A Pretty Good Interior Painting Process

Alex Niemi
25 min readJul 6, 2023

Every few years I find myself remodeling the interior of a new dump that we’ve just moved into. And, just enough time passes between remodels that I have to think through and carefully plan the paint job before I begin. Given that I’m currently in the process of remodeling our place, I thought that I’d use this as an opportunity to document my interior painting process to be used as a reference (mostly by me) in the future. Keep in mind that every remodel and paint job is different and has special considerations; thus, the process will likely have to be modified accordingly.

Assuming that somebody else reads this, I should state that I am NOT a professional painter. Moreover, the process described below isn’t necessarily meant to achieve perfect results — if perfection is required, then there are better processes. My goal with this specific painting process is to optimize the following metric: quality/time. Basically, I want a good-looking paint job in the shortest amount of time possible. It’s not going to be perfect but it’ll be pretty damn good. I can say honestly that the interior and exterior painting that I’ve done in the past consistently comes out MUCH better than any professional paint job that I’ve seen. This brings me to an important point: ANYBODY can create incredible results painting. But, most people (including professionals) don’t because they’re either: 1. lazy, or 2. trying to get it done fast, get paid, and move on to the next job. A good paint job is ALL about the amount and quality of surface preparation that you do BEFORE ever opening a can of paint. This is where most people fail — the preparation is a huge hassle, takes forever, and is tedious. Most people just want to open a can of paint, grab a brush, and start slathering paint on the walls. Final note: I paint with brushes and rollers (not compressors and air brushes). This is a matter of practicality because we are almost always living in the home while I’m painting, which presents its own set of challenges. The process is outlined below, with the required tools and materials in a code box below each of the main steps.

Skip to the very bottom of this article for the most important tip BEFORE you start on a new painting (or any remodeling) project.

1. Remove Everything

Move all furniture and personal effects from the room(s) that you’ll be painting. Remove all doors (including hinges), lighting fixtures & sconces, appliances, television and speaker mounting brackets, door stoppers, etc. If you’re going to paint the ceiling, remove all duct vents, ceiling lights, fans, etc. Note: stash the doors in a nearby room or storage area; they’ll be batch-processed and painted after the walls are finished.

Remove all electrical wall plates (for switches and outlets). Install duplex covers on all outlets.

TIP: Duplex covers can be made by cutting the ends off a disposable plastic cup (aka keg cup) and then cutting the resultant plastic cylinder in half lengthwise. Each cup makes two duplex covers. Each cover fits neatly over a duplex with the sides inserted into the electrical box.

Locate and remove any/all hardware attached to or embedded in the walls including drywall anchors, screws, nails, hooks, brackets, shelves, etc.

If the floor below the walls that you are painting is carpeted, use a knee-kicker carpeting tool to lift all edges of the carpet that are below baseboard that you will be painting. Roll the carpet edge back underneath itself leaving a two-foot wide channel of carpet-free area between the baseboard and carpet. It’s okay to leave the carpet PAD in place because it doesn’t matter if you drip paint on it. Alternatively, you can roll-up and remove the entire carpet if you’re worried about it getting in the way — e.g. it can be a constant and annoying tripping hazard in a small room. If you do remove the carpet, you MUST remove the padding as well because your shoes will destroy it while you walk on it during the painting process, which means that you’ll have to remove and replace it anyways when you are done. After rolling back or removing the carpeting, use a vacuum and crevice tool to vacuum up all of the junk that has accumulated between the tack plate (on the floor) and the baseboard (or 2x4 footer behind the drywall). This is a crucial step because if you don’t do it, you’ll end up with grit and junk on your brush and in your paint pan the entire time you are painting the baseboard.

Optional: prior to removing electrical wall plates and doors, I like to walk around with a notepad and make a list of material requirements for the following:

  • Number of electrical wall plates by type (e.g. duplex, three-switch, single switch, etc.).
  • Number of switches and duplex outlets (and all other electrical stuff that I’ll be replacing).
  • Number of internal door hinges.
  • Number of external door hinges.
  • Number of door stoppers required.

Creating this list allows me to order these items ahead of time so that when I finish painting, they’re sitting in a box waiting to be installed.

2. Drywall Repair

Flatten puckered plaster and drywall around all holes (using handle of scraper or screwdriver) and use a utility knife to clean up edges of holes if/where paper is protruding.

