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Walls and ceilings

Painting the walls and ceilings of your home is a big job that needs thinking about before you start. The correct order for painting any room is to start with the ceiling, then the walls and finally the woodwork and metalwork such as radiators and pipes. Always plan your work and work systematically, that way you will not miss bits, which will show up when the paint is dry.

Essential tools and preparation advice

  • Before you start applying any paint you need to think about how you are going to reach the surface safely and comfortably, balancing with one foot on a chair is not the way to do it!! You will need to have the room as clear as possible and any remaining furniture pushed to the centre of the room and protected by dustsheets.  Carpets will also need protecting with dustsheets. If you do not own a suitable pair of steps then you can hire these from a local hire shop. There are lots of variations available now; some will fold out into a working platform, which is ideal for painting large areas like ceilings.
  • You will need to consider the surface that you are painting - is it textured with artex or smooth plastered? This is important as it affects your choice of roller and the level of surface preparation that you will need to do. Textured ceilings can become powdery and dusty when old, particularly if they have never been painted. In this case you will need to seal them with Dulux Sealer for Plaster. Smooth plastered ceilings often have cracks in them, which will require filling with appropriate Polycell filler. There are lots of different types, so take some time to look at their website (www.polycell.co.uk) and decide which one is best for you.

Painting advice

  • Once you have sorted out the access and preparation details, you need to consider the type of paint that you are going to use. Do you want a matt, soft sheen or a silk finish? Matt is the best choice as it helps to defuse surface imperfections, whereas a silk will highlight them.
  • If you opt for conventional emulsion paint then you need to decide if you are going to apply it with a brush, roller or paint pad. Brush is the traditional way of applying paint and avoids the mottle effect and splashing that you get with a roller, but it is slower and requires a certain amount of skill to get the best results. Paint pads are also slow to use and tend to spread the paint out too far resulting in a patchy finish that requires more coats. Most people tend to use a roller. These come in many different forms but generally a medium pile roller is the best choice for general-purpose use. You will still need a small brush as well for edges, corners and "cutting in"; around switches and sockets (when painting walls) as well as a roller tray to pour the paint into.
  • When painting ceilings, start painting in one corner and paint the edge in as you go rather than going all round the room first with the brush, which is what a lot of people do. This results in the paint drying before you roller the main area and that can show up as a banding effect. Apply the ceiling paint down about 2cm onto the wall with the first coat, that way when you apply the wall paint later, you only have to "cut in" to the ceiling line with the wall colour. This makes it much easier to get a neat line.
  • The process for painting walls is just the same. Cut in around switches and sockets as you go and don’t worry about going over the skirting and doorframes a bit with the paint.; Again it makes it easier to get a nice, neat line with the trim paint later.
  • The process of cutting in is much easier than people think. You can buy paint brushes that have bristles with an angled edge, which are ideal. Don't over-load the brush with paint, hold it like a pen and start from one corner to paint a straight line. Start just below where you want the edge to be and slowly work the paint up to the required line. Never have too much paint on the brush at a time, as this is when it goes everywhere. If the edge is not quite straight then you can simply go over this area again to even it out. If you do go onto the finished ceiling with the wall paint, wait till it has dried and then do the same process with the ceiling paint, to even up the line again. You don't need to do the whole ceiling again, you are just "touching in" the bit of wall paint that has spread onto the ceiling.
  • Don't be tempted to use masking tape as all that will happen is the paint will creep under the edge of the tape and when you pull it off, some of the previous paint will come with it and you are back to square one again with patches of bare plaster. Once you have practised cutting in with a brush you will be surprised just how easy it is to get good results. The important thing is to take your time and work carefully.
  • If you want to paint the wall behind your radiators, rollers are ideal if you don't want to take it off the wall. They can also be used for other difficult to reach areas.
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