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How to Paint Your House

Cheri Renee | Improvement Center Columnist | January 13, 2012

Painting the inside of a house--or even just one room--can be a DIYer's dream. There's the mixing and matching of new colors; the donning of "paint clothes" and redefining of blank space; there's the purchasing of accents and, perhaps, new furniture. From Safari and hand-print murals to design trends for 2011, the most fun, fast way to update a room is to roll on some paint.

To paint a room right, you will need the following: a ladder, rollers, brushes, paint trays, stirrers and a sink, facuet or water source; drop cloths for floors and furniture, painter's tape for edges and to secure drop cloths; enough paint--and primer, if desired--to cover the walls and ceiling of the room(s) to be revamped.

How to paint your home's interior in 8 easy steps:

  1. Move all furniture out of or into the center of the room.
  2. Cover all floors and furniture with drop cloths.
  3. Use painter's tape around the edges of ceilings, floors and trim.
  4. Caulk and sand small holes, cracks or defects in walls.
  5. Prime walls, if needed, otherwise roll paint onto walls as close to ceiling and floors as possible.
  6. Allow first coat to dry before applying second or third coats.
  7. Finish hard-to-reach corners and trim with hand-held brushes.
  8. Paint ceiling separately, in the complementary color of your choice.

If you're going for a kid's mural, after the initial coats of paint have dried, you'll also want stencils, art brushes and a hand-drawn draft of the scene you'd like to paint on the walls. Just as some contractors specialize in interior painting, some local artists commission murals. Whether your visual goal is authentic or aesthetic, or whether your mission is to have fun or achieve a polished look will determine whether you DIY, hire a painting contractor or a mural artist.

Even if your brush stroke isn't the smoothest, when the paint's on the inside, you decide who sees it. Painting a home's exterior is another matter: "Curb appeal" directly impacts property and resale value, as well as your own reaction to coming home. In most cases, exterior painting is best left to a professional contractor with the experience, equipment and guarantees to get it done right.

How to paint the exterior of your home in 10 basic steps

According to Armstrong Painting, a custom paint contractor in the San Francisco Bay Area, these are the standard steps for any exterior home painting job:

  1. Screen for lead-based paint on structures built prior to 1978.
  2. High pressure wash of the home's exterior. Mildew wash, if needed.
  3. Check for and reset popped nails and loose lumber.
  4. Wire brush, scrape or sand wood, stucco and walls to remove loose materials. "Feather" remaining house edges.
  5. Patch cracks and voids in stucco and wood walls.
  6. Apply flexible elastometric caulk to doors and windows. Seal openings, as necessary.
  7. Replace or remove loose glazing, putty and primer.
  8. Apply wood conditioner to weathered wood, as needed.
  9. Apply sealer and/or primer.
  10. Apply top coat and/or elastometric coating to walls, and paint the trim.

Last but not least is daily clean up - and a warranty that holds for a decade or more, depending on the type of paint job. Exterior paints range in price point from about $20 per gallon to more than $350. After adding up the time and cost of renting or buying both the paint products and equipment for painting the outside of your home, it's often a better deal to go pro.