How To Paint an Interior Space


One of the easiest and least expensive ways a homeowner can improve their home is with a fresh coat of paint.  A new color can really change the feeling of a room making the whole living space feel renewed and fun!

Below you’ll find some easy-to-follow instructions on how to paint an interior space efficiently and with confidence. 

The following is a general “how-to” on painting interior areas of your home.  As with any product, please consult the can, manufacturer’s website, or talk with our paint specialists for personalized instructions for your spaces.

Prep and Cleaning

Tools for the job: Patience, gloves, mask, plastic drop cloths putty knife, lightweight spackle, 220 grit sandpaper, screwdriver, sponge, canvas drop cloths, painter’s tape, canvas drop cloths.

This is the most important part of the painting.  Follow directions, be patient and you will be rewarded with a professional-looking paint project.

Room and Wall Prep

  • Suit yourself up in old clothes that you are ok with paint getting on. 

  • Remove as much furniture and items from the room as possible. This includes all items on the walls and the removal of the light switch and outlet covers.

  • Cover all remaining furniture and items with plastic drop cloths. 

  • Carefully look over all surfaces to be painted for cracks, holes, dents, or any unwanted imperfections.

  • Apply lightweight spackle with the putty knife to fill imperfect areas of your walls. Let dry completely. 

  • Once the spackle is completely dry, put on a respirator or dust mask and sand the surface smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. 
  • Vacuum up any debris from sanding and wipe the wall below sanding areas with a damp sponge. 

  • Look over the walls of the room for high traffic areas where hands or other surface touching is frequent. Oils from the skin are left on walls causing new layers of paint to potentially not adhere.  A solution of rinse-free TSP and water and a little elbow grease is all you need to make sure your walls are ready to receive a fresh face.  It is super important to remove dirt, dust, and any residue from your walls before priming and painting.


Masking and Drop Cloths

  • Attention to detail is what separates good work from great work. For clean lines and professional-looking results, don’t skip the painter’s tape. Taping ensures that you’ll have the crisp edges you want and help prevent paint bleed through. 

  • Use painters tape to mask areas that you don’t want to be painted. This would include moldings, windows, doors, door stops, closets, light switches, and outlet areas. 

  • A helpful tip is to purchase new painters tape as they tend to degrade over years in the garage or use specialty painter’s tapes like Frogtape or ScotchBlue Painter’s tapes for crisp lines and varied surfaces. 

  • Make sure edges of the tape are pressed down for full adherence. 

  • We recommend using canvas drop cloths to cover your floor. They are absorbent and can be reused for years. Plastic can bunch easily and spills are more difficult to clean. 


Priming and Painting

Tools for the job: interior primer, interior paint, paint can opener, paint stir stick, wide and trim interior paint brushes, paint roller, handle extension, roller cover, paint tray, clean up rags, plastic wrap.


Primer is essential to make your painting project a success.  Primer covers old and damaged surface paint and allows the new paint to adhere/bond with your surfaces.  It also allows you to cover old colors and stains without them having bleed thru to your new paint job. Purchasing a two-in-one paint and primer paint is an option; however, if you are making a complete color change, a true base primer is best to start with to ensure the true color representation. 

Applying a dark tone color on a wall?  You will benefit from using a gray-tinted primer before painting.

Choosing the right paint sheen

Living room/hallway/bedroom – A satin or eggshell paint flatters these areas hiding imperfections. 

Ceiling – Use flat paint to reduce light glare and hide imperfections. 

Bathrooms/kitchens/laundry room – Utilize a semi-gloss for these areas of high humidity, grease, and airborne chemicals that require frequent cleaning or have increased exposure to moisture.

Cupboards, windowsills, or doors  – Try upping your paint selection with a Premium grade Satin or Semi-gloss paint like Pratt & Lambert’s Aquanammel. This paint is self-leveling and allows for a hardened finish that won’t show watermarks or create a stick effect between the door jam and the door, and paint to paint contact surfaces like kitchen or bathroom cupboards. 

Rental property or a home with children – Your home might benefit from a satin finish on the wall which offers a more durable and scrub-able finish than flat or eggshell paint.  


Start with Priming and Painting Your Ceiling

  • Prime AND paint your ceiling first before any walls in the room.
  • Allow the primer to dry completely according to instructions.
  • Begin priming with a paintbrush, cutting in the edges where the wall meets the ceiling. 
  • Apply primer to the ceiling using a paint roller and extension handle and work in sections to ensure edges stay wet and allowing an even coat.
  • For smooth ceilings, use a low nap 3/8 roller. For textured ceilings, use a roller with a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch nap.
  • Start in a corner and roll in overlapping rows.
  • Vary the direction of your rolling. Perfectly straight rolling can show overlapping marks. Continue until the section is done.
  • Continue applying primer, rolling out, and blending with the cut-in edges and the previous section until the ceiling is complete.
  • Wipe drips or spatters immediately with a damp rag.
  • Let primer fully dry once completed.
  • Repeat the same above steps for painting the ceiling before moving on to the walls.
  • Clean brushes and rollers after use and let dry before using them again.
  • Planning on taking a break during your painting project?  Cover rollers and paintbrushes with plastic wrap or put in a plastic grocery bag to keep them wet for later use without cleaning.


  • Start first with priming and repeat the instructions with paint once the primer is fully dry.
  • Professional results come from painting walls one at a time. Blend the wet paint you’ve brushed on with wet paint you’re rolling for seamless transitions. 
  • Work from the top to the bottom of your wall rolling back and forth in V- or W-shaped strokes until coverage is complete. 
  • Overlap areas already painted. 
  • Frequently remix your primer or paint using a mixing stick or a paint mixing tool. 
  • Wait up to 4 hours for the first coat to dry before applying a second coat.  

Cleaning Up

  • Remove all painter’s tape 24 hours after painting. 
  • Close up and store any remaining paint in cans. Consolidate the same colors and sheens into one can if possible. 
  • Thoroughly clean paint brushes and rollers with soap and warm water.
  • Remove drop cloths.
  • Reinstall outlet and light switch overs
  • Put furniture back in place.

Have questions? Come in and talk with one of our paint & stain specialists.  We’re happy to help!