Indoor painting tips



  1. Clean the wall first!
    Dust on the wall gets onto your roller, then it gets into your paint tray. Not good I tell you, not good. Its easier now with ‘magic brooms’ that look like crossovers between mops and brooms. They have flat pads which you cover with replaceable microfibre cloths. Running these over walls remove dust and the dust sticks to the cloth, so there’s little or not dust on the floor. When done, just remove the cloth and throw it away. Easy peasy.
  2. Mix paint in a small pail before pouring into your roller’s tray.
    Yes, its a whole lot easier to pour direct from your paint can into the roller’s tray, add water, use the roller to mix it up, and paint. The problem with this is it makes your paint consistency very, well, inconsistent, and this causes your paint job look uneven, and you will need to paint many layers (more paint, more money) to smoothen the colour.
    Get a bucket or pail ready, pour paint from your paint can into the bucket and add water there. Mix the paint and pour into your paint tray from this pail. Doing this allows you to mix more paint, and keeps your paint consistent.
  3. Don’t dilute paint with more than 15-20% of water
    In fact, most paint manufacturers only recommend 10-15% dilution. For example, if you buy a litre of paint, don’t add more than 200 mililitres of water. Yes, paint that’s (too) diluted spreads easily and you save paint and can cover walls quicker. But because its so thin, and wet, it’ll take longer to dry, needs more layers to create an even coat, you’ll need to cover the same wall more times. By the time you reach the 3rd coat, you’ll be singing “i hate this part right here…”. The worst part is, because the earlier layers are thin, putting the next layer before its completely dry can result in the roller ‘removing’ the earlier layer. If you’ve ever tried painting pictures with diluted water colour, you’ll know what I mean.
    Do not be lazy, and don’t be in a hurry either. Dilute a little, get a good smooth first layer, and your final result will be outstanding.
    If you mix water into your paint and you start seeing bubbles, you’ve put too much water. while a ‘few’ bubbles won’t do much harm, you don’t want to paint yet if it has too many bubbles. Add more paint.
  4. Paint borders, and paint ’em big.
    I hate painting borders. Its slow, you’ve got to be real careful to make them nice and straight. But its necessary. Rollers don’t do wall / ceiling / floor edges well. In fact, they don’t do them at all. Use a normal 2-3 inch wide brush and paint your the edges first. Masking edges helps. When you paint the edges and borders, paint them big so that when you are painting the rest of the wall with your roller, you don’t have to bring the roller too close. I tried to be lazy before and have often made mistakes and end up with marks on adjacent walls.
    There are some that prefer to paint the entire wall first, and do the edges last. This is fine too.
  5. Ditch the pole, use the ladder.
    Here’s a controversial one. EVERYONE uses a long stick with a roller attached to its end to paint large walls, right? So do I. But i found that I when I use less diluted paint, its hard to get a good, even, stroke of paint beyond the first few strokes. The first few look nice and smooth, but after that, the roller seems to miss out spots, and I end painting over the same place repeatedly to cover the ‘patches’.
    So I ended up resting the pole and getting up the ladder and use roller with my hand for the top half of the wall. I actually got smoother paint strokes and covered more area. Got down the ladder and did the same for the bottom half of the wall. It is a bit annoying to keep moving the ladder across the width of the wall and getting up and down, but it gives me my desired effect – a good smooth first coat.
    You may disagree, but maybe with the (lack of) quality in Malaysian homes, the walls are not plastered very evenly and using rollers on poles can be more of a nuisance than a help.
    You can experiment for yourself and see which works.
  6. Don’t mix too much paint.
    This was my mistake. I assumed I need 3 litres of paint for 200 sq feet of wall. Turns out I only need two, but I ended up with extra paint, which I did not want to paint elsewhere in the house. So that paint just went to waste.
    So the tip is, don’t mix too much paint. If you run out of paint, you can always mix more.
  7. Use de-humidifiers
    Nobody likes the smell of paint. I bought KCC brand silk paint and it smelt awful.
    I bought a Kiwi dehumidifier in Tesco and it helped absorb the smell and replace it with a nice fresh fragrance. The paint small was still there, but not as strong, and for not as long.
    An alternative to dehumidifiers is to use scented paint. I tried a Nippon paint that had a lemon scent, and it was actually quite nice.
  8. Clean as you go
    Many Malaysian homes have tiled floor linings on the wall. You know, that 4 inches of tile on the wall that goes along the length of the wall? Usually when painting borders, the recommended way is to mask the tiles so that paint does not get on them. There is a slightly lazier way: don’t mask. Let the paint get on it if necessary, but keep a wet cloth ready (this only applies to water-based paint). As soon as you’ve done painting the edge, get the wet cloth and run it along the tile and clean up. Don’t wait till later, the drier the paint, the slower it’ll get off, and you may end up having to use a scraper to get the paint off… something you may not want to do if you (unlike me) are using expensive, highly glazed tiles.

What tips do you have?

Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional painter and am just sharing what worked (and what didn’t) for me. If unsure, please engage the advice of a professional painter.

Picture used within license permissions:


4 thoughts on “Indoor painting tips

  1. Good job and some good tips. Here in the US we do not have to dilute the paint with water. We use it straight from the can. I suppose adding water the norm in Malaysia! I love learning new things.

    Handyguy Brian

  2. Handyguys,
    thanks for the comment. The paint makers here have dilution instructions on the can itself (some of them anyway). Maybe they know Malaysians are ‘el cheapo’s.

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