20 Home Interior Painting Tips You Need to Know



It’s finally spring. (well sorta. It actually snowed here a bit last night!) And many of you are thinking and/or planning on painting your home.  Spring is an excellent time to paint your interior rooms, because it’s not too hot or cold and you can open the windows to let the fresh air in… And that brings us to Benjamin Moore’s color of the year.  All photos via Benjamin Moore, unless otherwise specified. This time, I’m putting the pretty pictures first and then will come all of the home interior painting tips.

Please enjoy the following fresh colors to try this spring.

home interior painting tips


Benjamin Moore 2088-60 Fruit Shake


Upper Wall: Benjamin Moore Ewing Blue CW-585 using Regal Select in a matte finish. Lower Wall: Market Square Shell CW-30 using Regal Select in a matte finish. Ceiling: Chesapeake Blue CW-595 using Waterborne Ceiling Paint. Trim: Harwood Putty CW-5 using Advance in a semi-gloss finish.


Benjamin Moore HC-1 Castleton Mist.


Benjamin Moore 2055-40 Bahamian Sea Blue


Benjamin Moore Super Nova 1414

Benjamin Moore Harwood Putty


Benjamin Moore Caribbean Teal 2123-20


Benjamin Moore Lavender Mist 2070-60


Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray HC-171

Painting is one of those Do-it-yourself projects that most of us can do providing our walls are in fairly good condition to begin with. So, I’ve put together a handy list of home interior painting tips.

[note: exceptions to this are: Badly cracked walls. Paint that’s flaking off in chunks. Orange peel walls from too many coats applied with a roller. Mold issues. Water damaged walls. Huge gaping holes. For all of these situations, I very much recommend finding a professional to at least do the necessary prep work as this could be quite extensive and messy]

It’s a great way to save money, however, in order to get a truly professional looking job here are some tips to get a great result:

  1. Choose a paint color. Okay, this might be the most difficult step of them all. For ideas for shades of white, please look here. And here for some additional “can’t fail” interior paint colors. How much paint will you need? Look on the back of the can or ask the guy at the paint store. This amount can also vary with the color, type of paint and current wall-color.
  2. Purchase your materials. For a comprehensive list of what you will need. Please look here.
  3. Have a snack.
  4. Put on some nice music
  5. If there’s furniture, put it all in the center and cover it and cover the floor. Home depot sells drop cloths.
  6. Prepare the walls for paint. First, dust the walls with a swiffer duster that comes on a long stick.
  7. Clean the walls. The paint is going to adhere so much better to a clean wall. The easiest way to clean is to make a solution of 1 cup vinegar to two gallons of warm water in a big bucket. Get some old absorbent towel rags and dunk clean ones into the solution and ring out. Then put one over your sponge mop and work from top to bottom. When it begins to look a bit dirty, take it off and use a fresh one. If the water begins to look dirty, make a fresh batch. You can also use a solution of detergent and water, but if you do, you’ll have to rinse. Let that dry thoroughly.
  8. Fix small holes and imperfections with a good spackle. Let it dry and sand.
  9. Use a primer. Primer prepares the walls to accept the paint and provides a good surface, as well. However, Benjamin Moore makes a fantastic low VOC paint that has the primer in it already and it covers beautifully. It’s their Regal Select. I have used it before and love it!
  10. Sand lightly. I know… it’s a pain, but well-worth it.
  11. Dust walls again and follow with a damp cloth, just to make sure you’ve removed all of the dust.
  12. Use painter’s blue tape to mask off areas not being painted.
  13. Choose a dry day. Water-based latex paints will dry so much faster on a day with low humidity.
  14. Start with the ceiling (unless it doesn’t need painting)
  15. Use “cut-in” techniques. There are zillions of tutorials on youtube. So, try googling them. I do recommend a 2″ angled brush, however for cutting in. For the ceiling and walls, you will want to use a roller. Again, there are painting tutorials available on youtube.
  16. After ceiling, let dry thoroughly. I would wait several hours. Then if no crown moulding and/or the ceiling is a different color than the walls, tape the ceiling line. Then, paint the walls
  17. Finally, paint the trim with your two-inch brush.
  18. For ceilings, I recommend flat paint. For walls I recommend matte, which is like flat but washable. And for trims, I recommend semi-gloss. I still recommend an alkyd (oil based paint) for the trim. If it is already painted in latex, it is probably better to use semi-gloss latex. If the trim is gloppy from layers and layers of paint, that is another issue entirely. If it’s really bad, it is really better to just replace the trim. Otherwise, it’s a lot of noxious fumes and dust and definitely something I would only let a prof handle.
  19. Depending on the type of paint, you may only need one coat or as many as five if it’s a dark color for instance. If you want a guarantee of no more than two coats. I would try Benjamin Moore’s Aura formula. They say only one coat, but it’s still usually two coats.
  20. Clean your brushes and stuff. For more information on how to do that, please look here. (lots of great tips here from a prof painter!)
  21. Take a shower, put on some clean clothes and take yourself out to dinner. You deserve it!



