Do-it-Yourself Painter

One of the best ways to give your house a new lease on life is to put on a fresh coat of paint. You can hire pros to do the job, but painting is one thing homeowners can do well if they’re careful and take their time.

Here are some quick tips from professional painters on doing a job that will do you and your home proud.

Paint and Equipment

Interior: For bedrooms and living areas, most people choose a high-quality latex paint (water-based) in a flat or eggshell sheen. For doors and windows, woodwork, kitchens and bathrooms, the preferred choice is semi-gloss.

Exterior: Use an exterior paint that’s designed to withstand severe weather. Most pros recommend a satin sheen, which provides the best combination of durability and attractiveness.

Brushes and Rollers: For latex paint, use nylon brushes. For oil-based materials such as varnish, use natural bristle brushes. It’s a good idea to have at least two sizes: a straight brush 2 or 3 inches wide and an angled brush 1 or 1½ inches wide for trim. When choosing roller sleeves, the “nap,” or thickness of the material, you should use depends on the surface texture: the rougher the wall, the higher the nap you’ll need.

Preparation

Interior: Make sure the walls are clean and free of cobwebs and dust. If necessary, spot-wash the walls with a damp cloth. Make sure they’re dry before proceeding further. Patch any holes or cracks with spackle. It’s also a good time to caulk around the woodwork, door and window frames if necessary.

Exterior: Scrape loose paint, sand if necessary and prime any bare wood. Repair any caulk that has separated or cracked.

Painting

Interior: If you’re painting the ceiling – which is often unnecessary – do it first. Brush around the edges and around light and fan fixtures. If you’re painting the ceiling and walls the same color, you can brush a few inches down the wall at the same time. Next you’ll roll the ceiling.

Repeat the process with the walls; first brush any areas you can’t reach with the roller, including the ceiling line (if a different color than the ceiling), corners and baseboard, and follow up with the roller. To paint the woodwork, use your angled brush. Many people put a strip of masking tape under the baseboard to protect the carpet and make the painting go faster.

Exterior: You may want to rent or buy a sprayer. Your other option is to brush and roll, which most pros say gives you better coverage.