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Painting Interior Rooms

Interior Painting - Preparing the Wall

Peeling, Flaking, or Bubbling Paint

Interior Painting - Repairs

Interior Painting - Prepping the Trim and Woodwork

Interior Painting - Cutting In

 

Painting Home and Building Interiors

 

Introduction

You have finally decided that the color of that extra bedroom or living room probably looked good about 20 years ago, but by today's standards it leaves a lot to be desired. Where do you start? The key to an attractive and successful painting project is all in the prep work. Paint will not hide cracks and other defects in your wall surfaces. By spending a little time preparing the room for painting, you will ensure a "professional" job that will last and look good for years to come.

Preparing a room for painting includes 3 phases - First remove things that are removable. Second, cover up things that can't be moved. Finally, make sure all surfaces are cleaned, repaired and smooth before you begin the painting process.

• Beginner - 3 to 4 hours
• Intermediate - 2 to 4 hours
• Advanced - 2 to 3 hours

When working with electrical outlets, switches and lights make sure to turn off the breaker or fuse for that circuit.

Don't be in a hurry. Dry wall compound needs to dry overnight before you can sand it or smooth it out.

Sanding drywall compound is a messy, dusty job. Close doors to prevent dust from messing up other parts of your house.

A new coat of paint is only as good as the surface beneath it. Make sure you scrape or sand off any old paint that is loose or flaking.

Learning Steps:

MOLD TIP:  Don't paint over mold growth because mold will eat the paint and you need to remove the mold growth to make your home mold-safe. Read the 25 steps for safe and effective mold remediation.

1. The first thing you need to do is give yourself some room to work. Move all the furniture to the center of the room or take it out altogether. Then cover the furniture with a drop cloth to protect it from dust and paint. Be sure that you remember to remove all pictures and other things that are hanging on the walls.

 

2. Next, remove all electrical switch plates and receptacle plates. This includes cable TV outlets and phone jack covers.

 

3. If you are planning to paint the ceiling, any electrical fixtures on the ceiling should be removed. If you have a chandelier that is supported by a post, you can just remove the cover plate so you can paint underneath it. Make sure you cover the chandelier while you paint. If you planning to paint the trim and woodwork in the room too? If so, you should remove as much hardware as you can. Remove window latches, doorknobs, etc.

 

4. Now it is time to cover up things that can't be moved. Use masking tape and plastic sheets to cover receptacles, switches, radiators and other surfaces that will not be painted.

 

5. If you do not plan to paint entire walls or sections of the room, you may need to mask off those areas if you are painting adjacent areas. If you have enough drop cloths, cover the entire floor. If not, you will need at least one drop cloth that you can move from section to section as you paint.

 

6. Once everything is out of the way or covered, wash the walls to be painted with TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove landed mold spores, dirt, dust and other substances that can prevent your new coat of paint from sticking. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Wash from the bottom up to prevent streaking. Then rinse the walls with clean water and a sponge.

 

7. Carefully look over the surfaces to be painted for cracks, holes and other surface imperfections that you want to smooth out, and then use drywall compound, fill in holes and smooth out rough areas. If you need to patch a crack, cover the crack first with fiberglass mesh. This will help prevent the crack from returning later. Then use several thin coats of drywall compound to smooth it out. If you have major holes that need to be filled, refer to our tutorial on Patching drywall.

 

8. Once the drywall compound is dry, lightly sand it smooth with a fine-grit sandpaper (150 to 200 grit). This is a very dusty step, so make sure the doors to the room are closed and you wear a comfort mask to prevent breathing in the dust. If you are planning to paint the trim and woodwork in the room, make sure you sand it first to take the sheen or gloss off the current coat of paint.

 

Remove any loose or flaking paint and sand the edges smooth. Using wood filler, patch any holes or gouges in the woodwork. Finally, vacuum up the dust from the sanding steps. You are now ready to paint! Check out our tutorial on painting interior rooms.
 

Materials Needed

Wide masking tape
Plastic sheets
Fiberglass mesh
Dry wall compound
Wood filler
Sand paper

Tools Needed

Scrapers
Drywall taping knife
Screw drivers
Utility knife

Painting Interior Rooms

Introduction

The hardest part about painting a room is the prep work - patching holes, sanding and scraping, removing hardware, etc., etc. Before you get out your paintbrushes, spend some quality time prepping the room. It is the secret to achieving professional results. Our tutorial on Interior paint prep will walk you through the necessary steps.

Now you are ready to paint, right? Start by selecting the colors you want to paint the room as well as the surface type (gloss, semi-gloss, eggshell or flat). Generally ceilings are painted flat white. Walls are frequently painted eggshell or flat. However you might choose a semi-gloss for a kitchen or a child's room - it is usually easier to wipe off. Woodwork is usually painted with an oil-base semi-gloss, which tends to have better expansion and contraction properties. When you go to the store to get your paint, don't forget the primer. You will need to prime any new construction or patched areas.

If you are painting a room with all new materials ( drywall and woodwork) you need to start with a coat of primer on everything. Follow the rolling and brushing techniques below to apply a coat of primer to the walls and woodwork. This will seal the surfaces and provide a more thorough coverage of the final coats of paint. If you are painting over a previously painted surface, you only need to prime patched or repaired areas, for example drywall patches or woodwork repairs.

• Beginner - 6 to 8 hours
• Intermediate - 5 to 7 hours
• Advanced - 4 to 6 hours

When taking a break, don't leave your brushes or rollers sitting in paint. Cover trays with a damp rag.
 

