However tempting it may seem, trying to save money by buying cheap brands of paint can actually work out more expensive in time, money and effort than buying a quality brand and making sure the surfaces are sealed and primed. Poorer quality paints tend not to cover as well so you’ll need more – that’s why they are often in such large cans – and you may have to paint two or three coats to get an even finish.
Make sure you have enough paint in the same colour and finish to complete the job. Paints are made in batches and there may be slight variations in colour between batches. It’s better to have an unopened can of paint left over than to run out of paint halfway through and, in any case, most DIY stores will exchange unopened paint for other useful materials. When you have decided on your paint ‘family’ – water- or oil-based – and the finish – matt, silk or gloss – make sure you stick to it.
Start decorating at the ceiling and work your way downwards through the room, finishing with the wood-work. Clean up any drips as they
happen and remove any loose bristles as they fall out of the paintbrush. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as some paints – except non-drip gloss and solid emulsions – may need stirring with a clean, flat stick before you apply them. Make sure your stirrer is clean so that old paint doesn’t bleed into the new. Remember the professional painters’ methods: decant paint into a paint kettle, and, if you are using old paint, pour it into the kettle through a piece of muslin or a clean, old nylon tight leg stretched over the neck of the can.
1 Small brushes
Rub the bristles of new brushes in the palm of your hand to dislodge any dust and loose bristles. Start at the top of a wall in the corner and ‘cut in’ the edge using a small brush. A wide brush won’t fit easily into the angle and it’s harder to keep a straight edge. If you are right-handed, work from right to left, if left-handed, work from left to right, and apply the paint in vertical strokes overlapped with horizontal ones. Work in an area approximately 1m sq. (lsq.yd), keeping a wet edge at all times.
2 Using a brush
You can hold the brush in any way that is comfortable, but professionals use the ‘pen grip’. Hold the handle like a pen between your thumb and forefinger, your other fingers gripping the side of the metal ferrule while your thumb rests on the other side. Apply emulsion paint in vertical strokes, then spread it at right angles to even out the coverage. Emulsion dries without visible brush strokes, but oil-based paints don’t, so finish off each section with light, vertical strokes.
3 Using a paint pad
Paint pads need to be loaded with paint from their own special tray so that you always pick up an even amount of paint. To apply the paint in a continuous cover, keep the pad flat against the wall and sweep it gently across using even strokes in any direction: criss-crossing strokes are good for emulsion paints while for oil paints, end the sweep with an upwards stroke to prevent streaks.
4 Using a roller
Rollers apply paint to walls and ceilings much faster than a brush and are ideal for covering large areas. Choose your roller carefully as there are different ‘sleeves’ to suit different types of paint. Shaggy, long-haired and sheepskin rollers are best for textured walls while fine, foam rollers produce smooth, even finishes. Dip the roller into the reservoir in the tray and roll it gently on the ridged section to ensure an even ‘pick up’. Use zigzag strokes in all directions to cover the surface and watch that you don’t let the roller spin away from the wall at the end of a stroke otherwise you’ll end up splattering paint on the floor and adjacent walls. Cover walls by working in small, manageable sections and keeping wet edges. You’ll still need to ‘cut in’ corners with a small brush, however, as a roller will not reach right into the angle.