The Perfect Paint Job

A how-to guide on painting your home like a tradesman.

Whether you’re re-decorating your entire house or just one room, a fresh lick of paint can really make a difference with the perfect paint job. Clean, well-painted walls can really bring a room together and provide an opportunity to showcase your personal taste—there’s a growing trend for a ‘feature wall’, where you paint just one wall a bright colour, or you could be painting your walls a more neutral, uniform colour to let your furnishings take centre stage.

Whatever your interior vision, making DIY work look as professional as possible is paramount. Follow these handy tips to ensure your walls look like the work of a skilled tradesman.

See also: How to Care for Your Wood Decking


Remove any hardware you don’t wish to paint over (doorknobs, handles, hinges, electrical outlets, smoke detectors, doorbells…). Clear the room of all movable items, and cover items that can’t move. As paint will drip downwards, anything underneath the area you’re painting will need to be moved or covered. Paint can also splatter sideways (especially if you’re an energetic painter!), so consider the ‘danger zone’ to be at least six feet horizontally from any surfaces that will be painted.

See also: Expert Advice and Decorating Tips from Laura Ashley

Clean up

Your walls should be a blank canvas before painting. So, be sure that all dirt, dust and grease spots are removed as these can ruin a smooth finish. Wipe down walls with water and a small amount of mild dishwashing detergent, using a cellulose sponge. Rinse well with clean water to remove the soap residue. Fill in any holes and chips and sand the wall flat to remove bumps and ridges.

Tape down

To ensure crisp, clean edges, use painter’s blue tape or masking tape. It can be applied up to a week ahead, around the trim, window and doorframes. Starting at a corner, tear off a tape strip about two feet long and set it down lightly with one edge bordering the surface to be painted. Seal the tape tightly with the tip of a spoon and make sure there are no bubbles as these can allow paint to seep underneath. Remove the tape immediately after painting, slowly and carefully from the paint line. Be sure to do this before the wall dries, so you don’t peel any paint off with it.

Prime time

Primer helps to maximise the sheen and coverage of paint, and gives the finishing coat a more uniform appearance. Primer will water-seal the surface and provides a layer that the paint can stick to—water-based paint will not stick to an un-primed layer of oil-based paint. Remember, a wall will still need to be primed first even if it’s been painted many times before.

See also: Stylish Interiors

Use the ‘W’

It sounds obvious, but be sure to read the label before starting so you know how approximately how long the paint will take to dry, allowing you to plan appropriately. When you begin, employ the ‘W’ technique as this will allow you to paint walls efficiently. Start in the corner of a wall and using a roller, roll a three-by-three foot ‘W’ shape, then fill it in without lifting the roller. Continue in sections until you’re finished, and paint one wall at a time. Add as many coats as it takes to make the surface look even. Higher quality paint often requires fewer layers for an even finish.

Touch up

In places where you can’t roll, paint using a brush around the trim and in the corner of the walls. Use a two-inch angled brush and extend out two to three inches from windows, doors and moldings.
Once you’ve completed painting and removed the painter’s tape, check for any paint bleed underneath the tape. If this has occurred, use a very small paintbrush and carefully touch up the lines.

Phil’s DIY Dos and Don’ts


• Opt for the elegant and timeless
• Pay attention to detail
• Play to your strengths
• Use the best materials you can afford


• Do anything too fussy like stenciling
• Skimp on supplies—buy those extra few tiles instead of struggling with damaged ones
• Buy cheap paint—you will have to apply more paint anyway, so won’t save money in the long run

See also: The Master Plan


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