Paint Guide: 10 Essentials for Successful House Painting

Start here if you don't know where to begin on your next housing painting project.

  1. Invest in Your Paint Brush

    Paint tips brush

    Though it may be tempting to go with a cheap paint brush for your next project, resist. The best brushes have considerable price tags, but they also have very long lives and are some of the smartest investments you can make when giving your walls or furniture a new coat of color.

  2. Acknowledge the Rules in the Non-Rules

    Paint tips scheme

    As you probably know, there are no absolute rules about paint color selection. However, there are guidelines—sort of rules within the non-rules—you should be aware of. When choosing, remember these color schemes: monochromatic, adjacent, complementary, and triadic. For more on each, see our tips for choosing a paint color

  3. Know Your Scrapers

    Paint tips scraper

    Paint scrapers are handy, and different ones do different things. Make sure you know which type you'll need for your project. For more on types of scrapers, and how to use them, see our guide to choosing a paint scraper

  4. Weatherproof with Paint

    Paint tips better

    You should expect a lot from your exterior paint. A good exterior paint product keeps severe weather out, but is breathable enough to let moisture vapor escape. For more tips, see our how-to on weatherproofing with paint.

  5. Avoid VOCs

    Paint tips voc

    Exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are found in paint, has been linked with eye and breathing problems, headaches, nausea, dizziness and cancer. Look for low- or no-VOC paints. Click for more information on safe painting practices.

  6. Prep Profusely

    Paint tips prep

    The more you ready your paint area, the less clean-up work you'll do later. Be sure to clear the room, cover furniture and floors, and clean the surfaces to be painted. And take advantage of painter's tape—use it where woodwork meets the walls, and consider packaging windows and doors to minimize the need for spill clean-up.

  7. Spray Appropriately

    Paint tips spray

    Airless paint sprayers are marvelous tools, but make sure using one is the right choice for your project. Consider the size of the job, your schedule, and the type of paint you are using. Click for more information on choosing a paint sprayer.

  8. Paint Around the Sun

    Paint tips bubbles

    Temperature blisters—or paint bubbles—form when a quick rise in temperature occurs, or when sunlight shines directly on a surface. To prevent bubbles, establish a paint order that follows the sun around the project, so you avoid direct sunlight while the paint dries. Read our how-to for more on avoiding bubbles and other painting problems.

  9. Do Luxury on the Cheap

    Paint tips marble

    With the right paint supplies, you can give your floors, furniture, doors and trim an expensive, luxurious look with faux grain and marble finishes. The best part: not only is it inexpensive, but the process is simple. For more on how to pull off these looks, read our article on grain painting brushes

  10. Don't Slack on Cleaning

    Color tips clean

    Of course, cleaning up after yourself is important, especially after a paint project. Cleaning your brushes correctly is especially important, since the better you care for them, the longer they'll last.

  11. See the House of the Week


    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!