Tutorials/advice for painting a whole house myself?

40 Replies

I was originally going to outsource the interior and exterior paint, patching, and pressure washing for my 1200 SF SFH rental, but I ended up being way over budget on the rebuilding of a room and now am desperately trying to slash my remaining expenses. Given that the biggest expense I have left is that painting, it seems like a natural place to start.

I have never really painted before.  I have been watching some Youtube videos, but I wanted to see if anybody here has any tips, good tutorials they've found online, a list of materials to buy, etc? I'm kinda nervous about having to paint a whole house by myself with no experience.  Feels like it would be way too easy for me to screw something up or take like a whole week to do it.  I am considering hiring a friend of mine who is a handyman to help me, but like I said I'm several thousand over budget already and am basically in damage control at this point.

Just make sure you don't go cheap on the paint because the cheaper stuff tends to not cover as well.  Also some of the cheaper rollers from places like Big Lots tend to break.  Someone skilled at rolling paint could probably paint the walls of that size place in about 3-4 hours.  

It will take a long time to paint a whole house. Some advice:

Don't change colors. You may be able to get away with one less coat.

I've heard others say that if you use the same color for walls and ceiling you can use a sprayer which will save s lot of time.

@Scott Le  Yes using the same color for the walls & ceilings is the easiest. Don't use cheap paint I agree but you don't have to use the most expensive either. I've had some awesome results with Olympic Paint from Lowe's under $100 for 5 gallon bucket & the good thing w you just go room to room. Get 2 good rollers they wash out really good & when you finish & will be using the roller again the next day instead of washing it out wrap it good with saran wrap. Painting isn't that hard even if you've never painted before. My advice just do it, you may even have fun. Also get a good brush I like the latex angle brush.

Best Wishes & Happy Painting!!

When painting a rental property, you can paint the trim and walls the same color, assuming its a lower end rental property.  If you get you use the Lowe's paint Tanya mentioned above, make sure to get the Lowe's Account Receivable and save 7% off on everything at Lowe's.  Nice "free"  resource guide to help you with design ideas at http://www.communitybuyinggroup.com/resources.html

I am only painting walls and trim, not the ceilings. It is a mid range SFH but maybe i could just paint the trim the same to make it easier. How bad could it be? I am just worried about proper prep, unevenness, or getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore. I also need to prime 2 of the rooms that are currently blue and pink, which is even more of a burden. I have minimal clue on how to do any of this.

Any advice for painting and pressure washing the exterior?

No lowes anywhere near me. Only home depot and sherwin. What should i expect to spend on 5 gallons?

I've personally never painted an exterior. I think paying a pro here is money well pent. For the interior, use drop cloths to cover the floor. Tape the ceiling to wall joint and go for it. Taping should go quickly if you don't have to deal with high ceilings. The blue tape works great but cheap masking tape stuck better to an old popcorn ceiling. You still have to use a brush along the top of the wall, but wider tape allows you to use a roller close to the ceiling joint without making a mess. Keep a damp rag nearby to wipe any drips off the floor.

It takes time, but it's really hard to mess something up. 

Originally posted by @Jordan H. :

I've personally never painted an exterior. I think paying a pro here is money well pent. For the interior, use drop cloths to cover the floor. Tape the ceiling to wall joint and go for it. Taping should go quickly if you don't have to deal with high ceilings. The blue tape works great but cheap masking tape stuck better to an old popcorn ceiling. You still have to use a brush along the top of the wall, but wider tape allows you to use a roller close to the ceiling joint without making a mess. Keep a damp rag nearby to wipe any drips off the floor.

It takes time, but it's really hard to mess something up. 

At the very least, I should be able to go rent a pressure washer at HD and do that myself.  Whether or not I need to outsource the exterior remains to be seen.  It is only a one story home after all.  How bad could it be?

