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How to paint your walls nearly…nearly as good as a pro

Painting a room is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to breathe some new life into the home. Painting is also one of those DIY jobs that just about anyone feels comfortable with, while many of us wouldn’t know where to begin when it came to wiring our own house or installing a new bathroom. Slapping some paint on the walls seems comparatively straightforward.

That is of course not to say that most DIYers are as good as a professional painter and decorator. The fact of the matter is that the professionals have years of experience, do the job day in day out, and know all of the trade secrets to leave a brilliant finish. However, if you’d like to know how to paint a room… nearly as good as a pro, here’s a step by step guide.

What you need

  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes 
  • Rollers 
  • Paint trays
  • Cutting-in brushes or painter’s tape 
  • Sugar soap 
  • Filler 
  • Filler knife 
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust sheets

Put down your dust sheets

Like so many things in life, when ‘painting a room’ you’ll find that most of your time is actually in the preparation to do it and clean up afterwards, the actual painting is a very small part of the job. 

Begin by clearing the room of as much furniture and objects as you can. Any items of furniture which you cannot remove from the room will need to be protected with dust sheets, as well as your floor (even the flooring beneath furniture you’ve left in the room which is already covered by a dust sheet!). 

Prepare your walls

Once you have protected the floor and furniture you can begin to get the walls ready for painting by sanding them.

To ensure a tip-top job you should repair any imperfections such as superficial cracks and holes from picture hooks using your filler and trusty filler knife. Remember, you will need to wait for the filler to dry and re-sand these areas to ensure they are perfectly smooth before painting. 

Now wash the walls using a sugar soap solution — this is a particularly important job if there are any remnants of wallpaper paste on your walls, or you are painting walls that can get particularly greasy e.g. those in the kitchen. 

Taping off or cutting in 

Now, you need to decide whether you are going to be taking the safe-but-laborious route of taping up your edges or try your hand at cutting in.

Taping up your edges it relatively easy, but incredibly time-consuming, and is generally the best choice for those with little experience in painting and decorating. Using specialist painter’s tape go around the room protecting any surfaces adjacent to your walls that you do not want to paint, for example, skirting boards and around door frames, power outlets and light switches. Take your time to ensure the tape only covers the areas you want to protect. 

Cutting in is the method favoured by the pros as it can take literally hours off of how long it will take to finish painting a room and saves money too, but it’s riskier. To cut in you will need a 5cm angled sash brush and a small paint tray with about 2.5cm of paint in it. 

Hold the brush like you would a pencil with your index finger on top of the handle. 

Dip just the first third of the brushes bristles in the paint, and tap well to remove any excess. Paint a downwards strip on the wall about 10 cm away from the desired line you want to paint to remove even more excess paint. 

Now is your moment of truth, line the brush up so that its narrow end is perfectly lined up with the edge you want to paint, whether it’s a horizontal or vertical edge) then paint along it smoothly and confidently. If you’ve done this right you should have a perfectly straight line of paint without even a speck of paint on the edge you were trying to protect. 

A hand painting a white wall with a roller brush Painting  

Now that you have either expertly painted in all of the lines around the room’s various edges, or you have cautiously and studiously protected them with tape. You can finally start painting! Ensure that the room is as ventilated as possible, and any windows that can be opened are opened. 

Remember, to use the right brushes for the job, pure bristle for gloss and synthetic bristled brushes for water-based paint like emulsion. If you’re painting the ceiling as well as the walls, this is where you should start. It’s safer and faster to use a roller on an extension pole than it is to use a ladder to get up there. Don’t overload the roller or paint will spray everywhere. As you get closer to the edges replace your roller for a medium sized brush. 

Once the ceiling has dried, you can start on the walls with your roller. Working your roller in vertical lines will produce the best result, and the pros will tell you, you should always do one wall at a time. 

Once you’ve finished painting the entire room, the good news is once it’s dried you have to do it again a further two times! No one ever wants to do the second and third coats, but you really have to in order to ensure a good finish. Remember you should really let the paint dry properly before you go on with additional coats. 

Expert’s tip

Paint has a habit of getting everywhere, even if you think you’ve got away scot-free, there probably is paint on you somewhere. As it’s unlikely you want to get it anywhere else in your home, put an additional dust sheet outside the door of the room your painting. Use this area as a base where you can take off your shoes and overalls each time you nip to the loo or to make yourself a well-earned builder’s brew, so you don’t traipse paint through your entire home. 

Finishing off 

“Always wash your brushes and put your ladders away” is a phrase beloved of painters and decorators and the wisdom stands true. At the end of each day clean your brushes, if not the next time you come back to them they will be a rock-hard mess, that you’ll likely chuck in the bin before purchasing a new set.

Use paint-thinner or white spirit to clean off gloss paints and warm soapy water for emulsion. 

Admire your work 

Once you’ve finished your third and final coats and they have completely dried. It’s time to reap your reward. Pack away your tools, ensure that the paint on the dust sheets has completely dried so you don’t contaminate the room when you fold them up. Remove the painter’s tape if you used it and put your furniture back in place. Now it is time to beckon the rest of your household so that they can awe at your near-professional-painting-skills. 

Looking for more home improvement inspiration and tips? Don’t hesitate to contact us

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