How to paint walls and ceilings
There are many reasons why you may decide to change the look and feel of your home, it might be because you've just moved in and want to stamp your own identity upon the interior with a whole new scheme of paint colours, or alternatively you may just fancy a total change in mood. Paint could be considered a decorator's secret weapon when it comes to freshening up tired looking rooms as giving your room a new coat of paint is the most cost effective way to update your homes decor.
Difficulty rating: Low
These tasks should be fairly straightforward, whether you have experience doing DIY or none at all.
Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.
3. Buy the right amount of paint
There is nothing worse than running out of paint when you're in the middle of a decorating project. That's why we've put together this handy online calculator to help you purchase the right amount.
4. Preparing walls and ceiling for painting
The key to a good result is spending time getting your walls and ceilings in a decent state for painting.
- Before painting, walls and ceilings should be clean, dust-free, smooth and completely dry. Wash them down with detergent or sugar soap. Then rinse with clean water and let them dry.
- If the plaster is gloss painted, rub the wall down with 40 grit abrasive paper wrapped around a cork block.
- If you have new plasterwork you will need to remove any blistering and fill in any blemishes.
White, fluffy alkaline patches can be rubbed off with a piece of hessian or worn coarse glass paper.
5. Using a primer on bare plaster
- If you opt for an oil-based paint, use a primer suitable for plaster.
- Underneath emulsion paint, use one of our primers and base coats specifically designed to prepare walls for painting.
- Emulsion can be used over most wall coverings, as long as they're in good condition and firmly stuck down. But if your old wallpaper has a textured finish, the texture will show through the paint.
6. How many coats are needed?
- The number of coats of paint needed for each job depends upon the type and make of paint you buy, and what you're painting over. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the tin for the best results.
- Some darker colours and patterns need up to three coats of emulsion to cover. Always leave the paint to dry between coats. 'One coat' emulsion may be more effective if the colour contrasts aren't too great.
7. Protect your floor and furniture
- Floors and furniture should be covered with dust sheets.
- It's a good idea to keep a bucket of water and a sponge handy to wipe splashes off woodwork, as some colours can stain light-coloured gloss paint.
8a. How to paint a ceiling
8b. How to paint a wall
Choose the right tool for the job
Need help choosing between a brush, roller or paint pad? Click take a look at our Decorating equipment buying guide. There you will find a video with everything you need to know.
9. Painting with a brush
- For the first coat use a primer or basecoat, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Then, half fill a paint kettle with your paint and dip in a 50mm brush up to one-third of the bristle length.
- Hold the brush at 90 degrees to the ceiling and paint a straight line, cutting into the corner between the walls and the ceiling (fig. 1).
- Turn the brush parallel to the ceiling to go over the first stroke firmly and steadily, keeping the bristles close to but not touching the ceiling (fig. 2).
- This procedure should be repeated along the bottom and the top of the wall.
- A large brush can then be used to fill in the remainder. The edge of the brush is used to cut into the corner of the wall (fig. 3), then the paint should be applied in a criss-cross fashion. The final step is to feather out or lightly brush out the paint in long strokes.
10. Painting with a roller
- Pour some of your emulsion into a paint tray so it is about a third full. Dip the roller into the paint and roll it firmly up and down the ribbed 'platform' (figs. 4 and 5). Do not overload the roller - it should rotate freely rather than skid over the surface of the wall/ceiling.
- Unhurried vertical strokes will avoid 'splatter' and should be finished off with parallel movements in one direction. The aim is to apply the paint evenly and always work from a 'wet' edge. The edges need to be blended in to avoid leaving a ridge of paint.
- It helps to imagine the surface divided into areas approximately 1m square and work systematically over the whole area.
- Rollers can't get into corners or around and behind pipes, so a 50mm brush should be used instead - do this either at the beginning or end.
- To make painting ceilings a little easier, attach a long handle extension to your paint roller.
To keep your roller tray clean, wrap a plastic bag around it before you start rollering. When you have finished carefully remove the bag from the tray and dispose of it. The tray is completely clean and ready for another colour!
11. Painting with a paint pad
- Use a 200mm pad for walls and ceilings, and a 30mm-50mm pad for cutting in round the edges (fig. 6).
- Load the pad by drawing it across the captive roller in its special tray (fig. 7).
- The pad must be kept flat on the wall or ceiling and be moved gently in random directions, finishing with long strokes (fig. 8).
12. Painting top tips
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