Painting Interiors


With the help of a your home can be painted very quickly and smoothly. See more pictures of painting interiors.

Painting interiors gives you a lot of bang for your home improvement buck. To completely change the look and feel of a room, you can't go wrong with paint. Whether you're changing the look of the trim or completely changing the dominant color, paint has an effect that is immediate and significant.

The links at the bottom of this page will take you to articles that will tell you everything you need to know about painting interiors. Whether you want to paint your kitchen cabinets or figure out how to coat your shutters, these articles will provide detailed instructions.

Here's a preview of what the articles will cover:

Painting Walls

Walls are the biggest surfaces in your home, so you need to know how to paint them thoroughly and neatly.

Painting Ceilings and Tight Spots

Painting Trim, Baseboards, and Wainscoting

The edges of a room are like the frame of a picture. We tell you how to apply just the right touch to this painting job.

Painting Windows

Painting windows requires extra care, so you'll want to make sure to read this article.

Painting Doors

A door is the overture to a room. Learn how to enhance this household feature with a coat of paint.

Painting Shutters

Shutters can be extremely difficult to paint. Find out how to cover every side smoothly and equally.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Food tastes better when prepared in a beautiful room. We'll show you exactly how to spice up this room with a little paint.

Painting Floors

You may not spend a lot of time looking at the floor, but a coat of paint will make a dramatic statement in any room. Learn to use paint to showcase your floor.

Painting Textures

Want to bring a weathered or stucco look indoors? Give your walls and surfaces a new layer of character by applying textures.

Painting Stripes

Stripes create visual flair, and are easy to make. This article will tell you how to paint stripes on any interior surface.

Painting Stencils

One of the oldest means of decorating, stencils are easy to design and easy to paint. Learn the steps in this article.

Painting Cleanup

All done painting? Not quite. Proper cleanup will keep your home looking spotless, and prevent accidents that might undercut all your hard work. Learn what's involved with this job.

Cleaning Painting Equipment

The sooner you get the paint off your tools, the less time you'll have to spend cleaning. Follow these simple instructions.

For more information on painting and on home improvement in general, see:

  • Interior Paints: Make sure your newly-painted interiors can stand up to the daily grind by choosing from this list of paint types.
  • Interior Painting Preparation: Preparation is a key part of any painting job. These tips will get you going.
  • Painting Exteriors: Once you're done painting the inside of your house, you might want to focus on the outside. This guide to painting exteriors will help.
  • House Painting: For all things related to improving your home with paint, visit this page.
  • Home Improvement: After you're done painting, learn how you can make other fixes in all parts of your home.

Painting Walls

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. Use a brush to paint along the edge of the ceiling next to moldings and to paint next to corners. This technique is called "cutting in."

The interior of your home is more than four walls. However, walls are possibly the biggest and most common surfaces you're likely to encounter when making some quick fixes to your home. You can make a dramatic change in the appearance of an interior simply by adding some paint to one or all of the walls in a room.

Paint an entire wall before taking a break so the painted portions won't lose their wet edges. Then stand back, scan the wall, and cover any missed spots or smears. Whether you paint in sections from top to bottom or from side to side across the room is up to you. But if you're using an extension handle on your roller, you may find it more convenient to start at one high corner and go all the way across the room with a series of completed zigzag patterns. This way you won't have to constantly change the handle on your roller as you would if you painted in sections from the ceiling down to the floor. If you're right-handed, start in the room's left-hand corner; if you're left-handed, start in the room's right-hand corner.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Room Painting Techniques: To learn about how to use these tools properly and effectively, brush up on these methods.
  • Paint Rollers: Find out when a paint roller is the best tool for the job on this page.

Painting Ceilings and Tight Spots

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. When using a roller, work in strips across, always working over the wet edge of previously painted strips.

You might think that how well you paint the walls in a room will make the most impact, but it's important to also take care when painting the other areas in a room, such as ceilings. The following tips will address painting ceilings, as well as the tight spots in a room.