When you accidentally drip paint on an adjacent surface, wipe it off immediately. Otherwise it can start to dry and will be much more difficult to remove later.

Brushes and rollers can last through many projects if properly cared for. Clean then thoroughly. Wrap and store brushes in a paper towel to help them maintain their cutting edge.


When painting with dramatically different colors, apply the lighter color first and the darker color last.

If you use a good, stain blocking primer, you can usually get away with 1 finished coat of paint.
 

For overnight breaks, you can wrap your brushes and rollers in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. Tightly seal cans and clean trays.

Learning Steps:

1. Rolling tips. Here are some general painting tips when using a roller. Dip your roller in the paint tray and then roll it back and forth on the ridged part of the tray. This squeezes out excess paint and evenly spreads the paint all the way around the roller.

2. When painting, start with diagonal or zigzag strokes to get the paint on the surface.

3. Then go back over the area with longer, up and down strokes to even out the surface.

4. Paint each surface in blocks of roughly 4 feet by 4 feet. Paint adjacent blocks before each previous block dries. This will blend the edges together and help prevent lap lines. When using glossier paints, paint smaller areas at a time. Glossier paints have a greater tendency to show lap lines.

5. Brushing tips. When painting molding and woodwork with a brush, you can mask off adjacent areas that you do not want to paint (for instance window panes). Use wide masking tape along the edge you want to maintain.

6. With a little practice you can learn to "cut" in your paint edge and avoid the hassle of masking things off. With a steady hand, guide the brush along the surface you are painting, allowing a few bristles to overlap the adjacent surface by about 1/16". Strive for a smooth, even line. Paint with the grain of the wood. Use short strokes to coat the surface with paint, the go back over the area with longer, smoother strokes for an even, finished surface.

7. Paint that room! The order in which to paint a room is essentially top to bottom. That means start with the ceiling, then do the walls and finally paint all the woodwork. To paint a ceiling, begin by painting the edge of the ceiling along the walls with a brush. Paint out about 2" to 3" onto the ceiling. This will provide an area to overlap with the roller.

8. The easiest way to paint a ceiling is with a roller and an extension handle. This allows you to stand on the floor while you paint. If need be, you can use a stepladder, but it is much slower going and awkward. Start in the corner of the room and work your way across the narrowest dimension of the room with a band about 4 feet wide. Continue back and forth across the room until you are finished.

9. When the ceiling is dry, you can start painting the walls. Start by using a brush to paint corners, ceiling lines and areas adjacent to woodwork. Paint one entire wall or area at a time.

10. Use the roller and work your way across the room, from the ceiling down to the baseboards.

11. When the walls are dry, you can start to paint the woodwork. This will probably be the most time consuming part of the project and requires a fair amount of patience. Use a good sash brush. They are worth the extra cost. Paint with the grain of the wood. When painting windows, paint the sashes first. Then work your way down the window casing to the sill. Don't paint moving parts, like sash cords and pulleys, or the sash channels.

12. On raised panel doors, paint the panels first. Then work your way from the top to the bottom of the door.

13. If you desire, flat panel doors can be painted with a roller for quick application.
 

Materials Needed

• Latex primer
• Oil-base primer
• Ceiling paint
• Wall paint
• Trim paint
• Masking tape

Tools Needed

• Paint brushes
• Paint roller
• Extension handle
• Paint tray
• Paint stirrer
• Drop cloths
• Step ladder
 

Interior Painting - Preparing the Wall

Most of us believe we know everything we need to know about painting, an assumption that often leads to poor quality work This applies to both the preparation and the actual paint application. Be sure that you understand, and use, the proper procedures to assure a quality paint job. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time. And proper preparation is the key.

Few of us really realize this, or even like to admit it, since it leads to more work It is a step that is all too often left out, and the final job reflects its omission. It is too easy just to start painting and not go through the necessary prep steps. Indeed, for a while the paint job may even look pretty good. But sooner or later the poor quality will show up.

• However, there are several basic things to do to prep for painting. These include:
• Turn the electricity off and remove everything from the walls and ceilings, including electrical wall and ceiling light fixtures, switch plates, and outlet plates. After you have safely wrapped all disconnected light fixture wires, you can turn the electricity back on.
• Use a drop cloth to cover the floor. Place any objects you are not removing from the room in the center and cover them with a drop cloth.
• Remove all trim pieces using a pry bar and wooden shims so as not to damage the trim or the wall
• Once the surfaces to be covered are repaired, the walls and room must be thoroughly cleaned. The walls and ceilings should be washed with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) and a large sponge. Use rubber gloves when working with TSP Rinse the walls with plain water before painting. Also vacuum and/or mop the floors and all ledges to remove all dust and debris.
• A primer coat of paint is recommended in many instances, painted on prior to the color coat. Also, you can apply an adhesive "pad" to the wall. This is a liquid just like a primer, but it dries with a tacky feel to it. Ask your paint supplier which is recommended for your application.
• Always apply a coat of liquid sizing to your surfaces before hanging wallpaper. The sizing gives a better adhesive to the wallpaper and also makes removal easier years later.
• Mask off the woodwork trim, and windows with newspaper and 2" wide masking tape. Wider masking tape, 3" - 12", can also be used.
• Although I do not recommend it, it is possible to paint over old wallpaper if it is well bonded and not vinyl, embossed, or textured. It is best to test a small section and allow it to dry. Sand any raised lap seams in the old wallpaper.
• Assemble ladders, buckets, materials, and so on in the room before beginning. Aside from the above-mentioned prep steps, you may need to repair other problems with your walls or ceilings. No matter what repairs you make, be sure to apply your primers or sizing after the repairs are done. Let's take a look at several common conditions that require special prepping.

