painting a room

Painting a Room

Painting a room is straightforward and will save you money, here is our quick guide.


Remove all furniture if possible. It is advisable to lift and remove carpets, this is essential to do a professional job if the skirting boards require painting.

Fully cover anything not removed. Secure dust sheets so they cannot move whilst the work is underway. Protect light switches and power sockets etc. around their edges with masking tape and old newspaper.

Thorough preparation is essential for a professional final job. Use a sealant gun to fill long thin gaps around windows, doors or along skirting boards, smooth off with a wet finger or tool. Fill larger cracks and imperfections with a pre-mixed general purpose filler. Repair deep imperfections with several layers, thick layers of filler can take days to harden. Carefully sand all woodwork, wear protective eye wear and a face mask. Power sanders save time but generate far more dust. Finally clean thoroughly using a suitable detergent and rinse. Avoid using fluffy cloths.

If knots are a problem, sand down to bare wood and apply knotting solution. Prime bare wood with a suitable primer. Seal new plasterboard before painting with emulsion.

Vacuum thoroughly before starting to paint.

Choosing the Paint

For ceilings and walls, use emulsion paint. Trade brands are increasingly available in retail outlets, these can have better coverage so may require less coats. Various finishes are available and types for different applications such as kitchens or bathrooms which tend to have a higher gloss but are tougher wearing.

For woodwork, both oil and water based paints are available, experts tend to favour the former for application and finish, but the gap in durability has closed. Water based paints dry quicker which is advantageous if time is at a premium. Undercoat is advised even with so called one-coat finishes.

Follow your paint suppliers guidelines to estimate the quantity of paint you require.

Ceiling and Walls

All surfaces must be fully dry before starting. Open windows to ensure adequate ventilation.

Paint ceilings first. Use a brush for coving (if fitted), around obstructions, along the edges and in the corners, slightly overlap to ensure there are no gaps when you wallpaper or paint the walls. Paint rollers save time, choose one recommended for the type of paint and the surface; smooth or stippled. Small platforms are worth buying from a DIY stores, they are preferable to ladders. You can fit extension handles to some rollers but you need stamina and a steady hand. Remove excess paint from the roller before application, start from the window and work away, this makes it easier to see what you have done. Work in manageable sized areas with the aim to join up before drying. Emulsion paint can require thinning with water, do this reluctantly to avoid ruining the paints ability to cover.

Make sure the paint is fully dry before deciding if a second coat is necessary. Follow manufacturers guidelines on the time to allow between coats, noting that it may be extended in damp or cold conditions.

Paint walls similarly, start with the window wall, working downwards from the top in vertical strokes with the roller.

It is wise to buy a shaped scraper to remove excess paint from the roller back into the paint container before washing it with cold water, it is amazing how much paint they hold.

Woodwork etc.

Give woodwork a wipe over with a clean dry rag before starting.

Aim to paint windows as early in the day as possible to allow maximum drying time, this will help to avoid sticking. If it is not breezy, it’s worth removing the catches and stays to make the painting easier. Paint the opening panes first, working outwards from the glass. stand back and check that no strips have been missed! Use a pure bristle one inch brush, and its edge for critical sections where it meets the glass, it is useful to have a dry rag to remove any excess paint on the glass or other surfaces before it dries.

Remove door handles before painting. Paint plain doors from the top downwards. On panelled doors, paint the panels first followed by the central horizontal and vertical areas, then finally the outer vertical strips. Take care not to get too much paint in the lower corners of panels in order to avoid runs. Paint the door frame, taking care where it meets the wall, to decide what belongs to the room you are decorating, open the door, if you can see it than paint it!

Before painting the skirting, it is wise to lightly vacuum it again first. Be careful not to allow the brush to touch the floor, it will certainly pick up dust or grit. Before the paint has dried, brush out any runs.

When the undercoat is definitely dry, lightly sand with fine sandpaper. It is wise to apply a further coat to heavy use areas such as window sills.

Clean brushes used for oil based paints first with white spirit then with soap and water. Use water for cleaning brushes and rollers used for water based paints.


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