Interior Painting

Some practical interior painting advice can go a long way toward producing a high quality and aesthetically pleasing outcome. Whether you are planning to do some decorative interior painting or just freshen up a room, good painting techniques give you an edge.

Although architectural interior designs differ from one house to another, the fundamental steps to painting remain the same.

Paint masking and covering
Paint prep – surface preparation
Painting application

Painting Tools – Application

The selection of tools for interior painting should be based upon the scope of the paint job and the method of paint application. Standard paint applicators include paint brushes, paint rollers and roller accessories, and spray equipment. Choices among sprayers include an airless sprayer, HVLP sprayer, or conventional air sprayer.

Paints and Primers

There are a few characteristics regarding interior paints and primers to consider when determining which products to use for your project.

  • Solvent bases include water base, oil base, and lacquer base.
  • Tint bases are designed to correspond to different color values ranging from light pastels to ultra deep colors.
  • Paint sheens describe the reflective qualities of paint. They range from flat to high gloss. Some paints are not available in certain sheens.
  • Paint grades represent the different product lines available from a manufacturer. These range from cheaper contractor grades to more expensive premium and eco friendly grades.

Never mix paints with incompatible solvent bases, tint bases, paint sheens, and paint grades.

Interior Painting Tips:

  • Sometimes custom tinted house paints have slight variations in color. If the paint is purchased in more than 1 container, empty the contents of all the containers into 1 or more five gallon buckets, depending on the paint quantity, and mix thoroughly. This will ensure that the paint color will be uniform.

Interior Painting - application

There are many aspects of interior painting. You may be planning to paint all the rooms throughout the house or just a single element within a space. Painting a room is basically the same as painting all the individual parts of a room. Below is a list of components that represent a typical living space.

Painting ceilings
Painting interior walls
Painting interior trim
Painting interior doors
Painting interior windows
Painting cabinets
Painting rooms – complete

Here are some additional surfaces that are often painted.

Painting a popcorn ceiling
Painting over wallpaper
Painting paneling
Painting brick

Cutting-In and Rolling vs. Spray Painting

The most popular method for painting walls and ceilings is with a paint brush and roller. A paint brush gives you the ability to reach into corners that are not accessible with a paint roller, and paint precise lines. This is also known as cutting in paint. A paint roller offers an efficient way to apply paint to the greater part of the walls and ceilings. This relatively easy paint application offers some clear advantages over spray painting, for small and medium size projects. Brushing and rolling does not require extensive masking compared to spray painting. This method also uses smaller quantities of paint.

Spray painting has a definite advantage when painting over very rough and irregular surfaces, such as brick or heavy texture. It can also be a timesaver for large interior painting projects. For the accomplished painter, spray painting doors and trim can be a big timesaver.

Where to Start

The architectural features of a room as well as the method of paint application are things to consider when deciding whether to paint the walls and ceiling before the trim or to do it in the reverse order.

Painting woodwork (trim) is generally more time consuming than painting walls and ceilings. Much of the time, the paint product used for walls and ceilings is different than that used for trim and doors. In rooms with extensive trim detail, I prefer to paint the woodwork before painting the adjacent drywall or plaster. It is easier to cut -in the walls against the finished trim than it is to cut-in the trim against a finished wall.

Paint Compatibility

A new coat of paint must be compatible with the existing coat of paint. This will ensure that the new paint coating performs the way it is intended to. One common example of paint incompatibility is water base paint applied atop existing oil base paint. This usually results in adhesion problems causing peeling and flaking.

Make sure to verify the existing coatings before you purchase your materials. If you cannot find the old paint in your storage area, perform an alcohol test. Moisten a corner of a clean rag with a small amount of denatured (rubbing) alcohol. Rub the damp rag on the old finish. If the existing paint is softened and some paint gets on the rag, it is a water base paint.

Interior Painting Tips:

  • Never apply water base paints or water base clear finishes directly onto existing oil base paint or oil base clear coatings. You must first use a proper oil base primer or a water base primer with superior adhesive qualities.
  • Never apply water base paints or water base clear finishes directly onto existing lacquer, conversion varnish, and epoxy coatings. You must first use a proper oil base primer or a water base primer with superior adhesive qualities.
  • It is okay to paint water base paint directly onto existing water base coatings. Sanding or etching is recommended.
  • It is okay to paint oil base paint directly onto existing oil base or water base coatings. Sanding or etching is recommended.
  • It is okay to apply oil base paint directly onto lacquer, conversion varnish, and epoxy coatings. Thorough sanding and a suitable all purpose primer is recommended.

Final Thoughts

If the budget will allow, try to use quality paints and paint applicators. Improved workability and coverage, results in a better outcome.

When applying paint, it is important to maintain a wet edge in order to avoid overlapping and thick brush marks. This can be difficult because of the fast dry time of many paints, especially water base paints. Thinning the paint slightly with the proper paint conditioner or thinning agent can make the difference. You generally do not want to thin most paints more than five percent by volume.

Always follow safe painting practices because safety comes first.

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.