How to paint a room like a pro

The prep is done, now it’s time to get painting.

At first it seems so easy – you just need some paint and a roller, right?

But once you get down to it, you can soon feel like you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew.

How do we achieve perfect edges, smooth finishes and not get stuck in a corner?

It turns out there are lots of common DIY mistakes when it comes giving a room a lick of paint.

To help you do the job perfectly yourself, we asked Justyna Korczynska, colour consultant at Crown Paint, for some tips..

Justyna is part of the Crown Creative Design Studio and is an expert in paints. She is involved in various design projects and forecasts the colour influencers for the upcoming seasons.

What you’ll need

  • Good roller and brushes
  • Masking tape.

1. Where to start?

That’s always a good point. You start at the top and work down. So if it’s a room you would normally start with ceilings, walls, (irrespective of colour) trim (i.e. doors, architrave, windows), but always leave the skirting to last as this is where dust and bits settle that can contaminate the paint.

You work in a systematic way from (say) a corner or an edge in small areas with a loaded brush or roller dispersing the paint across the surface then blending in the next loaded brush or roller full, until the perfect finish is achieved.

2. The ceiling

When painting the ceiling always use a matt emulsion and start by painting around the edges of the ceiling with a brush – this is called ‘cutting-in.’

This is a guiding point where you need to roll up to. It is always recommended to use the brush on its edge, working in long, sweeping movements.

For best results, use a quality 2½-inch brush. If you’re not confident with ‘cutting-in’ then masking tape is a good option.

3. The walls

Continue the same process as the ceiling by cutting in at the edges then being with rolling.

A matt emulsion is always recommended for walls, and depending on colour, two coats will give the best finish.

4. Rolling

Once you’ve painted around the edges, next we move on to rolling.

Make sure you dampen your roller first as this helps it to pick up the paint. Apply the paint to the ceiling in a ‘W’ motion to even the paint out.

Cover the area, a section at a time, starting in one corner, overlapping each section by a third for even coverage.

To avoid splatter, keep a consistent pressure and don’t roll too quickly. A second coat might be required once dry.

5. The doors

Painting the interior doors can make a huge difference in a room.

When choosing which paint to use, satin is usually recommended for a mid-sheen finish. It’s easy to use, dries quickly and stays whiter longer.

For best results, a door needs to be painted in a certain order. Start with the edges, then move on to the mouldings and panels, using the edge of the brush for the recesses.

On the flatter surfaces, use the flat part of the brush to cover the surface with paint, brush left and right, followed by up and down strokes to spread the paint evenly.

Once you have done the inlays, move on to the rest of the door.

First, paint the vertical centre panels, followed by the horizontals, before finishing with the long side strips. For a good finish, load the brush generously and spread the paint across the surface, before finishing with long, gentle strokes.

Do not rework the paint once it’s started to dry as this will create an uneven finish.

6. The skirting boards

The skirting board should always be the last thing you paint.

Before you start, run a strip of masking tape along the floor.

For the decorative coat, use any paint designed for wood and metal, such as gloss, satin and eggshell.

Start painting across the top, use the edge of a brush to cut in with long, sweeping movements.

Now move onto the flat side. Load your brush and introduce it to the board, making a short, vertical movement, before a long sweep with the flat of the brush along the length of the board.

Work in easy-to-manage sections. When moving to the next section, start
at the far side and brush into the section you just painted for an even finish.

Common mistakes and how to solve them

Glossing smoothly

Either use a small mini roller to distribute the paint across the surface evenly and roller off in one direction or apply by brush to smallish area moving the paint in different directions to even this out, before laying off in one direction.

Both methods are done methodically in small areas blending into the area done previously – decorators call this ‘maintaining a wet edge’.

Painting corners

This best achieved with a brush not fully loaded with paint, so it can be pushed on to the surface to spread the bristles or filaments apart, manipulating the paint with the edge of the brush into the corner or alongside adjoining wall for cutting in.

For the perfect edges

Most decorators will have a set a preferred brushes suited to the type of paint they use, but the technique of “cutting-in” is to use the edge of the brush as opposed to the flat as you often have more control.

At Crown, we always recommend a 2-inch paintbrush when cutting in at the edges.

Always stir the paint

Not with a screwdriver, bamboo cane or a twig, it’s got to be a flat bladed piece of metal or wood that easily reaches the bottom of the tin – this will ensure all the paint is mixed.

Always use paint from paint trays and paint kettles

This will help by restricting the amount you initially need so it’s easier to handle and less likely to dry out so quick, or in an event should you knock it over. Top tip – it also enables you to stand the brush in during breaks so brush doesn’t dry out.

Know the edge

When cutting-in always use the edge of the brush as opposed to the flat as you often have more control.

Don’t forget the base

When applying a pale colour over walls that are painted in darker shades, apply a layer of white paint as a base coat first.

If you have a lighter colour on the walls and you want to replace this with a dark colour you need to allow for an extra layer of the darker shade.

For example, if it is recommended on the paint tin to use two coats you should allow for three to get full coverage.

Radical radiators

To paint behind a radiator use a long-handled radiator roller (available in most good DIY shops or Crown Trade Decorator Centres) to reach behind the radiator as far as you can.

What to do with wallpaper

To paint over standard wallpaper, use a long roller to cover a large space. Try diluting the paint slightly (ten per cent) with clean water, allowing the paint to easily get into the nooks of the wallpaper for an even coverage.

Don’t sink

Paint should not be disposed of down the sink, recycling centres will have an area where paint can be disposed of.

Store any leftover paint carefully

Once the lid is securely replaced give the tin a shake so the paint creates an airtight seal and place the right way up following the guidance on the back of the tin.

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