Tuesday, August 18, 2020

DIY Apartment Painting -- Equipment Needed --Part 1

My dad recently moved out of his apartment and as per the standard contract locally, he needed to fully paint it before he handed over the key to the next tenants. Instead of just hiring anyone to do it, he offered me the job. Now I'll admit, I've never painted an entire apartment before, and the last time I painted even a full room was when I was a kid, but I knew I'd be capable of doing it. Of course, before I decided to do it, I posted about it in DIY groups to ask for advice on how to do it and got some great tips. 

Now that I did it, I wanted to share with you how I did it. This post will be about things you need, the next post is about how to do it, and part three is things I learned.

Things You Need To DIY Paint an Apartment

The Obvious

Ok, of course you need paint, but what kind of paint? I strongly would recommend a water based acrylic paint especially for a beginner. Oil based paints need paint thinners and turpentine and are just more complicated. You can use whitewash also if you really want, but whitewash comes off on clothing so isn't recommended. However, since whitewash is cheaper than regular acrylic paint, feel free to use it for ceilings since those won't be rubbed against. 
However, you should be aware that if you are painting over an area that is exceptionally stained or otherwise discolored, whitewash is much thinner and it will take many more layers to be able to properly cover it up, and better use regular acrylic paint for that.

Paint Roller
This is helpful for covering large areas of paint and it makes a much smoother coat of paint.

Paint Tray
For pouring the paint into, so that your paint roller can pick up the paint and also roll off excess paint.

Paint Brush
You'll need a paint brush for reaching areas that the paint roller can't, like where walls meet, near doors and windows, near the ceiling

The Less Obvious

Extension pole for paint roller. 
This is extremely, extremely convenient, as it allows you to reach further than your arms would otherwise allow you without needing to climb on ladders.

Joint compound
For those that don't know what joint compound is, its a powder you mix with water into a paste, and you use it to fill in holes and smooth spaces, and it dries hard. You can also buy this premixed, but dry is cheaper. If there is any water damage at all where you are painting, you need joint compound to fill in the areas left behind after you remove the damaged areas. Additionally, if there were screws or nails in the wall, you'll need to remove them and fill in the holes with joint compound.

Joint knife
I had to search what this was called in English, but apparently it is called a joint knife. A wide flat edged spatula is what you use to spread the joint compound and also to ensure that it is flat. This also will be what you use to remove water damaged areas.

Sand paper
Once you put down the joint compound you'll need to sand it before you continue.

Primer is needed before you put down the joint compound, and then after the joint compound to help the paint stick and to prevent water from seeping through.

Masking tape
Use masking tape to cover anything that you will be painting nearby to prevent it from getting paint covered. This includes door frames, light switches, window frames, any molding. Also use it to tape down your drop cloth.

Drop cloth
Use drop cloths to cover larger areas that you don't want to get covered in paint. This includes any furniture as well as floors. You can get a roll of plastic drop cloths from any painting store that you cut to size, but you can also use plastic tablecloths- if you have a thick roll of plastic tablecloth you can cut it to size and reuse it in different parts of the house. Tape down the edges of the drop cloth with masking tape.

Use this to reach hard to reach places. A stool isn't enough even if you're tall like I am. A ladder helps you reach the higher areas without needing to strain your arms by lifting them so high.

Chair or stool
This one isn't for climbing. This is for you to have a place to sit down. If you're painting an empty apartment, you will need breaks and having something to sit on other than the floor is very helpful.

Ok, this isn't as necessary and is flexible, but painting can be boring. Bring some music to listen to, or a podcast to play.

Painting can be exhausting and uses a lot of energy- make sure you have drinks to stay hydrated. And not just water. You need electrolytes.

Food that is shelf stable
If you're painting an empty apartment you need to bring food along to eat that doesn't need refrigeration, heating, or any tools to eat it. Or you could bring a cooler.

Screw Driver
This will be necessary to remove any screws in the wall before filling the wall in and painting.