I liked Ben's idea to paint the trim and walls the same color.  It will certainly be easier on me since I don't have to worry about taping them and ruining them with splashing.  Plus judging from some pictures I've seen on Houzz, they actually turn out looking kinda cool.

if you're worried about the floors getting messed up, make sure you use some plastic sheeting or a drop cloth.  Latex paint should come out easy enough either way though.  Some rollers and paint trays will result in more drip than others but you can sometimes get away without a drop cloth if the drippage is minimal.

Expect to pay about 70-100 for 5 gallons.  I usually paint everything with Kilz 2 because I know it will cover pretty well in a single coat.  Kilz original works well too but it will get you high.

Same color for trim and walls is easiest and you can sometimes hit most of the trim with the roller.  Don't go cheap on a brush either.  A cheap brush will generally not cover well.

Take your time. Listen to some music while you're doing it, take a nice lunch break and enjoy the process. When you take your time it looks good, when you rush it you have to spend a lot of extra time touching up and cleaning up. I'm speaking from experience lol. 

It just amazes me when people say things like "Anyone can paint" and "It's really hard to mess up." I've had to fix too many messes made by people who thought they could paint. My 6 year old grandson can paint, but I'm not going to turn him loose on my rentals.

Here are my tips:

  • Buy medium quality paint. Cheap is watery and frustrating to use, top of the line is overkill.
  • Don't trust tape. It is very hard to get a good seal that the paint won't wick under.
  • Remove switch/outlet covers, thermostat covers, etc. Cover switches & outlets with tape.
  • Cover all floors, cabinets, etc. If you cover all but one little area, you will spill paint in that one little area. ;-)
  • Take your time. A rushed job is a botched job.
  • Pay attention to details. If something doesn't look right wet, it won't look any better dry.
  • Don't run your roller dry or dip your brush too far in the paint. You should only put paint on about 1" of the bristles, not the whole length. You will have much more control of your paint that way. If your brush gets paint building up toward the handle, dip it in water briefly, then wipe with a rag, squeezing toward the end of the bristles. You don't have to completely clean the brush, just get the gunk off the outside.
  • Paint sprayers are not for virgin painters. Stick with a brush and roller.
  • Gadgets that are marketed to paint edges/corners are usually a waste of time & money.
  • Clean up any drips, spills or oopses immediately. A damp rag is your friend.
  • Paint one wall completely, corner to corner, including cutting in the ceiling & baseboard before moving on. If you have to stop a job in the middle, stop at a corner instead of the middle of a wall.
Originally posted by @Sylvia B. :

It just amazes me when people say things like "Anyone can paint" and "It's really hard to mess up." I've had to fix too many messes made by people who thought they could paint. My 6 year old grandson can paint, but I'm not going to turn him loose on my rentals.

Here are my tips:

  • Buy medium quality paint. Cheap is watery and frustrating to use, top of the line is overkill.
  • Don't trust tape. It is very hard to get a good seal that the paint won't wick under.
  • Remove switch/outlet covers, thermostat covers, etc. Cover switches & outlets with tape.
  • Cover all floors, cabinets, etc. If you cover all but one little area, you will spill paint in that one little area. ;-)
  • Take your time. A rushed job is a botched job.
  • Pay attention to details. If something doesn't look right wet, it won't look any better dry.
  • Don't run your roller dry or dip your brush too far in the paint. You should only put paint on about 1" of the bristles, not the whole length. You will have much more control of your paint that way. If your brush gets paint building up toward the handle, dip it in water briefly, then wipe with a rag, squeezing toward the end of the bristles. You don't have to completely clean the brush, just get the gunk off the outside.
  • Paint sprayers are not for virgin painters. Stick with a brush and roller.
  • Gadgets that are marketed to paint edges/corners are usually a waste of time & money.
  • Clean up any drips, spills or oopses immediately. A damp rag is your friend.
  • Paint one wall completely, corner to corner, including cutting in the ceiling & baseboard before moving on. If you have to stop a job in the middle, stop at a corner instead of the middle of a wall.