Use a scraper and/or glass scraper (square razor blade) to remove all flaking paint. Remove any cracked or hardened caulking around baseboard, crown moulding, trim, and elsewhere

If the walls are extremely dusty, use a wet rag to wipe around all of the holes that you’ll be patching.

Patch all holes and defects with joint compound (aka “mud”) or spackling (depending on size of defect). Note: large holes will require a second or third coat because the mud shrinks as it dries.

Sand all patched areas with 220-grit paper and then thoroughly vacuum the dust off of all patches. Note: it’s better to sand patches by hand than using an orbital or palm sander because hand-sanding generates much less dust.

TIP: A good drywall patch job requires sanding — regardless of how good you are with a taping knife and mud. Hold the end of your shopvac hose right next to the area that you’re sanding in order to minimize dust (which is crystalline silica and bad for the respiratory tract). In general, minimizing dust during the entire painting process and maintaining a “clean as you go” approach is critical to producing a good result in the end.

TIP: For any large patches, use a rubber sanding block and 220-grit paper to feather the edges of the patch so that there’s no perceptible edge. This is especially critical if the wall doesn’t have a traditional knock-down texture coat but has a flat skim coat instead.

3. Moulding and Trim Repair

In between successive coats of drywall mud (while you’re waiting for each coat to dry), begin preparing all trim including: window sills, baseboard, door casing & stop moulding, door jambs, etc.

Remove any/all fasteners and hardware (e.g. door stoppers in baseboard).

Use Bondo to patch large defects and Water Putty to repair small defects or fill holes. Scrape and sand any areas that have defects in the paint from prior paint jobs.

If the baseboard or door casing is in very bad shape, it’s often easier to remove and replace it than it is to repair it. This is especially true if defects and multiple layers of old paint necessitate a lot of sanding in order to render the trim paintable.

Whether or not you paint any NEW replacement moulding prior to (or after) installation is a matter of preference and depends on the situation — if you are going to prime everything anyways (including walls and trim), it’s likely easier to install the new trim before painting.

TIP: Home Depot and Lowes keep stockpiles of pre-primed door casing that is 14'-2" in length. After inspecting and finding straight boards, you can cut them in half (7'-1") for easier transport. This rough-cut length (7'-1") leaves just enough material to cut a 45-degree end and trim off the excess for installation as casing on the vertical side jambs of a door.

4. Caulking

4.1 Surface Preparation / Cleaning

Use a shopvac with a stiff brush attachment to thoroughly vacuum all Crown Moulding, door casing & jambs, and baseboard — basically, vacuum the dust and spiderwebs off all of the trim.

It’s a good idea to vacuum the walls (using a wide floor brush attachment) at this time too; otherwise, the dust from the walls will slowly float off and settle on the baseboard that you’ve already cleaned.

After you’ve vacuumed all of the trim, scrub it with Simple Green and cotton rags. Pay special attention to all of the inside corners between walls and trim because this needs to be clean in order to get good adhesion with the caulk. NOTE: I’m assuming that the existing caulking isn’t in such bad shape (or has tons of separation between it and the wall or trim) that it has to be removed. Oftentimes, it DOES have to be removed. Depending on what material was used (to caulk it the last time), removing it may be very easy or it may be a nightmare that lasts for days or weeks — I’ve dealt with both.

In this cleaning step, we could JUST clean the crevices and NOT clean the surface and grooves of the baseboard and trim because we’re only preparing for caulking (i.e. we’re not quite ready to paint yet). BUT, given that we don’t want to clean the same thing twice, it’s much more efficient to go ahead and clean it all now.

TIP: A small plastic bristle brush works well for scrubbing the joint between the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the wall. Keep a rinse bucket handy with a couple of gallons of water in it. 1. Spray a 4' length of baseboard with Simple Green, 2. scrub it with the brush, 3. wipe it clean with a cotton rag, 4. rinse your brush. Do this working your way along the baseboard.

4.2 Caulk Everything

It’s CRUCIAL that you caulk the top of the baseboard because this will be the most visible paint line (between wall and trim colors) in the room. It is almost impossible to get a good clean line unless you have a smooth even surface to tape-off (or freehand if you’re good enough, which I’m not). The old caulk has almost certainly dried, hardened, shrunk, and cracked; therefore, you must re-caulk the baseboard.