5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Kara - March 3, 2016 - 10:15 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I am so glad I found your blog. I am going to test your no fail paint colors in our new home. They are colors I would never have picked on my own and I think they will be fabulous. Would you prime before painting with Aura? I will be covering lots of bright paint. Also, do you use BM ceiling paint or just a regular matte?

    • Laurel Bern - March 5, 2016 - 3:51 PM

      Hi Kara,

      You will need to consult with a professional about your walls since I can’t see them or know other particulars. It’s always safest to prime. I know that Regal Select comes with the primer in it. Not sure I understand that one because the primer is supposed to bond to the top coat(s) of paint.

      Oftentimes the guys in the paint store can be very helpful. I always use the flat finish on the ceilings. Matte is alright too if you are already using the same color on the walls.ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor - February 28, 2016 - 8:35 PM

    Laurel, I tried sanding the walls after reading this article and it IS totally worth it. Thank you! Do you ever recommend pearl or eggshell finishes in kitchens/bathrooms/or when painting in very dark colors? I have been using matte everywhere else but looking at the raspberry smoothie stains that my Vitamixer shot up onto my kitchen ceiling one day is making me consider otherwise…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 29, 2016 - 2:26 PM

      Hi Eleanor,

      Haha had to laugh at the visualization of the smoothie stains. I have that issue to as I’ve gotten into making these delicious vanilla banana smoothies with a half scoop of protein powder.

      My kitchen came in eggshell or maybe it’s pearl and to tell you the truth, the stuff sticks to the wall just the same. It’s in a pretty yellow-green which is funny but almost the same as my old kitchen.

      But sure, go ahead and use eggshell. And I would probably use it for dark colors because they can ‘chalk’ meaning if you rub against them it’ll leave a chalky looking mark.

      I don’t really like more shiny in latex for wall paint because when the light shines on it, it can look plastic. That is enhanced by less than perfect walls.

      The other possibility is to put a clear glaze over the paint. I’ve never done that, but something to possibly look into.ReplyCancel

      • Eleanor - March 1, 2016 - 8:50 PM

        Thanks for the tips! Glad to hear I’m not the only adventurous and messy smoothie cook:)ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Foster - October 31, 2015 - 11:47 PM


    Please, please, please tell me what paint colours look best with orange yellow oak kitchen cabinets.

    Sherry from CanadaReplyCancel

    • Deborah Bauder - November 2, 2015 - 1:13 AM

      I just found this blog & absolutely love it. I’ve been learning the hard way – with an embarrassingly large number of paint samples. I also have golden oak cabinets and trim. The color I love is Fresh Dew #435 – it’s a soft green with yellow undertones. Other options I like are sages and coordinating the walls with the floor color. I’m a complete beginner at this, but wanted to respond since we’re dealing with the same challenge.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 1, 2015 - 12:42 AM

      Hi Sherry, That might be a blog post. But lots of colors look good. Let your eye be the judge. :]ReplyCancel