How to Paint a Garage Interior (Definitive Guide)

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For many people, the garage is almost as important as the home. While some merely use their garage as a place to park, others use it as an all-purpose project room. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in this room, you might as well make it look nice. You can also protect your garage walls from the various tools that are probably being used. In this article, we will be showing you how to paint a garage interior.



How To Paint A Garage Interior In 5 Steps

You Will Need:

  • Paint
  • Brushes, rollers, and/or a paint sprayer (your choice)
  • Some plastic sheets or tarps
  • Primer
  • Some basic cleaning supplies
  • Gloves and goggles
  • Power washer (optional but preferred)
  • At least one paint scraper
  • A ladder that reaches the ceiling of your garage
  • Sandpaper or power sander
  • Painter’s tape
  • Spackling compound (may not need)
  • Angle grinder (may not need)
  • Concrete sealer (may not need)
  • Paint thinner (may not need)
  • Muriatic acid (optional)




Step 1: Prepare The Garage For Painting

The first step is perhaps the most aggravating one. You will need to remove pretty much everything from your garage. You might have to temporarily rent a storage building to hold everything until you’re done. When we say “everything,” we mean everything. Take all the fixtures off the walls, light switch/outlet covers, shelves or other furniture, and anything else that you can remove. Ideally, you just want walls, ceiling, and floor.

Next, you will need to prepare the surfaces of the walls, ceiling, and floor. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to do much work here. However, many garage walls are made of concrete, which sometimes tends to have rough spots and ridges. For this kind of wall, you will likely need an angle grinder to smooth it down. Gaps and cracks in the walls and ceiling can be filled with spackling compound and sanded to smoothness.

Once everything is ready, you will need to clean the whole garage as thoroughly as possible. Any little speck of dirt could show up in the paint, creating an ugly uneven spot that will eventually chip away. You really need to be as thorough as possible here. Once this is done, you need to apply your painter’s tape. Use it to create borders between the areas to be painted and the areas that you don’t want to paint.

If the wall is already painted, your job likely just became a lot harder. You need to use paint thinner and a scraper to remove the old paint. If the walls are made of concrete blocks or similar material, you can use a sanding wheel on your angle grinder. If you want to save some time, you can try this alternate method.



Protip: If the existing paint job is still nice and smooth, you can just go ahead and move on to the next step.



Step 2: Apply the Primer

Now that you are ready to start painting, it’s time to put down your plastic sheets. Cover the entire floor, leaving no gaps in between the pieces, this is an important step in how to paint a garage interior. You can use a little bit of duct tape to secure them together. The purpose of the primer coat is to ensure better adhesion of the surface paint. In other words, it will make the paint stick better.

Before applying the primer, take your sandpaper and give all the surfaces (except the floor) a light sanding. Use very fine sandpaper here so as not to go too far. You only need a little bit of roughness to make the primer adhere properly. Apply it smoothly and evenly with your brush, spray gun or roller. When the primer is dry, move to the next step.



Step 3: Paint The Ceiling

Some garages don’t really have a ceiling. If yours simply has rafters in the top, you can always paint the inside of the roof. However, that’s a much more difficult job, so we leave it up to you to determine if it’s worth the trouble.

For standard ceilings, the job is pretty straightforward. Take your brush, get on the ladder, and paint around any obstacles that might be present, such as the garage door opener or its components. With that done, grab the roller (or the spray gun) and start applying the paint in nice, even rows, much like you would do if you were mowing the lawn. Make sure to wear goggles to keep paint from dripping in your eyes.



Step 4: Paint The Walls

There’s not much to say about this step, other than the fact that it will take a while. Just continue what you have been doing. Use your small brush for detailing and your roller or spray gun to cover the large surfaces. Try your best not to add too much paint at once, or it will drip and create ugly spots.

Another little thing is to avoid painting all the way to the ceiling with each stroke. When you do this, paint tends to build up at the ceiling junction and form a ridge. Stop short by a few inches and go over it later with a semi-dry brush.



Step 5: Paint The Floor

First things first: Wait for all the paint to dry. Now, remove the plastic sheets from the floor, along with anything that may have been sitting on them. Most garages have a concrete floor, and most paint will work just fine for that surface. Start by cleaning the floor one more time before applying a coat of primer.

If you really want to make sure that the floor is 100% clean, you can give it an acid wash. Get some muriatic acid (i.e., swimming pool acid) and mix it with water (4 parts water to 1 part acid). If you do this, make sure that you do not touch the acid with your hands. Put it on the floor and move it around with a broom. When it dries, apply the primer. When that dries, paint the floor. Once again, paint in overlapping rows, as if you were mowing the grass. Make sure that you are careful not to paint yourself into a corner where you cannot get out without ruining your work.



Conclusion: How to paint a garage interior

If you study this lesson well, you should have no problems painting your garage to your satisfaction. To be honest, it’s not all that hard of a job, anyway. This may not exactly be true, but it’s the attitude you should take. We realize that this short article cannot cover all the small details, and we welcome comments and questions from those who want to contribute something of value to this discussion.

Glen

Glen

Glen is the main writer for ToolboxAdvice.com. He's been a hobbyist and painter for a long time, and now enjoys teaching others. His content primarly focuses on reviews and guides for painters and construction professionals.

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