Generally, it’s a good idea to re-caulk everywhere that trim meets the wall — around door casing, baseboard (of course), wainscoting, window sills, crown moulding, etc. Even if the joints haven’t separated yet, the caulking gets brittle and less flexible as it ages. So, it’s much better to apply a fresh coat now — it sucks to paint a room and then see cracks form a few months later.

Also caulk around the inside perimeter of all window frame (steel or aluminum). Often, contractors simply run drywall and then texture coat up to the window frame, and then the painter paints it. Unfortunately, nobody is on the hook to caulk between the window frame and the wall so it doesn’t get done. Thus, do it now.

TIP: If there isn’t any evidence of joint separation due to the home or foundation shifting, use Alex Plus (white) caulk — it’s cheap and works well. If there IS evidence of joint separation, use Extreme Flex or Alex Flex (both white). Extreme Flex costs a lot more but it is an extremely flexible elastomer that feels and stretches like rubber after it has cured. Don’t use Alex Flex (or Plus) around window frames or sills; instead use DynaFlex 230 or Extreme Flex. Note: all of the aforementioned caulk products are made by DAP. They all have very similar and consistent properties coming out of the tube and are easily applied and tooled.

5. Taping

One of our goals is to minimize the amount of taping that we do. However, some things need to be taped off because they are hard to free-hand paint around OR it’s just quicker to tape them off in advance, which makes it much less tedious when using a brush; wood cabinetry in a kitchen is a good example of this. So, tape off anything that fits this description.

If there is carpeting below where you’re painting, then you’ve already rolled it back (in Step 1) and you don’t need to tape anything on the floor.

If the flooring below is hardwood or tile, then you need to tape it off in order to avoid drips, runs, and brush marks on it that will occur when you’re painting the baseboard. Ideally, there’s a small (1/8") gap between the baseboard (and/or door casings) and the floor. Often, this isn’t the case. So, do your best to work the tape underneath the baseboard if there is a gap or right up to it if there isn’t a gap. Mask everything on the floor that you don’t want to get paint on.

Mask off the window pane frames — only the actual window portion — but do not mask the window frames that extend out from the drywall (that you caulked) because these should be primed and ultimately painted the same as the wall color. Do the same with window panes in exterior doors.

If there is crown moulding and the ceiling is NOT popcorn textured, then mask off the ceiling above the top of the moulding. Otherwise, getting a straight line with a brush will be tedious and you have to do it twice — priming and painting.

TIP: Use Scotch Sharp Lines (blue) masking tape anywhere that a sharp line is NOT required; i.e. places where you’re just trying to protect a surface from incidental brush marks (like kitchen cabinets) but don’t need a clean paint line. Use yellow Frog tape anywhere that a sharp line IS required and on any sensitive surfaces. Note: if you have SLATE tile flooring, use yellow Frog tape and nothing else because regular blue masking tape will shear off the surface layer of the slate. It’s also helpful to add a perimeter of 6" or 12" brown masking paper in addition to the tape on the floor because then you don’t have to drag around a drop cloth.

6. Priming

Should you prime? Is it really necessary? In almost all cases, the answer is YES. On some of my earliest paint jobs, I didn’t understand the importance of priming before painting and skipped doing it whenever possible — it was an ignorant mistake. A lot of paint brands state that they are a “Paint & Primer.” This really is not the case, so don’t be fooled by it.

The only case in which you might not need to prime is when the following conditions are met: 1. the existing paint is white, 2. there are very few large drywall patches (i.e. unprimed joint compound / spackling), 3. you are repainting with a darker color than the existing white paint, and 4. the existing paint isn’t super greasy or dirty so that it can be adequately cleaned (and/or sanded and then cleaned) in order to provide a high-quality surface for adhesion.

Don’t think of primer as paint or painting because it’s not. Think of it as the application of an adhesion layer between the existing/old paint and the new paint that you’ll be applying. Here are some reasons for priming: 1. it provides a consistent canvas underneath the color coat so that you achieve uniformity in color, 2. it reduces the amount of surface preparation — I have found that sanding walls isn’t necessary if you prime before painting — you just need to clean them well, 3. it reduces the number of top (color) coats that you need because you usually achieve color uniformity (on your top coat) with the first application. Finally, if you don’t prime, you will absolutely need two or more top/color coats. Primer can be purchased in two-gallon buckets for $30, which equates to $15/gallon, whereas top-coat costs at least $35/gallon. Therefore, it’s cheaper to prime and then paint rather than painting 2–3 top-coats.