This is helpful in removing nails in the walls before filling in and painting, and in removing water damaged areas (you hit the back of the joint knife to give it more power).

Before you start painting you need to remove any dust or cobwebs from the wall. A broom will help you do this in the harder to reach places. It'll also help you clean up stuff that you scraped up after painting (see the next section).

Also for wiping up dust before painting.

Don't Forget These!

This list was made after I already started painting and realized how much I actually needed other things, that none of the people who I spoke to advised that I bring, but I'm letting you know- don't forget these things- they are important!

Containers and mixing sticks or spoons.
If you're using powdered joint compund, you'll need something to mix it in, and something with which to mix it. You'll also need something to help remove the paint from the big bucket to your paint roller's tray. I used empty yogurt containers for this, but really, it doesn't matter what you use as long as you have something. You also need a long stick with which to mix your paint because that stuff settles.

Even though you should be trying to cover things with drop cloths and and masking tape, you're human, and there probably will be mistakes. Things drip. Scrapers are amazing. Once the paint is dry you can use a scraper to scrape it off easily.

Sponge and soap
Not every wall that you need to paint will be clean. And I'm not just talking about dust and cobwebs. Some areas you're painting might be filthy and need a good scrubbing before you paint them. A sponge and soap is very important for this. Also, if you drip paint onto areas that will be ruined by scrapers (doors and other wooden things), if you use acrylic paint, soap and water can generally remove the paint.

Use this to cut your drop cloth, and to be honest, it'll probably come in handy in other ways too.

Charger for phone
So fine, you have your music or your podcast, but did you think about a charger? The first day, I forgot one, and I regretted it. So bring it!

Even if there's AC, you still need a fan. Ideally a big heavy duty fan. Because you really need the windows open while you paint, and AC won't work well with windows open- in short, bring a big fan.

This sounds weird, but in addition to food and drink, make sure you bring salt. Especially if you're painting in the summer, you'll be sweating buckets and you need to replace the salt you are sweating out, not just the water.

Safety goggles
Not that this is dangerous, but you want something to cover your eyes, so paint doesn't splatter into or drop into it. And no, glasses aren't really enough, unless you want to need to scrape paint off your glasses regularly.

Hair cover
Do you want paint in your hair? No? Then bring something to cover it to stop the paint from getting in it.

You're removing screws from the wall, so you brought a screw driver, and joint compound to fill in the whole. But what about the dibbles? Have you thought about how you'll remove them? Pliers will make this task much easier!

Garbage bags
Painting makes garbage. Also the drop cloths, and the bottles of drink, and the scraped up dried paint, and the bits of water damaged wall you scraped off, and the sand paper. Make sure you have garbage bags.

First aid kit
Last but not least, make sure you have a first aid kit. You might not realize, but these types of things can injure you. When removing the water damaged wall and when sanding, I scraped my hand on the wall enough to slightly cut myself. And I got a splinter from dried paint as well. Bring a first aid kit.

I know, I know, this was just a list of what you need, but doesn't actually tell you how to do it. That will be the next post. For now, here it is.

Have you ever painted an apartment before? What would you include on the list of things needed? Would you add anything to my list? Do you agree with my list?


  1. This is fantastic! So great for utter newbies (like me).

  2. Agreed, this is really useful. I'm looking forward to the next installment...and good luck with the project.

  3. Very helpful!
    A correction is needed in the paint section, "whitewash comes off on clothing so isn't recommended" needs "doesn't" right after whitewash.
    Safety goggles only covers the eyes. Maybe a visor is preferable? It covers the whole face and doesn't bother glasses wearers.
    Another option for light switches is removing the cover and not just paint around it. Only for careful painters who aren't on a time schedule though.

    1. Actually, I meant what I said about whitewash. Even after whitewash is dry, if you lean on it, you can get white chalkiness onto your clothes, so its best not to paint it on areas that one may be leaning against when dry.

    2. Where did you clean your brushes? Did you have a utility sink?


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