The Recipe For Perfect Painting Results

Don’t you love HGTV, they make everything look easy and lead viewers to believe they can finish a job on a lazy Sunday afternoon. When it comes to interior painting, the reality is something very different. You find yourself and half the floor covered in paint, you are stuck in endless pieces of painters tape and the finished product leaves a lot to be desired. Next thing you know you are throwing things at the TV and cussing HGTV. In this article, we are going to break down what makes a great paint job with results you can be proud of.

Lets Discuss Paint:

The first rule of Painting is to stay away from Home Depot. With all due respect to what they do and offer, their paint leaves a lot to be desired. To be blunt, my painting crews will not use it, the flat refuse to. We use primarily Sherwin Williams paints because their quality is fantastic including color consistency and longevity, the warranty is great and the product is forgiving and easy to use.

Many homeowners go to the paint store and they come out with more questions then what they went in with. Outside of color choices, there is latex, alkyd, oil-based, shellac based, flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss etc etc.. What to use where and how to use it is the first hurdle to get over. In the industry, we have a pretty standard recipe for painting the interior of a home. Below is a list of the products we use from a paint perspective:

Trim and Cabinets: Sherwin Williams Pro-Mar 200 Oil Based (Satin or Semi-Gloss depending on the home style)
Walls: Sherwin Willaims Pro Mar 400 eggshell/Satin finish
Ceilings: Sherwin Williams Painters edge or Pro-Mar 400 Flat finish
Closets: Sherwin Willaims Pro Mar 700 Semi-Gloss (Pure White-SW7005)

For home exteriors, we use Sherwin Williams Southwest Builders or Duracraft with very good results. The paint choice here depends on the need of the client and their budget. You can spend a lot more on paint and use the elite brands from Sherwin Williams but the additional cost is not necessary IMHO.

Paint Preparation:

Have you ever watched professional painters do their work, it seems like they work inside of a home for days and no paint is going up? Then all of sudden at the end of the next day or two the whole things is finished. The quality of the finished paint job is dependent on the work you do the preparation stages. The prep is where the real work is finished including cleaning, filling holes, smoothing walls, repairing texture, priming, sanding, and caulking. These steps cant be overlooked or skimped on if you want a good finished product.

Painters have a lot of tricks and tools they use in the preparation for a paint job. Below is a non-exhaustive list of things painters do in the preparation stages to make the finished product look great.

  1. Painters Putty: They use painters putty to fill nail holes in trim and casing. The reason for this is painters putty does not shrink when filling a hole like caulk will. Not to mention is thicker than caulk and will fill the holes smoothly in a single application.
  2. Automotive Bondo: That is not a typo, they use automotive Bondo to fill larger holes in woodwork, exterior siding, and paneling. The reason is the automotive bondo drys very hard, is sandable, excepts paint beautifully and finishes like the wood around it.
  3. Sanding: A lot of sanding goes into having a clean and smooth paint finish on woodwork. The typical progression is 150 grit up to 220 grit for a finished look.
  4. Caulking: Painters go through cases and cases of caulk. Every part of the home is caulked and this includes wood to wall meetings seams, woodwork seams, wall corners, ceiling corners, cabinets, cabinet doors, door casings etc. It may seem like overkill, however, this level of caulking helps ensure smooth transitions between woodwork and walls and walls and ceilings.A note about caulking: stay from Home Depot Alex Painters Caulk as it is cheap and will shrink and crack in a short time period. Professional painters either use Sherwin Williams NR4000 or PPG Top Gun 200 for professional results. Yes, it cost more but is well worth the money.
  5. Priming: Properly priming your woodwork is paramount to a finished job as it prepares the woodwork to accept the oil-based paint evenly and ensures the paint will adhere and last a long time. If you are using oil based paint you need to use oil based primer as oil and latex won’t mix with good results. From a primer standpoint, we use a product called Zinsser Oil Based Primer.

Paint Application:

Applying the paint is a straightforward process but a few tips will go a long way to a great finished product.

  1. Paint all trim first. Ideally, you want to spray all trim, cabinets, and woodwork as this yields the best and smoothest results. If you do not have or can’t rent an airless sprayer than use high-end end brush made for oil based paints. To take the brush strokes out of oil based paint you can mix in a product call Penetrol which helps the paint dry smoother and minimize the brushed strokes showing up. Make sure you have some good lacquer thinner on hand to clean tools and brushes.
  2. Paint ceilings second: Again using an airless sprayer makes this job a lot easier if you have access to one. If not, make sure you buy a roller that is matched to the texture of your walls. From smooth to rough they make a roller that fits what you are looking for. Apply a minimum of two coats for the ceilings.
  3. Paint walls last: Painting the walls last allows you to really focus on making them perfect as this is surface that you will see the most. As professionals, we apply three coats of the paint color on the surface of the walls. This will use more paint but the finished product will be much better, especially if you are painting over an older bold color.PRO TIP: Achieving perfectly straight lines between the walls and trim is easier than you might think. You do not need to buy expensive Frog Tape to achieve this. In the industry, we use the cheap two-inch masking tape with a little trick. Once the tape is applied, we take a small plastic jug or empty paint can and make a fairly runny mix of caulk and water and brush it over the tape joint. this creates a seal along the tape edge while painting the walls and the tape comes up smoothly leaving behind a perfect line.

    PRO TIP: Professional painters do not use paint trays, instead they use the paint screens that are made to fit into a 5-gallon bucket. This allows them to load up the roller with a good amount of paint and cover a lot of area fast. In addition, the mess and cleanup of a paint tray are eliminated.

  4. Cutting In at the ceiling: This just takes practice to get right. However, using a two-inch angled brush and not loading up the brush with too much paint makes the difference. Slow smooth strokes along the angle of the brush will achieve good results.

Achieving a quality paint job at home is not as hard as it sounds. Plan on taking a few days to get things right, focus on the prep work and utilize the pro tips and tricks and it will make the job come out great. Like anything else, a quality job that will last takes time to complete and attention to detail.

Xenia Tree Renovations is a full-service general contractor in Plano Texas servicing the North Texas Region. Visit us at


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