Painting rooms is one of the most popular home improvement DIY projects. While it may seem simple, it’s important to prepare surfaces properly before painting and use quality brushes and rollers.

Watch this video for interior painting tips on:

  • Choosing the right paint sheen for walls and trim.
  • What to look for in a paintbrush or roller.
  • How to prepare walls and trim for painting.
  • Techniques for rolling walls and painting trim.
  • Preventing bleed through when painting over dark colors.
  • How to paint over wood paneling.
  • Patching holes in textured drywall.
  • Repairing a water stained ceiling.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re rolling out the painting tips. We’ll serve up some great solutions to painting challenges, and get some great insights from the pros who do this every day. So stay with us.

Every week we get tons of questions through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter about how to handle some of the very common painting projects around your home, like what do you do with a stained ceiling like this? Or, how do you repair a hole in the wall? Very common to see a doorknob cause that kind of hole. Or, if you have some dark, dark paneling from the ’70s, what can you do to really brighten up that room? And you may be still holding on to some of those bold, dark colors on your walls that were so popular years ago.

We’ll show you how to handle all of these repairs. And we’re going to go out on the job and talk to a number of professional painters to pick up a few tricks of the trade on how your project can look very professional and how they make it look so easy. Of course, any project starts with the right tools.

Henry Sherrod: You don’t want to buy the three dollar, throwaway, disposable roller cover. For five or six dollars more, you can get a product that is far superior and will last you quite a bit longer.

Allen Lyle: Synthetic bristle versus, I mean, what is something else? I’m trying to think. Like, the China bristle.

Henry Sherrod: I will say, you know, up until about three or four years ago I’d say that natural bristle was definitely the way to go. Especially when painting with oil paints on your trim. However, over the last couple of years, they’ve come out with some of these wonderful synthetic brushes, and they’ll say “all paint,” good for oil or latex.

And they have the softness that you want when painting trim. You don’t want a real stiff brush, you want to be able to nicely smooth your brushstrokes out. So you want a nice, soft bristles that holds paint.

This is a really cool brush, personally. Just because it has a solid ferrule. This area up in here is filled with epoxy. So that a lot of the times with these brushes you have real difficulty cleaning them out at the end of the day. That paint builds up, or even, once you use it for a little while, the paint will start running out the handle anytime you go above your head. This brush, you never have that problem.

Allen Lyle: There are cheap tools out there, all right? Forget inexpensive, there are cheap tools out there. How important is it, what you choose?

Gary Soutullo: It means everything, because of the application. It’s like this roller here, this is a lamb’s wool roller.

Allen Lyle: Right.

And it’s more expensive, but it’s the best. And when you put the paint on it, the application is beautiful.

Allen Lyle: Anytime I roll a wall.

Henry Sherrod: Yes.

Let me show you what happens. As I roll, This starts rolling out this way.

Henry Sherrod: Yes.

Allen Lyle: And I’m having to hit it against the wall to put it back. Why is it doing that? What’s wrong?

Henry Sherrod: Odds are, is either you bought a cheap roller frame or the roller frame is just old. A lot of the times if it’s not tight right here, it’ll pop right off.

Allen Lyle: Right.

Henry Sherrod: You can see on mine, it’s… You have to, literally, push it on there and once you get it on there you can hear that snap, it’s locked in place.

Allen Lyle: So once again, it’s going back to the cost of the tool.

Henry Sherrod: Exactly.

Allen Lyle: If you’re going to pay some good money you’re going to get a good tool, otherwise…

Henry Sherrod: It’s hard to get a quality product without the quality tools.

Danny Lipford: Speaking of tools, this is one handy tool. It’s called a pole sander, and the drywall finishers use them all the time. Got a nice pivoting head, a nice sturdy handle, and they’re perfect when you have to sand a lot of wall surface, which is the first step when you’re trying to cover up a glossy dark color like this.

All you have to use is like a 200-grit paper in order to just barely get that sheen off. Then, I want to wipe the wall down really well. So, you might also, if you have a lot of wall, you might even use like a dust mop or a sponge mop, something like that. But basically, a slightly damp rag, wipe everything down.

Now, the professional painters sometimes use tape, sometimes they don’t. But, if you want to make it fairly easy, you can use a painter’s tape, like this.

Now the next step, after you have your tape up is to completely cover the wall with a good quality primer, and I would just suggest a latex primer’s fine. What you’re basically doing is, you’re treating the wall just like it was a brand new wall. By using the primer, it’ll block out the color and seal all the pores. Then, you can put some more coats of paint on after that.

