting outdoors.
The techniques may slightly differ when it comes to cleaning interior and exterior walls, so we’ll cover both here.
Before you paint any exterior surface, it’s imperative that you first thoroughly clean the exterior walls.
This helps to get rid of any mold, mildew, dirt and broken down paint.
While you could use a pressure washer to wash the walls, this may not be the best option for a beginner.
Using a pressure washer when you aren’t used to using one can result in damaged wood, can shatter your glass and more problems that you truly do not want to deal with in your home.
Instead, you should grab a hose, a scrub brush and a pump sprayer. This will take a lot longer but it’s safer for your home and it works just as well.
Before you wash your home, make sure that all of your plants that are nearby are protected - pull them away from your house if possible, and put some fabric drop cloths over them to keep them safe.
Make sure that you wet the walls before you scrub them. Once you have done this, grab around a gallon of water that’s mixed up with just 1 cup of chlorine bleach. You will also need a cup of a concentrated phosphate-free cleaner.
Wash the house going from the bottom of the house to the top to reduce the chances of it streaking.
Also make sure that you thoroughly rinse the walls before the solution dries on the walls. You should then wait a day or two to paint - ideally in dry weather.
There are some circumstances where it may be possible to skip washing the walls in the exterior.
These include situations when:
1.There isn’t a lot of dust on the walls
2. The house doesn’t have a wood burning fireplace
3. The walls have minimal contact with hands
4. There are no stains on the wall
5. You don’t cook or bathe in the room
6. There are no pets in the home
If your walls don’t meet any of these criteria, you will need to wash your interior walls. This is a fairly simple process.
To begin with, make sure the walls are completely clear of debris - this means getting rid of any dust or cobwebs from the room.
Then, grab a cloth that’s been slightly dampened with water, and simply run it over any window trims, door tops and baseboards.
This is because these areas tend to attract a lot of dust. Your painting tape is more likely to stick if you clean these areas first.
Once you have done this, grab a mild detergent and a bucket of warm water. Then, wipe the surfaces that you plan on painting using a sponge that’s slightly damp.
All you need to do then is rinse the walls using some clean water and a sponge that’s slightly damp.
Scrape Any Blemishes From the Surface
The next step is to get rid of any blemishes from the surface of the walls.
Any old paint that’s been damaged has no place on your walls!
You would usually scrape blemishes off the wall using paint scrapers, wire brushes or both of these tools.
This can admittedly take quite some time to do.
To scrape the blemishes off the surface, start by moving the wire brush across the surface. Ideally you should paint in the direction of the paint strokes. Once finished, clean the brush.
If you need to, you should then follow this using a paint scraper if the paint didn’t loosen enough with the wire brush. You can use a heating gun to make the process faster as this will soften the paint.
You will need to be especially careful if there is lead in the walls. Lead is quite common in houses that were built before 1978, and scraping and sanding walls with lead can release toxic dust if you aren’t careful.
It’s also a good idea to put a dust mask on when scraping the walls, just to ensure that you don’t ingest any debris.
Sand Any Wood or Walls
It’s not necessary to always sand the walls, but it can be beneficial if you have any particularly rough spots on the walls.
Sanding the walls helps to ensure that you get a smooth finish and it helps the paint to stick to the walls later on.
Ideally you should be painting on a surface that is completely smooth.
To sand your walls, start from the baseboard and then gradually move towards the ceiling, using a fine grit sanding paper put onto a sanding pole. After this, sand along the baseboard and ceiling horizontally.
Patch And Fill Any Dents or Holes
Once you have followed the above steps, you then need to fill in any smaller dents and cracks that you may see on the walls.
Patching and filling in the holes or dents in the walls is pretty easy.
First of all, check if there are any little nail holes in the wall.
If there are, use spackle to fill in the holes. You can also prime the spots, but if you don’t have primer you can paint of the spots, allow them to dry and then continue painting the wall afterwards as you would usually do.
If you have some larger holes on the wall, get some joint compound. To fill these holes, grab some compound and apply it to the hole using a putty knife. Make sure you spread it thinly on the wall.
You will also need to apply two additional coats to this afterwards, but make sure you let every coat dry thoroughly first. You will need to check the instructions on the compound to see how long it takes to dry.
Once you’ve applied the materials to the wall, you will usually need to sand it afterwards, though you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations just to check.
Prime the Surfaces You’re Painting
The next thing to do is to prime the walls you are going to paint.
