Add a new colour or a fresh finish to a room
Adding a fresh coat of paint to your room is an easy way to refresh your space or change your style.
To get the best finish, it's worth doing some thorough preparation before beginning and then working systematically around the room. With the right tools even the more difficult tasks, like painting the ceiling, can be made easier and more efficient.
In this guide, we'll be:
- Painting the ceiling, coving and walls in a room using a water-based interior emulsion paint
- Completing these tasks with either a brush and roller, or paint pads
Before you begin
- Are the walls and ceiling prepared and ready for painting? Our guide to How to prepare your walls for decorating will walk you through this essential process.
- Have you got enough paint? Check the details on the back of the can to make sure you've got enough for the surfaces you need to cover. Our paint calculator can also help.
- Have you allowed yourself enough time? Take into consideration the drying time and number of coats of paint needed. Remember also that you'll want to complete all coats of paint on the ceiling before you move on to the walls.
You will need:
|Paint can opener or a flat-head screwdriver|
|Paint kettle hook|
|Paint roller, sleeve and tray|
|Roller extension poles|
Begin your painting nearest the largest window in the room, or a light source, and then in bands away from, and in parallel to, this. The light will reflect off the wet paint making it easier to see where you've been and identify any missed areas. If you want to take a break, try to do this when you reach the corner of a room rather in the middle of a wall, as this helps to prevent tide lines as the paint dries.
Think about how you're going to reach all surfaces safely. You'll need a sturdy step ladder or work platform. Consider using a roller on a pole where possible so that you can work at ground level rather than on steps.
If you have children or pets at home, keep them away from wet paint and whilst paint is drying.
Painting your ceiling with a brush and roller
Using a paint can opener, or a flat-head screwdriver, carefully open the paint can. Take a paint stirrer, and following the instructions on the can, stir the paint until an even, flowing consistency without any lumps is reached.
Before you paint the bulk of your ceiling, paint into the edges of the ceiling and around any ceiling lights or alarms with a small brush. This technique is called cutting in.
If you're going to paint the walls after the ceiling. Use a 50 mm paint brush to brush a strip of paint onto the walls, which you can paint over later.
- If you aren't going to paint the walls. Paint along the edge of the ceiling using a 50mm or 75mm brush. An angled paint brush will help you to paint a neat, straight line but if in doubt of how steady your hand is, use either masking tape to mask the edges or a paint shield to protect the wall.
Paint the edges where the ceiling meets the wall in one go to give the best finish. If you don't complete it all at once you could end up with a visible band around the edges from the paint drying at different times.
Whenever you are working with paint, keep a decorator’s cloth or clean rag to hand. This can be used to wipe and mop up any small drips or dabs of paint where you don't want it. Most modern interior emulsion paints are water-based, so a damp cloth is usually all it takes to neaten up a smudge in the wrong place.
With the perimeter of the ceiling painted, it’s now time to paint the rest. Fill the reservoir of the roller tray one-third full of paint. Using a roller with an extension pole attached, dip the roller sleeve into the paint and roll it firmly up and down the ribbed incline of the tray to spread the paint evenly. Avoid overloading the sleeve to prevent paint splattering.
Apply the paint to the ceiling using the roller. Move the roller over the surface, using random strokes and a light, even pressure. Each time you dip the roller in the paint, move it to an adjacent unpainted area and work back to the painted area in overlapping strokes to blend in the wet edges.
Once complete, allow the ceiling to dry following the advice on the paint tin. If more than one coat of paint is required, allow the recommended drying time and then repeat steps 2 and 3.
Sometimes you'll need to apply multiple coats of paint to a ceiling or a wall within the same day. You won't need to clean your tools between coats of paint if you wrap them securely. Wrap brushes, rollers and paint trays tightly with cling film and put aside until you're ready to recoat. This prevents the paint from drying out until you're ready to get back to work.
Painting your coving with a brush
If your room has coving between the ceiling and wall, paint this before starting on your walls. Use a work platform or step ladder to reach the coving, and a paint kettle with hook to keep your paint securely in place.
