How do you paint a room – just open the tin, grab a brush and slap it on I hear you say. Well actually no. You will get better results, with a longer lasting finish and not get paint all over your furniture, windows and skirting boards if you follow a few basic steps.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

One of the most important, but often over looked steps is preparing the area you are going to paint before you start. To a novice, it might seem to be a bit of a waste of time, but anyone who has painted a few times (and attempted to clean up afterwards) knows it will actually save time in the long run. It will also give you a much neater finish, and your room is less likely to look like a couple of 5 year olds have gone to town on it. These are things you need to do to prepare;

  1. You need to space to work so that means moving furniture away from the walls. Do not paint around furniture because if you want to replace or move the item at a later date you won’t be able to fill in the gaps without this being obvious. If you don’t give yourself plenty of room to access the walls you will be contorting yourself while you paint making spills and paintbrush slips much more likely. If you can’t take all the furniture down pile it in the center of the room and cover it with a dust sheet.
  2. If you have pictures, ornaments, shelves or wine racks on the wall, it is also a good idea to take them down before you start. In many cases this will be quicker than trying to paint round them and clean off paint.
  3. Dust the wall with a brush, cloth or vacuum. Wipe the dust of skirting boards. Don’t skip this step otherwise you will get dust clumps in your paint that discolour and lump up your nice new paint. If the walls are greasy (for example in an old kitchen) then you will have to wash them with a detergent – if you don’t your paint will not stick tot eh walls giving you a patchy finish that quickly peels off.
  4. If your walls are mouldy, then you need to kill the mould and bleach the wall. If you don’t, the mould will quickly grow through your new paint staining it again. Wipe over the mould with a medium strength bleach solution (remember to protect carpets and furniture before you do this as the bleach will ruin them). If the room is damp then buy a special anti-mould paint.

Choose the Right Paint

The paint that you choose is very important, as not only does the colour have to be right, but you have to choose the right type of paint for the job. Emulsion paint is designed to be used on walls, while gloss paint is best for woodwork or metal, such as radiators. You can also buy special metal paint and also types of paint more resistant to high temperatures for radiators or around fires.

You can pick up paint from nearly anywhere these days but remember that you do get what you pay for. If you want good lasting coverage with one coat you can’t buy a cheap paint.

In general small areas are easier to do with a paint brush. If you have a large area to paint, invest in a roller as it will save you a great deal of time and hand cramp. You can also buy extendable handles for rollers allowing you to reach the top of high walls or ceilings. Ceilings are very hard (and incredibly messy) to paint with a brush. Note that the texture of the paint will be different if you use a roller or a brush. With a brush the texture is quite flat but a roller will give a slight stipple effect. Also be aware that rollers are quite messy – they shower you and the ground underneath the wall with tiny droplets of paint so make sure you have covered all the exposed areas with sheets and tape before you start.

Even if you use a paint roller, a paint brush is still an absolute must have, as it lets you paint around detailed areas freehand, such as light switches, along skirting boards and doorways in a process known as ‘cutting in’. This allows you to carefully work around these areas and avoid making a mess with a roller.

Protect yourself

Painting is a messy job, so make sure that you wear old clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting covered in paint. You will get paint in your hair, consider tying it up and covering it.


Make sure that you stir your paint really well before you start. Paint separates over time and the top will be really thin and the stuff at the bottom of the tin thick. So stir, stir, stir, until the paint is of an even consistency.

Have A Wet Rag Handy

You will spill paint and/or paint things you didn’t want to. Make sure you have a wet rag at the ready to wipe up mistakes. It’s best to wipe it off straight away before it has time to dry. If you are using an emulsion (water based paint) then a rag with water on it will do. If you are using oil based paint then you will need a rag soaked in turpentine or paint remover.