TIP: Use Kilz or Bullseye white primer. Kilz seems to be cheaper and works just as well so use it if it’s available. It’s cheaper to buy a two or five gallon bucket (depending on size of project) than single gallons.

6.1 Prime All Trim

A large brush (3" or 4") works well for crown molding. Use a small 4" roller with 3/8" nap for baseboard, door casing, door jambs, window sills, and the inside-facing surface of all exterior doors. It seems to work well to start at the top with the crown moulding (if it exists) and then do the baseboard, and then do everything in between.

After the areas painted with the small roller dry, use a 2" angled sash brush to fill-in all of the spots that you missed with the roller. While you’re doing this — or while you’re waiting for the rolled areas to dry — use your brush to cut-in (with primer) any inside wall corners or other wall areas that you won’t be able reach with a 9" roller (around cabinets, narrow strips of wall, etc.). You can also use your 4" roller for this on areas that are too large for efficient brush-painting but too small for a 9" roller — a good example is the wall area between the top of door casings and the ceiling — another example is narrow strips of wall between two adjacent doorways in a hallway. It’s often much faster to tackle these areas with a small roller than a brush. So, keep your roller wet and available because it will save you some time.

IMPORTANT: Overpaint onto the wall by at least two inches around all trim — pretend like you are cutting-in the wall around the trim. Do this because you’ll also be priming the walls.

TIP: Be careful when priming trip over defects that were repaired using Durham’s Water Putty because it dissolves and flakes off in sheets when the primer touches it. Thus, you need to go over it quickly and only once in order to avoid creating a disappointing mess.

TIP: It seems logical that a thicker-nap roller, like 1/2", would work better for priming trim when using the small roller. IT DOESN’T! Use a 3/8" nap roller.

6.2 Prime Walls

If you didn’t vacuum the walls earlier (Step 4.1) like you should have, then do it now, or do it again if they’ve accumulated more dust.

Clean the walls. Use a Swiffer (floor cleaning wand) with the end wrapped in a cotton rag. Spray the rag frequently with ample amounts of Simple Green and scrub all of the walls’ surface area with it. Change the rag frequently as it gets dirty.

After you’ve Swiffered all of the walls, hand scrub any stains, greasy/oily spots, deposits, and gunk, with a clean rags and more Simple Green. Pay special attention to the areas around light switches because the oil and dirt from people’s hands tends to accumulate around them. Also, these areas get touched and handled more than anywhere else so you need to make sure that they’re super clean so that you achieve excellent paint adhesion.

Once the walls are clean and dry, you can start priming them. You do NOT need to start by cutting-in all corners (and other traditional areas) with a brush because we overpainted the baseboard and trim when we were priming it.

Instead, simply get started rolling the walls using a standard 9" roller with a 3/8" woven nap. It’s okay to use cheap(er) rollers for priming walls because you don’t care much about the finish at this step. It’s okay if the coat is light — you’ll likely see the original paint color through the primer — because this is just an adhesion layer. Note: you don’t necessarily need perfection here — especially if you’re painting over a light-color original paint. Just shoot for at least 90% coverage on all of the major wall areas. Do the best that you can to reach inside wall corners with the roller and don’t worry about areas that you can’t reach.

7. Paint Trim

This is the first step in which we’re using actual (top coat) paint. So, it’s appropriate to discuss paint sheens at this point. I like to keep it simple so I always use the following:

  • Ceilings: Flat
  • Walls: Eggshell
  • Trim/Moulding: Satin
  • Doors: Satin*

In general, paint doors the same color and sheen as the surrounding trim. E.g. If I’m painting the walls gray (eggshell) and the trim white (satin), then I use the same paint on the doors that I used on the trim. It looks better than painting the doors with the wall color and is easier to do.

You can’t use a roller when painting moulding with a topcoat. We did use a roller for the primer but that’s because it contracts significantly as it evaporates and dries; it’s designed to do this so that it doesn’t leave a texture. You MUST use brushes when painting moulding with a topcoat.

Always use the biggest brush that you possibly can because it saves tons of time and gives a better coat. Always use high-quality (expensive) brushes because they are worth every penny. Cheap brushes do a shit job and leave streaks in the paint because they’re too firm and the bristles are too large.

7.1 First Coat — Crown Moulding

Fill your paint cup to just below the lowest ledge/step in it and mix in some Floetrol.

