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Angie's List: How can I paint my house like a pro?

By Paul F.P. Pogue
Special to The Detroit News

Painting one or more interior rooms is a (relatively) simple and often cost-effective means to spruce up the look of your home without major remodeling. Since painting is labor-intensive job, it tends to be somewhat costly. If you’re willing to invest your own time and sweat, you can paint your rooms yourself and save some cash. As home jobs go, painting is one of the better ones to approach as a DIY job – but take care with the planning and execution. Mistakes can pile up early on, and you might end up having to hire a professional to fix it anyway. Follow these tips to do the best possible job.

Getting an even coat can be tricky for a DIY painter.

Csuka András / FreeImages

1. Take preparation seriously.

Measure twice, cut once, as the old carpenter’s saying goes. Thoroughly examine the walls for cracks or imperfections, then spackle and sand them. Use painter’s tape rather than masking tape to separate baseboards and floors and anywhere else that shouldn’t be painted. Don’t skimp on the primer. Even a smooth wall will benefit from a good coat of primer, and you’ll spend less money on paint overall.

2. Select your paint carefully.

This is one point where you get what you pay for. Higher-quality paint tends to be thicker and stronger, so it requires fewer coats to reach the optimum shade. This alone more than justifies the higher cost of good paint. Low-quality paint also damages fairly easily, so you’ll be making more touch-ups to scuffs and marks. Pay attention to the finish. Flat and eggshell finishes are excellent choices for most home interior purposes, especially high-traffic areas. Semi-gloss and glossy paints create a beautiful look, but be cautious – the sheen will bring out every imperfection in the surface and paint job.

3. Paint in order.

Start with the border, then the edge of the wall, and then paint the rest of the wall. Use long vertical strokes, which will look more professional. Use a paint roller as much as possible, which creates a smoother, straighter look and stays consistent across the job. For the trim and edges, use a small 3-inch roller.

4. Make sure you have sufficient light and ventilation in the room for you to work properly.

It’s also a good idea to replace the lid on your paint can after you fill your tray and put it out of the walking path when you’re not using it. It’s very easy to absentmindedly trip over a can and make a huge mess (as well as waste a can of costly paint!).

5. Take your time.

Rush jobs are the bane of painting work. Apply the paint evenly and patiently, and let each coat dry completely before starting a new one.

6. Know your limits.

If you’re getting in over your head, call in a professional painter to guide you. If things are going wrong, quite often you can make it worse.

Go to angieslist.com.