You’ve all heard the phrase ‘if the job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it properly’, so rather than just slapping up some paint and hoping for the best, why not take a few minutes to read our top tips for painting walls the professional way?
Painting your walls (and ceiling) is a quick and easy way to refresh your décor without spending too much cash – but if you don’t want to hire a professional decorator, then it’s definitely worth investing a bit of time to ensure you get a good finish nonetheless.
Our top 10 tips for painting walls so they look perfect
- General preparation
However careful you are, paint has a habit of occasionally getting where you don’t want it to go, so unless you’re going for the Jackson Pollock look, it’s worth removing or covering anything that you don’t want to get a covering! Use dustsheets or plastic sheeting to cover floors and large pieces of furniture – which should be shifted into the middle of the room. Don’t forget to stick on some old clothes too.
If you want to get a really professional result, you should also invest in some decorators caulk to make good any gaps between skirting boards, door/window frames and the walls you’re about to paint.
- Pre-painting wall prep
This is the bit that most people skip, but before painting, you really should prepare the surface properly. If the surface is just been plastered, then use sandpaper to smooth off any blemishes or rough patches. Then, regardless of the surface, you should give them a quick wash down with some sugar soap (household detergent or soapy water will work just as well). Give them another wipe over with plain water and make sure they’re fully dried before applying any paint. When painting on bare plaster, you’ll need to apply a primer or basecoat to stop your lovely paint soaking straight into the walls.
Once cleaned, you can get the masking tape out and mask off any edges where walls/ceilings meet, or frames/skirting, to keep your lines neat and tidy.
- Tools of the trade
You’ve got three choices about how to cover the wall: paintbrushes, paint pads or rollers. You’ll definitely need a couple of paintbrushes, but for larger areas, a roller is probably the best choice. You can get specialist ‘cutting in’ paintbrushes which are angled to help you get a tidy finish, or you can use a ½ or 1” brush instead.
Don’t skimp on price here – a better quality brush will last longer, cope with washing and drying and you’ll be less likely to spend time removing stray hairs that have worked their way out and onto the walls. When choosing your roller, go for a higher nap (thickness) if the surface is rough or uneven, or a lower nap if you have nice smooth walls. Unless you’re removing the radiators completely, you’ll also need to purchase a radiator roller so that you can get the paint down behind them.
- The order of things
If you’re painting the room from top to bottom, you need to start at the top! Always do your ceiling first, otherwise you risk splashing paint on the walls. While this isn’t a problem if you’re using the same colour throughout, it’s still the best place to start, as you won’t be at risk of smudging or marking the walls with your elbows when working on the ceiling. Once the ceiling has the required number of coats, you can start on the walls themselves.
Your woodwork should always be the last thing you paint – wait until the emulsion is fully dry and then use masking tape above the skirting line to help give you that neat, straight edge. You can find out about preparing your wood for painting here.
- Cutting in
This is the bit that people worry about most, but providing you take your time, there’s no reason why it has to be a stress. Using the edge of a small paintbrush or specially designed angled brush, use firm, steady strokes to brush the paint along the lines where the wall meets the corner of another wall or along the edge of the ceiling. This is where masking tape can help too, but it’s not completely necessary: it depends on whether you’re using different colours or shades the different walls. Follow the same process around door and window frames, and skirting boards too.
- Loading and pressure
First of all, it’s really important that you don’t overload your brush or roller. When working with a paintbrush, make sure you only dip the bristles about a third of the way down into the paint, removing any excess before you apply. You can do this using the side of the tin, but a better method is to put a large, strong elastic band over the paint pot which you can use to wipe your brush against – this keeps the side clean and will stop the lid from welding on when you’re done!
With rollers, carefully pour some paint into the tray and roll the roller down into the paint, using the higher part of the tray to distribute it more evenly.
Use a fairly light, even pressure and work in all directions to get a smooth coat.
- How much is enough?
The number of coats you need will depend on the surface and the paint itself. If you’re covering a darker colour with a lighter one, then you’ll need at least two coats. However, you can buy specialist one coat paint that should do exactly what it says on the tin providing it’s not a very light colour over a very dark one.
It’s fair to say that you’ve probably got more interesting things to do than spend days painting the walls – but if you want to get a good, tidy finish, you may have to exercise a little patience! Make sure that the previous coat is completely dry before you start applying the next. Follow the instructions on the tin and air the room well while you work.
- Cleaning up
Your brushes and roller should be good to use again – but only if you look after them properly. For water-based paints, such as emulsion, you can use regular soap/dishwashing liquid and hot water for cleaning. Remove any excess by painting onto some old newspaper first and once clean, pat them dry with an old rag or paper towel. If you’ve used oil based paints, such as gloss, you’ll need to use turps or white spirit to wash the brushes out. You can stand your brushes in a jar for a short while before rinsing them through with clean spirit or turps, but don’t leave them too long or you’ll damage the bristles.
- One last tip…
If you’ve used several similar shades over the room or throughout the house, it’s a really good idea to clearly label your paint pots with the room name and whether it was used on the ceiling, or which walls. This makes it much easier if you need to do any touch ups in the future. When storing your paint, make sure the lid is completely sealed.
We hope these tips for painting walls have been useful to you – but if you really can’t bear the thought of doing it yourself, and you live in the Leeds or Harrogate area, you can always give us a call and we’ll come along and give you a no-obligation quote!