Painting Interior Surfaces

After completing your surface preparation, remove small items of furniture from the room so that you have more space in which to work.

Move larger pieces of furniture into the center of the room and cover them with drop cloths. Also place a drop cloth on the floor in the area where you plan to start the job.

Next, take down all curtains, drapes and rods, and remove all switch and outlet plates. If you plan to paint the doors and windows, remove any hardware they contain, such as door handles and window locks. Also, loosen the base plates on overhead light fixtures.

The proper sequence in which to paint a room is as follows:


Painting Ceilings

Begin by “cutting in” a corner of the ceiling with a paint brush or paint pad, applying a 2″- to 4″-wide (5cm to 10cm) band of paint along the area where the ceiling meets the wall. Paint about three feet (91cm) at a time, then go over this area with a loaded roller; doing so will help prevent visible lap marks.

Do not cut in the entire ceiling before rolling paint onto the middle section. It is best to work your way across the ceiling by cutting in three-foot (91cm) sections on both sides of the room, then rolling out the middle area. To help keep the paint edges from drying, work across the narrower dimension of the room first, and apply paint liberally for good coverage. California Paint’s Diamond Ceiling White provides a bright white finish with excellent hide.

Painting Walls

After doing the ceiling, turn your attention to the walls. Repeat the cutting-in procedure by starting in a corner. Cut in a distance of about three feet (91cm) down the length of the wall.

Next, also cut in any other edges around the section in which you are working – at chair rails or baseboards, for example – wherever there is a natural break in the wall surface. Again, do so only in three-foot (91cm) lengths.

When a three-foot (91cm) area is completely cut in, fill in the area by rolling on the paint. The best method is to spread the paint in a zigzag or “M” pattern, beginning with an upward stroke to minimize spatter. Then, without lifting the roller from the surface, fill in the zigzag pattern with even, parallel strokes. As always, apply a liberal coat of paint for the best results.

Painting Windows

Use masking tape to keep paint off window panes. However, when you apply the tape, try to leave a thin sliver of glass exposed between the tape and the sash. This will allow the paint to cover the edge of the glass, providing a weather tight seal.

Follow the “inside-out” rule when painting windows, working from the inner sections to the outer areas. (See the illustrations on the preceding page for instructions on painting double-hung and casement windows.) It is always a good idea to apply two coats of paint to windows.

When you finish applying the paint, leave your windows slightly open (from both the top and the bottom in the case of double-hung windows) to help prevent sticking. After the paint dries, work double-hung windows up and down a few times before closing them.

Doors and Woodwork

If possible, try to remove doors from their hinges before painting them. Although this may seem like an unnecessary step, it will make it considerably easier to apply paint to the frames and door stops; it will also enable you to do a better job of applying paint to the doors themselves.

Assuming that you have removed your doors, lay the one you are working on across two sawhorses, or some other support like a small table. If you are working with oil-based paint, you can speed your work by applying the paint with a roller, then spreading it with a brush; if you are using latex paint, you should use a brush for the entire job.

The exact procedure to follow depends upon the type of doors you have.

Solid Doors

To paint a solid (unpaneled) door, start at the top and work down the length of the door.

Paneled Doors

Paint the edge first, wiping off the other side of the door when finished. Then paint all the panels, working from top to bottom. Next, paint the cross pieces and finish with the stiles, which are the vertical sides that hold the panels in place.

To give your doors the best possible appearance, touch up any drips or runs that appear. (This is especially important if the door is painted while hung in place.) Since these can sometimes occur a few minutes after you have finished painting a door, keep checking your work as you go along. Streamers can easily be lifted off just as they form, with a simple stroke of your paint brush.

When painting woodwork or trim, including door frames, work from top to bottom. In the case of horizontal trim, such as crown molding or chair rails, work in the direction of the grain if you can determine its direction (although it is sometimes necessary to “back-brush,” especially when applying oil-based paints, for complete coverage).


Baseboards should always be the last item painted in a room. Start by using an angled sash brush or trim brush to paint the top edge of the baseboard, using a painting guide to keep paint off of the wall. Next, paint the bottom edge of the baseboard, while using the same tool to protect the floor or carpeting; do this by pressing the carpet down with the painting guide, then running your brush along the top edge of the painting guide. Work in three-foot (91cm) lengths. Then finish the three-foot (91cm) length of the baseboard by applying paint to the middle of the baseboard with a paint brush. Continue in this manner until the entire baseboard is painted.

Decorative Interior Painting

An exciting trend in interior painting is the growing popularity of painting techniques that are variously referred to as decorative interior painting, ”broken color” painting, or distressing. In simple terms, all of these techniques involve manipulating paint once it is applied to walls or woodwork to obtain patterns in the paint.

There are at least a dozen decorative interior painting techniques, but do-it-yourselfers seem to have the best success with those known as sponging, rag-rolling and ragging. Often, these techniques employ glazes to create their special appearances.

