How to Paint Walls like a Pro
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Published by TOP4 Team
Painting is the most common DIY project undertaken by homeowners because it beautifies and protects surfaces. So, when painting, you should use the right materials and apply them properly.
Just slapping on paint isn't going to result in a room that looks professionally painted. The old adage that the three quarters of any job should be in the preparation is still true. Miracle products which do away with good preparation are rarely entirely satisfactory.
Here are the steps you’ll take when painting walls.
1. Painting is potentially messy, so begin by putting down a good cloth drop sheet — plastic sheets can be slippery, most especially on polished floors. To make sure your drop sheet doesn’t slip, tape it onto the floor around the perimetre of a room.
2. Remove curtains and blinds from windows and other brackets or pieces of hardware that can get in the way. If a piece of furniture is too large to move from the room, push it to the centre so it’s out of the way.
3. Before you buy paint, it’s a good idea to establish what’s already on the walls. It’s best to apply water-based over water-based paint, and oil-based over oil-based paint.
Easy test: Rub a dry finger over the wall and if the paint comes away, then the wall is chalky. Walls in older homes painted with kalsomine, which is an old lime-based paint, must be washed off with a binder to ensure the new paint will stick. If your fingers come up clean, rub the wall with a little methylated spirits on a rag. If the rag shows colour, chances are the paint is water-based. If nothing comes off, the wall was probably painted with an oil-based paint.
4. Time to wash. Over the years, walls accumulate grime and grease from people living in a home. Wash this off using sugar soap in water, but don’t make the mixture too strong. Wipe walls with soap, then sponge off with a clean rag.
5. Scrape any loose paint. Fill holes and minor blemishes. If they’re deep, it will take a day to dry them, small chips and holes will take an hour or two.
6. When dry, sand patches using a 120-grit abrasive paper. Paint just the patches with acrylic sealer/undercoat or stain sealer. Cover any pen marks with an oil-based or spirit-based sealer so the ink won't bleed through final paint coats.
7. If you have timber architraves and skirting, choose whether you’ll keep or paint them. If you’ll paint them, sand the surface carefully to remove as much old finish as possible. Seal crack between trim and wall with a paintable gap filler.
8. Before you paint architraves and skirtings, use an oil-based primer/undercoat to allow paint to adhere to timber and varnish.
9. Now you’re ready to add colour. Always paint the ceiling before walls and start both by ‘cutting in’. Paint the corners, cornices and anywhere a roller can’t reach using a brush. Also, use a brush to paint up skirtings, architraves, and windows. Before loading paint, use a wet brush and squeeze it out. This makes the brush easier to clean later on.
10. Pour paint into a roller tray or work from the can. If you’re using a tray, keep the top groove of tin clean with a brush so the lid will seal when you finish. When putting paint on the brush, dip just 30mm of the bristles, or the brush will tend to drip.
11. Apply paint to the wall a little away from the line you’re cutting into, then wiggle the brush slightly so the bristles and paint work their way to the line, all while moving the brush in the direction you’re painting. Go over the area a second or third time, until you’re happy, then move on. Complete all cutting in.
12. Walls are best painted by rolling. Spread evenly on the wall, starting a little away from a cut-in edge at a slight angle and working back to it. When the roller is just about out of paint, and while the paint on the wall is still wet, ‘lay off’ the paint by rolling from ceiling down. Use a little pressure to blend paint and remove any local build-up that may run or leave ridges.
13. Wrap and seal roller in plastic wrap or bag. Let walls dry. Add second and third coats if necessary. When dry, paint finishing coats on skirtings and architraves with oil-based enamel. Doing these avoids spatter on the new surface.
14. When the painting is finished, it’s time to clean up. Use a 6-in-1 painter’s tool to scrape paint from the roller back into paint tin. Keep paint for future touch-ups. Take the roller, tray it out to the garden then wash out with a garden hose.
15. Use several changes of water to wash out your brush in a bucket. Don’t wash paint down the sink. If you soaked brush first, paint should have stayed near the tip of a brush, making it easy to clean.
Learn more tips from the professionals. Consult the top painters and decorators in Australia today.