 

Peeling, Flaking, or Bubbling Paint

Most of these problems are caused by lack of proper preparation when the previous coat was applied. Perhaps oil-based paint was applied over new plaster, or enamel surfaces were not roughed up first. Or perhaps the coat of paint was not compatible with the one it was applied over. Also, dampness and leaks in the wall cause many of these problems.

If these conditions exist on the wall, use a quality paint scraper and sandpaper. Rub the scraper back and forth across the problem areas until they are relatively flush with the wall. Then follow up with a fine-grit sandpaper (100-grit silicon carbide) to smooth out the areas and wipe with a tack cloth to remove all dust. If you leave ridges or dips, they will be visible once the wall is painted. If the dip or indentation is too great, you will need to fill it with drywall compound and sand. Be sure to prime or size any newly applied drywall compound before painting or papering.

Interior Painting - Repairs

Large Holes


Large holes in the wall will need special attention. The repair procedures differ depending on whether it is an older wall with lath and plaster, or a newer wall using gypsum wallboard (drywall).


Repairing holes in lath and plaster usually involves several steps. First, clean the hole and the edges of the hole of any debris. The sharp end of a can opener comes in handy here. If the lath is still intact, you can start to fill the hole with compound. If the lath is missing or badly damaged, you will need to stuff something into the hole to serve as a backing for the drywall compound that will fill the hole. You can either use steel wool or a wad of newspaper (sports page preferred). Also, a wire mesh held in place with a piece of string, attached through the mesh and around a pencil, on the outside of the wall will work. Place the newspaper or steel wool so that it is recessed about 1" from the finished surface of the wall.

Moisten the edges of the hole with a little water. Using a drywall knife that is at least 1" wider than the hole, spread the compound over the hole. Do this until the compound is about 1/4" recessed from the finished surface of the wall. Allow this coat to dry until it is tacky. Score this tacky compound with a nail to rough it up so that it will receive the second layer. Let this scored layer dry, then moisten and repeat the process, filling to within 1/8" of the finished surface.

 

(Two coats can be used if the hole is less than 4".) Sand this coat and apply the final coat, sanding this smooth with steel wool or a fine-grit sandpaper (100-grit silicon carbide). Use an orbital sander if you have one. To quicken the drying time between coats, direct a fan at the patch. Also, fast-drying compounds are available. Always clean your tools immediately after using this type of compound. And be sure to prime any fresh compound after repairing, but before painting.

An alternate method of repairing large holes in either lath and plaster or drywall is to use the "hat patch" method. This involves cutting a patch that will fit over the hole. First undercut the edges around the hole so that you have a good dean hole. Again, you can use the sharp end of a can opener. Around the perimeter of the hole tear away a 1" strip of drywall paper so that only the bare gypsum is showing. Use a utility knife to score the drywall paper around the diameter of the cut. This will assure that the hat patch will lie flat with no raised edges.

Cut a piece of drywall to the exact shape and dimensions as the total area defined by the bare gypsum. Remove enough of the gypsum from this piece so that you are left with a plug the size of the hole and a paper brim that will cover the bare gypsum. Apply compound around the hole and insert the patch. Cover the patch with compound, allow it to dry, and sand it smooth after drying. Apply a second coat (and third coat if needed), sanding after each coat Paint the fresh compound with primer before painting or papering.

 

Repairing Cracks

Cracks are usually rather simple to repair. Small hairline cracks can be repaired by simply spreading compound over them and sanding them smooth. Larger cracks need more attention.

To repair larger cracks, you first need to scrape and widen them. Also you need to undercut the edges. This can be done with a widening tool or the sharp edge of a can opener. Be sure all the debris is cleaned away. You may want to vacuum out all the dust as dust can cause adhering problems. After you have prepared the crack, dampen the edges before applying spackling or drywall compound. If the crack is large enough, over 1/8"-1/4", you should apply a self-adhering fiberglass drywall tape directly to the wall before applying the compound, but after filling the crack with compound. This will assure that the crack does not reappear. Apply two coats of compound with a putty knife, allowing the first coat to dry, then sand and apply the second coat, feathering the edges. 

Interior Painting - Prepping the Trim and Woodwork

You will be painting your woodwork and trim last, but you need to prep it before beginning to paint, or else the debris from prepping will settle on the new paint. Usually woodwork and trim are painted with an enamel or glossy paint, which will have to be roughed up so that the new paint will adhere properly. You can use a chemical deglossing agent or lightly sand with steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper.

If you are using a chemical, avoid those containing ethyl alcohol, which can make you sick. Often you need to scrape off old deteriorating paint. If it's in bad condition you may even need to use a water-soluble gel remover. Also, fill all dents and gouges with wood putty or patching compound. Avoid fast-drying compound; it is hard to sand. If the gouge is over 1/8", use two layers. Always sand where the old paint is breaking away from the underlying surface.

Applying the Paint

Properly applying the paint is your final step toward a professional-looking paint job. You have prepped the surfaces and chosen the right paint and applicators and now the fun starts.
Before applying paint, be sure that it is properly mixed. Professionals use a system called "boxing." This process assures that there are no mismatches among different cans of paints. Mix all your paint into one large container until the paint's color and consistency are uniform. It is important to prepare enough paint to cover all surfaces with this mix, since matching can be difficult if you run out.