Ceilings

When rolling paint on a ceiling, maintain a wet edge at all times to avoid creating lines and ridges. If you're using fast-drying paint, you may have to work faster than you anticipated and without taking a break. Both speed and ease can be achieved by using an extension handle so you can paint from the floor instead of from a stepladder that has to be moved around the room. Many roller handles are made to accept a screw-in extension that you can buy at the paint store, but you may want to see if the threaded end of your broom or mop handle will work.

Tight Spots

You probably won't have enough room to use the zigzag technique (see Painting Walls) over and under windows and above doors and doorways. Instead, just roll the paint on horizontally. For areas that are narrower than the standard 7- or 9-inch roller, use a 4-inch roller or a paintbrush. (The little roller is best because it will give you the same surface finish as the rest of the wall.) Brushes apply paint less evenly and tend to leave trails.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Trim, Baseboards, and Wainscoting: The edges of a room are like the frame of a picture. We tell you how to apply just the right touch to this painting job.
  • Paint Rollers: Find out when a paint roller is the best tool for the job on this page.

Painting Trim, Baseboards, and Wainscoting

There is wide disagreement even among veteran painters about whether to paint woodwork, such as trim, baseboards, and wainscoting, before or after painting walls. It comes down to personal preference. The argument for painting woodwork first is that any stray drips or spatters that end up on the wall only need to be feathered out, not removed, since the wall's going to get a new coat of paint anyway. If you get all of the slow, detail work out of the way first you'll feel as if you're flying right along when it's time to fill in the big, flat areas. On the other hand, rollers always emit a powder-fine spray of paint into the room. No matter how careful you are, some of it is going to end up on the woodwork.

Whether you decide to paint the woodwork first or last, be sure to inspect it for defects, and make the necessary repairs before you actually get down to painting. If you'll be painting over already-glossy woodwork, sand it lightly with sandpaper or steel wool first to help with adhesion. Or, give it a coat of deglosser.

Painting Trim

If you're using only one color and one finish on all surfaces, you may want to paint the trim as you come to it in the process of painting the walls. Of course, you'll have to keep alternating between brush and roller if you use this technique, but this shouldn't be difficult in rooms that have only a couple of windows and a single door. If you decide to paint the trim first, mask it off with masking tape or painter's tape when you paint the ceiling and walls.

Painting Baseboards

To paint the top of a baseboard, paint down from the top for five or six short strokes, then smooth over them with a single, long, smooth stroke. Then, using a painting shield or a thin piece of cardboard as a movable masker, cut in along the floor. After that, you can fill the unpainted space between with long brush strokes. Paint only 2 or 3 feet of baseboard at a time. Examine the surface for drips, spatters, and overlapped edges, and clean them up immediately. Do not wait until the entire baseboard is painted or the paint flaws will have already set.

Painting Wainscoting

Painting wainscoting or paneling requires a similar approach to that of baseboards. Cut in along the top and bottom edges where the wainscoting meets the wall and the floor, just as you did with the baseboard. Next, paint the indented panels and the molding around them. Paint tends to collect in the corners of these panels, so your brush strokes should be toward the center of the panel. On the raised surfaces around and between panels, work from the top down, and use up-and-down strokes on the verticals, back-and-forth strokes on the horizontals.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Floors: You may not spend a lot of time looking at the floor, but a coat of paint will make a dramatic statement in any room. Learn to use paint to showcase your floor.
  • Masking Surfaces: Learn how to tape off windows, trim, and other areas to ensure you get clean lines between your painted surfaces in this article.

Painting Windows

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd Paint double-hung windows in the sequence shown, moving the top and bottom sashes for access to all surfaces.

In general, the job of painting windows will go faster if you purchase a 2-or 21/2-inch sash trim brush, angled slightly across the bottom to make it easier to get into 90-degree corners and tight spaces.

