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How To Paint Your House


There's more to your home than just nice windows (although these can help to give your home an instant facelift). If you're planning on painting your home, don't expect it to be a quick and easy task. Sure, you could speed through your home, paintbrush in hand, but it is unlikely that you will be pleased with the end result. To get the attractive, professional-looking colored walls that you desire, you need to invest both time and patience. Plus, you need to plan ahead.

In general, there are two categories of paint: water based, or acrylic, paint and oil based, or alkyd, paint which is also known as a solvent paint. Although both are widely used, water based paints are turning out to be the more popular of the two. In fact, it is thought that water based paints may actually replace oil based paints altogether in the future. However, professionals are more likely to prefer oil based paints because these paints form a hard, protective finish on the surface to which they are applied.


Before you break out the paint, you need to come up with a plan. This will help you get the job done more efficiently. Your plan will deal with:

  1. Cleaning and preparing your walls
  2. Gathering the materials you need
  3. The technique you plan to use to paint
  4. How you will clean up and dispose of any left over paint

Cleaning and Preparation
No matter what surface you are painting, whether it is indoors or outdoors, you always need to properly clean the surface before you start priming or painting it. If you are cleaning an inside surface, using some mild, soapy water should be sufficient. Cleaning exterior surfaces, though, may require something with a bit more punch to it. Considering scrubbing the surface with a soft bristle brush or even giving the surface a power washing. To help prevent and combat the growth of mold and mildew, mix 1 part chlorine bleach with 3 parts water to clean areas affected by mold. See How to Prevent and Remove Mildew for more information.

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the surface, it's time to look for any imperfections that may affect the finished look of your paint job. Inspect the surface you are painting for cracks, gaps (both of which can be filled with caulk) and nail heads (hammer these flat or cover them up using plaster).

Getting Ready Inside
When you're painting the interior walls of your home, start by removing furniture or other obstructions. For objects such as ceiling fans, chandeliers, floor heaters, radiators, floors and carpet, you should drape these remaining furniture or obstructions with a painter's canvas or plastic. If you're using a plastic cover, remember that paint will take longer to dry on a plastic. You may want to use newspaper alongside your plastic.

Next, you need to remove any hardware that may be on the surface to be painted. This includes electrical switches, outlet covers and door and cabinet knobs. If there is a thermostat in the room, cover it with some plastic and then tape it down with masking tape.

If you have any flaking paint, scrape it off and sand the remaining edges with medium grit sand paper. If you think it is necessary, you can use joint compound to apply a coat to bare areas where paint has been pulled away. If you find cracks in corners, on moldings or on baseboards, re-caulk the cracks. You may have nail holes that need to be filled with spackling compound. Sand the spackling compound lightly with some medium grit sand paper once it has dried. Next, you should take a look at your trim and search out any areas that have rotted. Dig out the rot and fill it with wood filler. Once the wood filler has dried, sand the area with fine grit sandpaper.

Getting Ready Outside
When painting the exterior of your home, start by removing big items that could get in your way and make it more difficult to paint. This includes items such as downspouts, gutters, light fixtures, window shutters and window and door screens. If you're going to repaint any of these items, it's a good idea to do so before re-installing them.

Next, make a thorough inspection of all wood surfaces in your home's exterior. Caulk joints and seams if necessary. If you find cracks, you should re-caulk them. Bring a utility knife with you so that you can remove old caulk if the cracks are too small to caulk. Inspect the exterior for symptoms of rust where nail heads have come out. If you find any rust bleed, use a rust inhibitor primer to touch up nail heads. Using latex paint may promote rusting.

Apply your primer and allow it to dry, then countersink the nail head into the surface. Caulk these countersunk depressions using painter's putty. Use a putty knife to smooth. You can also elect to use exterior spackling compound in place of painter's putty. If you have any peeling or flaking paint, scrape it away. Use exterior wood filler to replace any rotten wood.

Tools and Materials
For a basic paint job, you may just need a paint tray and a roller or a brush. But the bigger the paint job, the more tools you're likely to need, including:

Available Tools
Suggested Paint Tools
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint brushes and rollers
  • Paint trays
  • Spray or power painters
  • Specialty paint pads
  • Ladders and/or scaffolds
  • Basic hand tools
  • Clean up tools
  • Paint Brushes
  • Rollers
  • Wall Scrapers
  • Putty knives
  • Disposable Coveralls

Keep in mind that there are different styles and types for every tool mentioned above. Which is best for you will depened on the task and scope of what you're doing.

If your interior painting plans involve both walls and ceiling, it is best to start with the ceiling before you paint the walls. However, avoid painting the ceiling length-wise. Since there is less space to cover when you paint width-wise, the job is less likely to seem overwhelming. Plus, it'll be easier on your neck. You may also want to use a roller or, better yet, a spray painter to help get the job done even faster. Just be sure to use a brush to go around the moldings.

Next, it's on to the walls, which should be painted in an up-and-down motion. Some professionals prefer using rollers and painting in a 'W' style (up and down on an angle instead of completely straight) as they feel that this results in fewer streaks. Of course, this is just a suggestion and a preference for some - do whatever looks best to you.

Once these big jobs have been done, turn your attention to the smaller details throughout the room, like window and door frames as well as crown and base moldings. No matter what area you are painting, though, be sure to clean up any spills or slips of the brush as you go, before the paint has a chance to dry. A damp towel in your pocket should help to easily get rid of those slip ups.

Cleaning Up
If you've been painting with a latex paint, wash your brushes afterwards in warm water using a mild soap. For most other types of water based paint, it should be sufficient to just rinse out the brushes and rollers under running water. If you have been using an alkyd paint, use a solvent based solution to clean the brushes and equipment. For the rest of your equipment, follow the package instructions on proper cleaning techniques.

Latex paints are usually safe to throw out with the household garbage so long as you have allowed the paint to stand for a few days uncovered. Oil based paints can pose a threat to the environment, though, therefore it is recommended you contact your local hardware store on how to properly dispose of these paints.

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