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5 Expert Tips to Make a DIY Interior Paint Job Look Professional


Whatever the time of year, there is always someone starting to tackle a DIY project or two. Some do so because they enjoy creating and working with their hands, others stick to DIY to save money or avoid having strangers in their homes. And others find these projects to be a good way to pass the time or learn a new skill. Whatever the reason, one of the most popular projects is interior painting. If a DIY paint project is on your honey-do list, here are five tips to help your project look like it was done by a professional.

1. Measure Your DIY Interior Paint Job

"Measure twice, cut once" is advice often used in construction projects. Though it's meant to apply to lumber and wood projects, it's equally important to measure your paint area and get the correct amount of paint. And you want to do this all at once.

Buy all the paint at once

While it's tempting to think you can just go back to the hardware store and get more paint if you run out, the truth is that paint mixed at different times can have slight variations in color. So, picking up extra paint if you run out might not yield a uniform paint color once you put it on the walls.

How to measure your DIY paint project

Begin by measuring the height and width of each wall you'll be painting. Multiply these two numbers to get the area of each wall. Add the area for each wall to be painted for the total square feet. Do the same for ceilings if you're painting those. With these totals, go to the paint store and have all of your paint mixed at the same time.

Make one trip

Even if you live near the paint or hardware store, taking time away from your project to run to the store can add up. Make a list of what you need, including paint, brushes, tarp or plastic, tape, rollers, and cleaner. It will be far less frustrating to grab it all in one trip.


2. Prep Your Rooms

I recently had the exterior of my home professionally painted, and he said to me on the first day, "It doesn't look like much is getting done at first, but the prep is as important as the paint." He was right.

When getting ready for your DIY interior paint job, budget some time for prepping the walls that will be painted. Prep can be easy if the walls are in good condition and clean, or much more involved if there are holes, dust, and cobwebs. Here are a few ways to prep your rooms:

  • fill holes
  • sand rough surfaces
  • wash the walls with soap and water a day or two before you paint
  • clean the ceilings and baseboards even if you don't plan to paint them
  • remove outlet covers and switch plates
  • apply primer to the walls

3. Paint in the Right Order

It's time to start painting! Who else grabs a paint roller and starts slashing big swaths of paint on the walls? It's tempting to do so and see a big change in your wall color right away, but this might make your painting project a little more difficult.

Believe it or not, there is a correct order in which to paint.

  • Start with the baseboards if you're painting those.
  • Then do the door and window trim.
  • From there, move on to the ceiling if you're painting it.
  • Take a break and let everything dry completely.
  • Now it's time to start on your walls.

When you work in this order, any paint which gets on the walls from the trim, baseboards, and ceiling will be painted over when you put on the wall color.


4. How to Use Painter's Tape

Putting down painter’s tape is easy but pulling it up can be a nightmare. Paint from the walls often overlaps onto the tape. Then, when you pull the tape off, it pulls off chunks of paint from the wall.

There's a hack for that though!

Make sure the paint is completely dry before you remove the tape. A day should be enough time. Take a utility knife and cut the paint at the edge of your trim or taped surface. Pull the tape at a 45-degree angle behind where you’re cutting to make sure you get a nice crisp edge to your painting.


5. Give Yourself Time to Finish Your DIY Interior Paint Job Right

When you start painting, allow yourself at least a few days per room. You’ll need time to prep the surfaces you’re going to paint, time for the primer to dry, and then additional time for the paint itself to dry. If you’re doing multiple coats, that time will be even longer. It will all pay off in the end, though, with the extra time resulting in a more professional look with even coverage and nice clean edges. Once everything’s dried you can start replacing anything you removed, but give yourself at least a few more days before trying to clean the newly-painted surfaces.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Cristina Vanthul


Cristina Vanthul (author) from Florida on March 17, 2021:

That's a great tip, Peggy! Thank you!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2021:

We have painted many rooms through the years and your tips are good ones. One extra tip is to buy a sample portion and paint it.

Let it dry and see if you like it before buying enough for the job. Sometimes it is hard to imagine the colors in your space just by looking at paper samples of colors.