Painting the Inside of Your Home
By Owen Whetzel
Which paint to buy
For most interior walls, with the exception of kitchen, bath and laundry, use a paint formulated for walls. Ceilings can be painted with either wall or ceiling paint. For a kitchen, bath or laundry room apply a paint, that contains a mildewcide or have one added at the time the paint is mixed and shaken. This will help resist mildew or mold growth. Wood baseboards and trim are painted with trim enamel.
How much paint will I need
Measure all surfaces to be painted—length and height—and multiple them together (don't forget the ceiling, if you plan to use the same paint and color on the ceiling). For example, if the total length of walls is 50-feet and the height is 8-feet. 50 times 8 equals 400 or 400 sq. ft. To be certain you will have sufficient paint, including enough for touch-ups at a later date, add 10-percent to your total calculations. In this example the total is 440 sq. ft. Now deduct the square footage of windows and doors. In this example, let's use 50 sq. ft. That leaves us with 390 sq. ft. If the one-coat coverage of the paint you choose is 400 sq, ft. per gallon (on smooth, sealed surfaces), then the job will require approximately 1 gallon of paint.
You will also find a "Paint Coverage Estimator" on the Orchard Supply Hardware Web site.
Should a primer be applied?
A primer is used to provide a better bond between the surface to be painted and the paint being applied, and is recommended. But, many high-grade interior paints are formulated to bond to a clean, well-prepared wall or ceiling, without a primer. The choice of using a primer or not is up to you. However, if, once a surface is cleaned and there remains smoke residue, water stains, mold or mildew stains (remaining once the growth has been killed), dark marks, etc., then it is always wise to apply what is known as a "stain-sealing" or "stain-killing" primer, that is compatible with the paint you will apply.
Wash the walls and ceiling and any other surface to be painted using a pre-painting cleaner, such as Jasco TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) No-Rinse Substitute, which does not require rinsing—an advantage over TSP (usually sold in powder form and is mixed with water), as it requires repeated rinsing.
Mildew or mold will grow particularly well in an area, such as a bathroom, kitchen or laundry room—even other rooms, where mildew or mold is found—which is relatively dark, the temperature is relatively warm and there is a near-continuous source of moisture, so it is wise to use a combination mildew and mold killing solution and cleaner, when you prepare for painting. When mildew or mold is present in one location, spores often travel throughout a room, so all of the ceiling, walls, baseboard and trim should be completely treated.
- Mildew or mold killing solutions and cleaners may damage carpeting, flooring, draperies, furnishings, etc., so all should be removed or well protected, by covering them with heavy plastic sheeting (heavy plastic drop cloth).
- Before mixing any mildew or mold killing solution, be certain to read the manufacturer's warnings and instructions on all products you will use. Avoid having liquid household chlorine bleach or any cleaning solution, that contains chlorine bleach, come in contact with ammonia or any ammonia-based product, as harmful, even fatal chlorine gas is the result of the two mixing.
- When using any mildew or mold killing solution or cleaner, always wear a N95 respirator (The number 95 refers to the mask's particulate filtering efficiency level), eye goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, and protective clothing, which you don't care about damaging, and be certain, that there is plenty of ventilation in the room (fresh air entering the room and stale air exhausted).
- Always add chemicals to water, never water to chemicals, to minimize the chances of chemicals splashing or reacting.
- Turn off the power to any electrical receptacles in the room and, when cleaning the ceiling, to each light fixture.
- Do not attempt to remove mildew or mold from unsealed or unpainted wood or drywall, or the gypsum (white, stone-like material) in drywall. The mildew or mold has permanently damaged these materials; they must be replaced.
- If there is mildew or mold on or in fabrics or furniture (clothing, bedding, draperies, sofa, upholstered chair, carpeting, throw rugs, etc.), they should only be cleaned, using solutions, that will not harm the materials. It is usually best to have them professionally cleaned (a tricky process, so don't just trust it to anyone) or they should be replaced.
- If you have mildew or mold on wallpaper, be very careful using any cleaning product.
Killing mildew and mold and cleaning at the same time
There are instances where mildew or mold growth can be removed, when the growth simply comes in contact with liquid household chlorine bleach (one cup of household liquid chlorine bleach added to 1 gallon of warm water) or a commercial mildew-killing product, that is safe to use on painted walls and ceilings. However, it is not uncommon for some solutions to dry, before they can eradicate the organic growth. One method is to use the slower drying solution suggested below, to kill mildew or mold and clean walls, ceiling, baseboards, and trim before painting:
DO NOT use this cleaning solution for general cleaning or use on window glass.
Mix the solution by adding the following to 3 quarts of warm water: 2/3 cup TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) or TSP substitute (phosphate-free), 1/3 cup Tide powder laundry detergent (without any additives such as bleach), and 1 quart liquid household chlorine bleach.
If you use Jasco TSP No-Rinse Substitute in your homemade solution, it contains a deglosser, which will dull painted surfaces (which is desirable when painting). Although Jasco TSP No-Rinse Solution doesn't require rinsing, when used alone, it does, when added to Tide detergent.
Before continuing, reread: The Warnings"
Apply some of the solution to a small area (about 4-by-4-inches) to test for any adverse effects, wait five minutes, re-wet the area with the solution and then scrub the test area, using a soft-bristle brush, that will not damage the surface being treated and cleaned and not be harmed by the cleaning solution.
Rinse thoroughly with clean water and wait overnight to see, if there are any adverse effects. If you have tested in a dark corner, use a battery-operated flashlight or other light source, to examine the test area.
If you are satisfied with the results of your test, carefully stir the remaining cleaning solution and begin cleaning the ceiling (always start with the ceiling), by using a large sponge to apply the solution to an area about 2- to 4-square feet.