Now you’ll notice right away that it’s not going to cover completely. That’s okay, you just want to put a light coat on it. It’ll help block out those old dark colors. Even though the primer won’t be seen once you’re done, it is important to apply it evenly so you don’t create any odd textures with the brush or roller, because that might be visible through the finished paint.

After you finish applying the primer, you want to check the label to see what the paint manufacturer recommends in terms of a drying time. Then after everything is dry, you can come back with two finish coats to really brighten up the room.

Hey, let’s check in with Joe and see what he has going with this week’s Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: Whenever you’re getting ready to paint the room, the first order of business, of course, is to clear the room of all the furniture and remove paintings from the wall. But, what do you do with something like this, a hanging light fixture? You don’t need to remove it entirely. But there is a way to protect it, when you get around to painting the ceiling.

First step is to lower the canopy, that’s this dish-shaped piece against the ceiling. Just unloosen the nut holding it, and drop it down. Doesn’t have to go all the way down but just enough to expose the electrical box that’s holding up the light fixture.

Then get yourself a large plastic trash bag and just put it around the entire fixture and pull it up tight to the ceiling, wrap it around. The idea, of course, is just to seal up the fixture so you don’t get paint on it. Then I like to just hold it in place with a twist tie. You can use tape but a twist tie is easier to install and easier to take off without damaging the bag.

Now when you do this, be sure to take the light bulbs out of the fixture. This way, in case someone accidentally turns on the light it might heat up and burn the bag. And now, you just keep the bag in place, paint the ceiling and the rest of the room and you won’t get any paint on your light fixture.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re working to make your painting chores a little easier. We’re getting some great tips from the pros and sharing some useful solutions to painting challenges, like dealing with dark paneling.

Boy, what were we thinking back in the ’70s when we had paneling all over our house? Nowadays, it seems like most homeowners want a little bit of a lighter environment. And you can successfully paint paneling like this if you prepare it properly.

And that means more sanding with the sanding pole. This time we’re using a little more of aggressive paper, 100-grit, and basically, you just want to knock that gloss off of the paneling.

After you get all of the dust off the surface of the paneling, then you move to the next step, which can be priming and painting and you’re done, if you’re okay with all of the grooves. But, if you really want a smooth wall, here’s one step that you have to do in between this and the priming.

First of all, use a little drywall mud, this is the same joint compound that they use to finish drywall. Basically what you want to do is to fill the grooves in. You don’t want to put too much on the surface of the paneling, you just want to fill those grooves up so that it’ll dry. Sand it a little bit, then it’ll be time for the primer.

Boy, we were really lucky here in that the grooves in the paneling were not very deep, so one coat of joint compound, nice and smooth. But if you have deeper grooves in your paneling, you’ll need at least two coats to really surface it out well.

But then, after everything is nice and dry, time to grab the sanding pole again. Just really sand everything, really pay attention to all of the sanding, you can see how well it comes off. And you really don’t have to sand all of the excess drywall off. You just want to get everything nice and smooth.

Then another wipe down with a damp rag before we prime. Now the primer that I’m going to use here is a little bit different than I used earlier because it has a stain blocker and it’s also shellac based. Now the reason that I didn’t need that before is basically, I was just trying to cover up the old dark color. Whereas here, we want to cover up the color, as well as prevent any of the stain and the color bleeding through the final coats of paint.

Once the primer dries, it’s time for the topcoat. But here I’m using a thicker three-quarter-inch roller cover to add some texture to disguise any flaws in the paneling. Now I used a latex eggshell finish on the wall. That’s real popular because it gives it just a little bit of a sheen, and it has great washability, so you can keep it a little cleaner along the way. Now on the trim itself I’m using a higher gloss on that, which is real common, and is a nice little accent to the wall that’s not quite as shiny as the trim will be.

You know selection of the right paint is a big part of making your project look like a pro did it.

Gary Soutullo: You want a 100% acrylic latex on your walls. That’s the best you can get. Most of the time people that don’t have little children are going to go with flat ’cause they’re going to get a true color.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Gary Soutullo:You got children, you got a lot of traffic, you want to go with eggshell. That way you can wipe it and clean it and there are some flats that you can wipe and clean as well.

Danny Lipford: If you have a small hole in your wall, like this, from where a picture was hanging it’s fairly easy to repair using a lightweight spackling or joint compound. But if you have a hole that’s slightly larger you have to approach it in a little different manner.

I’m using a patch kit that includes a self-adhesive, wire mesh backing. All you have to do is make sure this is nice and clean, put it right over—you want to just rub that down really well—and you’re ready for your drywall compound.

