How to Form a Plan to Paint a House

Painting your house is a time consuming, labor intensive, and costly project, so doing this yourself takes significant planning and preparation. Here are some things to consider.


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    Decide the sequence you plan to follow in your painting. This will be broken down into two phases further along, interior and exterior, but the following steps are true for both stages.
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    Chose a type of paint for your project. This is somewhat more complicated than it sounds, since modern house paints come in a variety of types, from simple latex formulations to newly introduced oil based water enamels. This will be covered in more detail in the two different phases as well.
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    Pick your colors. For simple painting projects, you may find you only need one or two colors. If you want to use color schemes to really change your d├ęcor, you may want accent walls, wainscoting, decorative trim, and numerous other embellishments. Browse the color books at a paint retailer, select the ones that appeal to your taste, and bring them home to compare them in the unique lighting in your own home.
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    Engage everyone involved in the project, and all family members, in the color selection. This will decrease the amount of second-guessing that occurs later.
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    Measure the total square footage of each surface to be painted. This will help you calculate the volume of paint required for the job. Consult other guides for helping with the math and measuring requirements for this step.
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    Assess the condition of any existing paint, as well as the substrate it has been applied on. Peeling, flaking, or chalky paint will need to be removed before applying your new finish, so you will want to be careful to allow time for this step in your planning.
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    Round up volunteers for the project date(s). Family, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and people you may hire to help with the project should be contacted in advance so they can plan to dedicate time if they are willing to help.
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    List the tools you will need for each stage of the project. Ladders, drop cloths, scaffolding, as well as brushes and rollers should be considered. While planning this part, consider using power tools to help reduce the labor and time the project will take. Airless sprayers and power rollers can really give substantial savings of time and labor if used correctly, and may be available from tool rental businesses in your area.

Interior Painting

  1. Choose the type of paint you will use for this portion of work.
  2. Look at the types of paint available for your interior walls, ceilings, and other surfaces to be painted. The following are some common paint types, with a short description of their characteristics.
    • Latex. These are fairly durable, water-based, water clean-up products offered in a broad spectrum of colors.
    • 100% Acrylic. This paint is more durable and stable than basic latex, and still offers the simplicity of water clean-up.
    • Oil-based enamels. These paints offer more a more durable finish, but require longer drying times and tools must be cleaned with mineral spirits or other solvent-based paint thinners. Odor is also a consideration with these products, since the solvents produce more odor than water-based paints.
    • Oil based, water-born enamels. This is a new product, which offers the durability of oil enamels with the ease, short drying time, and low-odor characteristics of latex and acrylic paints.
  3. Look at the finish of the paint you will use. Here is a list of the common finishes available in interior paints.
    • Flat. This paint has the least gloss, or shine of the interior wall paints. It is also least expensive, generally speaking, and the least cleanable or durable.
    • Eggshell. This paint is slightly more glossy than flat, with a noticeable texture when rolled with a standard nap roller, and is considered washable in most applications.
    • Semigloss. This is glossier than eggshell or flat, but not extremely so. It is most suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms where surface cleaning may be required more frequently.
    • Gloss. This is the glossiest (obviously) paint and normally is used only for very smooth trim applications like doors, door jambs, baseboards, chair rails, and ceiling moldings. It can be used in very smooth wood paneled walls or hard troweled plaster walls, but usually semi-gloss would be preferred for this application. Gloss paint is generally easiest to clean and most durable.
  4. Decide on the color of paints you will use. Here again, shopping through color books at the paint store, looking at home decorating magazines, and even observing the effects of color usage in other people's homes will help you decide what to use.
  5. Talk the paint choices over with family members. This is especially important where individuals may have a private space in the home, such as a bedroom, study, craft room, etc. Children and teenagers tend to have different taste in colors, so try to compromise or give in to their preference if possible.
  6. Assess all work that needs to be done before beginning your project. These steps may be overlooked if you do not incorporate careful planning, so consider the following.
    • Decide a sequence of work. Painting is a process that works best if done from the top, down, so if you are painting ceilings, plan on doing these first if practical.
    • Decide an order you will paint rooms in. Rooms which are frequently used should be painted first, if possible, so the surfaces will be dry earliest, and the room will be available for use. The kitchen and bathrooms are obvious choices, utility rooms may be next, but regardless, take a few minutes to think about your needs during the process.
    • Make a decision on how much preparation work will need to be done in each room. Do the walls need to be scraped, sanded and filled, or is there caulking to do? Will you be removing large furniture items to get access to walls? Waiting until the paint is opened and the roller pans filled is not a good idea, obviously. In some situations, it may be necessary to remove furniture to a storage site during the painting.
  7. Decide who will be responsible for what during the painting process. There are a lot of jobs obviously and any of them failing to get the needed attention will cause some degree of difficulty. Here are some examples of work which will need to be done during the project.
    • Moving furniture
    • Surface preparation
    • Cutting in trim, fixtures, etc.
    • Rolling (or spraying and backrolling)
    • Preparing and serving refreshments or food for the hungry workers
    • Cleanup


  1. Consider the paint requirements for the exterior of your home. The paints available are basically the same as those listed under "Interior painting", but exterior paints should offer protection from the environment, including mildew, moisture damage to wood building products, and resistance to peeling or fading.
  2. Choose your color scheme. Normally, exterior painting uses a complimentary scheme, that is, trim is done in a color that compliments the larger surface areas of walls. You can see examples by driving down your street. Note that some Home owner's Associations have specific guidelines for color selection in some neighborhoods or developments, and there is even a possibility your project has to be approved by a review committee before proceeding.
  3. Look at the condition of your exterior, paying close attention to trim around windows, fascia boards, and door jambs. If these are deteriorated or not in good condition, repair them before beginning to paint. It is almost always a good idea to recaulk all seams and joints before repainting exterior surfaces.
  4. Plan on preparing all surfaces to insure good adhesion of the paint. This may involve pressure washing, sand blasting, scraping or sanding, depending on what the present condition of the surface is.
  5. Decide depending on the type of paint your have chosen if you will need to apply a primer or undercoat before you put the finish coat on your home. Generally speaking, finish coats of exterior paints do not adhere well to wood materials, so a primer of some type is recommended if you remove all previous coats of paints in your preparation for this portion of work. Stucco or cement products may require a damp-proofing if it is desirable, but in low to normal humidity conditions, this is not usually the case.
  6. Plan your workforce requirements for this stage of your project, as you have done for the interior. You will probably find you will have a lot more high work on the exterior, requiring ladders or scaffolding, so consider the labor required to implement this.
  7. Plan on the weather factor. We cannot change the weather, but obviously, you will want to give some thought to your local climate when doing your planning. If your area has a wet season, it would not be appropriate to plan on exterior painting during this time, and most paints require a minimum temperature range for use, so winter may also be out of the question.


  • Kick yourself into shape. Painting a house often requires heavy lifting, long hours, and a lot of climbing.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Paint
  • Drop cloths
  • Paintbrushes or rollers
  • Pressure washer (optional)
  • Spackle (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Painting and Other Finishes