There are a few reasons why priming before jumping into the painting process is a good idea:
1. If you are painting on a porous surface then primer helps the pain to absorb more evenly.
2. Likewise if the surface has a flossy finish, putting paint on top may mean that it won’t stick without a primer.
3. It makes it easier to paint over darker walls, as the primer will provide a more neutral canvas to work on.
It generally doesn’t cost as much easier, so you can cover the dark paint using primer before painting to make the process less expensive for you in the long run.
4. It can cover surfaces that are stained
The first thing you should do is ensure that you’ve got the right primer for your home. For instance, if you are also planning on painting your windows and doors, an oil based primer is best.
If you’re painting new drywall or bare wood then opt for a water based, or ‘latex’ primer instead.
Water based primers are usually good for masonry, plaster, brick and more, though you will need to check the manufacturer’s specifications first to ensure that the primer is right for your surface.
Before you apply your primer to a material like bare wood, you should first test it in an area you won’t notice, just in case it raises the wood grain.
Grab your roller or brush and dampen it a little first, as it can be harder for a dry roller or brush to absorb the primer.
Then, cut in the corners - this is essentially creating an outline the outside corners of the wall, leaving around 2-3 inches from the top.
It’s a little like doing a puzzle - you put the outside pieces on first to make it easier to fill in the rest.
You then need to put the primer on any problem areas in the home, such as over joint compounds or any marks or patches on the wall.
For the rest, you can use a 9 inch roller to apply the paint to the walls.
Caulk Any Joints
If you want to create a really neat paint job, then you need to ensure that any joints in the wall are caulked first of all.
You should try to caulk the joints in between the wall trim and the surface to make sure that no moisture gets into the walls.
To begin, grab two tubes of caulk and cut their tips.
You need to create a very small opening in one of the tubes, then use this for smaller joints.
The second tube should have a larger opening for when you are caulking bigger joints. Then squeeze the trigger as you fill the joints.
As to what caulk you should use? Generally a lot of professional painters will opt for siliconized acrylics, as paint often doesn’t stick to pure silicones.
Urethane acrylics are even better though because they last longer and are generally more flexible.
You should leave caulking any cracks until after you’ve primed the areas that need priming. This is because the primer will protect the wood if the caulk ends up failing.
It’s finally time to whip out that paint bucket and to let the colors flow!
To start with, grab a wooden paint stick and give the paint a quick stir.
You’ll need to ensure that you stir it regularly throughout the painting experience.
If you’re using a couple of gallons of paint, it’s also worth combining them together in a bigger bucket in the event that the color slightly differs.
The next step is to select your painting techniques. You should have some kind of strategy before starting the painting.
You should start off by cutting in around the edges using a paint brush. As previously mentioned, this gives you a frame to work inside of.
To do this, simply put the brush into the paint approximately half way up the bristles, then tap off any excess paint on the side of the paint can.
You can then go over the entire wall using a roller, moving in V shaped movements at a diagonal angle.
To apply paint to the roller, simply push it onto the roller tray (which should have paint inside of it) then lift the roller up to ensure that it will spin evenly.
Keep on rolling it until it’s even, then you can start painting the wall. You should then allow it to dry for around 4 to 6 hours.
After you’ve applied the first coat, you should inspect the walls. Do they look like they need a second coat? If so, simply repeat the process mentioned above until the paint is applied without any blotches or visibility of the old paint.
Voila! It’s time to admire your handy work, grab a hot beverage and boast to your friends and family members about your handiwork.
Painting Techniques to Make You a Pro
If you’re still a little confused about painting and you really want to learn the skills of the trade, here are a few extra painting techniques that you should keep in mind.
Prepping the Surface
As we’ve already covered, doing a truly fantastic paint job is about more than just slapping a layer of paint onto a wall.
You need to ensure that you have prepared all of your surfaces properly in advance.
As a quick summary, this includes:
- Washing the surfaces
- Removing blemishes from the walls
- Sanding the surfaces
- Filling and patching holes or dents on the surface
- Priming the surface
- Caulking joints
Sure, this doesn’t quite provide the same satisfaction as watching your walls change color before your eyes, but if you want to save yourself both time and money in the long run then it’s something that has to be done.
The last thing you want is to be annoyed by some random crack in the wall when you’ve done an otherwise fantastic job at painting your walls.
Tinting the Primer
We’ll say it again - priming your walls is a must if you’re painting your home.
Sure there are some situations where it isn’t necessarily needed, but it’s good practice to prime your walls before you paint.
Of course, one issue with primer is that it can have a nasty habit of showing through your paint.
You could apply multiple coats of some paint and still have the glaring color of your primer seeking through. How do you avoid this issue?
One simple answer: tint your primer. It’s a very easy thing to do, in fact. All you need to do is apply a little bit of your paint color to your primer.
Give the primer and paint combination a good mix, then prime your walls.
