Paint With Confidence

Application Information

Painting is fun and easy once you get the hang of it. Our simple step-by-step application information is designed to guide you through the process for a successful outcome.

Before you begin your project, compile a list of materials needed. Preparing ahead of time cuts down on lost time and helps to eliminate multiple trips to the store. See our materials checklist for a handy list of items that you might need for your project.

Interior Painting

General Tips

  1. Always stir your paint to ensure that it is mixed thoroughly before you begin your project and repeat periodically throughout the application.
  2. When painting interiors, proceed in this order:
    1. Paint the Ceiling (cut in then roll)
    2. Paint the Walls (cut in then roll)
    3. Paint the Doors (roll and/or brush)
    4. Paint the Windows and Door Trim (brush)
    5. Paint the Baseboards and Molding (brush)

Cutting In

  1. The first step for ceilings and walls is cutting in. To “cut in” means to paint the areas where walls and ceiling meet, and around all doors, windows, moldings, fixtures and electrical outlets.
  2. Tape off areas with painter’s masking tape before cutting in to avoid getting paint where you don’t want it.
  3. Use a 2–3" brush to paint a 3–4" border between the wall and the ceiling. You may need a smaller brush to cut in around doors and fixtures, depending on your clearance.


  1. Be patient when painting with brushes. It takes time to become proficient.
  2. Generally, hold a paintbrush by its metal ferrule near the base of the bristles for a comfortable, strong grip. Wall brushes that are 4–6" wide should be gripped using the entire hand. Sash or angular brushes that are 3½" wide or smaller should be held like a pencil.
  3. Paint with the tips of a brush and not the sides. When your brush touches a surface, it should be at about a 45 degree angle.
  4. Load your brush with paint by dipping the first 1/3 of the bristles into the paint and tap the brush lightly side-to-side against the inside of the can to remove excess paint. Do not drag the brush across the lip of the can as this will take away half of the brush’s paint carrying capacity.
  5. Keep a wet edge as you brush, and don’t stop painting in the middle of an area (always finish at a corner). This will prevent lines and ridges from forming when you brush wet paint into a dry area.
  6. Develop a rhythm when painting (good music helps!). Use steady, even strokes, and lift the brush up gradually at the end of each stroke.
  7. When painting always: have a drop cloth below anything you are brushing; carry a rag when brushing to clean up accidental spills or drips; and clean your paintbrush handle when paint drips down on it.


  1. Fill your roller tray with paint in the deep end or up to where the ribs begin.
  2. Dip the roller into the deep end of the roller tray, then push and pull the roller up and down the ribs, dipping it into the paint until it is covered uniformly.
  3. Pull the roller out, twirling it slowly in the air above the paint tray to avoid dripping as you transport it to the surface that you are painting.
  4. Place the roller against the wall or ceiling, and roll out a letter N in a 2' × 2' area. Then, start rolling in an up and down motion to fill in your N. Continue in the same fashion across each section of the area you are painting. Make one smooth, uninterrupted rolling motion in one direction only, going up or down to complete each section. Don’t stop rolling in the middle of a wall or surface. Instead, complete the side or finish off to a corner.
  5. Use your roller to overlap the areas where you cut in corners and edges of doors, windows, molding and fixtures.

Notes on Painting Ceilings

  • Use a specially formulated ceiling paint to minimize spatter.
  • Start at a corner near a window and work backward. This way you will be following the direction of the natural light, making it easier to see where you are painting, correct mistakes and smooth out roller lines.

Exterior Painting

General Tips

  1. As with interior painting, the first thing to remember is to stir the paint before starting your project and repeat periodically throughout the application. This is especially true of stains which are generally thinner in viscosity.
  2. When possible, remove shutters, then paint and re-hang them once the job is complete.
  3. Make sure you cut in around windows, doors, fixtures and eaves before painting the main surface area. See Cutting In above for more information.
  4. Paint the trim areas last. When painting windows and doors, paint the window sash and door paneling first, then paint the windowsills, frames and door trim.
  5. Scrape any excess paint from trim surfaces with a razorblade to create a neat edge.
  6. Do not apply solvent-thinned paint over damp surfaces. This will lead to blistering and peeling.

Weather Considerations

  1. Do not use water-based (latex) paints when the surface to be painted is above 90°F or below 50°F (except when using products designed for low temperature application). At high temperatures the water in the paint may evaporate too quickly. Low temperatures may prevent the latex from forming a covering film.
  2. Painting when rain is expected within 24 hours or in foggy conditions may also result in poor drying and undesirable appearance.
  3. Always try to paint in the daylight to avoid missing areas and uneven coverage, but never in direct sunlight. Begin painting on the side of the house that will remain in shade until you have finished. Direct sun and strong wind can cause rapid drying that interferes with the leveling quality of the paint, producing lapmarks in latex paint coats and blisters in oil-based paint coats.


  1. Dip roller in roller tray and roll back and forth to remove excess paint. If paint drips from the roller, it is over-saturated.
  2. Use long, even strokes, rolling in different directions to coat the entire surface. Finish off with strokes in one direction.
  3. Rollers work particularly well on porous surfaces such as masonry and stucco and ideal for flat surfaces. However, a brush should be used around corners to ensure good coverage.


  1. Load your brush with paint by dipping the first 1/3 of the bristles into the paint and tap the brush lightly side-to-side against the inside of the can to remove excess paint. Do not drag the brush across the lip of the can as this will take away half of the brush’s paint carrying capacity.
  2. Use long, smooth strokes to apply the paint. When using oil-based paint, brush back and forth several times to ensure a nice, even coat. Latex paint dries more quickly and excessive brushing will leave grooves in the paint film. Apply latex paint generously, but use only one or two strokes back and forth.
  3. Work from the top down, unless you are painting clapboard. By painting side to side, four or five boards at a time, you can minimize lapmarks.
  4. With clapboard, it’s best to paint the area where the boards overlap first, using the thin edge of your brush to force paint underneath the lap. Do as much as you can reach this way, then flip your brush and use the wide edge to coat the face of the board.
  5. When painting shingles, paint vertically since the shingles offer natural breaking points.

Paint Storage

  1. Put all unused paint back into its original container. You can use your brushes to clean out roller trays and help push the unused paint into the original container.
  2. Place a sheet of thin plastic wrap over the can and hammer the lid down securely. A well-sealed can of paint may, after a little stirring, be ready to use years later. Store paint in an area with a fairly constant temperature. Latex paint can freeze if exposed to extreme low temperatures, so storing it in a garage is not ideal.


  1. While painting, clean all spills and splatter immediately with a rag. Clean hands with warm, soapy water.
  2. If you plan to continue your project the next day, you can place your brush or roller in a plastic bag while it is still wet, sealing it carefully for the next day.
  3. When cleaning a brush, separate the bristles with your fingers while the water is running. Repeat until the brush is clean. If you are cleaning brushes used with an oil-based paint or stain, use solvent in a clean container. Wear protective gloves to prevent skin contact with the solvent. For long-term storage, hang up brushes so that the bristles do not support the weight of the brush.


Properly dispose of all paint and solvents. For more information contact your local government to learn more about proper solvent and paint disposal in your area.