To paint wood-frame windows, first raise the bottom sash more than halfway up and lower the top sash until its bottom rail is several inches below the bottom sash. Paint the bottom rail of the top sash and up the stiles as far as you can go. Paint all the surfaces of the bottom sash except the top edge. Reverse the position of the sashes: top sash up to within an inch of the window frame, bottom sash down to within an inch of the windowsill. Then, paint the formerly obstructed surfaces of the top sash and the top edges of both sashes.

Don't paint the wood jambs in which the sashes move up and down yet. Instead, paint the window frame, working from top to bottom, including the sill. When the paint on the sashes is dry to the touch, move them both down as far as they will go. Paint the exposed jambs. Let the paint dry, raise both sashes all the way, and paint the lower jambs. To keep the sashes from sticking in the jambs, put on only as much paint as is necessary to cover the old coat. Wait for the paint to dry, then lubricate the channels with paraffin or a silicone spray.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Shutters: Shutters can be extremely difficult to paint. Find out how to cover every side smoothly and equally.
  • Masking Surfaces: Learn how to tape off windows, trim, and other areas to ensure you get clean lines between your painted surfaces in this article.

Painting Doors

View Enlarged Image ©2007 Publications International, Ltd. When painting a door, paint the panels first. Then paint the rails, the stiles, and finally the edges, working from top to bottom.
View Enlarged Image ©2007 Publications International, Ltd. When painting a door, paint the panels first. Then paint the rails, the stiles, and finally the edges, working from top to bottom.

Flush doors -- those with smooth, flat surfaces -- are easy to paint with either a brush or a roller, but doors with inset panels can be tricky. No matter what type of door you're dealing with, paint the entire door without stopping. Otherwise the lap marks may show. Before you start, remove the doorknobs, the plates behind them, and the latch plate on the edge of the door.

On ornate doors, start by painting the inset panels at the top of the door. As with wainscoting, paint all the panels and the molding around them. Then work your way down from the top to the bottom, painting the top rail, middle rail, and bottom rail (the horizontals) with back-and-forth strokes.

Next, paint the vertical stiles (the sides) with up-and-down strokes. If you're painting both sides of the door, repeat this procedure. If you're painting only one side, paint the top edge of the door with a light coat. Over time, paint can build up on the top edge and cause the door to stick. Finally, paint the door's hinge edge and latch edge.

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  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Trim, Baseboards, and Wainscoting: The edges of a room are like the frame of a picture. We tell you how to apply just the right touch to this painting job.
  • Painting Windows: Find tips on painting various types of window frames in this article, only at HowStuffWorks.

Painting Shutters

The best way to paint shutters, both interior and exterior types, is to spray them, using either canned spray paint or an airless power sprayer. But, because that's not always possible, you can still get a quality finish on old shutters by using a brush.

Take the shutters down and scrape, sand, and clean them as needed. Then, if you can hang them from an open ceiling joist -- in the garage, for example -- you can paint both sides at the same time. Otherwise, stand the shutters upright or lay them out on the floor to paint one side at a time.

Keep your brush on the dry side. An excessively wet brush will result in runs and drips and, if the louvers are adjustable, sticking problems. Paint the window side of the shutter first. That way, if you do miss a run, it won't show.

On adjustable shutters, put a wood matchstick or a little wood wedge between the adjusting rod and one or two of its staples to keep the rod away from the louvers. Paint the louvers first with a 1/2- or 1-inch trim brush. Then paint the frame with a 2-inch brush. Leave the shutter edges until last so you can periodically turn the shutter over to check for runs. If you find any, smooth them out with an almost-dry brush before they set. When the front is dry, paint the back.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Windows: Painting windows requires extra care, so you'll want to make sure to read this article.
  • How to Use an Airless Sprayer: If you've decided that spraying the paint directly onto the surface is your best bet, learn to do it right on this page.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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

When making plans to redecorate, you may be tempted to yank out all the cabinetry in your kitchen and start from scratch. However, such a drastic action may not be necessary. The simple act of painting the cabinets can completely change the look of your kitchen, and give an old room a new lease on life.

