How to Paint a Room – Preparation is Key
Decorating – Painting a Room
Completing even a small room in a single weekend can be difficult if you use solvent-based paints, because they must be left to dry thoroughly before you apply subsequent coats. Provided you have painted or papered the ceiling and prepared the walls the previous weekend, you should be able to apply two coats of emulsion to the walls in one day, so long as you get started reasonably early. If on the second day you are running out of time, try to leave the work at a stage where you can finish painting over a couple of evenings or the next weekend.
However, if you really need to finish the job quickly, use fast-drying acrylic paints and water-based primers, or consider using one-coat paints which eliminate the need for undercoats.
- 50mm (2in) paintbrush
- 150mm (6in) paintbrush or paint roller
Starting with the Walls
Cover the floor with dust sheets and erect a safe work platform, so you can reach the top of a wall and cover as much of it as possible. You will complete the job in much less time and achieve better results if you don’t have to keep moving a stepladder.
Choosing the paint
Emulsion paint is most people’s first choice for decorating indoors: it is relatively cheap, practically odourless, and there are several qualities of paint to suit different circumstances.
Vinyl emulsions are the most popular and practical paints for walls and ceilings. They are available in liquid or thixotropic (non-drip) consistencies, with matt or satin (semi-gloss) finishes. You will need to apply two coats of standard emulsion to avoid a patchy, uneven appearance, perhaps thinning the first coat slightly when painting porous surfaces.
A one-coat, high-opacity emulsion is intended to save you time, but you will not get satisfactory results if you try to apply it too thinly, especially when overpainting strong colours.
New-plaster emulsions are specially formulated for new interior walls and ceilings, to allow moisture vapour to escape; standard vinyl emulsions are not sufficiently permeable.
The right approach
Always finish a complete wall before you take a break, otherwise a change of tone may show between two sections painted at different times.
- Use a small brush to paint the edges, starting at a top corner of the room. If you are right-handed, work from right to left, and vice versa.
- Using a wide brush or roller, apply emulsion paint to cover an area of about 600 to 900mm (2 to 3ft) square at a time, working in horizontal bands across the room. If you prefer to use a solvent-based paint, brush on the finish in vertical bands.
Painting with Paintbrushes
A brush about 200mm (8in) wide will cover an area quickly, but if you are not used to handling a large brush, your wrist will soon tire; you may find a 150mm (6in) brush more comfortable to use, even though the job will take a little longer. You will also need a 50mm (2in) brush for the edges and corners.
- Don’t overload a brush with paint; it leads to messy work, and ruins the bristles if the paint is allowed to dry in the roots. Dip no more than the first third of the brush into the paint, wiping off excess on the side of the container to prevent drips. When using thixotropic paint, load the brush and apply paint without removing excess.
- You can hold the brush whichever way feels comfortable to you, but the ‘pen’ grip is the most versatile, enabling your wrist to move the brush freely in any direction. Hold the brush handle between your thumb and forefinger, with your fingers on the ferrule (metal band) and your thumb supporting it from the other side. Apply the paint in vertical strokes, then spread it at right angles to even out the coverage.
Painting with a Roller
A paint roller with interchangeable sleeves is an excellent tool for applying paint to large areas. Choose a roller about 225mm (9in) long for painting walls. Larger ones are available, but they become tiring to use.
There are a number of different sleeves to suit the type of paint and texture of the surface. Long-haired sheepskin and synthetic-fibre sleeves are the most practical for textured surfaces, especially when applying emulsion paint.
- You will need a special paint tray to load a standard roller. Having dipped the sleeve lightly into the paint reservoir, roll it gently onto the ribbed part of the tray to coat the roller evenly.
- Use zig-zag strokes with the roller, painting the surface in all directions to achieve an even coverage. Keep the roller on the surface at all times: if you let it at the end of a stroke, it will spatter paint onto the floor or adjacent surfaces.