10 Tips To Help First Time Painters Make Their Homes Look Great

10 Tips to Help First-Time Painters Make Their Homes Look Great

Painting a house can be challenging but the end result can leave a homeowner feeling very rewarded. Knowing what kinds of paint to use, where they can be applied, what surfaces they attach well to and other aspects of paint are important questions to ask before jumping into the project. 

Using proper techniques for mixing, preparing and applying paint will also help ensure the finished job looks great, modernizes the home and adds a fresh layer of protection. New paint can also add value for a home in resale, as it makes the house feel cleaner and newer as well. 

In trying to realize these benefits in my own home I came across some great tips that made the process easier and the final product more rewarding, and now I’m sharing what I learned with you.

Mix as Many Cans of Paint Together as Possible

To get the most uniform look throughout the painting process, the first step is to grab however many cans of paint as should be needed, and try to mix them all together into one batch. By stirring multiple cans of paint together the color mixes more evenly, and blends away any portion that may have been different between cans. 

If the coverage needed is difficult to calculate, it’s always best to mix more cans together than would likely be necessary, because excess paint can be returned to the can, but having two slightly different paint colors on the wall can be maddening.

Make Sure Primer is Being Applied

Whether it’s for the interior or exterior, paint covers best when a primer is used to coat the surfaces as well. With modern paints it may not be necessary to purchase a primer separately, as most paint brands will offer a paint with primer already in the mix. Before applying the primer, or paint with primer in it, the surface that it will be applied to should have all rough spots sanded and the entire wall cleaned to ensure the best coverage and paint adherence are achieved.

Repair Any Wall or Trim Damage. 

Before the paint is being applied, any damaged areas should be fixed as best as possible. Holes should be patched and sanded to match the surrounding wall texture as close as possible. Any rotten wood or siding should be removed and replaced. Paint may not stick well to any points of damage if not properly taken care of first, so fixing them is a must before the first goes on. 

This is especially important when working on the exterior walls of a home, as the weather may have contributed to trim or wood siding rotting faster or more prevalently. For the interior, you’re generally just looking for wear and tear, though we all know mistakes happen and some fairly large patches may be necessary to fix the wall where the boys accidentally launched a hockey puck into the drywall.

Clean the Areas to be Painted Thoroughly

Paint doesn’t like to stick to dirt, grime or grease properly, so all of the surfaces that need to be painted should be cleaned well. Removing the buildup of foreign substances from the wall will ensure that the paint holds to what it’s supposed to. Leaving any dirty areas could allow the paint to bubble or chip down the road, which will leave an ugly mar in your otherwise spectacular new wall finish. 

To clean the surfaces you should use a deglosser or pre-paint specific heavy-duty cleaner. Wipe the walls using a circular motion, while wearing gloves and safety goggles for personal protection from the chemicals, to get the grime removed.

Start by Painting the Trim

The trim should be the first target for fresh paint, especially if it will be done in a different color than the walls or ceiling. The reason for this is that the trim will be easier to tape off after it has been painted than the walls or ceiling are. The trim is the most difficult part to paint precisely because of ridges, scalloping and differences in texture, which makes mistakes more probable that would get on the walls or ceiling. 

This also allows more freedom to be a bit sloppy while painting the trim, as any splatter or spots that get on other surfaces will be painted over when it’s time to move onto them. 

Apply Paint from the Top to the Bottom

Because of the varying amount of paint that will be on each pass with a roller, the best way to ensure drips and runs are blended in is to start at the top of the wall and move downward. Extra paint that might have possibly dribbled along the wall will either be reabsorbed into the roller or brush, or it will be spread out evenly the way it’s supposed to so that there aren’t any paint blemishes on the surface.

Avoid Lap Marks by Keeping a Wet Edge and Painting the Full Height of the Wall

If paint isn’t applied in a uniform way then lines where the roller or brush overlap could have a line going through it. Any lines that aren’t blended in can really stand out and make an otherwise great paint job feel incomplete. By keeping the edge wet as the paint is moved from one point to the next it allows the next path to blend in so that lap lines are eliminated. 

Another aspect of this tip is that painting the full height of the wall prevents lines that are made by stopping the roller. Uniform application from top to bottom keeps the paint smooth and lap line free.

Let Paint Completely Dry Before Removing any Tape

If trim or other portions of the project need to be taped off before painting, then its best to wait until the paint is completely dry so that a perfect edge can be created. Along with giving the full amount of time necessary for the paint to dry, when the tape is removed a knife should be used as well to cut the paint at the edge so the tape doesn’t pull off any portions in clumps.

Roll Out Paint Along Edges. 

Edges are difficult parts of the wall to handle, such as the edge between the trim and the wall. To be accurate and to keep paint from getting all over the trim, it’s best to use a paint brush to handle those areas. The problem is that for the rest of the wall it’s likely that a roller has been used.

The difference between paint applied by roller and paint applied by brush are significant and clearly visible when looked at. To better blend away this problem, a roller without much, if any, paint on it should be used to go over areas that were painted by brush to make the texture match the rest of the area that was done with the roller.

Feather Paint Applied to Hard to Reach Places

Painting ceilings, stairwells or places that have longer walls than the average room can be tough because reaching them is hard. If reaching the area is hard, then the likelihood for mistakes is higher. People naturally try to take shortcuts with many things, but taking shortcuts with painting can result in some disappointing results. 

To apply paint to a ceiling, to prevent drips less paint should be applied to the roller. Less paint on the roller means that the edges won’t stay wet, and dry edges have a chance to create lap lines. To prevent those lap lines, feathering the paint out from the edge will make an even thinner layer of paint, but in doing so when more paint is applied it will blend into the new paint easier, and with the feathered shape then those lap lines won’t stick around. 

If two coats are going to be used, the direction of the feathering should be opposites with each coat. This can create a criss-cross section that helps blend the two coats better together, and makes lap lines even less visible.


Hopefully these tips help make it a bit easier for you to paint your home, just as it made the process better for my own project when I uncovered these tips. As with anything, practice makes perfect, so it may be wise to have a bit of practice with your painting techniques, while applying the above tips, on something inconspicuous first.

 I find it fun to learn new skills and absorb new knowledge, especially when it comes to improvement projects I can handle myself, so sharing this information with you feels like passing on the baton. Please feel free to use the comment section to let me know if these tips helped you with your project, or if there is anything that could be added to my list above that others should know about. 

I enjoyed writing this for you, and it would be great knowing you enjoyed reading this and applying the tips in your own home.

About the Author Paul Hawkins

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