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.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Walls: Walls are the biggest surfaces in your home, so you need to know how to paint them thoroughly and neatly.
  • Painting Cleanup: Cleaning up after you paint is a crucial step that shouldn't be taken lightly. Learn more in this home improvement article.

Painting Floors

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.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Trim, Baseboards, and Wainscoting: The edges of a room are like the frame of a picture. We tell you how to apply just the right touch to this painting job.
  • How to Paint Safely: Learn tips in this article to ensure you don't put yourself in harm's way during a painting job.

Painting Textures

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. To texture paint with a foam brush, slather it on, then go over the surface with the flat of the brush, patting the paint.

What can you do if you have a wall with flaws so serious that ordinary paint won't cover them up? Or what if you want a surface with a more tactile quality? Or maybe you want to try for a weathered or stucco look. For any of these, texture painting is a good option.

Paints specifically designed for texture work are as thick as pancake batter or wet plaster. Some are gritty and some are not. All are ideal for flawed surfaces and for creating a rustic look. You should still wash the surface, scrape off flaking paint, and patch major holes, but you don't need to make the surface perfectly smooth. Texture paints will camouflage most surface blemishes.

Texture paint without granules in it can be applied with special texturing rollers, a wide brush, a urethane foam brush, or even a trowel. Whatever tool you use, smear the paint onto the surface, about 1/16 inch thick. As with regular wall paint, work with sections approximately three feet square.

Create the surface design in one section at a time. A long-napped texturing roller will give you a uniform stippled effect all over. Similar but less regular stippling can be achieved with a foam brush. Apply the paint, then go over the surface with the flat of the brush, patting the paint to create little peaks and valleys.

You can use less conventional texturing tools once the paint is on the wall, such as crumpled wax paper or a big sponge. With a coarse brush you can create circles or swirls in the paint. Keep the thickness and the texture uniform from one section to another, overlapping their borders as you go along.

For applying grit-textured paint to ceilings, buy a special long-napped roller or use a synthetic-bristle brush. Instructions on the can explain how to apply the paint.

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  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Stripes: Painting stripes is a great decorative painting technique. Learn more about it in this helpful article.
  • Painting Stencils: One of the oldest means of decorating, stencils are easy to design and easy to paint. Learn the steps in this article.

Painting Stripes

You can paint stripes on walls or furniture using some easy techniques. For medium-wide stripes of one to four or more inches, use a level to draw two parallel lines on the wall. Follow the lines with masking tape, pressing the tape down carefully with your thumb or the bowl of a spoon so that paint doesn't seep under its edges. Use a trim brush to paint between the masking tape lines. Wait until the paint is just barely dry to the touch, then slowly peel the tape away from the wall.

A series of thin, parallel stripes can be painted all at one time if you use special striping tape, the kind used to paint racing stripes on cars, available at automobile supply stores. The tape is one inch wide overall, but it has up to eight 1/16-inch peel-off strips down its length. Again, use a level to create a straight line. Follow the line with striping tape. Then peel as many of the removable strips off the roll as you like, automatically exposing what will soon be stripes.

Because you're dealing with more tape edges here than before, go back over the tape again, carefully pressing down all the edges to keep the paint from seeping under them. Finally, working with a dry brush, paint over the tape. (A 1/2-inch trim brush is best for delicate work.) Let the paint dry to the touch, then slowly peel away the tape.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Textures: Use texture painting to hide any major flaws on surfaces in your home. See this article for tips.
  • Painting Stencils: One of the oldest means of decorating, stencils are easy to design and easy to paint. Learn the steps in this article.

