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DIY Interior Painting Tips

Updated April 4, 2022 . AmFam Team

Take a look at these DIY painting tips for your home. Save money, learn professional painter pro tips and get educated about painting your home with American Family Insurance.

Odds are, you’ve painted some walls at one time or another — but do you know how to do it like the pros? You may be thinking that a quick coat of paint could really brighten up the place, and you’re probably right. But it may also be time for a refresher on DIY interior painting — and that’s where we come in! Take a look at these go-to tips to get your home painted the right way, the first time.

Pro Tips for DIY Interior Painting

Can you paint your house on your own? You may be surprised that there’s a lot to learn. If you’ve ever watched professional painters, you’ll find they work in a specific order. They’ll usually cut in — or hand paint the perimeter of a wall first — before rolling paint onto the wall. They work on one task until it’s completed — and that helps them work efficiently. Here are a few painting pro tips to help you get the job done:

  • Estimate your square footage by multiplying the length times the width of each wall and ceiling – then add those numbers up for a total
  • Use an online paint calculator or call a local paint store to get estimates on primer and finish color and related materials
  • Use plastic wrap to seal opened paint cans tightly between coats
  • Select your primer and make sure it’s compatible with the surface you’ll be painting
  • Test the wall color with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol — after rubbing the cotton ball, if you find paint, it’s latex paint — when it’s not, you’ve got oil-based paint which may require a different primer
  • Thoroughly mix your paint before painting
  • Add texture to match existing finish if necessary
  • Start with the ceiling so that if any drips occur on the walls, you can clean them up and paint over them
  • Use the roller carefully and keep overlapping to a minimum to prevent streaking
  • Use plastic wrap to reserve brushes and rollers — don’t rinse and wash them — store these items in plastic bags and refrigerate when storing overnight
  • Buy new, low-tack painter’s tape to prevent tape from pulling up old paint upon removal
  • Always protect floors, carpets and furniture with drop cloths

How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Home on Your Own?

The average cost for painting a 12 foot by 12 foot room is around $200, or about $0.50 per square foot. And DIY’ers can really save some money by painting on their own. But the costs can escalate depending on the amount of work to be done.

What Factors Impact Painting Costs?

That answer really depends on several factors. Whether you’re painting on your own, or you decide to go with the pros, you’ll find pricing can increase with the scope of the project. Here are some variables that can impact the total cost or amount of cost (labor and materials) you’ll need to invest in your painting project:

The condition of the paintable surfaces. If the walls are cracked and need repairs, that can boost the time it takes or your bottom line.

The removal of wallpaper. When wallpaper’s slated to be removed, labor times and materials fees can climb.

Painting doors and windows. Because tasks like these are more labor intensive, you’ll find they require more time, and you can expect rates to be higher.

Including walls and ceilings. When the square footage number increases, so does the time and related costs.

Paint quality. Higher quality paint will likely be more costly, but it can last longer. You may save money up-front, but could find your home needing another paint job sooner.

Paint finish. The type of paint you select — matte finish, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or high gloss — can all play a factor in the final cost of the project. Note that paint dries at different speeds, and the time required to finish a job can be impacted by its finish and the relative humidity in your home.

Primer. If you’re going to be painting over walls that have been repaired, you’ll need primer.

Regional pricing. Paint prices vary depending on your location. Areas with a high cost of living will typically list paint at higher prices.

Number of paint colors. If you’re planning on painting each room a different color, you’ll likely waste more paint and that can drive up your costs.

Project materials. From drop cloths to rollers to brushes, you’ll need to factor in the cost for supplies to get the job done.

How Do I Estimate How Much Paint I’ll Need?

Paint estimation is based on the number of square feet you need to cover, per coat of paint. Start by figuring out the area for each wall you’ll paint. Suppose you’ll be painting a ceiling that’s 20 feet by 14 feet:

  • Multiply the length times the width: 20 x 14 = 280 square feet
  • Divide the number of square feet by 350 (or the number of square feet that a gallon of your paint will cover)
  • 280 ÷ 350 = .8
  • So, you’ll need about 80% of a gallon for one coat of paint for that 20 x 14 foot ceiling

Just like that, you’ll be painting like the pros! Getting your home painted can be a lot to take on, but with careful planning and a keen eye on your budget, you can make it happen. While you’re deciding on room colors and finishes, remember to make time to check in with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab).

Our agents are experts at crafting a policy that fits the exact needs of your home. And you’ll find real peace of mind with easy-to-understand coverage that can protect your family and everything you’ve worked so hard for.

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