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The Ultimate Guide to Painting A Room for Beginners

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If you’re spending a little more time at home than usual, you may have a hankering to change things up. One of the easiest ways to redecorate your space and give it a whole new look? Give it a fresh coat of paint!

There’s only one problem – you’re a complete novice to painting. If you’ve never painted a room, you might feel overwhelmed or daunted at the idea. But fear not – painting a room is actually a lot easier than you might think. You just need to take things to step by step, and before you know it, your room will be fresh, painted, and gleaming.

Follow our list of top tips that will help you paint any room in your home.

Start by picking your paint

The first step is always a lot of fun – choosing the perfect colour for your space! Think about your existing décor and select a colour that will work well with your furniture, flooring, and artwork. Follow these steps to choose your shade and brand of paint.

Choosing a brand

When it comes to selecting the brand, the rule usually is that if you spend a little more, you get a little more. The cheaper the paint, the more coats you’ll need, and the finish won’t be as flawless.[1] For interior painting, this can make quite a noticeable difference. Own brands tend to be the thinnest (and the cheapest), followed by brands such as Dulux and Crown. Farrow and Ball is the premium choice, requiring the fewest coats. However, you’ll pay for it! It usually costs around £39 for a 2.5L tin.

Take home a number of paint strips

Home stores have vast selections of paint strips that show off all of the different hues sold by each brand. Select the sample cards you’re most interested in, and bring them home to hold up against your walls, furniture, and carpets.

Look at them in the light

Sunlight and shadow affect the look of paint, so it’s a good idea to hold them up against your walls at different times of the day. Try tacking them up onto your walls so that you can look at them when you pass by.

Shortlist your colours and buy small sample pots

All paint brands sell small tester pots or packets. Once you’ve narrowed down your favourite colours, paint two coats on white paper (or directly onto the wall, if you’re feeling bold). That way, you’ll really get a feel for the colour, finish, and texture.

Think about the finish

Do you want a glossy, reflective surface, or something more matter that will absorb the light and make your colour selection look darker? Most people choose matte for interior walls, but it can stain easily and is hard to clean without removing paint. Glossy paint looks good in some rooms, but you need to carefully prep your walls to prevent imperfections.[2]

Latex or oil-based paint?

Latex paint dries quickly and cleans up easily, but it wears hard and doesn’t last as long as oil-based paints. Oil paints are very durable and are therefore a good choice for high traffic areas and trims.[3]

Will you paint the ceiling?

Most people default to white ceilings, but matching them to your walls can look fantastic and make your room seem bigger.

How much are you willing to spend?

Cheaper paints may seem like a good value at the outset, but you’ll need to use more of them and paint more coats. As a result, your finish won’t be as pristine, as it tends to get more textured with each coat.[4]


Select your painting tools

Now that you’ve chosen your paint, you’re almost ready to get started. But first, it’s time to gather up your tools. Choosing the right tools will get you set up for success with suitable rollers and brushes for the job at hand. You’ll need brushes for edging, and rollers for the larger sections.

Choosing your bristle brushes

For a smooth finish, choose synthetic bristle brushes for latex paints, and natural bristles for solvent-based paints. Not sure which one to choose? Go for a combined bristle paintbrush which will work with any type of paint.[5] It’s always smart to invest in a ‘no loss’ brush so that stray bristles don’t ruin your finish.

What brush size do you need?

You’ll need different sized brushes for different parts of your room. 100mm-150mm works well for wide swaths, and 25mm is better for edging and trims.

Brush shape?

If you’re a complete novice, you’ll likely wonder, “there’s more than one?” But your brush shape is actually quite important for tackling different jobs. A sash brush works for fiddly areas, so it’s good to have one on hand.

