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How to Paint Your Home Like a Professional

Paint Your Home Like A Professional

Painting walls is one of those jobs that many homeowners choose to take on themselves. While working with the paint can become therapeutic in a way, it's not for everyone. Some people feel overwhelmed with stress while standing in a room with their furniture covered with plastic and the smell of paint overwhelming their noses.

With a bit of planning and preparation, you can paint your home and feel satisfied at a job well done. Especially when your friends are so impressed, they think you hired a professional.

Plan your project.

Project management may not be on your CV, but understanding the basics now will help you have fewer headaches and enjoy a smoother painting project later. Painting the interior walls can be a simple project or more complex, depending on the condition of your rooms, your final goal, and your budget.

If you're painting your entire home, tackle each room separately. There are several things to consider, and each room will have its individual needs.

Evaluate the condition of the room:

  • Are there holes in the drywall? 
  • Are there cracks in the corners of the walls?

Don't forget to consider the ceiling. Are you also repainting a ceiling to freshen it up? Or, perhaps, the ceiling has old spackling that's cracking. In this case, you'll want to schedule tools and time for scraping the old off. 

What you need to know about preparing your room for a fresh coat of paint:

Give yourself one day, depending on the size of the room, to prepare the room before you start painting. Add another day if you're repainting a ceiling that must be scraped off first. 

Prepare the room:

  • Empty the room as much as possible. Push the remaining furniture into the middle of the room and cover it with drop cloths or old sheets.
  • Remove light switches and outlet covers and cover them with painter's tape.
  • Dismantle the ceiling fan, if there is one, and if you're painting the ceiling.
  • Cover the floor and window trim.
  • Cover the floor with drop cloths, plastic, etc.

Prepare the walls for painting:

  • Fill cracks and holes in the wall with spackling and patches. Sand them until smooth. Paint them with primer.
  • Lightly scuff the whole wall surface with fine-grit sandpaper to dull the top layer and help your new paint stick.
  • Vacuum up the resulting dust (there will be a lot) and wipe down your walls with a lightly damp cloth or paper towel to make sure they're clean. (Don't saturate them.)

Make sure you have everything you need.

Now that you know what work you need to do, you can start shopping for your equipment. You'll need painting supplies, tools, and, of course, paint. 

Choosing your primer.

Primer seals the wall surfaces and allows the paint to stick to them. Paint products are improving year after year, and there are some cases where you may not need to use a primer. 

Here are the times you'll need to use a primer:

Suppose you're dramatically changing the color of the room. A primer will help you get a better covering with your new color. Many still say to prime first for the best coverage and color saturation, even if the color change between old and new is more subtle.

If your wall is porous, you should always prime your walls before painting. A brand new drywall is very porous, as well as untreated or unstained wood. 

If you're painting over a high gloss paint, you'll need to use a primer first, or your paint won't stick. Lightly sand the surface before priming.

If your walls have old stains, you'll want to prime over them before painting. Just make sure you fix any causes of those stains before you start painting. 

Is your house full of old odors? When smoke or pet odors get trapped inside a home, the smell can leak back through your new paint if you don't prime first. A good-quality primer will seal those odors away and keep them from returning.

Choose the best primer for your project. 

Shellac Primers have been praised as the go-to primer for interior work for hundreds of years. They seal surfaces, cover up stains, dry fast, and come with limited negatives.

The main drawback to a shellac primer is that it contains a more significant amount of VOCs. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds. These are organic chemicals that are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.

If you're sensitive to VOCs and wish to avoid them, a Latex Primer is a healthier alternative for drywall, plaster, woodwork, metal, and masonry. It has a quick dry time and has little or no VOCs depending on the brand you buy.

With Latex Primers, you may not get as good of coverage, and it may not cover heavily stained areas as well as other types of primers. 

Choosing your new paint.

Be positive you've purchased the right color.

Paint suppliers say the most common problem homeowners have is that they change their minds about the color once the painting starts. This can cost you big time for a project, even if your supplier agrees to a rebate on your replacement paint purchase.

