Should I Paint the Walls? Questions to Ask Before Tackling Your Next DIY Interior Paint Project

In 2020, the DIY Network’s U.S. audience increased by 21% over the prior year. Home Depot and Lowe’s experienced banner sales in the third quarter of 2020: Home Depot’s same-store sales grew by 24.6% and Lowe’s surged by almost 30%. What do these numbers reveal? Homeowners are still up for the challenge of doing it themselves and home painting projects are no exception.

If you’re wondering “should I paint my house myself” it’s likely you have a lot of questions to determine whether you have the skills, tools, and time to tackle it. Let’s take on the top questions homeowners are asking when they are considering a DIY project.

Should I Paint?

Start how you want to finish: How to prep walls for painting

The prep work is probably the part of a home painting project that many homeowners are tempted to cut corners on or rush through to get to the “fun” part. How you start determines how you finish and if you shortcut this part of the process you won’t achieve the result you’re aiming for.

  1. Begin with clean walls. This is important if you’re painting a bathroom or kitchen due to build-up of mildew or grease. Mildew can be removed with a solution of three to four parts water to one part bleach. If you have any cooking grease on your walls you may need to use a mixture of water and a grease-cutting detergent. Once the walls are clean of any residue make sure they are dry before applying any paint.
  2. When to use primer on the walls (and when to skip it): Truthfully, you may not need to use primer if your walls are clean or if your new color is darker than or similar to the existing color. In fact some thicker paints act as a primer. However, there are some situations in which primer is a must. If you’re painting stained surfaces or bare wood (or other porous surfaces, replacing oil-based paint with latex or using a lighter color than what’s already on the wall you should start with a primer. If you need help determining how much primer you need, The Spruce offers a calculator.
  3. How to sand walls before painting. If your existing paint is cracking or flaking or there are rough spots on the wall, sanding them with sandpaper or a sanding block, wiping the dust off with a damp cloth, and allowing it to dry will prepare the surface for the fresh coat.
  4. How to fix chips in the wall. If you don’t address chips and dents now they will still be visible affecting the overall quality. The Home Depot suggests that you scrape off the chipped paint, fill in the divot with spackle or drywall patching compound, sand the patch to smooth it out, prime it and paint it.

These steps are in addition to moving and draping your furniture, taping off trim such as door and window frames and baseboards, and removing switch plates and outlet covers. (If you’re looking for a more exhaustive list, we’ve outlined our best tips for interior prep for your next house painting project so you don’t miss a thing.)

If you find the prep work daunting and are tempted to just pick up a roller, it’s a sign that you should probably outsource this to a professional residential painter. (In fact, here are “7 Things to Consider Before You Paint Your House Yourself.”)

Should I paint the ceilings or walls first?

Should I paint the ceilings or walls first?

So you’ve done your prep work and you’re ready to get started. A paint calculator can help you determine how many gallons you will need per room and minimize waste. (And if you need advice on picking the right paint—oil vs. latex, eggshell or high gloss—we’ve got you covered.)

If you plan to paint your ceilings make sure you start with them to minimize drips on any other newly painted surfaces. Save the trim for last for the same reason.

How do I cut in paint?

Chances are you may need a little help with technique. The details make all of the difference. Even if you’re using a roller on a large wall you’ll still need to cut in paint with a brush where the walls meet the trim including door and window frames, baseboards, and molding. But how do you make these edges look neat and seamless?

It’s definitely something you can do at home, however, it is a multistep process that requires patience and practice. The folks at recommend using a 2 1/2″ sash brush, which has fewer bristles, holds less paint, and is made specifically for trim. You’ll also need drop cloths, painter’s tape, and a smaller brush. This video by Benjamin Moore shows you the proper technique to achieve clean edges and make sure your brush strokes blend well with the rest of the surface.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

We know that there is an immense level of pride and satisfaction that can come from researching and completing a home project on your own. But we also know that DIY projects can result in frustration, lost time, wasted money, and a result that falls short of what you hoped for. When you’re asking yourself, “should I paint my home myself,” you need to consider the trade-offs. At Riggins Painting, our estimates are always free of charge, so there’s no risk at least considering what a trusted residential painter can do for you. We’d love to meet with you, bid on your project, and have the opportunity to help transform your home into one you’re always happy to come home to.

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