Air often causes a scum on oil-based paints. In this case you will need to strain it through a nylon stocking to separate this "skin." Also, if you are thinning paint with either a thinner for oil based paints or water for water based, thin slowly so as not to over-thin and thereby require adding more paint. Finally, use a nail and hammer to punch a hole in the rim of the can so that excess paint will drip back in.
There is a sequence often used in painting which I recommend:

1. Ceilings
2. Walls
3. Trim (windows, door, then baseboard)

By painting the ceilings first you can be sure that any drips falling on the walls will be covered. When painting the walls, always paint from the top down, again to be sure drips are covered. And, finally, do the trim so that any paint that accidentally gets on the trim can be covered.
Needless to say, wear old clothes. A hat and scarf or hooded sweatshirt is recommended while doing the ceilings (unless you want to try some unusual hair coloring combinations). Again, be sure that everything is properly prepped and covered.

Interior Painting - Cutting In

"Cutting in" is a process of applying paint at all corners where ceilings meet walls or where walls intersect. Also, paint is applied next to all molding, trim, and baseboards. Since these are areas rollers or sprayers cannot neatly reach, use a 3" - 4" brush, painting all these edges before doing the large surfaces

You can use a paint edger. This sponge-type brush has a small set of wheels on the side that enable it to make an even close cut. A paint edger or straightedge can be used next to trim or baseboard to be sure that no paint gets onto the wood. Cut in around all appropriate areas before painting the large surfaces.

Interior Painting - Large Surfaces

After cutting in all areas, you are ready to paint your ceiling and then your walls. Be sure the area is well lighted so you can see any ridges or drips. The ceilings will be some of your toughest painting. It is physically difficult: painting overhead can cause back or neck strain and an occasional eye full of paint Because of this, safety goggles (and yoga) are a must during this process.

When painting ceilings, use a high-quality roller with an extension so that you can easily reach all areas of the ceiling without strain. In this way ladders will not be needed except for touch-up and cutting in. These same extensions are used for the high areas of the walls. You may want to erect some low scaffolding, using sawhorses or ladders with a 2 x 12 between them for high ceilings.

To properly use a roller, pour the paint into the roller tray or paint pan so that 1/2" of the paint is in the reservoir. This will enable you to fully load the roller without under-loading or overloading. Also, you can save on clean-up time by lining your tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil before loading. A new option on the market is the electric roller. It supplies rollers with a continuous supply of paint. Another time saving device is the air compressor with a painting attachment.

Roll or dip your roller into the paint reservoir. Roll it around in the paint until the paint has thoroughly covered the roller. Then run the roller a couple of times over the washboard area of the tray. This will remove excess paint so that the roller will not drip. Often too much paint on the roller drips. You will be surprised at how much paint rollers hold, so don't be concerned about thoroughly saturating the roller.

To avoid splattering, distribute the paint slowly on the ceiling and walls. In the beginning, use overlapping "V" shaped strokes. Begin at a corner and work across the wall or ceiling. Cover about three square feet at a time, After you have made your 'V-shaped zigzag patterns, fill in the unpainted areas with parallel strokes without lifting the roller from the surface. Increase the pressure on the roller as you work to deliver the paint smoothly.

When you are rolling into unpainted or previously painted areas, feather the paint in, in a series of light strokes, and lift the roller at the end of each stroke. When you need to remove the roller to reload, begin the next section, rolling in a zigzag into the outer border of the area you just completed. Then lightly roll the area between the two sections. Paint the entire surface. Do not stop and allow the paint to dry on part of the wall or ceiling.

Interior Painting - Painting the Trim and Woodwork

After you have finished all the large surfaces, you are ready to paint the trim and woodwork. In order to do this successfully, you need to change your mental set about painting. Up until now most of your work has been on large surfaces, and detailing was not important. Now, you are changing from rough work to finishing work. Attention to detail and care at this stage will mean the difference between a professional looking job and a sloppy one.

After you have finished all the large surfaces, you are ready to paint the trim and woodwork. In order to do this successfully, you need to change your mental set about painting. Up until now most of your work has been on large surfaces, and detailing was not important. Now, you are changing from rough work to finishing work. Attention to detail and care at this stage will mean the difference between a professional looking job and a sloppy one. Your tools will also be different. During this stage you will be using the smaller angled brushes and metal paint guide.

A 1 1/2" angled sash brush is often used for narrow molding and a 2" trim brush on wider trim. As you apply the paint to the trim and woodwork, keep a supply of clean rags near you to immediately wipe off any excess paint that gets on the previously painted surfaces. With oil-based paints, use a little mineral spirits or paint thinner. With water-based paints, a mild detergent and water will work fine. For a more durable finish, oil-based paints are most often used on trim. With these enamel paints, fingerprints are more easily removed. On trim that has been previously stained, bleeding may occur. In this case two coats of shellac will be needed first

Always paint horizontal surfaces first and then vertical surfaces. Begin with the trim closest to the ceiling and work down. Do baseboards last. When doing baseboards, paint the top edge first, then the floor edge, and finally the large center area last with a larger brush. Be sure to cover the edge of the floor with a paint guide or masking tape.

Paint inner sections of doors and windows before the outer portions. Windows especially require great care. Because of their many small areas, infinite patience is required. Apply the paint right down to the glass. The paint will thereby create a seal between the wood and the glass. You can either tape the glass or remove the excess paint later with a razor-blade knife. If you are applying masking tape to the panes, leave a hairline crack of glass exposed between the tape and the wood to be sure you have a good paint seal between the wood and glass. As soon as the paint is dry remove the tape.