This simple strategy can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, and it saves you having to specifically buy a tinted primer yourself.
While it is possible to buy paints that already contain primers, it’s still best to buy a primer specifically for the job to get the best results.
Canvas Over Plastic
The next tip comes down to your drop cloths.
As we discussed earlier, using a drop cloth is incredibly important for ensuring that your flooring and furniture is well protected during the painting process.
What you may not know, however, is that you should choose a certain kind of drop cloth for your home.
Ideally, you should be option for a canvas drop cloth instead of a plastic one. There are a number of reasons for this:
There are very few things that can actually damage canvas drop cloths.
In this respect, many professional painters swear by this material.
On the contrary, plastic is susceptible to tearing in a heartbeat.
This makes it an inconvenient choice if you need to cover any sharp objects that could pierce the plastic.
Canvas drop cloths can last for years without you needing to even blink an eye about your sharp objects potentially damaging it.
One of the most annoying things about plastic drop cloths is that they are incredibly slippery.
This means that they are less likely to stay in place.
This is particularly problematic if you’re painting the exterior of your home and you get caught in some wind.
It’s even quite dangerous, especially if you step on it and fall.
Canvas, on the other hand, does not pose this same issue. These drop cloths usually feature rubberized butyl backing.
This means that when you put it down the material will grip onto the flooring or the furniture, keeping the cloth steadily in position. It’s much safer for you when it’s on the ground, too.
If you’re concerned about the impact of your eco footprint, you may wish to consider opting for a canvas drop cloth.
As canvas drop cloths are reusable, you don’t need to worry about wasting them by throwing them away after using them.
When you buy a plastic drop cloth, you need to toss it away after each project.
Canvas drop cloths are even recyclable, and cotton is biodegradable.
Canvas is pretty great because it’s capable of absorbing a large amount of paint.
This is simply not the case with plastic.
It is impermeable, but it’s likely to just run down onto the floor or furniture, making the drop cloths pretty much redundant in the process.
One of the best things about canvas drop cloths is that you can use them time and time again.
This means you can use them for one project, toss them in the washing machine and they’re good to go for the second day of the project.
Unfortunately, plastic drop cloths can only be used once.
Replacing plastic drop cloths all the time can be pretty expensive if you’re painting a lot, though if you’re just painting one room and you don’t intend to paint again for another year it’s an option to consider.
As you can see, there are a whole bunch of reasons to invest in canvas drop cloths instead of plastic.
If you want to protect your furniture and floors to the best of your ability, then this is the best option for you.
Use Extension Poles
We mentioned that getting a stepladder is a good idea for painting your home.
While this is certainly the case, especially if you’re painting the exterior of the home, there’s an alternative option that you should also think about.
To reach those higher places, you can invest in a telescoping extension pole to use with the paint roller.
You can get these handy objects in a range of different lengths, even up to 18 feet long!
You usually won’t need anything longer than around 18 to 36 inches long if your walls are shorted than 8 to 9 feet tall, but you will need to check this first.
All you need to do is clarify that the handle of your paint roller has a little threaded hole on the end where you can attach the pole.
Make sure that you buy a durable extension pole - one with a nonslip grip is best so that you don’t suddenly drop it and make a mess of all of your painting.
It’s best to stay away from plastic handles though, because these can be highly flexible and thus much harder to control.
Use a Paint Grid
While paint trays are pretty handy in some circumstances, a paint grid is often much more beneficial.
Instead of pouring your paint into a tray, instead roll the paint right out of the bucket by putting a paint grid inside of it.
Paint grids are essentially rectangular sheets of metal that can be set up onto the bucket’s rim.
There are a number of benefits to this. First of all, a paint grid helps to get rid of excessive point from the roller.
With a paint grid, the paint can just fall right through the grid so nothing is wasted.
To use your paint grid, simply fill up the bucket around halfway up with the paint. Then, hang the grid inside.
All you need to do then is dip the roller into the paint and roll it slightly up against the grid. Easy as pie!
Conclusion: A Lick of Paint
Now you’re ready to embark on your new painting project! In a short while, you can witness the fruits of your labor on your freshly painted walls.
While it can be a little tricky to get the hang of painting your own home at first, after a while it will get easier once you’ve done it a few times.
Ultimately, you can expect exceptional results so long as you’ve followed the advice in this guide.
Remember the importance of preparing your surfaces, and making sure that you have all of your essential gear ready in advance.
Then it’s just a matter of picking your paint colors and getting to work on adding some new life to your walls.
Who knows - maybe after you’ve painted a few rooms in your house, you’ll decide to become a professional painter yourself? When you have the skills, the world really is your oyster.