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From choosing colours to selecting the right tools and equipment, our tips, tricks and advice will help you achieve a finish worthy of a professional

When it comes to sprucing up your home painting is one of the least expensive and most effective things you can do. It can instantly add interest and colour and transform a room from drab to fab with minimal expense and moderate effort. So, whether you're an experienced painter or a complete novice this useful guide contain practical tips and advice to help you achieve the best results possible.


Paint application

Undercoats are recommended to correct and fill any imperfections that may exist on your surface. They can be water or solvent based, depending on which top coat you are planning to use. The general rule is to use a water based undercoat with a water based top coat and likewise with solvent based paints. Ensure your undercoat is fully dry before applying your top coat.

Cutting in is best done by cutting in around the skirting or ceiling line allowing an inch or so to go onto the wall. This will make the job of cutting in the wall much easier. As always start with the point nearest to the window and natural light so you can where you have painted. This particularly applies when painting over a similar or identical colour. 

Top tips for painting walls
1. Always work  on one wall at a time
2. Start by cutting in again the ceiling line with one to two inches of paint and the same at skirting level, before using a roller to get the best finish.
3. Apply paint by moving your roller in a W shape, to evenly coat the surface.
4. The use light up and down movements to limit the amount of air bubbles on the wall, as these can cause an orange peel effect when they break.
5. Repeat this cutting in and rolling method across the room to achieve the best results possible.

When painting radiators start by painting the flutes (indents) first. Do the first 5 at the top then the bottom and join them up at the middle. Paint along the top and bottom strips to finish and ensure you use a specialist radiator paint to avoid cracking under heat.

When painting the ceiling move your furniture into the middle of the room and cover with dust sheets to protect it from paint spatters. Using a roller pole to reach to ceiling from a standing position on the floor - this will help avoid over stretching injuries and  balancing a roller tray and on a step ladder. Start painting from the corner of the ceiling nearest the window. The natural light will reflect on the wet paint and allow you to see where you have already painted. Work away from the window and finish in the opposing corner at the other end of the room. 


Preparation and tools

As with most DIY tasks preparation is key, enabling you to get on with the job efficiently and get the best possible results. Ensure you cover furniture, flooring and other valuable items with a dust sheet before you paint. Ideally, you would use a clear plastic one that allows you to see where your precious items are, and by doing so will avoid knocking them over or damaging them.
When selecting a paintbrush there are a few tips to help you choose the most appropriate one:
Brush size:  You will generally require a bigger brush if painting a bigger area. When cutting in  2" or 3" brush will be helpful and you may find a 12 brush ideal for painting skirting boards or doors.  
Types of bristle : There are two types of bristle. Synthetic, which are hard wearing and have a longer life then natural bristles. They are ideal for use  water based paints as they don't absorb lots of water and cause lines to appear in the paint finish. Natural bristles produce a finer finish and work well with oil based paints. They also allow for more paint to be help in the brush meaning you may have to  dip into the paint can less often.
Rollers:  Like brushes there are different types of rollers to use for different painting jobs.  Rollers are most commonly  made from foam and sheepskin and are available in short, medium and long-pile. Foam rollers are not ideal for normal emulsion painting as they can create air bubbles in the paint which can create an orange peel-effect when they burst.

Preparing walls and surfaces

It is important to remove all traces of grease and grime from your painting surface before you paint. A sugar soap solution is the most  effective way of washing down walls. Ensure you leave to it dry fully before painting.  When painting over already glossed woodwork like skirting boards, remove as much of the sheen from the old gloss paint. Do this by rubbing the area with glass paper - it helps remove sheen as well as roughing-up the painting area helping achieve a better finish. You can find glass tape in most DIY stores.
To avoid paint bleed a good quality masking tape is recommended. FrogTape is a very effective brand that employs the use of Paint Block technology that guarantees a bleed-free finish. Apply the masking tape to a clean, dust free area in short sections to avoid stretching. Remove it as soon as paint is applied to help prevent pain bridging over the tape and tearing when you remove it.  

So now you're prepared to begin applying your chosen paint. Generally it is advisable to start with the ceiling, applying both coats and work down to the walls and onto wood work.  When painting doors and skirting boards, start with windows or window sill first and work away from natural light to door and doorframe, finishing with the skirting. 


Choosing colour

Choosing the perfect colour is never an easy task. It is certainly a personal thing; we have our own taste when it comes to home decor. Whether you're a fan of cool, calm chic or like to inject some drama to your colour schemes, here are some ideas and tips for choosing the perfect palette for you.

Colour charts are the most obvious place to start your research. Visit your local DIY store and collect those that appeal. Isolate the colour you are considering by bending back the card on either side or cover either side with paper or card to allow a clear view of your colour without influence from its neighbouring ones.

Tester pots are the most effective way to choose a colour. Relatively inexpensive at around £3 each, unlike colour charts they give a true insight of how a particular colour will look in your home.

When painting tester colours it is advisable to paint an area of wall at least 60cm sq and to do so on more than one wall to get a true idea of how the colour will work in the space. Always allow for the paint to dry fully before making a decision and take notice of how the colour reacts to different types of light at different times of day. If you don't want to paint the testers directly on to your walls then do so on similar sized pieces of lining paper and hang in different parts of your room to get the same effect.

Often a favourite painting or rug can inspire your colour choice. Dulux offer a colouring matching service which can produce perfectly matched shade for an additional cost, or there are many free smart phone apps that allow you to upload a photograph of your room and select and view the walls in a large range of colours so you can visualise your room in a particular shade without lifting a paint brush.
You might also want to consider colours in adjacent rooms, especially if you would like one room to flow naturally into the next.  You don't have to use the same colour to achieve this, instead you could simply vary the intensity of one hue. You can also select a complimentary colour scheme so the lines between rooms are slightly blurred and don't jar against one another.

If you lack confidence in choosing colour or prefer to keep it simple, you can play it safe with neutrals. Inject colour to a neutral scheme through the use of accessories and furniture.

Toptip: To create an illusion of space in a small room choose light cool shades like soft blues and greens. Warmer tones such with more intense hues such as oranges and reds can help to draw in a bigger room and create a cosy, intimate feel. 

Choosing paint and finish

Choosing a paint finish requires both personal taste and practical considerations. Sheen refers to the amount of light that paint reflects from its surface. Choosing the sheen that best suits a given room depends on what the space is used for and how you want the walls and ceilings to look. For example of you have uneven or imperfect walls a low sheen or matt paint to help hide these, or to help introduce light and reflect around the room, a high sheen paint would be the ideal choice. For doors and skirting boards or other woodwork use a gloss as this can be scrubbed clean with ease and present s a high sheen finish. In high moisture areas always use a suitable oil based paint like gloss or eggshell as they help to seal the walls from moisture damage.   

There are a number of other paints that offer effects such as pearlised or suede, visit your local hardware store to discover more.