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Painting Tips: Preparing Walls for Painting

You’re just a few easy, DIY tips away from a professional paint job.


Painting is one of those things that looks easier than it is, and unfortunately, you only discover this after trial and error. We’re here to take the ‘error’ part out of it for you, with tips that make preparing walls like painting a breeze.

This guide will cover:

  • Choosing the Right Paintbrush
  • Choosing the Right Paint Roller
  • Picking the Right Paint
  • Selecting a Filler
  • Preparing Walls for Painting
  • Painting in the Right Order

With easy surface prep, the right tools and some insider know-how, you’ll feel like a professional in those painting overalls before you know it.

Choosing the Right Paintbrush


Let’s launch into painting tips with picking up the right brush for the job. It’s important to consider the type of bristle in relation to the coat that you’re applying and the job that needs completing.

Synthetic bristles are hardwearing and last up to five times longer than natural brushes. As they don’t absorb large amounts of water, they don’t swell up and cause tramlines to appear in the paint. Therefore, they produce a fine finish when used with water-based paints.

A natural bristle brush has a structure that allows it to take and hold paint. The split ends of natural bristle brushes help achieve a fine finish with traditional solvent paints. However, they don’t perform well with water-based paints like Dulux Once or Quick Drying Satinwood.

Choosing the right-sized brush is easy. The larger the area, the larger the brush needs to be. For cutting in on walls, use a 2” or 3” brush. A 1” or 2” brush gives you more flexibility for painting doors, skirting boards and architraves.

Choosing the Right Paint Roller 


When painting the ceiling or large wall surfaces, rollers are the ideal choice as they’re quick and easy to use. Just like brushes, it’s best to choose a roller that’s most suited to the type of paint you’re using. Foam, mohair and sheepskin rollers come in short, medium and long-pile designs.

A short-pile mohair roller is suitable for applying silk emulsion, while a medium-pile sheepskin roller is best for matt emulsion. Short pile is a great choice for very fine or flat surfaces. To avoid air bubbles in the paint film, don’t use spongy foam rollers with regular emulsion paints.

Before you use it, don’t forget to wash the roller in warm, soapy water to eliminate any fluff.


Picking the right paint


Choosing the right type of paint comes down to the results you’re looking for and the surface you’re painting. To hide imperfections, use velvety matt emulsion. Satin and silk are mid-sheen finishes that look slightly polished and reflect some light. Eggshell sits somewhere between the two, with a surface that looks as its name suggests. Choose a gloss finish for a shiny look that reflects lots of light.

DIY tips include ensuring your paint is suitable for the unique needs of each room. For example, Dulux Easycare Bathroom is moisture, steam and mould resistant. In the kitchen, Dulux Easycare Kitchen combats everyday cooking stains so you can wash them away with ease. Dulux Easycare Washable & Tough Matt repels liquid spills and is strong enough to endure even the messiest of kids’ rooms.

Selecting a filler

Before preparing walls for painting, buy a filler that’s up to the task of covering those cracks in the wall. The Polycell Polyfilla range has a filler for every size of gap. Choose Flexible Gap for around the tops of skirtings, windows and door frames.

Quick Drying Polyfilla gets the job done quickly and is great for walls and woodwork. Multi-Purpose Polyfilla is suitable for all surfaces in your home. You’ll also find specific products for hairline cracks, screw holes and anything else that might get in the way of your perfect finish.

Product Spotlight 


Use high-performance Polycell Advanced Polyfilla for a seamless finish in no time at all, thanks to quick-dry technology. With a super-lightweight formula, it’s perfect for filling cracks and holes in walls and ceilings as it prevents slumping, while a smooth texture means no sanding is required afterwards.

Plus, our skilled team in the lab has specially developed the product so you can fill holes up to 50mm-deep in one application, and it won’t shrink or sag. Shop it at polycell.co.uk.


Preparing Walls for Painting


Wondering what to do before painting a wall? Now that you’ve got your tools, easy surface prep starts with a clean, blank canvas. Skipping the prep before painting your walls can mean you’re left with an uneven finish, unsightly paint bubbles and obvious imperfections, such as holes and cracks.

Taking the time to prep before you roll paint onto a wall helps you achieve a flawless finish that stays that way for years to come. Follow our simple steps to learn how to prepare walls for painting and watch our helpful video below.

Expert Tip


Matt Gray

“Set aside half a day to complete all your prep, so you can work quickly and efficiently when it comes to painting. You’ll save yourself time, effort and maybe even money when you get the job done right the first time.”


The Space

A clear and tidy space makes decorating significantly less stressful, as you don’t have to worry about things getting in the way or being damaged during the process.  

  • Remove accessories and furniture and take down curtains and blinds.
  • Loosen or tape around electrical cover plates on switches and outlets. 
  • Unscrew or tape over any window and door hardware, such as locks, handles and knobs.
  • Place a plastic dust sheet on the floor and any remaining furniture that needs protection.

The Surface

Before you open any tins of paint, it’s important to make sure all your surfaces are clean and smooth. Want to know how to clean walls before painting? Follow our handy steps below. 

Step One

  • Cleaning walls before painting is an essential step in the process. Use a soft, damp sponge to wipe away dirt or dust from the surfaces. Wash the walls thoroughly with sugar soap and rinse them with clean water to remove any residue. Then give them a good check over for cracks or holes before painting.
  • Preparing cracked walls for painting can be tricky. If there are any gaps or cracks in your walls, ceiling or woodwork, fill them using a filling knife and the correct filler for the surface from the Polyfilla range.
  • Use a scraper to apply the filler. For any holes that are more than 10mm-deep, build up the filler in layers. Allow to dry for one to two hours, sand until smooth, and give the wall a final once-over with a duster. 

Step Two

  • If you’re wondering, ‘do you need to sand walls before painting?’, the answer is yes. This ensures your fresh, new paint will adhere to the surface properly. Using sandpaper and a block, gently sand down any places you’ve filled and any woodwork you’ll be painting, like skirting or door frames.
  • Lastly, wipe down surfaces to remove any dust and to avoid dirt sticking to your freshly painted areas.
  • Run masking tape along your skirting boards to keep them paint-free. You can also mask around sockets and switches, as well as any edges where you want to achieve a crisp, straight line. Once that’s done, you’re ready for painting.

Top Tip

If you’re painting a new surface that hasn’t been painted before, use Dulux Primer & Undercoat Multi-Surface – suitable for interior walls, wood, metal and masonry. It ensures the adhesion of paint to surfaces, meaning better protection and fewer coats, so you spend less time painting and your surface enjoys longer-lasting results.

Painting in the Right Order

Now it’s time to pick up your brush or roller! Prepare your chosen paint colour by stirring it and pouring it into a tray.

To paint in the right order, start at the top of the room and work your way down. For easy ceiling painting, use Magic White. It fades from pink to white in under an hour to ensure that you don’t miss a spot. Apply two coats and move onto the walls, working away from natural light. Paint your windows in the morning so they have a full day to dry before you close them at night. Lastly, finish off with doors, door frames and skirting.

Although painting isn’t as easy as it looks, all you need to do is follow the right painting tips towards a professional finish to be proud of. Check out the rest of the Dulux blogs for even more decorating advice. 

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