Interior Painting Guide

We're all about fresh, crisp, clean lines and rich color. Developing a comfortable and consistent technique creates great results every time. 

Tools and Sundry Checklist:

  • Drop Cloths 
  • Cut Bucket & Liner
  • Rags and Gloves
  • 2” or 2 1/2” Angled Sash Brush
  • Ladders
  • Extension Pole
  • Mini Roller Frame
  • Mini Roller Cover
  • 9” Roller Frame
  • 9” Roller Cover
  • 9” Roller Tray & Liner
  • 14” Roller Frame
  • 14” Roller Cover
  • 14” Roller Bucket
  • Wire Brush
  • Interior Paint

Painting Steps

1) Decide Order
Your supervisor will help you decide whether to use the Top to Bottom approach or Walls Last method.

2) Set Up Ladder & Drop Cloths
Depending on the height of the ceiling or space, select an appropriately sized ladder. Different sized drop cloths are available to suit your needs.  

3) Cutting In 
You'll need your paint brush and a bucket filled slightly more than a quarter full.

4) Rolling 
For large spaces and multiple rooms use the 14” setup, for single rooms use the 9” set up which includes a tray, liner, roller cover, roller frame and extension pole.

5) Second Coat
For this step you'll use the same equipment used for cutting in and rolling the first time.  You may want to pole sand between coats

6) De-Prep & Touch Up
You'll need a trash bag, a putty knife, a razor blade, and mini-roller or brush.

7) Clean Up
Find a large sink, bring your bucket, paint brush and wire brush and clean out the brush.  Wrap roller covers in plastic and discard.

Decide Order

Order of painting is highly dependent on the scope of the work being done but some things are a matter of preference.  Your supervisor should be the one to decide which goes first so that everyone is on the same page.  There are two methods we use: In this video they use the top to bottom method.  Another option is the walls last method.  The top to bottom method paints ceilings first, then walls, then trim and doors. The walls last method paints trim and doors first, then ceilings, then walls.
The top to bottom method is nice because it shows immediate results to the customer, however taping walls is sometimes less effective than taping trim.  The walls last method is preferable when spraying trim and taping onto the smooth trim sometimes contains bleed through better, especially when the walls are textured.  If either ceilings, walls or trim are not part of the scope of the project, omit them from the order. 


Set Up Ladder & Drop Cloths
When selecting a ladder pick the proper style and size whether a step ladder or extension ladder.  The highest safe step on a ladder is two steps down from the top on a step ladder and 4 rungs down on an extension ladder with a reach of about 4 feet over the top of the ladder. The duty rating is the maximum allowable weight on the ladder.  It is the sum total of person on the ladder and equipment or tools being held.  Read all instructions on the side of the ladder before using. Visit our Safety Guide page for more information. Inspect the ladder before using making sure there are no damages.  Make sure all feet of the ladder are able to rest evenly on the ground.  If the ladder is damaged tag it and remove it from the job site.  Do not drop or drag the ladder.  Do not transport an extended extension ladder or open A frame ladder. For longer, heavier ladders use two people. Clean spills or dress and wipe down slippery parts. Always face the ladder while working. Lock spreaders and ladder locks. Avoid twisting or over reaching.  Never walk the ladder.  Step down and move.  Don’t step on the back of a step ladder.  Place your drop cloths under your ladders as to protect the floor below the area you are working. Cover the entire room or wall you are working on making sure there are no gaps or holes where drips may occur.  Paper rolls may also be used to protect flooring

Painting Ceilings 

When painting ceilings its important to make sure that all surfaces and items in a room are covered or removed and that drop cloths or paper/plastic is laid down everywhere. The reason is that paint often spatters and falls down to what's below even if the paint is labelled low spatter.  Consistency in your rolling technique is also very important because shades of ceiling white can differ slightly making flash through an issue.  Use the method in the video to paint a nice consistent finish.  In most instances its necessary to cut in and roll, however, there are certain circumstances where rolling right up to the corner where the ceiling meets the wall can save time.

Cutting In

Cutting In is the terminology used to describe brushing the edges of a wall.  Using a bucket with a liner and an angled sash brush fill the bucket partially with the paint or primer.  Dip your brush in the paint only a quarter of the way down and dab the brush on the sides of the bucket to avoid drips.  With the brush loaded, brush a 6 to 10 inch line just under the ceiling line for the high cut with your brush angled.  Then with the brush held vertically, perpendicular to the ceiling line, drag the brush back through the paint and draw a straight line with the tip of the brush.  Use long strokes to create even and smooth brush strokes with limited streaking. Dip the brush often, keeping the edge wet.  Wrap the brush in plastic preserving the shape of the brush and cover the bucket whenever taking a break.  Always wash the brush after done using it at the end of the day.