And what you want to do is feather everything out really nice. And so after applying that, I’ll usually have my other knife, like this. Then I can really smooth it out and spread things out really nice. And that’ll allow me to let this dry, and I can put the second coat on. When that’s dry, I’ll sand it smooth and wipe off all the dust.

Now, a big mistake a lot of people make at this point is going ahead and painting it. The reason that’s not good is because it’s really too smooth. That’s part of the problem, because the wall actually has a bit of a texture on it, called orange peel. So you have to put the texture on that in order to really make it blend in.

Now the way it was originally done is using one of these odd looking contraptions here, called a hopper gun. And what they did is they added sheetrock mud or drywall compound, mixed it with a little bit of water, and then stood back, sprayed the whole thing.

Now that’s great if you’re doing a whole room or a whole house. But a much more do-it-yourself friendly approach would be by using texture in a can. You want to shake this stuff really well, and then test it on a scrap piece of cardboard before you apply it onto the wall to match the existing texture around it. And you might want to be careful not to put too much on there.

Here we go. There. Think it’ll be pretty good. I might have to pick a few of those big pieces out, but even looking at the wall you can some more of the texture that are a little more exaggerated in some spots. Now this will take about 30 or 45 minutes to dry before I can touch it up.

And while I’m taking care of that, why don’t you check out this week’s Best New Product.

Jodi Marks: You know, when you’re thinking of ways to jazz up your kitchen, don’t forget about your lighting. Now, I’m not talking about the overhead lighting, although that’s a good option, but start thinking about the lighting that you can add yourself, like under cabinet lighting.

Now a lot of times you think, “Well, I don’t want to have to run wiring,” or, “It might be difficult to do that.” Well, there are some options out there and this is definitely one of them. This is the Sylvania Wireless LED Light, which is very easy to mount because like I said, it is wireless. So you don’t have to have those wires coming out of the wall. It runs on battery.

The nice thing is, it’s an LED light. What does that mean? That means there’s going to be a bright, soft light. It’s not going to generate a lot of heat as it’s operated, it’s energy efficient, and the nice thing, too, is that this particular one has a shut off if it’s left on for 30 minutes. It automatically shuts off to save that battery.

Now you can put this underneath your cabinet in the kitchen. You can also put this in your garage, in a closet, in a boat, you name it. It’s just endless, because again, it is wireless.

Also, this is going to give you 30% more lighting than a typical disk lighting. So you’re going to get a bright light, every time.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re collecting tips from the painting pros to make the chore go a little easier. And I’m in the shop laying out the solutions to some of the challenges that come with paint projects. Like this one on the ceiling.

Almost every house I’ve ever been in has one of these, a water stain on the ceiling. Now before you attack this and try to cover it up, you need to make sure that whatever caused the leak is repaired, whether it’s a internal plumbing problem or a roof leak, and you need to make sure it’s nice and dry.

And then you have a few challenges in order to cover it all up. First of all, if you use latex paint, which is what most ceilings are painted with, it’ll bleed right back through. So you need to use a stain blocker or stain sealer to really cover it up.

Now if you use a stain sealer and you use a paintbrush you risk the chance of lot of this texture coming off, so it’s better to spray it. Then take it a step further by buying a particular type of stain sealer made for leaks like this.

And what makes this different, instead of a traditional spray can that goes out at a 90-degree angle, this one goes at a diagonal so you’re able to spray it much, much easier. And, also, this is tinted to match the color of an aged, acoustic ceiling. So this is the right way to go.

Now, just like any other spray work you want to make sure that you shake up the can really well. And then, it’s a lot better to spray a few light coats on the stain, instead of a heavy coat. It looks like that’s going to be pretty well, of course, let it dry. And hopefully, we won’t have to paint the ceiling because that can take a lot of time.

Of course, painting the walls is where the bulk of your work will lie. So the process you use here makes all the difference in the time that it takes and the quality of the work.

Allen Lyle: Take me through the process, What’re you thinking of? And do you paint the wall first or the trim first?

Henry Sherrod: You definitely want to start with your wall, your ceilings first. Easiest to do, go ahead and take care of that first. From there on we go ahead and run a coat on the walls, draw back up, we hit the in like this. We have crown on this house so we definitely hit the crown. Go ahead and hit that with two coats before we finish anything else. And then we’ll come back and finish ceiling, wall, finish everything all at one time.

Gary Soutullo: Now we always do our woodwork first, because we’ll get it done. Then we’ll come in and we’ll cut in our walls because it’s a lot easier.

