A DIY’s Beginner’s Guide To Painting

Sure, the easiest way out would be to hire a pro like Arnold’s Painting LLC in Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 to do the job, but painting is one thing that can be done by the do-it-yourselfer to save you some money if you have the patience and the necessary time to complete the project yourself. One of the best ways to insure a good job is to set the mood and I don’t mean candles and soft music.

First thing is to get into some comfortable clothing, preferably what I refer to as my painting clothes. It consists of an old wool sweat shirt, old jogging pants and an old comfortable pair of tennis shoes (basically anything you don’t care about getting paint on). Below I listed some tips and a basic guide for the do-it-yourself painter. I keep it pretty simple so that you don’t feel intimated by the whole process along with a basic tool list needed to perform the task at hand. Don’t worry if you don’t have or can’t get all the tools in the list, these are just basic suggestions to make it easier and you can always improvise where needed.

Next you will need to put on some up beat music, the louder the better! Now your ready to get started.

Basic Painting Equipment Needed:

  1. Brushes; To keep it simple. You’ll need at least two good quality Poly-Nylon blended brushes, one 2″ or 2-1/2″ stiff angle brush for cutting in and one 3″ to 4″ regular flat brush for general painting purposes. For latex paint, use Poly-Nylon blended brushes. For oil-based materials and varnishes use natural china bristle brushes.
  2. Step stool
  3. Drop cloths; Canvas, Plastic tarps, small plastic shopping bags, old sheets or news papers.
  4. 5 in 1; Used to Scrape loose paint, clean rollers etc…
  5. Painters tape; Get a couple of rolls of 3/4 to 1″ and 2″.
  6. Roller frame
  7. Roller covers; When choosing roller covers, the nap or thickness of the cover depends on the surface texture you plan to paint: the more texture, the higher the nap.
  8. Roller tray w/liners
  9. Roller pole
  10. Paint can opener
  11. Screwdriver to remove receptacle covers
  12. Putty knife
  13. Sand paper
  14. Old rags for cleaning up paint
  15. Caulking gun
  16. Razor knife


  • Remove furniture if possible or move it to the center of room and cover with sheets or plastic.
  • If room is carpeted you may want to lay down a strip of wide painters tape along the edge of the wall or under the baseboard to protect the carpet.
  • Lay down drop cloths
  • Remove all receptacle covers and tape the switches with painters tape
  • Use a plastic shopping bags to cover door knobs and tape to prevent from getting painted.
  • Scrape loose paint, sand if necessary and patch any holes or cracks with spackling paste. Caulk around the woodwork, door and window frames and molding with paintable caulking.
  • Make sure the walls are free of dirt, cobwebs and dust. It’s not necessary to wash the walls if clean, but you should wipe them down with a clean towel or rag or spot wash with a damp cloth if needed.


  • Set up a work station where all the paint and tools will be and make sure its out of the way and that the floor is well protected with a plastic backed drop cloth or a drop cloth over plastic.
  • If you are planning on painting the ceiling you should always do this first. When using water based paints it’s always best if you wet your brushes and rollers with water before you start using them, just make sure to get out all the excess water before you start. Brush around the edges and all light fixtures where you plan on starting. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself because you always want to keep working the wet edge of the paint, so keep that in mind. Once you complete that you’re ready to start rolling the ceiling. Only do manageable amounts at a time, like 4×4 sections all the way across the ceiling and then start the process over until completed.
  • Now to start the walls. It is just like doing the the ceilings except you’ll be be starting from the top to the bottom in 4×4 sections. Brush along all the edges and all receptacles where you plan on starting. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself because like the ceiling you always want to keep working the wet edge of the paint. Now you’re ready to start rolling the walls. Start by rolling your roller down into the paint and removing all excess paint by rolling it from the top of the tray till it meets the paint 1 or 2 times. Remember this tip and do not try to run out the roller, after every 4×4 section reload your roller with fresh paint this will make the painting easier and faster.
  • If you need a break you don’t need to wash all the tools just wrap them in a plastic bag and place them in a cool and shaded place and close the paint lid till your ready to start again. Remember do not stop at a middle section of the wall your painting. Stop only at a natural break line, like a corner or door frame.
  • After all the ceilings and walls are completed it’s time to paint the trim. This is considered to be the hardest part by many because you really need to be neat and take your time. But with practice and time you’ll soon get good results. If painters tape helps by all means use it, just make sure the paint is good and dry where you plan on sticking it to or you’ll have problems. Also remember to remove it before it dries usually right after the paint tacks up.


That’s about it, now comes the clean up, wash all your paint tools, brushes and rollers and hang to dry. Mild soap and water for your latex paints and the recommended solvents for you oil based paints and varnishes. Pick up all drop clothes and start putting everything back in it’s place and then its time to relax and enjoy a job well done.

I hope I was able shed a little light on the subject and help you save some money by completing your own home improvement projects. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Claire the Painter

    Great article! Your 16 points on DIY painting are certain to assist at lot of people before the start the job. Can I suggest no. 17?! I use a stain remover to clean my brushes without hours and hours of soaking and to clean paint splatter off my quarter round when I paint walls etc. It is called 1000+ Stain Remover, available in Canada, the U.S., Australia, etc.! It has saved me time, money, clothing (great on laundry stains) and paint brushes! http://www.1000plus.ca – any questions – just ask! Claire

    • Teri

      hello, just wondering why it takes hours and hours of soaking your brushes. I simply rinse in water, wash by hand with dish soap, rinse again and they are back to new again.

  2. Teri

    I’ve heard/read dozens of times about having a wet edge and honestly I have NEVER had to do this. I cut in all around the area, start to finish. Then roll. Could even be hours later. I’ve never had lines or anything. Nor has another painter I worked with. We both chuckled when someone asked about this. Also, cleaning brushes is not complicated as Claire made is seem. I rinse them out in water, apply dish soap and work it in a bit, rinse again and replace in the cardboard they came in. If that is damaged, I lightly tape around the bristles to keep the shape until next use. I NEVER wash out roller covers. I find it much easier and economical, considering the time it takes to wash it out, just to buy new ones at 2$ a piece. And about the trim. I ALWAYS paint trim first and do not worry about getting it on the wall where it meets the trim. I actually overlap it as much as I want because when I go back and paint the wall, I cut in very neatly around the trim, covering where I got the trim paint on the wall. It is much easier cutting down the wall, covering where I overlapped the trim paint, than maneuvering your brush on the tiny edge of the trim, while also cocking your head sideways. I had to re read that part a few times thinking it was a typo. I’m baffled by this. I come highly recommended and my customers are always amazed by my very neat cut in line so I’m not quite sure why this would be done any other way. Just saying..

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