How to Paint Inside Closets

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To make the most of your wardrobe closet space, consider painting it a bright color. In addition to making a small space look larger, brighter colors allow you to see the closet's contents better. If you are painting a closet that will only be used for storage of various items, opt for a darker color to help obscure its contents.


If the closet has been paneled or previously painted a dark color, you will have to prime the walls before painting them. Apply primer by cutting in and rolling on, just like painting. Once the coat of primer is dry, you can proceed with painting.

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  • Look for a paint that doubles as a primer to save the extra step.
  • When priming before painting, consider a gray primer. Gray generally offers better coverage than a white or tinted primer andresults in a color truer to the paint chip you have chosen. If in doubt, ask the professional mixing your paint.

The sheen you select for your paint should correspond with the closet's purpose. For example, on a kitchen pantry or bathroom closet, semi-gloss makes it easier to clean up sticky spills. For your wardrobe closet, semi-gloss helps reflect light and allows you to see your clothing better. For the junk or catch-all closet, satin or flat paint suffices.


Painting a closet means using all the same techniques and supplies as painting a room, only on a smaller scale.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom

  • Tools to remove shelving

  • Dropcloth

  • Painter's tape

  • Wood filler

  • Putty knife

  • 60- to 100-grit sandpaper

  • Clean cloth

  • Trim brush

  • Disposable cup

  • Stepladder

  • Paint roller and roller cover

  • Paint tray and liner

  • Interior paint

Step 1: Clean It Out

Remove all the items in the closet. Take down any shelving or racks using the necessary tools. Store items in another room to protect them from paint splatters. Sweep baseboards and cobwebs and wipe trim with a clean cloth. Cover the floor with a dropcloth.


If you plan to paint the ceiling, do so before painting the wall. Rolling on ceiling pant can create splatters on the walls.

Step 2: Repair Holes

Dip the putty knife into the wood filler and remove a small amount. Push the putty into the hole, dragging the putty knife over it to smooth it out. Continue adding putty and smoothing it as much as possible to fill the hole. Allow putty to dry. Sand excess putty down to wall level and wipe away the dust with a clean cloth.



Start with a small amount of putty; then add more if needed to save sanding time.

Step 3: Tape

Stick painter's tape to the edges of door facings and baseboards to protect them during painting. Stick painter's tape around the edges of the ceiling, too, if you fear getting paint on the ceiling.


If your tape is not firmly stuck to the trim, paint will bleed through.

Step 4: Cut in Edges

Pour a small amount of paint into a disposable cup. Dip the trim brush into the paint and apply to the top and bottom edges of the wall. Brush paint down each corner, from top to bottom. Be sure to brush paint 1 to 2 inches outside the corners so the rolled paint will blend nicely.


Choose an interior paint with low VOCs to cut down on strong odor and exposure to possible toxins. Open windows and use fans for proper ventilation when painting indoors.

Step 5: Get Rolling

Pour any remaining paint from the disposable cup into the paint tray liner. Add more from the paint can. Push the roller through the paint to cover the roller evenly. Drag the roller over the tray's upper ridges to remove excess paint. Roll paint onto the walls, starting at the top and using back-and-forth "V" strokes for best coverage. Reload the paint roller as needed and continue painting the room. Let it dry thoroughly to determine whether a second coat is needed. If so, brush on another coat around the walls' edges; then roll on a second coat. Allow the paint time to completely dry.


  • For very textured and stucco walls, use a roller cover with a 3/4- to 1 1/2-inch nap.
  • For lightly textured walls, choose a roller cover with a 3/8 to 1/2-inch nap.
  • For smooth walls and shelves, choose a roller cover with a 3/16 to 1/4-inch nap.
  • If you plan to paint the trim in your closet, remove the tape and paint with a fresh trim brush. You can tape along the freshly painted walls once they are dry to protect them from trim paint.

Step 6: Complete Closet

Remove the painter's tape and dropcloth. Return the shelving; then complete the job by returning other items to closet.


Ronna Pennington

Ronna Pennington, an experienced newspaper writer and editor, began writing full-time in 1989. Her professional crafting experience includes machine embroidery and applique. When she's not repainting her den or making new holiday decorations, Ronna researches and writes community histories. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and an Master of liberal arts in history.