If you have managed to decide on a color, the hardest part of your painting job is done. It may seem scary, but follow these guidelines and you will produce a painting job that would make any professional take notice. Follow these steps and you will produce an expert job without having to pay the cost of hiring an expert.

1.  Choose the right type of paint
Latex, or water-based, paints are the most popular choice because they emit fewer fumes, dry quicker, and have an easier clean up process. Latex paint is also less prone to fading or yellowing and provides a breathable surface that allows moisture to escape.

However, alkyd, or oil-based paints have the advantage of being more durable. Alkyd paints can also be applied in lower temperatures than latex fifty degree cut off point. You should always choose alkyd paints when repainting exterior surfaces with heavy chalking (that powdery substance that comes off on your hand when you brush against it) or when repainting interior or exterior surfaces that have more than three layers of paint. Alkyd paints can be trickier to apply than latex paints because they are go on thicker and will require the use turpentine, paint thinner, or some other solvent during clean up.

On interior surfaces, it is okay to apply latex over alkyd or vice-versa providing that the previous finish is flat or has been sanded. If you are unsure, it is better to cover the old paint with a primer of the same composition (alkyd or latex) as the paint as you are planning on using. On exterior surface, oil should not be painted over latex. However, many experts suggest that the best exterior starts with an alkyd primer followed by latex paint.

South Shore Painting strongly recommends use of an oil primer when there is a latex over oil condition.

If painting a kitchen or bathroom, choose paint specially designed for these areas. These paints are more mold-, mildew-, and humidity-resistant. Although it may seem like an added expense, the cost is worth it. At the very least, add a mildewcide to the paint before using.

2.  Choose the right finish
Flat, eggshell, semi gloss, high gloss­does it matter what type of finish? Yes, the right finish is important, especially since most paints come in all three varieties. For one, flat paints will attract mildew quicker than semi gloss or high gloss paint. This is because glossier paints have no pores for the mold to grab onto to grow. Semi gloss and high gloss paint is also more durable and wipe clean easily. They will stand up to stains and scuffings, which makes them perfect for high traffic areas.

However, flat paints are better at concealing imperfections in the surface. They will make surfaces appear smoother and more uniform. Paints with an eggshell, or satin, finish have a finish that falls in between the flat and semi gloss. They are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms. They will give a room more depth and warmth and are slightly more durable than flat paints.

3.  Choose the right tools
While power rollers and paint sprayers can be time-savers, they are not practical for smaller or complicated rooms. Painting these rooms is better done in the traditional manner. For most jobs, all you will need is a roller, a tray and a few brushes that vary between one-inch to four-inches wide for the trim and detail work. Make sure you also have the equipment needed to prepare and protect surfaces around the area you plan to paint.

4.  Prepare the surface
Failing to prepare your surface before painting will only diminish the durability of your paint. Even worse, all the blemishes, marks, and imperfections that you were trying to cover will remain visible.

The first thing you need to is remove everything from the walls. Take down the curtains and remove the switch plates and any pictures or other objects hanging on the walls. Then, cover all surrounding floors, cabinets, and fixtures with drop cloths or flattened out corrugated boxes.

Next, you want to clean the walls and trim thoroughly. Use hot water and a little bit of detergent soap, then rinse thoroughly. Once the walls have dried, patch any holes, cracks, or joints with spackling compound. Let it dry and the sand with fine grade sandpaper until smooth. Also, sand down any glossy surfaces. Wipe all sanded surfaces with a damp cloth to remove all residues.

5.  Protect the surface
If you have a steady hand, you might not need masking tape to cover the edges. If you don’t, invest in the special blue painters tape rather than using regular masking tape­especially on painted surfaces. Regular masking tape might damage the very surface you are trying to protect.

Wrap hardware such as doorknobs, hinges, pulls in foil to protect them before painting. You can also use wet newspaper to protect glass. Simply cut the newspaper into one-inch long strips, dip it into water, and pull it through your thumb and index finger to remove the excess water. Press the strips onto the glass, close to the wood, and remove them as soon as you are through. Finally, keep around a damp cloth and paper towels handy when painting. Most paint spilled can be removed with these if they are caught soon enough.

6.  Preparation will make clean up easier
Rub hand lotion on your hands and arms before you begin painting. It will make the paint easier to wash off your hands when you’re finished. Also, baby oil is sometimes better at removing paint from your skin. You can also safe time if you line your paint tray with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and glue a large paper plate to the bottom of any open paint can you plan to use. After opening the paint can, use a nail to tap about five or six holes into the retaining grove. This allows the paint to run back into the can.

Make sure you have paint thinner or turpentine handy if you are painting with any oil based paints. Latex paints will clean up with soap and water. If you need to stop for a short period instead of cleaning your brushes, seal them into a plastic bag or wrap them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

7. Always prime before painting
Even if you do not need it, primer will provide a better quality to your paint job. Some primers are designed for new walls while others will help cover up stains. Use the right type of primer and have it tinted the same color as your paint. It might seem like an additional step, but primers will help reduce the number of coats you will have to do.

8.  Purchase all the paint you will need and prepare it before beginning
One gallon of paint will cover about four hundred square feet of surface. If the area you are planning on painting requires more than one gallon, you will need to mix all the paints together before you begin. Different cans can have subtle color variations that might not be evident in the can. Unfortunately, they will be extremely obvious on your walls. If you plan to do two coats, you can decide mix only half the paints at first. Then, mix any remaining paint together before starting your second coat.

9. Painting
Using a brush to cover any area that is too tight to accommodate a roller as well as to apply a one-inch border of paint around any windows and doors, where the wall meets the ceiling and floor, and in corners. Work in small sections so that the paint will still be wet when you go to use the roller. When using a brush, dip the bristles of the paint about halfway into the paint and then tap the brush against the edge to remove any excess. Hold the handle at the base and press gently so that the bristles flex slightly. Brush in both directions to avoid any streaking.

Rollers provide even coverage with little color variation and are much quicker than painting with a brush. Make sure your roller has the right knap for the surface you are painting. Dip the roller into the paint so that it is well covered, but not saturated. Roll the roller over the ridges of the pan to ensure that it will spread the paint smoothly. Prepare to cover about four feet of surface for each “dip” you do with your roller. For best results, paint a large M onto the wall, and then roll from side to side to spread the paint. Finish up with light up and down strokes for an even finish.