How To Paint Walls And Ceilings

an image if a cream and green painted room

Knowing how to paint a room is an essential DIY skill and a simple way to refresh your home. Although a straightforward task, there are a few fundamental steps you need to follow to ensure a smooth process from start to finish.

To help you out, we’ve put together this easy how-to guide, so you can learn how to paint a room professionally.



Need help with choosing the right tools? Check out our decorating equipment guide to get you started.


How much paint do I need?

an image of dulux bright skies paint

Before you start, you need to choose your paint and work out how much of it you’ll need. If you want to stay on top of the trends, take a look at our 10 Green Paint Ideas guide. Alternatively, our Bedroom Paint Colour Scheme Ideas, Paint Colours to Make Your Small Hallway Look Bigger or Kid’s Bedroom Paint Ideas guides are also sure to provide some inspiration.

If you’re unsure on what type of paint you’ll need, our paint and emulsion buying guides are here to help. To find out how much paint you’ll need, simply use our handy paint calculator tool.

Keep in mind:

  • Bathrooms and Kitchens will need specialist paint.
  • Areas of high traffic (hallway, stairs, etc.) will need hardwearing, durable paint.
  • Emulsion paint is well-suited to most walls and ceilings, and is available in matt, satin and silk finishes.


How to paint a room

Now it’s time to learn how to paint a room professionally. Don’t forget to wear protective eyewear and old clothes in case they get stained. Keep the windows open for maximum ventilation. When working at heights, take care when securing and ascending ladders, and wear flat shoes for maximum stability. For more DIY safety tips, see here.

1. Prepare and protect

First, remove as much furniture as you can from the room. Cover the floors and remaining furniture with dust sheets.

Then, ensure your walls and ceilings are clean, dust-free and completely dry. Sponge them down with detergent or sugar soap, rinse with clean water and leave to dry. If the plaster is gloss painted, rub down with abrasive sandpaper. Fill in any cracks with filler and remove blistering from new plasterwork. Protect switches, sockets and skirting with masking tape.

Top tip: Find out how to repair walls and ceilings here and if you need to remove old wallpaper, follow this guide.

2. Prime time

Primer isn’t essential, but it will give you a better starting surface for applying paint. If you’re painting your walls a dark colour, primer will help to give you a rich and flawless finish. Find out whether you need primer or not with our paint priming guide.

3. Time to paint

When painting a room, it’s essential to follow the steps in the below order:


Start with the ceiling:

  • Set up a secure ladder.
  • Clean your ceiling using a damp cloth and extended duster to remove any debris.
  • Fill holes and cracks using a filler product. Leave to dry and sand down with sandpaper, if necessary, before masking off any light fittings.
  • Stir your paint and transfer into a paint kettle.
  • Start painting around the light fittings first with a small brush, then move to the edges of the ceiling and work inwards. You can go down onto the wall by around an inch.
  • For the large open area, pour your paint into a tray. Use a suitable roller and extension pole so you don’t have to use a ladder and begin with the corner by the window. Avoid rolling directly over your head and don’t put too much paint on the roller.
  • Depending on the type of paint used, you may need 2 or 3 coats. Only apply the next coat once the previous is completely dry.
  • Remove any masking tape around fittings once completely dry.

Top tip: Work carefully, but quickly, as you want a uniform finish. Use an extension pole to reduce the risk of hyperextension and injury.

How to paint a wall:

  • Remove curtains and tape off any fixtures.
  • Cracks or holes can be easily fixed using filler products. Allow plenty of time for filler to dry and set.
  • Wipe clean and sand down any excess. Remember to remove loose dust afterwards.
  • Begin at the edges of the wall. It’s best to start at the top. Hold a 50mm brush at 90 degrees to the ceiling and paint a straight line, cutting into the corner between the walls and ceiling.
  • Turn the brush parallel to the ceiling, go over the first stroke and keep the bristles close to, but not touching, the ceiling.
  • Repeat this process along the bottom and top of the wall.
  • When painting a large open space, try using a “W” motion with your roller for the best coverage.
  • Rather than cleaning brushes and rollers between coats, you can wrap brushes in clingfilm and wrap rollers in plastic bags, and secure with a rubber band. This prevents them from drying out.
  • Don’t overload your brushes or rollers. Use smooth strokes and do not apply the next coat until the previous is completely dry.
  • If you get paint on the ceiling, wipe off immediately with a dry cloth.
  • To paint those tricky bits behind a radiator, use an extended roller with a narrow sleeve.
  • Remove any masking tape once everything is completely dry.

Top tip: For the most consistent and professional appearance, try to paint the entire wall in one go.

How long does it take to paint a room?

an image of Harris paint brushes

While we can’t tell you exactly how long it will take from the first coats of paint being applied to when they dry, you will probably need to allow a day or two for your room to be completely ready. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time.

Top painting tips:

  • Prevent a build-up of paint around the edge of the paint tin by using an elastic band to wipe your brush instead.
  • Line your roller tray with cling film to prevent washing it up.
  • To save an extra coat of paint, tint your primer paint with your final colour.
  • When you pour your paint into the roller tray, dip the roller into the paint and roll it firmly up and down the ribbed ‘platform’ to prevent overloading.
  • Rollers can’t get into corners or behind pipes, so use a 50mm brush instead.


And that’s how to paint a room! Don’t forget to share your transformations with us @Homebase_UK on Instagram and discover more of our decorating ideas here

Browse our range of paints, brushes and accessories below. You’ll also find a wide range of interior paint at your local Homebase store, with a variety of colours and finishes to choose from.



Writer and expert