A Practical Guide To Painting Your Home

A Practical Guide To Painting Your Home


Lockdown has given us the time to take on some of the home improvements we never quite get around to… And there’s nothing like fresh paint to transform a room, but doing the job properly isn’t as simple as having the right brush and wearing overalls. Here is your idiot-proof guide to painting like a pro.



Move or cover precious furniture

“Remove as much as you can from the room you are painting and cover any remaining furniture/objects and, of course, your flooring with your choice of sheet,” advises James Hughes, in-house decorator at Graham & Brown. It’s important to have peace of mind that anything you’re worried about is completely out of harm’s way so you can get on with the job. “Secure it with a little bit of tape to prevent movement while you’re painting,” adds James. And don’t forget to take down any artwork and remove the hooks.


Prepare the walls

The most important stage of any paint job is the preparation of the walls, ceilings and woodwork, to ensure they are free from grease, dust, holes and flaky plaster or paper. That includes sanding down surfaces with a 180-grit fine sandpaper, and filling in any holes from wall art using polyfiller and a flat scraping tool. “Just take a small amount of filler with the edge of your scraper and holding it at 45º against the wall, pull the filler across the hole,” explains James. “Then, holding the scraper to the wall at a 90º angle, remove any excess filler.” As for how long filler should be left to dry, follow the packet instructions before using some fine sandpaper to remove any excess. If you’re not painting onto an existing painted wall, it might be worth diluting a little of the new paint to patch prime the filled holes. “If you have more than a few holes bigger than a 10p piece, prime to be safe,” says James. Finally, don’t forget to sand down the woodwork or skirting boards if you’re planning to paint them too. We find this sanding tool makes things easier.


Wash everything down 

Skipping this step could result in your walls chipping, while the finish is bound to look less professional. It’s also a particularly important step to complete if walls have previously been painted with an oil-based or glossy product. “Use a damp sponge to wash your wall,” says James. “Sugar soap or diluted washing-up liquid work perfectly – the most important part of this step is making sure your choice of cleaning product has been properly washed off and is perfectly dry before painting.”


Tape off certain areas

To be completely thorough, and if you have a screwdriver handy, you might want to unscrew the plug sockets and light switches so none get flecked with paint as you go. If you’re not willing to go that far, says James, use your choice of tape to go around any edges of things you don’t wish to paint. Traditional advice points to painter’s tape or masking tape to get the job done, but we prefer frog tape to keep lines super sharp. 



Calculate your needs

Not sure how much paint you might need to get the job done? The paint team at Wickes explains: “First, measure your walls and ceilings, and don’t worry about subtracting doors and windows as it’s always good to have a little extra.” Then, assuming you’re allowing for two coats of paint, the paint packaging should state how much paint you’ll need. “Buy each type of paint in one go,” add the Wickes team. “This will ensure it’s from the same batch and avoid any very slight differences in colour.”


Mix your colour, clean your tools

If the room requires more than one tin of paint, it’s advisable to mix the two together in a paint kettle before you start to ensure a perfectly even colour. Just remember to stir it thoroughly. Not sure how long to stir? “Pop your favourite song on and stir your paint for the whole tune or about three minutes,” says James. It might be worth using plastic liners in your buckets/trays to save washing up your equipment every time – this also makes it easier to switch between colours as you go.

Wickes also advises making sure all tools are clean and dry before jumping in. “Wash your tools thoroughly before use, even if they are brand new, as this will remove any manufacturing particles,” the team explains. “Be sure to allow them to dry before starting.” If they’ve previously been used, use a brush comb to remove paint from inside the brush – it makes the tool last longer by maintaining the shape of the bristles.

Finally, make sure you have relevant safety equipment to hand, such as goggles, face masks and painter’s overalls to minimise contact with paint or fumes. Check the ventilation is adequate and, if the weather is good, open up windows and doors as much as possible.


Start with the ceiling

If you’re planning to paint the ceiling as part of the redecoration process, the Wickes team advises it’s best to start here. “Always start by painting the ceiling first to stop drips falling onto freshly painted walls,” they explain. “Assemble a step ladder and put on your safety goggles. Then, transfer some of the paint into a paint kettle to avoid carrying the heavy tin up the ladder.”

From there, paint a 50-70mm thick strip around the edge of the ceiling with a medium-sized stiff paint brush – a process known as ‘cutting in’. A good set of brushes is a must. From there, pour your paint in a kettle or pail – preferably one with a magnet to hold your brush in place while you are rolling. Start by painting in the direction of the light source coming through a window. “To avoid visible lines where the paint has dried at different times, start by focusing on the area that you have just ‘cut into’ and blend wet paint with wet paint,” advise Wickes. “Roll with a mixture of up, down and W movements, and continue until you have covered the entire ceiling.”

Crucially, this technique will ensure the ceiling has the same texture as the walls (just check that all rollers you’re using have the same NAP (thickness) to get a consistent finish. A good-quality sleeve will also mean minimal flint is left behind. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time, before repeating for the second coat.


Apply an undercoat to the walls

Moving onto the walls, it might be necessary to start with an undercoat to neutralise any past decorating colours – especially if the previous tone was dark. “Use a medium paint brush to cut in and apply a coat of white emulsion,” advises Wickes. “Don’t worry about blending wet paint with wet paint on these coats, as they will be covered with top coats.” Use a roller to apply the undercoat to the rest of the walls before following the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time. Repeat with a second coat. The experts at Farrow & Ball warn that plaster surfaces – which are porous, chalky or slightly degraded – will need a coat of masonry and/or plaster stabilising primer before a standard emulsion undercoat is applied. For the most seamless finish, try matching the tone of your undercoat to your eventual paint colour. 


Again, cut in the edges first

Start by cutting in all your edges with a brush to give you a framework within which to use your roller. Wickes suggests starting with the edges adjacent to the ceiling first. “Using the corner of the brush and smooth strokes, create a straight line. Remember to only cut in one area at a time so you can blend wet paint with wet paint.” If you get any paint on the ceiling, wipe it off with a dry cloth or cover it with emulsion once you’ve finished. Depending on your height or reach, it might be necessary to add an extension pole to your roller to get to those harder to reach areas. Start in the middle of the wall, and spread the paint up to the top, then down to bottom. When you move onto the next row, remember to overlap the paint by at least half so you always keep a wet edge. Still not sure? Watch one of these online tutorials for full guidance. Finish by ‘laying up your paint’ – very lightly roll over each section in one direction to even the surface out seamlessly. Then, leave for four to six hours to dry (depending on the room temperature) before repeating the process for a second coat. Remember, try to paint an entire wall in one go to reduce the chance of visible lines.


Remove the tape

It goes against traditional advice, but pulling tape off when paint is slightly wet eliminates the risk of cracking the edges and leaving a bad finish. “Leave the correct amount of time for your paint to dry before hanging any wall art or pushing your furniture up to the walls,” adds James. “It may be dry to the touch, but that doesn’t mean it is fully dried.” Finally, make sure your room is well lit so you can spot any areas you might have missed and check the paint looks consistent from every angle.

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