How to plan a painting project

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
homify Moderne muren & vloeren
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Planning on painting that living room / kitchen / hallway? Regardless of what space and what area needs a touch-up, most of us simply grab a can of paint and a brush and get to work, seeing as there are much more fun things to do in life than painting a wall or ceiling.

However, skipping a few steps could lead to that paint job looking like a rushed job. Worse – it could lead to you having to do it all over again. Even worse still – it could put your health in danger. Suddenly spending some extra time on that painting project doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

So, let’s see what steps you need to take in order to achieve professional painting results.

​1. What you will need

Ensure you have the right tools with you before you tackle that paint job:  

• Respirator.

• Rags.   

• Denatured alcohol.   

• Oil-based primer or sealer.   

• Joint compound.   

• Spackle.  

• Putty knife.

• Sandpaper.   

• Fabric tape.   

• Fan.   

• Screwdriver.   

• Masking tape.

• Single-edged razor blade.

• Paint brushes.

• Rollers.

• Paint.

2. Take the time to prep

Before you so much as open a can of paint, patch all wall holes with joint compound or spackle and sand it down to ensure a smooth and even surface ready for painting. This takes time, especially for the products to dry, so don’t attempt to do this and your paint job on the same day. 

Spackle should be applied in two or three thin coats, with sanding after each coat. Apply fabric tape over cracks. Use fans to speed up the drying. Don't spackle and patch cracks and holes in a thick coat and wait a week to sand it – the longer the spackle or joint compound sits, the harder it is to sand.

homify hint: Rather remove those switch plates and electrical covers (and put the screws in a safe place) than attempt to paint around them. Cover switches and outlets with masking tape.  Doing all this ahead of time will definitely result in a more enjoyable and effective painting project.

3. Use the right type of paint

Grey Owl Pixers Landelijke slaapkamers Groen

Grey Owl


If the existing paint is oil-based, you will need to paint over it with an oil-based paint. The same goes for latex paint, otherwise the paint will peel off. 

To determine what type of paint it is, moisten a rag with denatured alcohol and rub it over the paint. If some of the paint comes off on the cloth, it's latex. If nothing comes off, it's oil-based. 

Note that you can paint over oil-based paint with latex paint, as long as you first paint it with an oil-based primer/sealer.

4. Pay attention to trim

You always paint the walls first, then the trim. Getting a little wall paint on the baseboards and window frames won’t be an issue, because it will be covered when you paint the trim. 

To keep things neat, put 5 cm masking tape on the carpet before painting baseboards. Pull the tape off after the paint dries. Leaving the tape on overnight is acceptable; however, it would be a mistake to let it sit for a whole week and then try to remove it, as this will prove much more difficult and could cause damage. 

When taping off windows, don't put masking tape on the glass. Instead, paint about 1.5 mm onto the glass and remove it with a single-edged razor blade right after it dries. This seals the windows.

​5. Check for lead-based paint

If the house you're working on was constructed before 1979, it will likely have lead-based paint in it – which is very dangerous to your health. The Environmental Protection Agency has special rules and laws for working around and disposing of lead-based paint.

Seal off your working area from the rest of the structure and always wear special safety gear and respirators. In most cases, you will be required to take a special course before legally working on houses with lead-based paint. Check with your local home improvement store for availability, cost, and hours required for the lead-based work course.

6. Seal smoke-stained walls

Another common painting mistake is to paint over smoke-stained walls without first sealing them with an oil-based primer/sealer. The smoke stains will not be covered with an extra coat of paint – a sealant is required for this, otherwise the stains will simply bleed through, often in streaks. 

Please note that you need to wear a respirator for this step, as this type of sealer is volatile and could cause sickness if the appropriate precautions aren’t taken to protect your respiratory system. 

We also advise that you make use of plenty of ventilation by opening all doors and windows. And always read the warning label printed on the paint can for more information. 

Apart from all that, happy painting! 

See these: 10 great colours to paint your small living room walls.

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