Rolling is a fun part of the painting when its done properly.  Before you begin rolling for many naps, you must de-fuzz them with tape.  Higher quality rollers are lint free.  Poor a good amount of paint in your tray and then push the roller into the paint and then onto the tray grate.  Make sure the roller isn’t too saturated with paint to avoid drips.  There are two primary methods for rolling.  Making an “M” or "W" pattern and then filling it in or working with longer columns.  The “M” pattern is probably the easiest for beginners.  The principle is the same for both methods.  Spread your paint with the roller on the wall two to three roller widths side by side.  Roll in a smooth even motion back to where you began the the column and then once again forward toward unpainted wall.  For the first coat, perfect coverage is not necessary and can result in wasted time.  Often this first coat is called the “fog” coat.  Wrap your roller cover in plastic after use and poor the leftover paint back into the paint can.

Second Coat
One the first coat, attention should have been given to quality lines and smooth application, however full coverage comes from the second coat.  In both the first and second coat, the brush should be done first then the roll.  Before you begin the second coat make sure all holes were filled and runs sanded down and pole sand again if necessary.  Be thorough and reexamine your work to make sure its done properly.  Use the second coat to correct mistakes made in the first coat.

Painting Trim

Depending on the order you decided on before beginning you are either painting the trim first or last.  In the video you'll see the trim being painted last.  Either method is fine but there are certain circumstances where one may be preferable to the other.  If spraying the trim you'll want to begin with the trim.  For more information on spraying and prep for spraying visit the Paint Sprayer Instructions page.  Otherwise we will paint the trim last.  

First make sure all of the caulking has been done and nail holes filled.  Make sure the caulking and filled holes are sanded smooth.  If this process is done lazily or without care, fixing your mistakes will be much more difficult compared to doing it right the first time. Use a duster to wipe away any dust or a wet rag to clean any dirt.  Dry with a dry rag and apply tape to the surface not receiving the paint.  If doing the trim last you would have already painted the walls and allowed for them to dry so put the tape directly on the wall and also along the flooring.  If you are doing the trim first it's only necessary to tape along the floor using the 3M hand masker or a wide set tape.  

After the tape is laid using 2 or 2 1/2 inch angled sash brush make long smooth brush strokes along the trim with the paint.  Make sure your stroke is evenly distributed and not wavy.  Apply paint liberally and back brush to avoid runs and lap marks.

Painting Windows and Doors

When painting doors or windows begin painting inside and move your way outside.  Use tape to protect surfaces that don't get painted and remember to use long smooth brush strokes. Remove any hardware and for windows paint the moving window first.  Avoid painting the track because doing so could seal the window shut. Avoid getting paint on the glass but if you do get paint on the glass use a razor to scrape the paint off.  You may want to use a smaller brush for better control. Slide the window up and down in order to reach the different parts of the window.  Sometimes moving the window after the paint has dried a little can ensure that you haven't sealed the window shut.

Make sure when you are painting the door that you are aware of runs.  This is particularly easy to happen when painting around the panels.  Paint the panels first and move to the outside of the door.  Usually doors have a faux wood grain. Follow the direction of the wood grain with your brush stroke.  You'll want to paint the outside of the door first so that you can paint it while it's closed. Then paint the other side and keep it open so that the paint doesn't touch the inside of the frame.  For french doors like the ones in the video make sure to take your time and to use a razor to clean up any paint that got onto the glass.  Refer to these videos often to make sure you are doing things correctly.

De-Prep and Touch-Up

When the painting is completed remove all tape, paper and plastic from the walls and screw on faceplates. Touch-up any spotty areas with a brush or roller. When paint has dried, move basic furniture back in place and hang up window treatments.  

Clean Up

After everything is back in order, vacuum or sweep the work area.  Dump your paint from the bucket into the paint can scooping out excess paint with the brush and allow the liner to dry.  Take the bucket, the brush and a wire brush into a room with a sink and wash the brush out.  Fill up the bucket with water and vigorously swish the brush in the water.  Use the wire brush and brush comb to get dried paint clumps out of the brush.  Then dump the paint water down the drain with the water still running.  Repeat this process several times until the water in the bucket is clear and the water streaming from the brush when pressed is clean enough to drink from.  When the brush is clean, spin the brush in your hands to dry it, then place it back in the card board cover.  Organize your work station and get it ready to loud out.  Label each can with a Color Theory sticker and the name of room. At the end of the day, organize the work station and cover it with a drop cloth.