 Great post.  So if I shouldn't trust tape, what should I trust instead?  What should I get to cover the cabinets and bathroom fixtures?

@Scott Le you should trust an good brush and learn to angle in with the brush tips when you want to be precise (ceilings, trim, floor).  When I paint, I paint without tape because of what @Sylvia B. said about the paint wicking under the tape.  Plus IMHO tape makes you sloppy and makes you think you can simply paint over the tape and then you end up spending way more time cleaning and taping than if you.

Get a cup or small container to pour your paint in and carry it with you.  Choke up on the brush handle all the way up in your hand; your fingers should be almost on the base of the bristles, so you have a ton on control over the brush tip.  Wet you brush and press into your painted surface at an angle so that your brush tips splay out. You can move them closer to your non-painted surface until you just barely cover all the paint that you need.  Take your time, you'll suck at first but by the end of your first room you'll be a trim-painting speed demon.  Keep a wet rag handy to clean up your mistakes, and watch a few youtube videos about "edging in" or "angling in."  Good luck.

"So if I shouldn't trust tape, what should I trust instead?"

What @Christopher Morin said. You can also use a 12" taping knife to help, but you still need to be careful.

"What should I get to cover the cabinets and bathroom fixtures?"

I use old sheets and old vinyl tablecloths. Plastic dropcloths are cheap and work well too.

Originally posted by @Scott Le :

 Great post.  So if I shouldn't trust tape, what should I trust instead?  What should I get to cover the cabinets and bathroom fixtures?

 Learn to cut in by hand. When you factor is the time it takes to apply tape and then come back and remove it you are not saving any time. 

Here is a you tube video showing you how.

https://youtu.be/YZhwh_ysp5g

Here is one with a great Australian accent.

https://youtu.be/GPuhH8KHwQw

Sylvia's tips are very good. Also...

1. Use a satin finish on interior and exterior walls and maybe semi-gloss in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. It is well worth the small extra cost. Don't use flat anywhere. Use semi-gloss or (better) high-gloss on baseboards and other wood trim.

2. This might be more than you want to undertake on a rental, but Frog tape or similar _green_ tape is good for a contrasting line between paint colors. Typically that's at the edge of an accent wall where it meets a wall of the base color. Tape is needed if you have contrasting colors on an outside rounded corner. Apply tape and press it down thoroughly with a tool. Then paint the edge of the tape with the paint for the _other_wall to seal the edge. Then paint the wall that you're working on. Before removing the tape, lightly cut the edge with a utility knife to break the paint seal. This is for fancy stuff.

3. For the basic edge between a ceiling and floor or between wall and baseboard, just cut in by hand. The smaller the brush you use for that edge, the better the result. Use a small brush for the careful edge and a larger brush to cover a strip of 3 inches or so that you can overlap with the roller.

4. For doors, particularly a front door or back door, use oil-based paint, at least on the exterior. It will take longer to dry than latex does, but the results will be much better. Latex paint often dries too fast and leaves brush marks.

Look up on you tube, how to paint a room in 10 minutes. He has a couple great demo videos. I would have posted the video, but i think this rain storm is giving my computer problems.

Listen to Sylvia B, but don't be afraid of a sprayer. It's just paint, you can back roll over runs with a roller and if you didn't apply enough, you go over it with another coat. 

My husband and I own/remodel/self-manage a 4plex and have painted 3/4 unit interiors and replaced all the windows last summer and painted the exterior.  We went all-out and bought a commercial grade Grayco sprayer. I hate masking and my husband's eyesight isn't good enough to spray, so he masks and I spray. 

It's easiest to pick one color to use for everything and just go semi-gloss or glossy everywhere (interior). Paint the ceiling, walls and trim all one color, unless the trim has stood up well to abuse. 

Remove all fixtures that a can be removed for interior painting. Get a masking tape roller that has a sheet of contractor paper attached to do mantles and light fixtures. 