Wait approximately five minutes, re-wet the area with the solution and then scrub, using a soft-bristle brush, that will not damage the surface being cleaned and not be harmed by the cleaning solution. Rinse all surfaces well with clean water. Then move on to the next 2- to 4-square foot area.
When you have completed the ceiling, follow the same method for walls, trim, and baseboards, always working from the highest point downward.
Do not spot scrub or splatter the solution onto walls, ceiling, baseboards, or trim that you don't want to paint, as the solution will likely leave areas dull in spots, resulting in the need to repaint them.
To do a thorough job, remove the baseboards and trim. Use the cleaning solution and a chemical-resistant, fairly stiff-bristle brush to scrub the area, where you removed the baseboards and trim.
If you remove the baseboards and air is leaking in where the wall and floor meet, caulk the gap or joint using a silicone caulking compound, that is formulated for tubs and showers (it contains a mildewcide to minimize the formation of mildew on the cured compound). Don't apply too much caulking compound. Apply just enough, to seal the joint. Too much and the baseboards may not fit flat against the wall.
TIP: Always push caulking compound into a joint, instead of pulling it over a joint.
Be sure the walls are dry and any caulking compound has cured, before you reinstall the baseboards and trim.
Filling holes and Patching
Spackling compound will take care of most of the repairs you'll need to make, as long as you are not applying a clear finish. Large damaged areas should be patched, not filled. For information on patching an area of drywall read "How to Patch and Repair Drywall." For general tips on filling holes, patching and matching texturing, read "Patching Drywall Before Repainting." Both are on the OSH Web site.
All sanding dust on walls, baseboards, trim, crown molding, etc. should be removed, before applying any paint, coating or finish. Use a brush attachment to vacuum the surfaces, then wipe dust away using an inexpensive tack cloth, which is a treated cloth that picks up and retains dust.
The old hard-and-fast rule was to not put hard drying oil-based paint over water base latex, due to the flexibility of the latex coating. That is still true in some instances, but many paints now allow for the use of a water base primer and oil- based topcoat and vice versa. The specific information on compatibility will be found on the primer and topcoat cans.
As mentioned before, if you have smoke, water, or other tough to cover stains, prime at least the stains with a stain-killing primer, that is compatible with the paint you will use.
What to paint first
Prime and paint beginning with the ceilings, then the walls, then trim and baseboards.
Painting ceiling and walls
Paint is customarily applied to walls and ceiling using a roller. Techniques are well illustrated in books on house painting. One tip not found in most books: It doesn't hurt to practice your techniques first on a large sheet of clean cardboard.
Painting baseboard, molding and trim
Baseboards, trim, crown molding, etc. are normally painted in place without being removed. As with any painting project, preparation is the key to high quality results. Filling holes and voids, sanding, making certain the surface is free of dust, dirt and debris is critical for high quality results. Priming is a good idea.
Taping off the edges of baseboards, trim, crown molding, etc. using painter's masking tape (not manila-colored tape), helps to provide a clean edge and protection against spattering. To minimize paint getting beneath the edges of the tape (the tape edge that is going to come in contact with the paint), wrap a section of soft, clean cloth around an index finger and briskly rub the edge of the tape. (Warning: If the paint beneath the masking tape is not well adhered, it may pull away when the tape is removed.) The tape should be carefully removed, as soon as the paint has been applied and leveled. It's a good idea to have a helper, when removing the tape, to keep any paint on the tape from touching a wall or other surface.
A high quality interior trim paint and brush are essential for any high quality paint job on baseboards, trim, crown molding, etc. Use a brush with artificial bristles for latex and acrylic latex paints and natural bristle brush with oil-based paint. A 1 ½-inch angled sash brush works well on narrow surfaces, a 2-inch trim brush on wider. A word of caution: An inexpensive paintbrush will usually leave unsightly brush strokes.
Improving the flow of latex paint
Latex and acrylic-latex paint is thinned with water; however, do not add more water than what is recommended by the paint manufacturer or the paint quality will be deteriorated. Brushability and flow are improved, by adding Floetrol, manufactured by The Flood Company, to the paint.
Calling in a pro
Think your painting project is too large to handle? Consider getting bids from painting contractors. They are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under "Painting Contractors."
If you are a California resident and decide to have any work costing more than $499 (labor and materials) done by a contractor, before entering into a contract you should request a free copy of "What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor," from the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board (CSLB). For the booklet to be mailed to you, phone 800 321 2752 (24-hours a day) and record your request, along with your full name and address. You may also read the booklet or download it from the Board's Web site. Select "Guides and Pamphlets," and then "What You Should Know Before You Hire A Contractor." It is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. You can also download other Board publications.
Interior house painting is a good do-it-yourself project. Before you begin your painting project, you may also want to read one or more books about interior painting, which will aid you in selecting a color or colors of paint, help you decide what supplies and materials you will need for your specific project, and give you proper techniques for brush, roller and/or spray painting
Where to find what you need
Orchard Supply Hardware stores sell commercial mildew removal products, liquid household chlorine bleach, all-purpose sponges, and scrub brushes, which are found in the Housewares department. N95 respirators are available in the Hardware department. Heavy plastic sheeting for a drop cloth is available by the foot in the Industrial section of the Hardware department. Natural sea sponges, TSP, Jasco TSP No-Rinse Substitute, putty knives, spackling and texturing compounds, acrylic and silicone caulking compounds, sandpaper, tack cloths, stain-sealing primer, Floetrol, paint and other painting supplies are found in the Paint department. You will find books on painting in the Book section at each OSH store.