Tip: To help a window move more smoothly rub a candle or bar of soap over the wood jambs.
When painting double-paned windows, a certain order is followed. You will need to raise and lower the sashes to be able to reach all areas. Begin by painting the exterior sash. Paint the horizontal side pieces, then the vertical, and then the mullions (the pieces that divide the window into small sections). Paint the lower part of their sash first, then raise the window and do the upper part. Next, repeat this process with the interior sash. Afterward, paint the frame and trim, first the top sides and finally the sill.

Raise and lower the sashes a few times while the paint is drying to be sure they do not dry stuck. I recommend not painting the jambs (the area where the window slides) unless absolutely necessary. After the window is dry, rub a candle over any wood jamb to create easy window movement .

Doors are best painted removed from their hinges and set on sawhorses. Flat doors are easily painted with rollers. Panel doors take much greater care. First remove all hardware. With panel doors, first paint the molding and the inside edges of the panel cavities. Then the panels. Finally, paint all the horizontal and vertical pieces around the panels. If the door opens into the room, paint the door's latch edge, the jamb, and the door side of the door stop as well. Once the door is dry, replace the hardware and re-hang the door.

Interior Painting - Preparing the Wall

Most of us believe we know everything we need to know about painting, an assumption that often leads to poor quality work This applies to both the preparation and the actual paint application. Be sure that you understand, and use, the proper procedures to assure a quality paint job.
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time.

And proper preparation is the key. Few of us really realize this, or even like to admit it, since it leads to more work It is a step that is all too often left out, and the final job reflects its omission. It is too easy just to start painting and not go through the necessary prep steps. Indeed, for a while the paint job may even look pretty good. But sooner or later the poor quality will show up.


• However, there are several basic things to do to prep for painting. These include:
• Turn the electricity off and remove everything from the walls and ceilings, including electrical wall and ceiling light fixtures, switch plates, and

   outlet plates. After you have safely wrapped all disconnected light fixture wires, you can turn the electricity back on.
• Use a drop cloth to cover the floor. Place any objects you are not removing from the room in the center and cover them with a drop cloth.
• Remove all trim pieces using a pry bar and wooden shims so as not to damage the trim or the wall
• Once the surfaces to be covered are repaired, the walls and room must be thoroughly cleaned. The walls and ceilings should be washed with

  tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) and a large sponge. Use rubber gloves when working with TSP Rinse the walls with plain water before painting. Also

  vacuum and/or mop the floors and all ledges to remove all dust and debris.
• A primer coat of paint is recommended in many instances, painted on prior to the color coat. Also, you can apply an adhesive "pad" to the wall.

   This is a liquid just like a primer, but it dries with a tacky feel to it. Ask your paint supplier which is recommended for your application.
• Always apply a coat of liquid sizing to your surfaces before hanging wallpaper. The sizing gives a better adhesive to the wallpaper and also makes removal easier years later.
• Mask off the woodwork trim, and windows with newspaper and 2" wide masking tape. Wider masking tape, 3" - 12", can also be used.
• Although I do not recommend it, it is possible to paint over old wallpaper if it is well bonded and not vinyl, embossed, or textured. It is best to test a small section and allow it to dry. Sand any raised lap seams in the old wallpaper.
• Assemble ladders, buckets, materials, and so on in the room before beginning. Aside from the above-mentioned prep steps, you may need to repair other problems with your walls or ceilings. No matter what repairs you make, be sure to apply your primers or sizing after the repairs aredone. Let's take a look at several common conditions that require special prepping.

Peeling, Flaking, or Bubbling Paint

Most of these problems are caused by lack of proper preparation when the previous coat was applied. Perhaps oil-based paint was applied over new plaster, or enamel surfaces were not roughed up first. Or perhaps the coat of paint was not compatible with the one it was applied over. Also, dampness and leaks in the wall cause many of these problems.

If these conditions exist on the wall, use a quality paint scraper and sandpaper. Rub the scraper back and forth across the problem areas until they are relatively flush with the wall. Then follow up with a fine-grit sandpaper (100-grit silicon carbide) to smooth out the areas and wipe with a tack cloth to remove all dust. If you leave ridges or dips, they will be visible once the wall is painted. If the dip or indentation is too great, you will need to fill it with drywall compound and sand. Be sure to prime or size any newly applied drywall compound before painting or papering.

Interior Painting - Repairs

Large Holes


Large holes in the wall will need special attention. The repair procedures differ depending on whether it is an older wall with lath and plaster, or a newer wall using gypsum wallboard (drywall).


Repairing holes in lath and plaster usually involves several steps. First, clean the hole and the edges of the hole of any debris. The sharp end of a can opener comes in handy here. If the lath is still intact, you can start to fill the hole with compound. If the lath is missing or badly damaged, you will need to stuff something into the hole to serve as a backing for the drywall compound that will fill the hole. You can either use steel wool or a wad of newspaper (sports page preferred). Also, a wire mesh held in place with a piece of string, attached through the mesh and around a pencil, on the outside of the wall will work. Place the newspaper or steel wool so that it is recessed about 1" from the finished surface of the wall.

Moisten the edges of the hole with a little water. Using a drywall knife that is at least 1" wider than the hole, spread the compound over the hole. Do this until the compound is about 1/4" recessed from the finished surface of the wall. Allow this coat to dry until it is tacky. Score this tacky compound with a nail to rough it up so that it will receive the second layer. Let this scored layer dry, then moisten and repeat the process, filling to within 1/8" of the finished surface.