Start at the top with the crown moulding (if it exists). Use a 3" flat (not angled sash brush). Start in a corner and work your way from left to right. Go fast, don’t worry about missing spots or getting into the corners, just cover the main faces of the moulding with paint. It doesn’t have to be a thick coat (you’ll do a second coat).

Ensure that you completely paint the caulking below the moulding and overpaint by an inch or so onto the wall below it.

Once the first coat dries, use a smaller brush (2" angled sash) to fill-in all of the areas that you missed with the larger brush. Usually, by the time you get to the end of the moulding with the large brush, it’ll already be dry where you started painting and you can touch-up those areas (once again working left to right) immediately.

7.2 Second Coat — Crown Moulding

Given that ONLY the crown moulding is the only trim that is taped, it makes sense to complete the crown moulding before moving onto anything else… so that you can remove the tape (from the ceiling) before the paint fully hardens. If you’re waiting for the crown moulding to dry, then start painting the baseboard and/or door jambs & casing. Otherwise…

Repeat Step 7.1 for the crown moulding — lay down a good second coat and make sure not to get any runs or drips. It doesn’t need to be super thick because you’re applying two coats (three including primer) — just shoot for uniformity of color/thickness and lack of visible brush strokes.

IMPORTANT: Before the paint dries fully and hardens, remove the tape from the ceiling. It’s good practice to not let Steps 7.1 and 7.2 take more than 24 hours before removing the tape; otherwise, it’s a pain in the ass to get it off (even if you’re using Yellow Frog tape, which you should be).

7.3 Baseboard, Jambs, Casing, Etc.

Repeat Steps 7.1 for the baseboard. Once again, use a 3" flat brush to start and fill-in with a 2" angled sash brush. Do the same for all door jambs, casing, and any other trim. Make sure that you overpaint all caulking on inside corners (joining the wall and trim) and at least an inch onto the walls. Note: the baseboard doesn’t require taping (unless hardwood or tile flooring below it) and neither does the rest of the trim.

Once the paint dries, determine whether or not you need a second coat (on baseboard, jambs, casing). Whereas the crown moulding should ALWAYS get a second coat (due to its high visibility); the rest of the trim is discretionary. If it does need a second coat, repeat Step 7.1.

Allow all trim to dry for at least 24 hours (preferably 48) before taping it in the next step.

TIP: My favorite combination of colors using Behr paint is the following: “Platinum” (eggshell) for the walls, “Polar Bear” (satin) for the trim and doors. To accentuate specific features, I use “Flint Gray” (satin). Currently, I use this color only on window sills and the trim immediately below them. “Platinum” is a light gray color; “Polar Bear” is a bright white that pairs very well with Platinum; and “Flint Gray” is a dark gray color that looks very cool as an accent color when used sparingly. For ceilings, “White №52” (flat) works very well; it’s a much more muted and softer white tone than “Polar Bear.” For accent walls, my wife found a nice teal color called “Ocean Abyss,” which we’ve used in a couple places, including all walls in our guest bathroom. It’s a beautiful deep color that skews much more towards green (rather than blue) as far as a teal color goes. Another cool teal color that I’ve used for exterior painting projects — and will eventually use for all of our exterior doors, eaves, and fascia — is called “Thermal.” It’s similar in color to “Ocean Abyss” but it has a much darker hue and tends to absorb a lot of light, which is why we chose “Ocean Abyss” over it for interior projects. Another good combination that I’ve used in the past (also using Behr paint/colors) is the following: “Spun Wool” (eggshell) for the walls, “Ultra Pure White” (un-tinted white paint in satin sheen) for the trim, “Little Black Dress” (satin) for doors, and a custom medium-gray color with bluish undertones (satin) to accentuate window sills and wainscoting.

TIP: If using acrylic/latex paint for the trim, pour a small amount of Floetrol Flood into your paint cup every time you refill it. Mix it well with a stir stick. You can fell the viscosity of the paint change as you mix it in. Use Floetrol anywhere that you’re brush-painting a smooth surface (i.e. moulding). It reduces visible brush strokes remarkably, increases the open time of the paint, and provides a much better result overall.

8. Paint Walls

8.1 Tape All Moulding

If the room(s) that you’re painting aren’t super visible (e.g. bedrooms) or have low light, or you’re really good at free-handing with a brush, then by all means, skip the taping. If it’s a living room, well lit, or has crown moulding, then it’s a good idea to tape. It’s much less tedious than standing on a step stool or laying on the ground for hours trying to get straight lines.