Allen Lyle: See, I hear that from a lot of painters and most homeowners think the opposite. They’re going to do their walls first and then their trim.

It all starts with preparation.

Henry Sherrod: Totally.

Allen Lyle: Before you ever touch the paint, preparation.

Henry Sherrod: We have a saying around here, preparation is 90% of your paint job. So, it’s pretty crucial.

Allen Lyle: So once you have sanded, then you can come back with this nice fine bristle.

Henry Sherrod: Exactly.

Allen Lyle: Top-down. You’re not trying to do a back and forth motion on this.

Henry Sherrod: No, no, you want to drag it top to bottom there making sure we get all that nice dust off.

Danny Lipford: Then of course you’ll cut in around the adjacent surfaces with a brush, before you begin the rolling.

Henry Sherrod: We’re going to roll it on there, in a nice “N” shape. Load your brush… Load your roller up. Lay it on and you need to spread it out. The whole idea is…

Allen Lyle: That was important there, what you just said, ’cause a lot of people are looking for the… All the letters of the alphabet there. And they hear the “W.” You’re saying the “N”?

Henry Sherrod: I like the “N”, the “N” works best for us. Once up, once down, and once back up. That gives a good enough spread of paint which you can take and efficiently lay that paint out on a slightly larger area.

Allen Lyle: Right.

Henry Sherrod: The big thing when it comes to rolling is keeping the consistency of thickness of paint.

Allen Lyle: Right.

Henry Sherrod: It is crucial whenever you’re rolling on the walls. Anywhere you have a little bit of a thickness of the paint built up, you’re going to see it. It’s going to, we call it flashing. You’re going to see it. There’s going to be a slightly different sheen to it and very unsightly.

Danny Lipford: An e-mail from Scott asked, “Can I successfully paint plastic items on the exterior of my home?”

There are a lot of things that are plastic around our house these days, like our planters, plastic chairs, maybe garden gnomes, I’m sure all of you have a pink flamingo.

Well, you can successfully paint things on the exterior of your house that are plastic by, first of all, you want to lightly sand the surface, then you want to wipe it down. And then, the real important thing is to use a paint that is formulated for painting plastic.

There’s a lot of it out there. And like any type of spraying that you may be doing, you want to shake the can well and you want to put several light coats on, allowing it to dry in between.

And when you have little accents like this, here’s a good trick for you. Instead of trying to tape all of this off and spray it, just spray a little bit of the paint right on a paper plate. Then use a little artist brush like this to take care of all the little details.

So, Allen, what do you think about my little redecorating project back at the shop?

Allen Lyle: Oh, nice. This was the wall that had the dark burgundy on it, right?

Danny Lipford: Yeah. Yeah. The dark burgundy, tan on top. It really looked like something from 20 years ago.

Allen Lyle: This covered up nice.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, I think so. And you know, every time we do a project where we paint paneling, you know, it not only brightens up a room but it’s such a positive before and after picture.

Allen Lyle: What you know is nice, is that the technique you used

Danny Lipford: Uh-huh?

Allen Lyle: It doesn’t matter what color you use on this wall. It’s going to disappear.

Danny Lipford: And it’s not very expensive either to completely transform a room. You know, something I rediscovered is a cigar roller, and how easy it is to blend in the paint. You know, this is where we had the door knob hole.

Allen Lyle: Oh, right.

Danny Lipford: We textured all of this there. That worked out really well, but, and this was really handy.

Allen Lyle: Well, what I like about a cigar roller is that it actually blends and feathers it into the existing wall much nicer.

Danny Lipford: Now, if you’re faced with some of the small repairs that I tackled here in the shop, now you have all the information you need to do it yourself at your own home.

Allen Lyle: Plus, we got some great advice from our professionals. Hope that helped you out, too.

Danny Lipford: Now, we couldn’t cover all of the painting tips that are out there. And I’m sure you have a few that you might want to share. Find us on Facebook and let us know about them. And if you’re looking for some more creative ideas, check out our painting made easy board on our Pinterest page.

Danny Lipford: Well, I hope you enjoyed this week’s show. I’m Danny Lipford along with Allen Lyle. We’ll see you next week, right here on Today’s Homeowner. You ever tried that texture in the can before?

Allen Lyle: Yeah. What’s nice about it, it doesn’t matter…

Danny Lipford: What would we… eleven o’clock, eleven thirty, eleven forty five. I’m a poet and don’t I know it. Okay, now, eh? Boy, what were we . . . paint it all with a brush but, to let you see. Be back in a minute.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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