 

(Two coats can be used if the hole is less than 4".) Sand this coat and apply the final coat, sanding this smooth with steel wool or a fine-grit sandpaper (100-grit silicon carbide). Use an orbital sander if you have one. To quicken the drying time between coats, direct a fan at the patch. Also, fast-drying compounds are available. Always clean your tools immediately after using this type of compound. And be sure to prime any fresh compound after repairing, but before painting.

An alternate method of repairing large holes in either lath and plaster or drywall is to use the "hat patch" method. This involves cutting a patch that will fit over the hole. First undercut the edges around the hole so that you have a good dean hole. Again, you can use the sharp end of a can opener. Around the perimeter of the hole tear away a 1" strip of drywall paper so that only the bare gypsum is showing. Use a utility knife to score the drywall paper around the diameter of the cut. This will assure that the hat patch will lie flat with no raised edges.

Cut a piece of drywall to the exact shape and dimensions as the total area defined by the bare gypsum. Remove enough of the gypsum from this piece so that you are left with a plug the size of the hole and a paper brim that will cover the bare gypsum. Apply compound around the hole and insert the patch. Cover the patch with compound, allow it to dry, and sand it smooth after drying. Apply a second coat (and third coat if needed), sanding after each coat Paint the fresh compound with primer before painting or papering.

 

Repairing Cracks

Cracks are usually rather simple to repair. Small hairline cracks can be repaired by simply spreading compound over them and sanding them smooth. Larger cracks need more attention.

To repair larger cracks, you first need to scrape and widen them. Also you need to undercut the edges. This can be done with a widening tool or the sharp edge of a can opener. Be sure all the debris is cleaned away. You may want to vacuum out all the dust as dust can cause adhering problems. After you have prepared the crack, dampen the edges before applying spackling or drywall compound. If the crack is large enough, over 1/8"-1/4", you should apply a self-adhering fiberglass drywall tape directly to the wall before applying the compound, but after filling the crack with compound. This will assure that the crack does not reappear. Apply two coats of compound with a putty knife, allowing the first coat to dry, then sand and apply the second coat, feathering the edges. 

Interior Painting - Prepping the Trim and Woodwork

You will be painting your woodwork and trim last, but you need to prep it before beginning to paint, or else the debris from prepping will settle on the new paint. Usually woodwork and trim are painted with an enamel or glossy paint, which will have to be roughed up so that the new paint will adhere properly. You can use a chemical deglossing agent or lightly sand with steel wool or fine-grit sandpaper. If you are using a chemical, avoid those containing ethyl alcohol, which can make you sick.

Often you need to scrape off old deteriorating paint. If it's in bad condition you may even need to use a water-soluble gel remover. Also, fill all dents and gouges with wood putty or patching compound. Avoid fast-drying compound; it is hard to sand. If the gouge is over 1/8", use two layers. Always sand where the old paint is breaking away from the underlying surface.

Applying the Paint

Properly applying the paint is your final step toward a professional-looking paint job. You have prepped the surfaces and chosen the right paint and applicators and now the fun starts. Before applying paint, be sure that it is properly mixed. Professionals use a system called "boxing." This process assures that there are no mismatches among different cans of paints. Mix all your paint into one large container until the paint's color and consistency are uniform. It is important to prepare enough paint to cover all surfaces with this mix, since matching can be difficult if you run out.

Air often causes a scum on oil-based paints. In this case you will need to strain it through a nylon stocking to separate this "skin." Also, if you are thinning paint with either a thinner for oil based paints or water for water based, thin slowly so as not to over-thin and thereby require adding more paint. Finally, use a nail and hammer to punch a hole in the rim of the can so that excess paint will drip back in.
There is a sequence often used in painting which I recommend:

1. Ceilings
2. Walls
3. Trim (windows, door, then baseboard)

By painting the ceilings first you can be sure that any drips falling on the walls will be covered. When painting the walls, always paint from the top down, again to be sure drips are covered. And, finally, do the trim so that any paint that accidentally gets on the trim can be covered.
Needless to say, wear old clothes. A hat and scarf or hooded sweatshirt is recommended while doing the ceilings (unless you want to try some unusual hair coloring combinations). Again, be sure that everything is properly prepped and covered.
 

Interior Painting - Cutting In

"Cutting in" is a process of applying paint at all corners where ceilings meet walls or where walls intersect. Also, paint is applied next to all molding, trim, and baseboards. Since these are areas rollers or sprayers cannot neatly reach, use a 3" - 4" brush, painting all these edges before doing the large surfaces

You can use a paint edger. This sponge-type brush has a small set of wheels on the side that enable it to make an even close cut. A paint edger or straightedge can be used next to trim or baseboard to be sure that no paint gets onto the wood. Cut in around all appropriate areas before painting the large surfaces.

Interior Painting - Large Surfaces

After cutting in all areas, you are ready to paint your ceiling and then your walls. Be sure the area is well lighted so you can see any ridges or drips. The ceilings will be some of your toughest painting. It is physically difficult: painting overhead can cause back or neck strain and an occasional eye full of paint Because of this, safety goggles (and yoga) are a must during this process. When painting ceilings, use a high-quality roller with an extension so that you can easily reach all areas of the ceiling without strain. In this way ladders will not be needed except for touch-up and cutting in. These same extensions are used for the high areas of the walls. You may want to erect some low scaffolding, using sawhorses or ladders with a 2 x 12 between them for high ceilings.