Tape the bottom of the crown moulding, the top of the baseboard, and all door casing (except for the tops).

TIP: Use two 3/8" screws to fasten a square razor blade to a 1" thick piece of deckboard. The razor blade should hang off the edge of the board at an angle with its maximum overhang being approximately 1/4". Lay the assembly down flat on a workbench next to a roll of Yellow Frog tape and rotate the razor assembly around the tape to cut it in half. You get twice as much tape out of a single roll by doing this.

8.2 Cut-In Walls

You can use a cheaper brush for this. I like using a thick 2.5" angled sash brush to get all of the major areas including: below crown moulding, above baseboard, around door casing, and next to any other taped areas. Once it dries, you can fill-in with a smaller 2" angled sash brush on any areas that you couldn’t reach (or missed) with the fat brush.

An alternative to the above that works quite well is to use an edging tool — one of the small blue plastic handle devices that has disposable whiskered foam pads on it. These little tools save a lot of time but they don’t reach everywhere so you’ll still have to do some filling with your 2" brush. IMPORTANT: If you use an edger, you MUST tape the moulding first. They absolutely will NOT give you clean lines unless you tape!

Once finished with the cut-ins, fill a standard 11" roller pan with paint, and then use a small 4" roller (with 3/8" nap) to roll any areas that are narrower than 9" and thus can’t be rolled with a standard sized roller. If you’ve taped the moulding beforehand, then you can usually roll right up to the tape, which has almost the same affect as doing a second coat of cut-ins with a brush (or edger tool).

8.3 Roll Walls

For convenience, you can use the same pan/paint used in the last paragraph above (if you used the small 4" roller in narrow wall areas). Use a standard 9" roller with a microfiber or woven 3/8" high-quality nap. It’s imperative to use a high-quality roller at this point. Wooster Pro is a good product line; most others are currently shit, especially anything found at Home Depot that isn’t brand-name or is branded by Home Depot themselves. Use a 4' extension pole if needed or a step stool if preferred. Once again, work from top to bottom, left to right, use a “W” pattern, back-roll every time you start a new vertical column, and keep your vertical columns narrow enough (left to right) that the first “W” (at top of the wall) is still wet/open when you get to the next column. Three squares vertically (top, middle, bottom) and two squares horizontally work well, with each square starting with a “W” pattern roll from a nearly saturated roller.

8.4 Roll Walls (Again)

Make sure its dry and then repeat step 8.3. Additionally, use the small 4" roller to apply a second coat to any/all narrow areas that you originally rolled with the small roller.

8.5 Remove Tape

Try to get Steps 8.2 to 8.4 done in a single day (or two days at most) and then peel the tape off immediately afterward. If you let it sit or take longer than two days to get the job done, it’ll be a nightmare to remove.

9. Put Humpty Dumpty Back Together

9.1 Doors

While the room is still empty, you can spread a large dropcloth or tarp on the floor, and use that area to paint the doors. Remove the hinges, handles, and any other hardware. Repair defects/holes, clean, prime, and paint the doors. NOTE: Painting a batch of doors usually takes 2–3 weeks.

TIP: Always process (clean and paint) doors OFF while they are laying horizontally on saw horses. This precludes runs/drips in the paint. You have to rotate them every time you clean and paint. There’s no need to paint the top and bottom edges; just paint the front, back, and exposed/seen sides. I like to batch process anywhere from 3 to 6 doors (as many as I can handle or have sawhorses for) at a time.

9.2 Electrical

Replace all of the old/ugly outlets and switches (if desired)… they’re usually yellow/ivory colored and look terrible with a new paint job so it makes a lot of sense to replace them now while you already have the wall plates off. Once complete, install new wall plates. You can do a lot of this in between applying coats of primer and paint to the front and back of the doors (while you’re waiting for the coats to dry).

9.3 Reinstall Fixtures

Reinstall any desired fixtures — though I prefer to minimize the number of things reinstalled in order to not drill holes in freshly painted walls. Reinstall [new] vents in the ceiling (if you removed them). If the old ones are rusty or discolored, replace them with new ones. This is easier than spray-painting the old ones, which is possible but takes forever. New vents aren’t that expensive anyways. Reinstall new blinds (if desired).

9.4 Reinstall Appliances

Do any necessary plumbing repairs at this time; e.g. replacement of fridge water lines, supply lines for faucets or toilet, etc. Once complete, reinstall all appliances.