Exterior: 

Buy the highest quality paint you can afford.  Spraying will be faster than rolling, you don't want to have to cut in around every single window, door, gutter, etc. If you don't want to buy a sprayer, just rent one.

Be ready to work on a ladder. 

Make sure the hose is long enough.

Work on a hot day, pressure wash first thing in the morning and wait.

Mask it off and drop cloth, starting at a place on the house where you can afford to mess up. 

Buy 10% more paint than you think you need. 

Wear a respirator. 

Rent the sprayer for 2 days just in case.

A bit late to the party here, but I would second the folks that said use a cut-in brush instead of tape.   It will actually save you time (and money on tape!) in the long run and give you a much more precise line between wall and ceiling.   I had to paint 4 bedrooms in a very short amount of time a while ago and I got really good at cutting in paint along edges by the time I was done.   I had the best results with a 2" wide cut-in brush.  I found the 4" one was too bulky for my small hands.    Also, I'd recommend painting the trim before you paint the walls.   I ended up painting the trim last and definitely regretted it.

Originally posted by @Scott Le :

I am only painting walls and trim, not the ceilings. It is a mid range SFH but maybe i could just paint the trim the same to make it easier. How bad could it be? I am just worried about proper prep, unevenness, or getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore. I also need to prime 2 of the rooms that are currently blue and pink, which is even more of a burden. I have minimal clue on how to do any of this.

Any advice for painting and pressure washing the exterior?

No lowes anywhere near me. Only home depot and sherwin. What should i expect to spend on 5 gallons?

 Hi Scott,

I'm interested in your statement: "getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore."

I am looking at a property that has terrazzo throughout. The owner put 12x12 tile and covered the terrazzo. When I saw the terrazzo my thoughts were to have the tile removed to expose the original flooring. I've been searching for a company locally to see what they charge to pull up the tile and restore the terrazzo. Might be too expensive to do and someone told me to just put tile down in areas that has been broken and don't do the removal. I'd still like to find out what it costs. The footprint on this house is 1733 roughly since I've gotten two different sq ft numbers. Do you mind sharing what you paid, how long it took to do. Thanks

Originally posted by @Daria B. :
Originally posted by @Scott Le:

I am only painting walls and trim, not the ceilings. It is a mid range SFH but maybe i could just paint the trim the same to make it easier. How bad could it be? I am just worried about proper prep, unevenness, or getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore. I also need to prime 2 of the rooms that are currently blue and pink, which is even more of a burden. I have minimal clue on how to do any of this.

Any advice for painting and pressure washing the exterior?

No lowes anywhere near me. Only home depot and sherwin. What should i expect to spend on 5 gallons?

 Hi Scott,

I'm interested in your statement: "getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore."

I am looking at a property that has terrazzo throughout. The owner put 12x12 tile and covered the terrazzo. When I saw the terrazzo my thoughts were to have the tile removed to expose the original flooring. I've been searching for a company locally to see what they charge to pull up the tile and restore the terrazzo. Might be too expensive to do and someone told me to just put tile down in areas that has been broken and don't do the removal. I'd still like to find out what it costs. The footprint on this house is 1733 roughly since I've gotten two different sq ft numbers. Do you mind sharing what you paid, how long it took to do. Thanks

I had pretty much the same situation.  I had to remove the tile over the terrazzo.  I actually was able to do it myself.  I rented this jackhammer like tool from HD.  Cost me like maybe $60 and took 2-3 hours to do the whole house.

The actual restoration of the floor was outsourced to a local contractor who did it for $2.75/SF.  Took him 3 days.  Most of my other bids were $3-$3.25/SF.  It's pricey but the floors were beautiful when they were done.