To properly use a roller, pour the paint into the roller tray or paint pan so that 1/2" of the paint is in the reservoir. This will enable you to fully load the roller without under-loading or overloading. Also, you can save on clean-up time by lining your tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil before loading. A new option on the market is the electric roller. It supplies rollers with a continuous supply of paint. Another time saving device is the air compressor with a painting attachment.

Roll or dip your roller into the paint reservoir. Roll it around in the paint until the paint has thoroughly covered the roller. Then run the roller a couple of times over the washboard area of the tray. This will remove excess paint so that the roller will not drip. Often too much paint on the roller drips. You will be surprised at how much paint rollers hold, so don't be concerned about thoroughly saturating the roller.

To avoid splattering, distribute the paint slowly on the ceiling and walls. In the beginning, use overlapping "V" shaped strokes. Begin at a corner and work across the wall or ceiling. Cover about three square feet at a time, After you have made your 'V-shaped zigzag patterns, fill in the unpainted areas with parallel strokes without lifting the roller from the surface. Increase the pressure on the roller as you work to deliver the paint smoothly.

When you are rolling into unpainted or previously painted areas, feather the paint in, in a series of light strokes, and lift the roller at the end of each stroke. When you need to remove the roller to reload, begin the next section, rolling in a zigzag into the outer border of the area you just completed. Then lightly roll the area between the two sections. Paint the entire surface. Do not stop and allow the paint to dry on part of the wall or ceiling.

Interior Painting - Painting the Trim and Woodwork

After you have finished all the large surfaces, you are ready to paint the trim and woodwork. In order to do this successfully, you need to change your mental set about painting. Up until now most of your work has been on large surfaces, and detailing was not important. Now, you are changing from rough work to finishing work. Attention to detail and care at this stage will mean the difference between a professional looking job and a sloppy one.

After you have finished all the large surfaces, you are ready to paint the trim and woodwork. In order to do this successfully, you need to change your mental set about painting. Up until now most of your work has been on large surfaces, and detailing was not important. Now, you are changing from rough work to finishing work. Attention to detail and care at this stage will mean the difference between a professional looking job and a sloppy one. Your tools will also be different. During this stage you will be using the smaller angled brushes and metal paint guide.

A 1 1/2" angled sash brush is often used for narrow molding and a 2" trim brush on wider trim. As you apply the paint to the trim and woodwork, keep a supply of clean rags near you to immediately wipe off any excess paint that gets on the previously painted surfaces. With oil-based paints, use a little mineral spirits or paint thinner. With water-based paints, a mild detergent and water will work fine. For a more durable finish, oil-based paints are most often used on trim. With these enamel paints, fingerprints are more easily removed. On trim that has been previously stained, bleeding may occur. In this case two coats of shellac will be needed first

Always paint horizontal surfaces first and then vertical surfaces. Begin with the trim closest to the ceiling and work down. Do baseboards last. When doing baseboards, paint the top edge first, then the floor edge, and finally the large center area last with a larger brush. Be sure to cover the edge of the floor with a paint guide or masking tape.

Paint inner sections of doors and windows before the outer portions. Windows especially require great care. Because of their many small areas, infinite patience is required. Apply the paint right down to the glass. The paint will thereby create a seal between the wood and the glass. You can either tape the glass or remove the excess paint later with a razor-blade knife. If you are applying masking tape to the panes, leave a hairline crack of glass exposed between the tape and the wood to be sure you have a good paint seal between the wood and glass. As soon as the paint is dry remove the tape.

Tip: To help a window move more smoothly rub a candle or bar of soap over the wood jambs.
When painting double-paned windows, a certain order is followed. You will need to raise and lower the sashes to be able to reach all areas. Begin by painting the exterior sash. Paint the horizontal side pieces, then the vertical, and then the mullions (the pieces that divide the window into small sections). Paint the lower part of their sash first, then raise the window and do the upper part. Next, repeat this process with the interior sash. Afterward, paint the frame and trim, first the top sides and finally the sill.

Raise and lower the sashes a few times while the paint is drying to be sure they do not dry stuck. I recommend not painting the jambs (the area where the window slides) unless absolutely necessary. After the window is dry, rub a candle over any wood jamb to create easy window movement .

Doors are best painted removed from their hinges and set on sawhorses. Flat doors are easily painted with rollers. Panel doors take much greater care. First remove all hardware. With panel doors, first paint the molding and the inside edges of the panel cavities. Then the panels. Finally, paint all the horizontal and vertical pieces around the panels. If the door opens into the room, paint the door's latch edge, the jamb, and the door side of the door stop as well. Once the door is dry, replace the hardware and re-hang the door.

Interior Painting - Tools and Materials

Tools for Prepping Walls

• Safety glasses or goggles
• Respirator or face mask
• Ear protectors
• Rubber gloves
• Pry bar
• Paint scraper
• Wallpaper steamer (rent if needed)
• Can opener or widening tool
• Fan
• Hand sanding block
• Orbital sander
• Screwdriver
• Putty knife
• Sponge
• Cap or scarf
• Old clothes

Materials for Prepping Walls

• Spackle (compound)
• Fine-grit sandpaper
• (100 - 120-grit silicon carbide)
• Detergent and ammonia or tri-sodium phosphate (TSP)
• Self-adhesive drywall tape
• Primer or adhesive pad
• Sizing (for wallpapering)

Tools for Painting

• Drop cloths
• Ladders
• Buckets
• Paint edger
• Brushes, 4", 3", and 11/2"
• Angled sash brushes, 1 1/2" and 2"
• Roller pan with screen
• Roller covers with appropriate naps
• Roller handle
• Roller extender
• Paint guide
Materials for Painting
• Masking tape, 2" wide
• Newspaper
• Adhesive pad or primer
• Paint thinner (with oil-based paints)
• Aluminum foil
• Rags

 Work Smart: Interior Painting

April officially kicks-off spring and, for homeowners, it signals the start of home improvement month. With that in mind, here are some tips, tricks and insider techniques to save you time, effort and money.
 