Painting Stencils

Stenciling is one of the oldest and easiest decorative painting techniques. Use it to create borders of various patterns on walls, ceilings, floors, and around windows and doors. Stencils look like the reverse of a coloring book page, with spaces where the pattern would ordinarily be. About the size of a sheet of typewriter paper, reusable stencils are made of thin plastic or heavy paper. They're available at art supply stores or retail paint outlets.

You can make your own stencils, too. Use thin cardboard -- shirt cardboard is fine. Sketch a design, transfer it to tracing paper, and cut it out with scissors or a craft knife. Lay the pattern on a piece of cardboard slightly larger than the pattern itself, trace around it, then cut it out.

To transfer your design to the wall, tape up the stencil at all four corners. Use a special stenciling brush -- usually round in shape, but flat across the bristles -- to apply latex or alkyd paint to the cutout. Pour paint into an old saucer or pie tin. Dab the brush lightly into the paint, then dab it lightly on kraft paper to remove excess paint. You should be working with an almost dry brush. Don't stroke the paint on the stencil. If you do, you'll force the paint under its edges. Instead, use a light up-and-down dabbing motion. Let the paint dry to the touch, peel the stencil slowly away from the wall, and move on to the next area.

If you want to create a border using the same pattern over and over again, it makes sense to buy or make extra stencils so you can continue to work on other areas as the paint dries on the first ones. If your stencil requires two or more colors, paint with only one color at a time and let the first dry before adding the second.

Plastic ready-made stencils are washable and reusable. Those made of heavy paper or cardboard, however, will only last so long before the paint saturates the fibers and weakens the stencil. When that happens, buy or make new ones so that the stencil stays flat against the wall as you paint.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Textures: Want to bring a weathered or stucco look indoors? Give your walls and surfaces a new layer of character by applying textures.
  • Painting Stripes: Painting stripes is a great decorative painting technique. Learn more about it in this helpful article.

Painting Cleanup

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. Use a razor blade scraper to remove dry paint from glass. Avoid breaking the seal between the paint and windowpane.

One of the most important aspects of a successful paint job is keeping things clean as you're working. It's also important to clean equipment as soon as you're finished and to wipe up any spatters or drips as soon as they occur. Here are some specific tips on keeping things clean while painting.

Minimizing Drips and Spatters

Even if you have already cut in around the room, avoid bumping the roller into the walls as you paint the ceiling or into the ceiling as you paint the walls, even if you're using the same color paint on both surfaces. The roller may deposit a visible ridge of paint each time it touches the ceiling or the wall.

No matter how slowly and steadily you move the roller across a surface, it will emit a fine spray of paint. Wear a scarf or cap (inexpensive painters' caps are available at paint stores), and make sure the floor and furniture are covered with drop cloths. Canvas drop cloths are best because they're durable, washable, and reusable. Plastic drop cloths, however, are far less expensive and, if you tape them down so they won't slide around, just as effective.

If you choose not to mask around windows, doors, and woodwork, minimize the risk of spatters by using a paint shield, either homemade or purchased from a paint dealer. The store-bought shields come in several sizes and materials (plastic or aluminum). Do-it-yourself shields can be made from thin cardboard or the slats of an old venetian blind. The paint shield works like a moving masker. Holding the shield in one hand, place it perpendicular to the surface being painted. Then, with the other hand, apply the paint. Paint shields are ideal for painting window frames because they can be used to keep paint off the glass, eliminating the need to scrape off dried paint later.

Because some spatters and spills are inevitable, keep a moist sponge and a pail of water handy when you're using latex paints. If you're using a solvent-thinned paint, keep some thinner and a supply of rags nearby to wipe up spatters and drips before they dry into bumps.

Cleaning Windowpanes, Spatters, and Drips

The best time to clean up paint drips and spatters is when they're still wet and will wipe away easily. If you do miss them, you can clean them up later with some extra effort.