Traditionally coving is painted white, but you can experiment with different colours if you’re going for a more contemporary look.
Using a narrow brush, apply paint from the kettle to the coving in long, sweeping strokes. A 38mm or 50mm precision tip or angled brush will help to make light work of this. Try to avoid overlapping onto the ceiling either by keeping a steady hand or using a paint guard. On the lower edge of the coving, allow the paint to overlap slightly onto the wall below.
Work your way systematically around the room, using long, even strokes to ensure good coverage and to blend edges.
When complete, allow the paint to dry for the length of time specified on the tin. If you need to recoat, repeat steps 1 to 2 once the first coat has dried.
How to paint your wall with a brush and roller
Once your ceiling and any coving has dried, it's time to begin work on the walls.
The steps you'll take are similar to painting a ceiling, only we'll tackle some of the particular challenges unique to walls - such as painting around radiators, windows and door frames.
As with painting a ceiling, begin by cutting in around the edges of the room. This will include where the ceiling or coving meets the top of the wall, where the bottom of the wall meets the skirting board and around any windows and door frames. You may also have light switches, sockets, heaters and radiators you'll need to cut in around.
Use a good quality 38mm or 50mm precision tip or angled brush for this. These brushes should help you to paint a neat, straight line.
Pour emulsion paint into the reservoir of the paint tray until it is approximately one-third full. Dip the roller sleeve into the paint and spread evenly by rolling it firmly on the ribbed incline of the tray.
You can use a roller with or without a roller pole to paint walls - whichever you find most comfortable.
Work out from the edges by rolling paint in 1m wide ‘W’ patterns and go back over the W to fill in the open areas. The aim is to apply the paint evenly and always work from a 'wet' edge. The edges need to be blended in to stop a ridge of paint from forming. Use a light, even pressure when working with the roller.
Try not to work too fast or you will create a fine mist of paint spray. Each time the roller is dipped in the paint, move it to an adjacent unpainted area and work your way back to the painted area in overlapping strokes to blend in the wet edges.
Whilst the paint is still drying, use a radiator roller to coat the wall behind each radiator in the room.
Once the first coat of paint has been applied, leave to dry following the instructions on the paint tin. If you're applying more than one coat of paint, it’s a good idea to remove and reapply any masking tape that has been used to protect other surfaces between coats Remove the masking tape slowly at a 90 degree angle before the paint fully cures. If the new paint does begin to tear, gently score the edges using a retractable knife and straight edge. Reapply tape to the surfaces that need to be protected before you apply the next coat of paint.
Cleaning your equipment
Brush all remaining paint residue to scrap paper or card to reduce the volume of paint on the brush. The bristles can then be washed clean using water, and a splash of washing up liquid if needed. Rinse the bristles through with clean water until all traces of paint have been removed. Use a clean rag or paper towels to dry the brush, and then leave to dry flat.
Begin by rolling as much remaining paint onto paper or card. Next, place the sleeve under warm running water until the water almost runs clear. Running a roller cleaner over the sleeve with a twisting motion can help to make this easier. Add a dab of washing up liquid to the roller and thoroughly wash in warm water. Pat dry with a clean rag or paper towels and leave to dry standing vertically on one end.
How to paint walls and ceilings using paint pads
Paint pads are an easy-to-use alternative to brushes and rollers. The rectangular shape makes them great for painting right up against the edges of walls and into corners, and larger pads make them suitable for decorating bigger areas like ceilings. They cause less spray than rollers, but they do need reloading more often, so the job may take longer.
Begin by brushing the surface of the pad with the flat of your hand to dispel any loose fibres from the paint pad.
Pour the paint into the paint pad tray, then draw the pad over the built-in roller or over the ribbed part of the tray to distribute the paint evenly and remove any excess that could cause drips.
Start painting near a corner and work in strips about four times the width of your pad. Keeping the pad flat on the surface, move it up and down the surface with a gentle scrubbing action.
Similarly, to working with a brush and roller, work methodically around the room starting with the ceiling and then each wall in turn. Allow each coat of paint sufficient drying time before re-coating.