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How to paint a house interior - a DIY guide

Last Updated Aug 8, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider


If you're ready to tackle an interior painting job, what do you need to know to get professional results? Here's a  DIY step by step guide to painting your home interior.

Paint your house interior

What you need to buy

First work out your colour scheme. Water based paints are great for walls, but think about using oil based paints for doors, windows and window trim. Oil based paints hold up better and are easy to clean. Glossier water based paints are available, so you have that option, but oil based paints hold up better on surfaces such as doors and windows that will be opened and closed frequently.

Here's a list of the things you'll need to paint your interior:

  • Plaster, a paint scraper, a sanding block and sandpaper (or electric sander)  if you need to repair cracks
  • A large sponge and sugar soap to clean the walls
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter's masking tape
  • A paint tray
  • A roller frame and nap roller cover
  • A roller extension pole
  • An angled paint brush and possibly a straight paint brush for window trims, architraves and skirting boards
  • A step ladder or ladder
  • Paint (and paint primer for new walls)

Work out how much paint you need. A litre of paint covers about 16 metres of surface, so work out the square metres you are going to paint and add a little extra for good measure. If you're painting new, porous walls or textured walls, get at least 20 per cent more paint.

Repair and clean walls

Repair and clean the walls

If there are cracks in the walls, they need to be repaired. Use plaster and a paint scraper to apply the plaster. Deeper cracks may need two coats of plaster. When the plaster is dry, use the sandpaper and block or an electric sander to smooth the walls. You may also need to sand areas around windows or on doors where paint has peeled to get a smooth surface.

Any wall should be thoroughly cleaned to get rid of dust and grease. The paint will adhere better to a clean surface and bubbles won't appear later. Use your sponge, sugar soap and water to clean the walls and any other surfaces you are going to paint.

Getting ready to paint

Start by removing all the furniture from the room. This will make painting easier and protect your furniture. If you can't remove the furniture, stack it somewhere out of the way. You may have to move it later if it's against a wall that needs painting.

Use painter's masking tape to cover any surfaces you don't want to paint. These will include light sockets, power points, lighting fixtures, skirting boards, architraves and window trim. The next step is to lay down your drop cloths. Keep in mind that dripping paint has a way of finding any uncovered surface, so cover the floors thoroughly.

Painting the room

Open the windows to ventilate the room and help the paint dry faster.

Always start from the top down. If you're painting your ceiling, start with the ceiling. You'll need to use your roller extension, but you will also need to use your paintbrush on the edges of the ceiling. If you paint the edges first, the roller will cover the streaks left by the brush. Use the angled paint brush and start a few millimeters away from the edge to give you a feel for using the brush. After you've painted the ceiling, wash your brush and rollers thoroughly.

It's best to paint the architraves next. If you're using the same colour for architraves and window trim, paint them both to save time. If you're using an oil based paint, clean the brushes thoroughly before moving on.

Painting a room

Now it's time to paint the walls. Make sure the drop cloths cover the floor thoroughly. You will need both a brush and a roller. Start with the brush and don't forget to paint the corners: a roller can't cover the corners. Use the roller to paint the walls. If you have high ceilings, you will need your roller extension.

The final stage is the skirting boards. It's a good idea to mask the floor first to avoid accidentally painting your carpet or floor. If the paint has dried on the walls, you might want to mask the walls, too.

After the paint has dried, remove the masking tape from all surfaces. Carefully remove the drop cloths making sure not to step on any paint. If the paint is thoroughly dry, you can hang paintings and replace the furniture.

Paint a whole house

The final step is to stand back and admire your work. If you have taken your time, you will have a perfectly painted room.

It may take a weekend to paint a room. If you don't want to spend your weekends painting, consider getting help from professional painters. They have a wealth of experience and can paint the whole house. For more information, read How Much Do Painters Cost? and How to Save Money When Hiring a Painter. You might be surprised by how reasonable their rates can be. If you move the furniture and do the prep work, they can be even less expensive.

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