Interior Painting 101

The complete guide on how to paint like a professional
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Whether you're a novice painter looking to spruce up your home or a professional seeking to brush up your skills, you've come to the right place. At Horner Painting, we've painted our fair share of homes, both inside and out! We’ll break down the basics of interior painting, from selecting the right colors and types of paint, to the correct way to prep your space and apply your chosen shades. Our goal is to provide you with the essential skills and knowledge you need to transform your living spaces with confidence and creativity.

Professional vs. DIY Interior Painting

When it's time to add a new splash of color to your interior space, you are faced with a decision: Do you grab a paintbrush and take on the task yourself, or do you hire a professional to do the job? Both options have their advantages, and it ultimately depends on your budget, the complexity of the project, and your level of experience or comfort with painting.

Advantages of Hiring a Painter

Hiring a professional painter can offer many advantages. They bring years of experience and professional-grade equipment, which can ensure a clean, smooth, and consistent finish. Professionals also handle everything from moving and covering furniture, preparing the surface, painting, cleaning, and even dealing with hazardous lead paint. Another advantage is speed and efficiency; what might take you a week or more, a team of professional painters may be able to handle in a day or two. However, this convenience and expertise come at a higher cost.
When making your decision, weigh your options based on the size and complexity of the job, your budget, your comfort with painting, and the amount of time you can commit to the project. Whether you choose to DIY or hire a professional, updating your interior paint can rejuvenate your space and increase your home's value.
Looking for a 5-star rated painter in Fort Collins who can help you with interior painting? Contact Horner Painting for a professional-looking finish every time!
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Advantages of Do-It-Yourself Painting

Painting can be a fun and rewarding DIY project if you're up to the task. It allows you to have complete control over every detail including the timeline, color choices, and finishes. DIY painting is also cheaper than hiring a professional, however, the tradeoff is usually quality. That's because in order to achieve that crisp, clean finish, you have to have years of experience and professional training. Lack of proper technique can lead to visible brush strokes, drips, and inconsistency in sheen or color. 

Although doing your own painting can be a challenge,  with the right preparation, patience, and a willingness to learn, you can achieve great results. It also helps to have a little guidance from the pros! Keep reading for some useful tips and tricks from the interior painting professionals at Horner Painting.  

Choosing the Right Paint

Perfectly painted walls not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home but they also act as the backdrop to your furniture, decor, and personal style. The right paint type for your particular project will depend on the material being painted, the expected wear and tear, and your desired finish.

Paint Types

When it comes to interior house painting, there are primarily two types of paints to choose from: water-based and oil-based paints.

Water-Based Paints

The most commonly used types for home interiors, water-based paints, are durable, dry quickly, and are easy to clean. They also emit less odor and are more environmentally friendly as compared to oil-based paints. These paints are ideal for most surfaces, including walls, ceilings, and furniture.

Oil-Based Paints

Known for their high durability and rich finish, oil-based paints are excellent for use on trim, doors, and in damp areas such as bathrooms. They take longer to dry than water-based paints, but they provide a smooth, level finish that's generally unrivaled by other paint types.

Paint Finishes

The finish of your paint is just as important as its color and type. The right paint finish contributes to the longevity of your paint job and affects how the paint color is perceived under different light conditions.  Here are some of the most common paint finishes.


This finish is most popular for walls and ceilings. Matte paint has no shine and can hide small wall imperfections - but note that it’s less stain-resistant.


These finishes have a subtle sheen, are easy to clean, and are ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways and children's rooms.


These high-shine finishes are durable, easy to clean, and resist moisture. They are typically used on trim, doors, and bathrooms.

Choosing a Color

Color selection can feel overwhelming with endless options available. Start by considering the mood or atmosphere you want to create in the space. If you want to create a calm, peaceful ambiance, opt for cool colors like blues and greens. For a warm and welcoming vibe, go for shades of red, orange, or yellow. Neutral colors such as white, grey, or beige are flexible options that easily match with various decor styles. Use color swatches or try a paint visualizer tool to see how a color will look in the overall room before making your final decision.

If you choose to work with a professional painter, don’t hesitate to reach out for their help and guidance in choosing colors. At Horner Painting in Fort Collins, Colorado, we provide free color consultations that involve reviewing color swatches and even applying paint samples so you can see what a particular color will look like in your home.

Painting Prep

Properly preparing your home’s interior for painting is arguably as important as the actual painting itself. A well-primed canvas lays the foundation for a fantastic artwork; similarly, a well-prepared wall surface can make a considerable difference to the final results of your interior house painting.

When taking on an interior house painting project, you'll need more than just a can of paint and a brush. The right painting supplies can make the task easier, quicker, and result in a more professional-looking outcome. Here is a list of painting essentials you'll need. 
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint Rollers
  • Spackle
  • Scraper
  • Sanding Paper
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Drop Cloths
  • Ladder
  • Paint Can Opener
  • Stir Sticks
  • Paint Tray
  • Safety Glasses

Paint Brushes

Brushes come in various sizes and types, each designed for specific areas and finishes. Choose a smaller, angled brush for detailed work like cutting in around trim and larger brushes for wide surface areas. Brushes are made of either natural or synthetic materials. Choose brushes with natural bristles for oil-based paints and brushes with synthetic bristles for water-based latex paints.