9.5 Cabinet Moulding

Replace or reinstall any cabinet moulding/trim that you removed prior to painting.

9.6 Reinstall Doors

Once you’re done painting the doors, reinstall them with NEW hinges. Put the old knobs back on them or install new door knobs if the old ones are in bad shape or don’t match the new interior design/colors.

IMPORTANT: Make sure to install new door stoppers. I like to use the rubber disks that you peel & stick on the wall. Use the low-profile thin/small ones for interior (and light-weight) doors; these ones can be painted (after installation) with the wall-color so that they don’t stand out. Use the larger deformable rubber wall stoppers (also peel & stick) for exterior/heavy doors; note: these ones can’t be painted because the paint will crack off when they deform.

Most Important Tip

Do NOT, under any circumstances, start a new interior remodeling project (including painting) while you are living in the home. I’ve done this far too many times — mostly due to circumstances (i.e. being poor) — and I will NEVER do it again.

You may think that you can do one or two rooms or sections of the home at a time and work your way through it. Yes, you can, but it’s a fucking nightmare. Here are a few reasons why (in case you forget):

  1. You have to constantly relocate your belongings and furniture from room to room.
  2. Personal stuff always clutters the area and gets in your way.
  3. It’s massively inefficient to NOT batch process things; e.g. NOT being able to do all of the drywall, texture coating “ “, sanding, cleaning, priming, etc. at the same time. If you have to get out the tools, waste consumables, and go through the same process repeatedly for each room, it takes you forever and you use a lot more material in the process.
  4. You can’t keep anything clean and so you have to clean everything daily or multiple times throughout the process. If you clean baseboard today, you better get the primer on it today as well; otherwise, you’ll find dog fur, dust, spiders, ants, gecko shit, etc. on it tomorrow morning when you’re ready to paint. Anything that goes more than a few hours since being cleaned, has to be re-cleaned before proceeding.
  5. It’s impossible to do a good job painting the jambs and casing of exterior doors without removing all of the weatherstripping and having the door open for a considerable amount of time during multiple steps in the process. Ideally (empty home), you can remove all of the doors, seal the entrance, and work on it at your leisure. If it’s 110 degrees outside and your wife is working from home, you can’t remove the weatherstripping. You also can’t leave the door open for even a few minutes at a time. The A/C can barely keep the house at a comfortable temperature on hot days even when all of the doors and windows are sealed tightly. Moreover, if you open a door for more than a second to go through it, a cloud of mosquitos, flies, and usually a wasp (or two) will immediately enter the house. Yes, it’s much easier in winter… but for some reason, I always find myself doing this shit in the middle of the summer.
  6. Fur. It deserves it’s own bullet point. It is impossible to do a good paint job if your workspace is covered in dog fur. Dogs shed constantly. They have blowouts twice a year. They shed at a ridiculous rate during the summer when we’re being attacked by fleas. There will always be tons of fur when you’re living with two dogs in the house. The light stuff floats around and lands on wet paint as well as in your paint cup and roller pan. The heavier fur, aggregates into tumbleweed-like tufts that drift across the floor and get pushed towards the margins (i.e. baseboard and walls) by fans and the A/C. It attaches itself to your canvas dropcloths and can’t be shaken off — they have to laundered. It sticks to everything plastic via static cling. Basically, there’s no good way to control it. Thus, every day starts out with a repeat vacuuming of the entire floor and areas that you’ll be working on. Whilst vacuuming, the vacuum exhaust blows all the fur that you haven’t yet picked up into the air to be deposited on random surfaces (that you just cleaned) and against the walls in the areas that you just finished vacuuming. It’s lose-lose, extremely frustrating, and there’s no good solution for it.

Guiding [Efficiency] Principles

  1. DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself): Use a clever order of operations such that you don’t have to CLEAN the same surface more than once.
  2. Minimize taping. It’s laborious, time consuming, and oftentimes doesn’t produce the best result. Once again, use sequencing and paint the trim and walls in a clever order so that you minimize or eliminate taping.
  3. Wherever possible, keep the existing trim, door jambs, casing, etc. Modify and repair them in place — the only exception is doors, which MUST be removed in order to efficiently paint the door jambs. Every time you start tearing things apart and fabricating, you find a bunch of other things wrong; it consumes tons of time.

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Alex Niemi

I'd write more if I didn't spend all of my time coding.