How to Paint a Room

How to Paint Cabinets and Floors

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. With cabinets, paint in this sequence, starting inside and working out. Paint drawers last.

Both cabinets and floors are relatively easy to paint if you know what to do. In this section, we'll show you some tricks that will help you paint these surfaces like a professional.


Painting cabinets and cupboards will be easier if you remove all obstructions first, including shelves, drawers, handles, pulls, knobs, and latches. If the hinges on the doors have pins you can remove easily, take off the doors until the cabinet and cupboard interiors and surfaces have been painted.


The most difficult part of painting cabinets is reaching the barely accessible interior surfaces. Consider shortening the handles on your trim brushes to make things easier. Paint the inside back walls; inside top; side walls; and bottoms, tops, and edges of shelves.

Then paint all the exterior surfaces, working from the top down. If the doors are still in place, swing them open and paint the inside surfaces. Then close them partway and paint the outside. Finally, stand the drawers up on newspapers and paint only their fronts. Do not paint the exterior sides or bottoms of the drawers.


Once reserved for porches, paint is turning up on wood floors with increasing frequency, particularly in vacation homes. You can do a small floor in just a couple of hours once everything is prepared.

The techniques for painting floors are the same as for painting any other large flat surface. Be sure to remove all traces of wax, and sand the floor lightly to roughen its surface, improving its paint-holding ability. You can use ordinary porch and deck paint, but the color selection may be limited. You can also use a good-quality oilbase enamel. In either case, follow up with two to four coats of clear polyurethane to protect the painted finish.

First, remove all the furniture from the area, and cut in the paint around the baseboards with a brush. Then you can use either a wide wall brush or a medium-pile roller for the rest of the floor. If you use an extension handle on a roller, you will be able to do the job standing up. Paint your way out of the room. On most wood floors, plan on applying at least two coats of paint, then two, three, or four coats of polyurethane. Let each coat dry to absolute hardness before reentering the room, and wear rubber-soled shoes until after the very last coat to avoid marring or scarring the surface.

Painting masonry floors is easier, faster, less expensive, and more common than painting wood floors. Moisture is a major cause of masonry painting problems. Most masonry is porous, and water that comes through it pushes at the paint, causing small particles to come off. In addition, the alkalinity in masonry affects the adhesiveness of some paints and attacks the pigments in others. Paint designed for masonry surfaces can handle rough treatment.

There are a number of latex-base masonry paints that offer the advantages of easy application and easy cleanup. They can be used in damp conditions without adhesion problems. Cement-base paints are frequently used on previously unpainted concrete where very low-pressure moisture is a problem. Epoxy paints are often applied where a hard finish is needed to resist moisture and chemicals. Just make sure the paint you use is compatible with any existing paint and with the type of masonry you'll be covering. A paint dealer can help you select the appropriate coating.

Before you get down to painting, repair and patch all cracks and holes and allow the patch compounds to cure fully. Then, wearing rubber gloves and goggles, use a 10 percent muriatic acid solution to remove efflorescence, the whitish powder that appears in spots on concrete. Mop up the solution, let the area dry, rinse it thoroughly, and let it dry again. Wash the entire floor with a strong detergent or a concrete degreaser. Then, once the floor is dry and just before painting, vacuum it to get rid of any leftover dirt.

On most masonry floors you can paint with a long-napped roller fitted with an extension handle so you can paint standing up, but you may need a brush for very rough areas. Depending on the surface conditions and the kind of paint you use, you may have to apply a second coat. If so, read the label on the paint can to find out how long you should wait between coats.

Some people like to finish painting a room by adding decorative flourishes. The next section, then, will focus on painting stencils, textures, and stripes.