It can be difficult to tell how a paint color will look on the wall. Take home some sample paints to test on small areas so you can see how they look. Even if you use an app to help you choose a color, you may not see how that color works with your room's lighting until it's actually on the wall.

What's your preferred sheen?

Interior paint comes with finish options of gloss, satin, eggshell, etc. Here is the lowdown on some of the finishes you'll find:

  • Semi-Gloss: shiny looking and easily cleaned, and it catches the light. Toughest against wear and tear and resists stains—best for trim, windows, doors, kid's room, kitchen, and bathroom.
  • Satin: a little shiny and easily cleaned but can accentuate patches and imperfections. Best for family rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, kitchens, dining areas, children's bedrooms, and bathrooms.
  • Matte: low luster and least resistant to stains. Best for ceilings, living rooms, and bedrooms.
  • Flat: non-reflective and least resistant to stains. Best for ceilings, living rooms, and bedrooms.

Looking for low VOCs?

The Greenguard Gold certification on a paint means it emits lower levels of VOCs than the industry standard. Some will even claim "zero VOCs" and are ideal for interior paint projects when you must avoid as many VOCs in the home as possible.

Set your budget to high-quality paint:

Don't jeopardize your project by settling for cheap paint and supplies. The extra cost is worth it. Catch the seasonal sales at the best paint suppliers to save money. Usually, home paint suppliers and home improvement stores will have a paint sale two to four times a year. Plan to shop one of these for your interior painting project. 

Your painting project will cost you both time and money. You'll invest your time heavily in selecting your colors, prepping the room, prepping and repairing your walls, painting the walls, cleaning up, and setting your room back up. It can be exhausting and time-consuming—you deserve to get the most from your money.

Reasons why you should not buy the cheapest items:

  • Cheap rollers can leave marks on the walls—they'll pull paint back off the wall as you paint.
  • Cheap rollers often shed onto the paint. 
  • Cheap brushes leave hairs behind.
  • Using a quality brush for edges produces a nice blended finish.
  • Using proper paint trays hold the paint to help you use the paint as efficiently as possible without wasting it or contaminating new paint.
  • Quality brushes can make your project significantly easier and better looking.
  • The cheaper the paint, the more coats you need, doubling your cost and time.
  • Quality paint resists stains, scratches, and fading for a durable finish.
  • Cheap paint drips, coagulates, and spreads unevenly. 

Additional Tips for painting your home:

  • Taking a break? Place your paint roller in a zip lock bag to keep it from drying out. 
  • Grab a lot of painter’s tape. It’s not something you want to run out of. Never use masking tape as a substitute.
  • If you're painting the trim, paint it first. It's easier to tape off the trim than it is to tape off the walls.
  • Consider using canvas drop cloths instead of plastic on carpeted flooring. They stay in place better, saving you from using tape to keep them down, and they're more stable. 
  • Don't let large spills sit and seep through. Clean them with paper towels or cloth rags.
  • After covering your trim with painter's tape, run a putty knife over it for a good seal so no paint can bleed through.
  • Tint your primer to conceal patched areas and cover up the old paint color for more vibrant color and possibly need fewer coats of new paint.

Ongoing Maintenance: 

Repainting your home with a fresh coat due to normal wear and tear should be part of your home maintenance plan. Here are the industry recommendations for when you should repaint your rooms:

  • Hallways: Every two or three years.
  • Kid's Bedrooms: Every two or three years.
  • Adult Bedrooms: Approximately five years.
  • Living Rooms: Every five to seven years.
  • Dining Rooms: Every five to seven years.
  • Kitchens: Every three to four years.
  • Bathrooms: Every three to four years.

You can help extend the life of your paint by including wall washing as part of your yearly manual maintenance. Just be careful not to wash too hard to streak or damage your paint. Clearing out the cobwebs and dust will also help brighten your home. 

Enjoy your final result.

A newly painted home is a bright and lively place to spend with family. Every smile from someone enjoying your room is a reflection of a job well done.