If you used masking tape around windows, peel it off right after painting. Otherwise it may pull off some of the paint. If you painted with a painting shield or freehand, there will most likely be a few errant drops or smudges on the glass. A razor blade scraper, available at paint or hardware stores, will scrape the paint off the glass easily. Avoid breaking the seal between the new paint and the windowpane when you're cleaning up ragged edges around the sash.

Cleaning up drips and spatters on most other surfaces is easier and less time consuming. For latex paint, a soft cloth combined with household detergent and warm water should do the trick. Don't scrub a freshly painted finish, though, even if it is dry to the touch. Many paints don't cure for 30 days or more. For solvent-thinned paints, use a soft cloth and turpentine or mineral spirits to soften and remove dried-on paint droplets. Then, go over the area again with warm water and detergent.

To get paint drips off hardwood, ceramic tile, or resilient flooring, wrap a cloth around a putty knife and gently scrape them up. Then wash the areas with warm, soapy water . Don't use solvent if you can avoid it, as it can damage the finish on the floor.

Check out the next page for tips on cleaning painting equipment.

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  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Cleaning Painting Equipment: The sooner you get the paint off your tools, the less time you'll have to spend cleaning. Follow these simple instructions.
  • How to Paint Safely: Learn tips to ensure you don't put yourself in harms way during a painting job in this article.

Cleaning Painting Equipment

© 2007 Publications International, Ltd. When the brush is clean, shake out the excess solvent or water, and comb out the bristles.

Cleaning painting equipment includes not only brushes and rollers but also reusable drop cloths, paint cans, containers, and roller pans. Don't delay cleaning your equipment one minute longer than necessary. Fresh paint comes out of brushes, rollers, and pans easily; let paint dry for a while and you'll have to put a lot more time and effort into getting it out.

Inexpensive roller covers don't respond well even to thorough cleaning. Some paint residue will remain in the nap of the roller cover. When the roller is exposed to fresh paint later, the dried-in paint can soften and cause streaks in the new finish. If you use inexpensive roller covers, buy a new one for each job and save yourself the time and effort of trying to clean them. If you invest in a professional quality roller cover, it will clean thoroughly and can be used repeatedly.

If you used latex paint, drag the brushes across the lip of the paint can to remove most of the paint. Then rinse the brushes and rollers under warm tap water and wash with dishwashing detergent. A paintbrush comb can help remove paint residue from the bristles. To get out the excess water, gently squeeze the bristles or take the brush outside and give it a few vigorous flicks. Squeeze the water out of the roller covers. Use paper towels to soak up any remaining water in both brushes and rollers.

With solvent-thinned paints, use the appropriate solvent as identified on the paint can's label. Agitate brushes and rollers in a container of the solvent. Repeat this process to get out all the paint. To clean brushes, pour the solvent into an old coffee can. For rollers, use an inexpensive aluminum foil loaf pan or a clean roller pan. Solvents are toxic and flammable, so don't smoke or work near a water heater or furnace, and make sure there's plenty of ventilation. Use paper towels to blot out the excess solvent from brushes and rollers, then wash everything in warm, soapy water. Hang up brushes until they're dry; set roller covers on end.

Wipe out, wash, and dry roller pans and paint containers. Wipe off the lips of paint cans and hammer down the lids to preserve leftover paint. Store paint and solvent cans away from extreme heat or cold and out of the reach of children. If you have less than a quart of paint left, store it in a tightly capped glass jar and save it for touch-ups. Brushes and rollers that have been cleaned and dried should be wrapped up before they're stored away. Brushes can go back in the plastic or paper packages they came in, or you can wrap them in aluminum foil. Rollers can be wrapped in kraft paper, foil, or perforated plastic sandwich bags.

To clean reusable drop cloths of heavy-duty plastic or canvas, wipe off major paint splotches with soap and water and paper towels. Don't use solvent on drop cloths, as it may cause them to dissolve. Let them dry thoroughly, fold them up, and store them with your other equipment for the next project.

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