Originally posted by @Scott Le :
Originally posted by @Daria B.:
Originally posted by @Scott Le:

I am only painting walls and trim, not the ceilings. It is a mid range SFH but maybe i could just paint the trim the same to make it easier. How bad could it be? I am just worried about proper prep, unevenness, or getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore. I also need to prime 2 of the rooms that are currently blue and pink, which is even more of a burden. I have minimal clue on how to do any of this.

Any advice for painting and pressure washing the exterior?

No lowes anywhere near me. Only home depot and sherwin. What should i expect to spend on 5 gallons?

 Hi Scott,

I'm interested in your statement: "getting paint on the nice terrazzo floors i paid to restore."

I am looking at a property that has terrazzo throughout. The owner put 12x12 tile and covered the terrazzo. When I saw the terrazzo my thoughts were to have the tile removed to expose the original flooring. I've been searching for a company locally to see what they charge to pull up the tile and restore the terrazzo. Might be too expensive to do and someone told me to just put tile down in areas that has been broken and don't do the removal. I'd still like to find out what it costs. The footprint on this house is 1733 roughly since I've gotten two different sq ft numbers. Do you mind sharing what you paid, how long it took to do. Thanks

I had pretty much the same situation.  I had to remove the tile over the terrazzo.  I actually was able to do it myself.  I rented this jackhammer like tool from HD.  Cost me like maybe $60 and took 2-3 hours to do the whole house.

The actual restoration of the floor was outsourced to a local contractor who did it for $2.75/SF.  Took him 3 days.  Most of my other bids were $3-$3.25/SF.  It's pricey but the floors were beautiful when they were done.

I found a company that would remove the tile for 2.50 sq Ft. After doing this yourself and knowing what you faced, would you do it again or outsource it to have it removed?

Removing the tile is fairly straight forward.  It can be a little frustrating because there will be some stubborn tiles that you'll have to use a ton of force to dislodge from the ground, but it's doable.  I did about 700 SF of tile in about 3 hours, and like I said renting the tool from HD saved a ton of money.

Originally posted by @Lauren H. :

Listen to Sylvia B, but don't be afraid of a sprayer. It's just paint, you can back roll over runs with a roller and if you didn't apply enough, you go over it with another coat. 

My husband and I own/remodel/self-manage a 4plex and have painted 3/4 unit interiors and replaced all the windows last summer and painted the exterior.  We went all-out and bought a commercial grade Grayco sprayer. I hate masking and my husband's eyesight isn't good enough to spray, so he masks and I spray. 

It's easiest to pick one color to use for everything and just go semi-gloss or glossy everywhere (interior). Paint the ceiling, walls and trim all one color, unless the trim has stood up well to abuse. 

Remove all fixtures that a can be removed for interior painting. Get a masking tape roller that has a sheet of contractor paper attached to do mantles and light fixtures. 

Exterior: 

Buy the highest quality paint you can afford.  Spraying will be faster than rolling, you don't want to have to cut in around every single window, door, gutter, etc. If you don't want to buy a sprayer, just rent one.

Be ready to work on a ladder. 

Make sure the hose is long enough.

Work on a hot day, pressure wash first thing in the morning and wait.

Mask it off and drop cloth, starting at a place on the house where you can afford to mess up. 

Buy 10% more paint than you think you need. 

Wear a respirator. 

Rent the sprayer for 2 days just in case.

This is great info! I painted a 1200 sq ft house inside and out and sprayed the whole thing. Using a airless sprayer is fairly easy and to make it even better have another person go behind you with a roller and that will help give the walls a better texture plus help the paint have an even coat. I pressure washed the house one day and painted to next day to make sure the house was all dry. On the inside remove everything that you can and cover the rest with plastic. I used tape to secure the plastic to tthe carpet or other flooring and placced it under the base molding so there is no worry about paint bleeding under the tape. Hope this helps. 

The rollers that hold paint in the handle that you squeeze the trigger as you go to release paint, are awesome. Saves so many trips to the paint tray, instead you suction it up into your handle and just go! Great music is a must as well.

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