Making a Glaze

A versatile glaze that will work for sponging, rag-rolling and ragging consists of one part top quality interior latex paint, one part water and four parts latex glazing liquid (an extender that allows you more “open time” in which to manipulate the paint before it dries). Glazes are meant to be thin, so don’t be alarmed at the consistency of the mixture, however you can adjust the ingredients to make it thinner or thicker to suit your own taste and work speed.

In certain circumstances, you might prefer to work with an oil-based glaze consisting of one part top quality oil-based paint and five parts alkyd glaze. Since oil-based glazes dry slower than latex glazes, they afford even longer open time in which to manipulate the paint. Hence, they are sometimes easier to work with when painting very large indoor surfaces and when doing so-called “negative” techniques, where you first apply paint to a surface, then work quickly to remove some of it to create a pattern.


If this is your first attempt at decorative interior painting, you might want to try sponging. Paint can be sponged on or off the walls to create different mottled effects.

When employing this technique, always use natural sea sponges. Since their texture is naturally varied, sea sponges produce far better results than ordinary synthetic household sponges.

Start by applying a solid color base coat of paint to your walls in the normal manner, and allow it to dry thoroughly. To sponge on a second color in the form of your glaze mixture, moisten your sponge slightly and dip it sparingly into the glaze. Start working in the center of a wall and work outward by gently tapping the sponge against the surface, while turning it frequently to create a random, irregular pattern.

If you plan to sponge on more than one color, keep the first color’s prints even and well-spaced, wait for them to dry thoroughly, then fill in between them with the next color of glaze.

Sponging off makes use of the same technique to remove, rather than add, glaze in order to expose some of the base coat color. Apply a glaze coat to a small 3′ X 3′ (91cm X 91cm) section of wall, then use the sea sponge to dab off some of the glaze to create the pattern you want. Continue to work in 3′ X 3′ (91cm X 91cm) sections until the room is completed.


With this technique, you again start by applying a solid color base coat. After the base coat dries, apply a 3′ X 3′ (91cm X 91cm) section of glaze coat. Then take a cloth rolled into a sausage shape and roll it across the glaze to create a sinewy, creased pattern. Variations in pattern depend upon the type of rag material used. Old sheets, net curtains, linen, lace, cheesecloth, and burlap are all suitable for rag-rolling, provided they are clean, lint-free and undyed.


For this technique, the rag is not rolled, but crumpled. As with sponging, you can rag on the glaze coat; or you can apply sections of glaze coat to the wall, then rag some of it off to expose color from the base coat below. Ragging is more static in appearance than rag-rolling, in that the texture of the cloth is more apparent.

The Right “Weather” for Indoor Painting

Naturally, weather is not much of an issue when painting indoors. However, it is essential to have adequate ventilation. So, when doing interior painting, open your windows! And try to paint with your heating or air conditioning turned down. It’ll save you money.

Tips on Applying Paints and Coatings

For the best results when applying primers, paints and other coatings, it is important to follow certain time-tested procedures. Doing so will help you get good coverage and hiding, and ensure that the paint will look smooth and uniform when applied. Proper application techniques also speed your work and make the job easier.

Tips on Brush Work

Using a paint brush properly is part art, part science. Here are some tips that will help you master brush application:

When starting out, pre-dampen your brushes slightly before dipping into the paint. Slightly damp brushes apply paint more evenly. When working with latex paints, moisten with water; when applying oil-based paints, first dip them into paint thinner, then pat them with paper towels to remove excess thinner.

Never overload the brush with paint. Dip only one third to one-half the length of the bristles into the paint, then tap – rather than wipe – the brush against the inside of the can.

Apply paint with the brush at a 30-degree angle to the surface. Use long, light, vertical strokes on walls and ceilings. Follow the grain with trim work.

To avoid lap marks, always brush toward the unpainted area, then back into the just-painted surface. This will give the paint a smooth, uniform appearance.

While some extra brushing may improve the appearance of alkyd or oil-based paints, you should avoid excessive rebrushing when using water-based latex paints, especially semigloss or gloss finishes. You can produce a thick latex paint film with good hiding by applying just a few strokes per brush load.

Proper Use of Rollers

It is no wonder rollers are so popular. They apply paint at about three times the rate of brushes, making it much easier to paint walls, ceilings and other large surface areas.

As with brushes, you should moisten the cover of the roller before dipping into the paint: Moisten with water when using latex paints; use a little paint thinner when working with oil-based paints. In either case, lightly blot the roller cover against a paper towel to remove excess liquid before beginning to paint.

Consider placing a plastic or metal grid or “screen” in the roller tray. This will help ensure that the roller cover is evenly loaded with paint. It is best to use a grid that is the same width as your roller.

One final tip: If you want to re-use a roller cover on several paint jobs, it is best to start with the lightest color, then work in gradually darker colors, following each job with a thorough cleansing of the cover.

Applying Paint with Pads

When using a paint pad, apply the paint with long, straight strokes, all in the same direction. Do not pull the pad back over the painted area. Also, be aware that paint pads have a tendency to leave lap marks if you do not feather the paint carefully where one stroke meets another.


The core content for Painting Tips is provided by the courtesy of Dow Chemical as found on