Painting
Painting your home is one of the easiest ways to give your home a fresh, new look.

Painting Techniques and Tools for Any Home Project

Painting is one of the most common and accessible ways to update the look of any room in your home. With the right prep work, tools, and techniques, DIYers can tackle painting projects with professional-looking results. This comprehensive guide covers everything homeowners need to know to paint interiors and exteriors successfully.

Whether you want to refresh your living room with a new color or give your home's exterior a makeover, this detailed tutorial teaches you the core skills for painting like an expert. Read on to learn fundamental painting techniques, essential equipment, and best practices to succeed in your next painting project.

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How to Prepare to Paint Your House

Proper preparation is crucial for achieving smooth, long-lasting paint results. Follow these key steps before starting any interior or exterior painting project:

Use a degreasing cleaner like TSP or Krud Kutter to deep clean walls, trim, and all surfaces to be painted. This removes dirt, grease, soap residue, and grime so that the paint properly adheres. For glossy areas, lightly sand to dull and degloss prior to painting. Always wipe sanded spots with a tack cloth.

Carefully inspect walls and use spackle or painter's putty to patch any nicks, holes, cracks, or flaws for the best seamless finish. Allow patching compounds to completely dry before sanding smooth.

Use quality, low-tack painter's tape to mask and protect baseboards, crown molding, door and window trim, and nearby surfaces you don't want accidentally painted. Remove tape promptly after painting before the edges dry and cure.

Protect floors from paint drips and spills by spreading canvas drop cloths or plastic sheeting. Use tape to hold coverings securely in place. Cover doorknobs, outlets, switches, and any other fixtures.

Lightly sand any glossy areas to slightly roughen and degloss the surface. This helps paint properly adhere. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. Thoroughly wipe away all sanding dust when finished.

woman cleaning a wall to prepare for paint
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What Tools Do You Need To Paint Your Home?

Investing in quality painting tools suited for your particular project will make the job much easier and improve results. Consider these painting tools essentials:

  • Bristle Brushes: Best for applying oil-based paints. The stiff natural bristles provide excellent control for smooth, even coverage on exterior wood, trim, metals, and cabinets.
  • Foam Brushes: Ideal for acrylic and latex paints. The dense synthetic bristles minimize visible brush strokes on interior walls and trim, prevent drips, and are great for cutting edges.
  • Angled Sash Brushes: The angled brush head is perfect for neatly cutting in corners, edges, and trim that standard brushes can't easily reach. Distribute paint smoothly and evenly.
painting a wall with a paint brush
  • Woven Polyester Rollers: All-purpose rollers that deliver a smooth, non-textured finish on walls and ceilings. Hold paint well without linting.
  • Microfiber Rollers: Create a flawless look on cabinets, doors, and woodwork. The fine fibers make this ideal for applying gloss and other smooth finishes.
  • Foam Rollers: Add subtle stipple texture on exterior stucco, concrete, brick, heavily textured walls, and masonry. Great for creating an attractive "orange peel" look
painting a wall with a paint roller
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  • Airless Sprayers: Allow very fast, efficient coverage on large exterior siding areas. Provide a consistent, seamless finish from optimal atomization.
  • Conventional Sprayers: Powered by compressed air. Give the control needed for railings, shutters, louvers, doors, and trim.
  • HVLP Sprayers: Perfect for fine finish work on cabinets, intricate trim, and anywhere you need precision. Minimize paint misting and overspray.
paint spraying
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Ladders: Select the appropriate ladder height and always place it securely on level, stable ground. Use proper safety precautions to prevent slips or falls.

Paint Accessories: Brush cleaners, 5-gallon buckets, paint filters, pole sanders, mini paint shields, and roller trays all simplify painting and reduce mess.


What Are The Best Painting Techniques For Your Home?

Using proper painting techniques ensures the paint applies smoothly and evenly for professional-looking results free of unsightly brush marks, uneven coverage, and errors:

Dip the brush 1/2 into the paint, then gently tap on the rim to remove any excess. Apply the paint using light, feathery overlapping strokes all in one direction. Maintain a wet edge and always brush from unpainted into painted areas.

Pour paint generously into the roller tray. Load the roller fully by rolling back and forth several times. Apply the paint in a staggered 'W' or 'N' pattern, working in 2-3 foot wide sections systematically, ceiling to floor or wall to wall.

Hold the spray gun perpendicular and 6-12 inches from the surface. Spray in steady, even horizontal passes to prevent drips or runs. Move the sprayer at a constant pace, and overlap passes slightly.

Dampen a natural sea sponge, then dab into several complementary colors. Dab lightly onto walls in a random, mottled technique to create an antiqued, textured look.

Similar to sponging but uses cut-up t-shirt rags instead to produce an aged, distressed finish. Great for furniture or accent walls.

woman painting a wall green

Exterior vs. Interior Painting

Painting the exterior and interior of a home has some important differences to consider:

Exterior Painting

Exterior paints are specially formulated to withstand sun, moisture, temperature extremes, wind, and general outdoor conditions to ensure longevity.

Take extra precautions when painting outdoors to prevent drips, runs, and brush marks. Wind can negatively impact paint application. Set up windbreaks as needed.

Priming is vital for exterior wood, masonry, metal, and other surfaces to ensure proper adhesion and durability for years.
Use extension poles and ladders to safely reach high exterior areas like eaves, peaks, and second-story walls. Work top to bottom methodically.

Interior Painting

Interior paints come in sheens like flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss. Use higher sheens in bathrooms, kitchens, and high-traffic areas.

For interiors, remove switch plate covers, outlet covers, vent covers, and fixtures before painting walls and ceilings. Replace when fully dry.

Proper ventilation is key when painting indoors. Open windows and use exhaust fans or portable air filtration systems if needed to circulate fumes and accelerate drying.

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Learn More About Painting


So, Is DIY Painting For You?

For most homeowners without professional painting experience, smaller do-it-yourself projects like bedrooms or bathrooms are very achievable. With the right preparation, high-quality tools, and proper techniques, you can tackle interior painting projects with excellent results and save significantly over hiring a professional painter.

Larger, more complex projects like painting the entire exterior of a two-story home do require a higher skill level from you. You need to feel fully comfortable working on ladders and scaffolding at heights safely. Precision painting is also required around intricate architectural details. Hiring professional house painters for big exterior projects can provide peace of mind and free up your time for other aspects of your life.

FAQs About Painting

What are the essential tools every beginning DIY painter needs?

The basics for beginners are angled sash brushes for trim, 3/8” and 3/4” nap roller covers, paint trays, extension poles, stir sticks, drop cloths, a 4-6 ft. step ladder, mini hand scraper, pole sander, spackle knives, and painter’s tape.


What’s the best way to prepare wood siding and trim for painting?

Lightly sand to rough up the surface, wipe away all dust, then prime with exterior wood primer. Fill gaps with exterior caulk, allow to fully dry, then apply two coats of quality exterior paint.


What causes visible brush strokes when painting trim?

Overworking the paint by brushing back and forth too much causes brush stroke marks. Instead, gently brush in the direction of the wood grain using light, feathery strokes and avoid overbrushing.


How long should I wait to remove the painter’s tape after painting?

Remove the painter’s tape as soon as you finish painting that section before the paint fully dries. If you wait too long, the paint will cure onto the tape, making it hard to remove cleanly.


What’s the proper way to clean oil-based paintbrushes?

Swirl brushes in paint thinner to loosen residue, then wash with dish soap and water. Reshape bristles and allow to fully air dry. Repeat thinning and soapy washing until the solvent runs clear.


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