Paint Rollers

For fast, even painting, make sure to choose the right paint roller. First, although tollers can be made out of natural or synthetic materials, synthetic is the better choice for most interior painting projects. Among the options available for synthetic rollers, consider knit rollers for flat and eggshell finishes and woven rollers for satin and semi-gloss. It’s also essential to get the correct nap length. In general, the shinier the paint and smoother the surface, the shorter the nap length should be.

A crucial part of the painting preparation process includes fixing cracks, scuffs, and holes in the walls because they compromise both the aesthetics and longevity of your paint job. Deep cracks and holes need to be scraped out and filled with patching compound. Once the compound has dried, it should be sanded down so that it is flush with the wall surface. By devoting time to these repairs, you ensure a smooth canvas for the paint to adhere to that will enhance its durability and appearance.

It's essential to clear the room of furniture or, at the very least, move it to the room’s center away from the walls. This precaution helps prevent paint from accidentally staining your furniture. Also, cover the floors and any remaining furniture with drop cloths, plastic, or old sheets. This protective measure is imperative to safeguard your flooring and furnishings against drips or spills of paint. Granting yourself the freedom to work without the fear of causing stains can make the painting process much smoother.

Next, you’ll want to remove any hardware attached to the walls. Light switches, outlet covers, and vent covers are just a few examples. This step ensures you won't accidentally paint over them, resulting in a messy and unprofessional look. Use screwdrivers to loosen and remove these items, then tape over the openings for safety. Be sure to store the removed hardware in a safe place so they can be easily found when it's time to put them back.

The final step in preparing for interior house painting is applying painter's tape. Painter's tape provides clean lines and prevents the paint from bleeding onto your trim, ceiling, or other areas that will remain unpainted. Carefully apply the tape along the edges of the area you intend to paint, ensuring it is straight and firmly pressed down to avoid any seepage. Make sure the edges of the tape align with the edges of the trim to achieve that professional, crisp finish.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Paint

Perfectly painted walls not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home but they also act as the backdrop to your furniture, decor, and personal style. 

Choosing the Right Time to Paint

Choosing the right time to paint is a critical aspect of the paint preparation process as the timing can influence the quality and efficiency of your painting job.

Clear Your Calendar

Before embarking on this home improvement project, consider a period when you're not rushed. Painting is a task that demands patience. It requires an ample amount of time for application, drying, and touch-ups. Therefore, allocate sufficient time towards it to avoid compromising on quality.

Avoid Temperature Extremes

Temperature and humidity have significant effect on how paint dries. Mild temperatures and low humidity allow for faster drying and prevents undesirable paint reactions. Extreme heat can lead to the paint drying too fast and creating lap marks, while cold temperatures can delay drying and attract dust onto the wet paint. The ideal temperature for interior painting is 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity levels should be kept around 40-50%, if possible.

Start Mid-Morning

The availability of adequate sunlight is another factor to consider. Natural light provides the best condition for painting as it accurately reflects the true color of the paint. Painting under artificial lighting conditions can sometimes mislead you about the exact shade or texture of the paint. An ideal time to start painting is in the mid-morning after the sun has come up.

Ready to Start Painting?

Step #1: Start with the Ceiling

Begin painting your room from the top and work your way down. This allows you to catch any drips or spatters on the still unpainted areas below. Use a roller paintbrush for larger surface areas and a small brush or roller to fill in the edges along the molding.


Step #2: Paint the Walls

Start painting the walls from one corner and move horizontally across the wall. Use a roller brush for the majority of the wall, and a smaller brush or edger for tight spots around doors, windows, and moldings.


Step #3: Paint the Trim

The trim includes door and window frames, baseboards, crown molding, and other decorative elements. Use a smaller, angled brush for more precise application. Once the trim is completely dry, carefully remove the tape.


Step #4: Second Coat

If necessary, apply a second coat of paint (after the first has fully dried), ensuring you follow the same order - ceiling first, then walls, and finally the trim.


Step #5: Clean-Up

Clean your brushes, rollers, and paint trays immediately after painting each section. Keep windows open during and after painting to help speed up the drying process and ventilate the room.

FAQs About Interior Painting

The following are some of the most common questions we hear on interior painting. Have additional questions? Contact Horner Painting for help with interior home painting in Northern Colorado.

How much paint will I need?

Typically, a gallon of paint will cover 200 square feet with 2 coats of paint. To calculate the square footage of a wall, multiply the length by the width and then subtract the square footage of doors and windows from the total square footage of the walls.

What should I do with leftover paint?

The short answer is, “Anything but throw it away!” Instead of tossing your leftover paint, save it for touch-up, donate it to a community center or nonprofit, or contact your local waste management to find out where you can recycle it.

How long does it take for paint to dry?

It typically takes about one to two hours for the paint to be dry to the touch, but it can take up to four hours for it to be fully dry.

What is the best way to clean paintbrushes?

Use warm, soapy water to clean latex paint off brushes and rollers. For oil-based paints, use mineral spirits or a paint thinner for clean-up.

How many coats of paint do I need?

This depends on the type of paint you choose, the color you're covering, and the color you're applying. Darker colors might need more than two coats, while lighter colors can often be done in two coats. Additionally, certain paints are designed to cover in one coat.

Call Horner for Interior Painting Services in Fort Collins

Have additional questions? Prefer to leave the painting to the experts? Give us a call! Horner Painting has been painting homes and businesses all accross Northern Colorado for over 20 years. Call today for a free estimate!

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