Interior Paint Tips

Check out these paint selection tips, application strategies, and quick-trick tactics designed to help you update your interiors with paint.

No matter where you apply it, paint offers a lot of bang for the buck. Happily, interior painting is a task that any go-getting homeowner can successfully tackle. Here's a look at things to consider when undertaking your next interior painting project.

1. Opt for quality. You get what you pay for when buying paint, so purchase the best you can afford. High-quality paints go on smoothly without showing brush or roller marks, are unlikely to change color with age, and endure years of scrubbing.

2. Know the basics. Water-base or latex paints are easier to apply, less stinky, quicker to dry, and more durable than oil-base paints. Look to water-base enamels to get high-shine patinas associated with oil-base-painted woodwork.

3. Choose the right finish. Choose paints with a little shine, such as satin and eggshell, for high-traffic areas, workspaces, and bathrooms. Use semigloss and glossy paints and enamels to accentuate moldings, wainscots, and banisters and to update wooden furniture and cabinets. Flat finishes are a good choice for ceilings and imperfect surfaces. Flat finishes hide flaws; glossy sheens emphasize defects.

4. Consider shades. Lighter paint colors make surfaces recede to visually enlarge a room. Darker tones seem to advance surfaces, which cozies up large spaces. Vary shades of one hue on the ceiling, woodwork, and walls to boost interest in monochromatic interiors. Use contrasting colors on furniture legs, frames, cabinet boxes, and doors to create eye-catching decor.

5. Buy an ample amount. A gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet, with one coat of paint. Measure the area to be covered and multiply that measurement by the number of coats you'll need to determine how much paint to purchase. Buy extra to eliminate return trips to the paint store, and so that there will be paint leftover for later touch-ups.

6. Get fancy. Create pumped-up perimeters by applying stripes or patterns in alternating glossy and flat paint finishes. Turn up the shimmer by rolling metallic glaze over a neutral base coat. Use magnetic chalkboard paint to fashion a purposeful accent wall. Apply crackle, textured, and faux finishes and stenciled patterns to add dimension to plain walls, woodwork, furniture, and cabinets.

8. Clear the decks before painting. Remove all hardware (protect openings from paint spatter with plastic sheeting and painter's tape), curtains and rods, and artwork from walls. Move out accessories and small furnishings. Pull larger furnishings toward the room's center and protect them with plastic sheets. Painting the ceiling? Remove light fixtures and tape off walls, and cover floors, built-in shelves, and cabinets with drop cloths.

9. Properly prep. Fill holes with surfacing compound; repair dings in woodwork with wood putty. Wash walls and woodwork using TSP and water. Let dry. Protect woodwork and adjacent surfaces by masking off low-tack painter's tape. Apply the tape in a straight line, making sure it doesn't intrude on the area to be painted. Apply primer if you're painting over a dark color, stained surfaces, high-gloss finishes, or new drywall.

10. Pick the correct applicator. Use paint rollers to quickly cover walls, ceilings, and floors, but switch to quality nylon/polyester blend brushes when cutting in around windows, doors, and ceilings and when painting window trim and baseboards. Use a brush to apply paint on kitchen cabinets to fashion a layered-over-time finish that suits vintage designs.

More About Painting Tools

11. Be orderly. Paint ceilings, then walls, then windows and doors, and then woodwork and trim. When painting ceilings, cut in around the edges with a small brush and work out from the edges by rolling paint in 3-foot-wide W patterns; go back over the W to fill in open areas.

12. Try these tricks. Prevent paint from dripping down a can's sides by creating holes in the interior rim using a hammer and nail. As you remove paint from a brush, excess paint will drip inside the can. When it's time to take a long break or quit for the day, wrap paint-covered rollers and brushes in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer until you need them.

Choosing Paint Color

Learn how to put together an interior color scheme with these simple steps and tricks.

Interior Color Scheme Tips

Start your decorating with a color palette created by a designer. Browse these gorgeous looks and find fresh color inspiration.

Designer Color Palettes

Play with paint colors! Use My Color Finder to try out colors on walls before you even pick up a paint brush.

My Color Finder

How to Paint a Room

Painting is one of the easiest ways to bring color to your decor. Here's how to paint a room like a pro.


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