Choosing paint roller pile

There are three types of pile to choose from – short, medium, and long, each designed for textured walls. For flat surfaces you’ll want short pile, for smooth surfaces you’ll want medium pile, and for texture surfaces you should use long pile.[6]

Invest in a roller extension pole

You’ll be happy you spent a few extra quid when your extension pole saves your neck and back, especially if you decide to paint your ceiling!

Gather your extra tools

You’ll need a few other tools to get started, including a paint can opener, a stir stick, roller trays and roller covers, sandpaper (for prepping), a damp cloth, a putty knife, and Polyfilla.


Preparing your room and walls for painting

You’ve chosen your colour, you’ve gathered your tools – now it’s time to get your room prepped and ready to paint!

Remove your furniture, or cover it with drop cloths

Can you move all of your furniture out of the room? If not, cover it with canvas drop cloths. You don’t want paint dripping on your cherished mementoes or Scandi chairs!

Apply low-tack masking tape

Low-tack masking tape will protect your carpets, flooring, and windowsills, and light switches without removing the paint when you pull it off.

Locate and fill all holes

Scan your walls for cracks, holes, or gouges, and then use a putty knife to apply Polyfilla, scraping off any excess. When it dries, sand it down so that it is smooth and flush to the wall.

Scrape peeling paint

See any peeling paint? Use your putty knife to scrape it away, and then finish it off with sandpaper in the next step.

Sand down glossy walls

If you’re painting over glossy walls, sand them down gently first with very fine sandpaper. This will help the new paint adhere better. However, make sure you carefully hoover and wipe away the dust, as it can gum up your new paint and ruin the finish.

Give your walls a wash

Mix up a bucket of mild soap and water. Using a clean rag, wash down your walls to prevent oil and dirt from spoiling your paint job.

Do you need a primer?

Priming always gives the best results, allowing your coloured paint to adhere better and last much longer.[7] It’s also necessary when painting a light colour over a darker hue, and when you’ve used Polyfilla. Some people just slap some primer over any filled holes. While this works, it can be inconsistent – it’s better to prime your entire wall rather than small patches.


Time to get painting!

Whew! Now that you’ve done the essential prep work, it’s time to get started with the painting.

Mix all of your paint into one bucket and stir well

Crack open all of your tins of paint and mix them into a large plastic bucket, mixing them vigorously. If you pour paint from different tins into different trays, it can react and oxidise differently. Also, no matter how careful your retailer is when mixing your paint, small discrepancies can occur between tins. This step ensures that your paint is consistent throughout your room.

Only dip your brush around 1cm into the paint

When it comes to your paintbrush, less is more. Just dip the tip of your brush a cm into the paint to prevent dripping and sloppy textures in the finish.

Time to ‘cut in!’

Now it’s time to ‘cut in’ by painting the edges and corners that your roller can’t access.[8] You do this with a tiny trim brush, painting a 10cm strip around your ceiling, trims, and light switches.

Can you cut in and paint the next day?

While it doesn’t matter for some colours and finishes, it’s always a good idea to continue painting while the area you have cut in is still wet.

Paint the room from top to bottom

You’ve cut in, and now it’s time to start painting from the top to the bottom. If you’re doing the ceiling, do two coats and allow to dry completely before moving onto the walls.

Try the ‘W’ technique with your roller and keep a ‘wet edge’

Roll your paint on the wall in a W pattern, and then go over the W from different angles – all without lifting your roller from the wall. Always align your roller with the wet edge from the previous brush stroke, allowing you to seamlessly blend your paint and prevent visible brush strokes.[9] In other words, don’t let the previous stroke dry before painting over it.

Don’t ‘hatband’ your walls

You’ve probably seen ‘hatbanding’ before – it’s a smooth brushed band that occurs when you use a wide brush too close to the ceiling or trim. To avoid it, use a smaller brush and paint as close as you can to the edges.[10]


Cleaning your brushes

Save time and money by cleaning your brushes properly or storing them in the freezer for later use.