The secret to a good paint job lies in proper planning and preparation.
How Much Paint Do I Need?
For rooms, multiply the total width of all walls (room perimeter) by ceiling height to find square footage to be covered. On average, a gallon covers 350 square feet. Divide total square feet by 350 to determine number of gallons needed.

 

For a more accurate total and to avoid buying too much for big multi-room projects, deduct 20 square feet for each door and 14 for windows.

• Tip: Add an extra 10% to total for repairs and touch-ups.
• Trim tip: Plan one quart of trim paint for each gallon of wall paint.

 

What Kind of Paint?

 

Water-based latex is most common and easiest to use. Oil-based paints require a solvent to clean and thin, but provide a far more durable surface.
For most rooms, use flat latex on ceilings and walls. For trim and doors, use semi-gloss latex (or oil-based for more durability). For high-moisture areas, like kitchens and baths or where frequent cleaning is required, use only oil-based. Note: all oil-based paint is either semi-gloss or high-gloss.
If re-painting, latex over oil-based will not hold unless you lightly sand and use a latex primer first.

 

• Tip: If you are unsure which type paint you have, wash wall, let dry and wipe with rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. If paint comes off, it’s Latex.

 

Quality or Price?

 

Premium paint goes on faster, easier, covers better and lasts longer. Higher price usually indicates better ingredients that increase durability and extend life span. Cheap paints use clay and fillers that result in poor coverage and less durability.
Cost-wise, a gallon of flat latex ranges from $12 to $15 for a decent medium grade to $25 for premium paint. Semi-gloss adds few more dollars per gallon as does oil-based.

 

• Tip: To test, rub some paint between your fingertips. If it feels gritty, it’s poor quality. Premium feels smooth and silky.

 

Selecting and Matching Colors

 

Pure white paint reflects 82% of the light it receives. This decreases as colors darken. Ivory reflects 78%, Yellow 75, peach or pink 70 and so on – down to charcoal 5%, and black near zero.

 

• Tip: Test colors on site before you buy. Tape sample swatches together (to make large samples) and leave on wall. Buy test quarts of ones you like and paint bigger squares at eye level. View often day and night with different lighting.
• Tip: If matching an existing color, remove something (like a vent cover) rather than taking in a can of leftover paint. Colors change when paints dry and darken on walls over time – due to pollutants in the air.

 

Preparation (of All Kinds)

 

First, do the basics. Remove everything you can, patch holes and make sure walls are super-clean. Then think about life while painting. The phone will ring. So cover the handset with plastic wrap. Put your cell phone in a zip lock plastic bag. You’ll be able to hear and be heard fine – and it’ll stay clean. You’ll get thirsty. Protect the refrigerator door handle. Same goes for drawers, door knobs, toilet handles and anything else you think you’ll use or touch while painting. Pre-thinking, protective wrap and drop cloths beat hours of messy clean-ups every time.

 

• Personal tip: Rub petroleum jelly or mineral oil on your skin before you start and smudges and splatters will wash right off.

 

Time to Paint

 

Allow 60-minutes work time per gallon of paint – plus one hour to get underway and clean-up.

• Good news tip: Painting burns about 360 calories an hour.
Plastic grocery and trash bags are a boon to painting. Have plenty on hand.
• Tip: Put one over the paint roller tray before you start. When through, turn inside out and throw away. Your tray will stay just like new.
Working with custom mixed paint? Tip: “Average” to avoid possible variation from can-to-can. When one is half empty, refill from the next for consistent color and hue.
After “cutting in” corners and edges with a brush, the trick is rolling close to hide the brush marks.
• Tip: With a plastic grocery bag over your hand, slide the roller cover off the wire roller cage about one inch. You’ll roll close without scraping.
• Tip: Hate the smell of paint? Add a spoon or two of vanilla extract.
• Cool Tip: Can’t finish in just one day? Put brushes and rollers in a plastic bag – with paint and all – in the refrigerator overnight.

 

Clean-ups made Easy

 

Clean spills and drips as you go. Dried paint (even latex) is a cleaning challenge. A perpetual residual reminder you bought paint with long-lasting durability in mind.

 

• Tip: Finished? Put a plastic bag over your hand before removing the roller cover.
• Tip-top: Put another plastic bag over the paint can before hammering the lid back on to prevent splattering.


Wash latex paint tools with cold water. Warm or hot makes latex gummy and hard to remove.
If you store leftover paint in the original can, mark the label to show how much is left inside. Place can upside down to keep a “skin” from forming on top – or add plastic zip-lock bags filled with water until the paint level reaches the top, then seal lid.


Transferring leftovers into smaller clear containers is better. Advantage: you can see what’s inside – color and quantity – and it uses less storage space.


• Tip: Put plastic wrap over container top and cap or lid won’t get stuck over time.


Most important: make a record. On paint cans, write the date and where it was used on the lid with a permanent marking pen. Same goes for smaller clear containers. Still better, take the label off the can and trim to show brand, type and color.

 

Then date and note where you bought it on the back, fold into a small square and tape on the back of a switch plate in the room where it was used.

 

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