How to clean off an old brush

Do you have a crusty old brush kicking around the house? Use a plastic comb to remove the residue, clean it thoroughly with paint thinner, and wash with soapy water. Allow it to dry thoroughly before use.

Clean your brushes at the end of the day

When you’re finished with a painting job, clean your brushes with white spirit and/or soapy water. If you’re painting for a long stretch, give your brushes a periodic wash to keep them working their best. Nothing is worse than a gummy brush!

Do you need to take a break?

You don’t always need to pack everything away and start fresh. Instead, wrap your brushes and rollers in cling film and pop them in the freezer.[11] That way, you won’t need to clean your brushes just for a lunch break. If you leave them in the freezer for more than an hour, just take them out 20 minutes before you start painting again.

Finishing Up

Now that you’re satisfied with your work it’s time to finish up! Peel away the edging tape before the paint dries completely – this prevents it from peeling. Let your paint dry completely, put your furniture back in place, and stand back and admire your work.

That’s it! You’re all done, and now that you’ve seen just how easy it is to paint a room, you can move on to the other rooms in your home. Happy painting!


Reference list

Barnes, K. (2019). Everything You Need to Know About Paint Finishes. [online] Country Living. Available at: https://www.countryliving.com/home-design/color/g1297/paint-finishes/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Dawson, K. (2019). How to Choose the Right Type of Paint for Your Next Project. [online] House Beautiful. Available at: https://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/a27729301/water-based-paint-vs-oil-based-paint/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Deziel, C. (2017). Do I Need to Prime Walls Before Painting? | Hunker. [online] Hunker. Available at: https://www.hunker.com/13413844/do-i-need-to-prime-walls-before-painting [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Dowling, T. (2020). Top coat: the expert guide to painting your house perfectly – from walls to floors to radiators. The Guardian. [online] 10 Apr. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/apr/10/expert-guide-to-painting-your-house-perfectly [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

For Dummies (2017). How to Choose a Paint Roller. [online] dummies. Available at: https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/home-painting/how-to-choose-a-paint-roller/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Hurst-Wajszczuk, J. (2002). The Secrets of Pro Painters. [online] This Old House. Available at: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/painting/21014898/the-secrets-of-pro-painters [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Leggett, R. (2019). Putting Paint Supplies in the Freezer. [online] Home Guides | SF Gate. Available at: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/putting-paint-supplies-freezer-74638.html [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Luis, J. (2020). What is a Wet Edge when Painting? [online] RepaintNow.com. Available at: https://repaintnow.com/wet-edge/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Macaron Mistress (2018). Is It Worth Spending The Extra Money On Expensive Paint? [online] Maison Macaron. Available at: https://maisonmacaron.com/blog/is-it-worth-spending-the-extra-money-on-expensive-paint/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Truini, J. (2012). Bristle Basics: Which Paintbrush Should You Use? [online] Popular Mechanics. Available at: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a7647/which-paintbrush-should-you-use/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Wallender, L. (2018). Master the Cutting-In Technique for Trim and Walls. [online] The Spruce. Available at: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-cut-in-interior-trim-paint-1822824 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/apr/10/expert-guide-to-painting-your-house-perfectly

[2] https://www.countryliving.com/home-design/color/g1297/paint-finishes/

[3] https://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/a27729301/water-based-paint-vs-oil-based-paint/

[4] https://maisonmacaron.com/blog/is-it-worth-spending-the-extra-money-on-expensive-paint/

[5] https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a7647/which-paintbrush-should-you-use/

[6] https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/home-painting/how-to-choose-a-paint-roller/

[7] https://www.thespruce.com/necessary-to-prime-before-painting-1821154

[8] https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-cut-in-interior-trim-paint-1822824

[9] https://repaintnow.com/wet-edge/

[10] https://www.thisoldhouse.com/painting/21014898/the-secrets-of-pro-painters

[11] https://homeguides.sfgate.com/putting-paint-supplies-freezer-74638.html

Edward Sloane

Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.

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