Painting Walls

This guide to painting walls explains how to paint walls with emulsion paint and includes details on final preparation of the surfaces as well as explaining techniques for cutting in the edges with a brush before roller painting the main area.

Laying dust sheets before painting

1. Before starting any work on the walls, lay suitable cotton dust sheets over the floor area. Whether you’ve got carpet or a wood floor, you’ll want to protect it from paint splashes or drips. The small amount of time spent getting things covered up before you start will be well worthwhile.

Making Good

2. Inspect the surface of the walls and if necessary make good any defects

Adding water to filler pot

3. Add some clean cold water to a small plastic kettle.

Adding powder filler to the clean water

4. Add an appropriate amount of powder filler to the water

Stirring filler to smooth consistency

5. Stir thoroughly to a creamy smooth consistency

Scooping out filler onto spatula

6. Scoop out some filler onto a spatula or hawk with your filling knife.

Filling defects in the wall surface

7. Fill the defects in the walls using a sweeping motion with the filling knife. Fill it as smoothly as possible. If the defect is deep, you may need to do this in two layers, allowing the first to dry before applying the second

8. Once the filler has dried, smooth it off with abrasive paper. For large areas, use a sanding block to keep the surface flat.

Cutting in with a brush

Denibbing the wall with sandpaper

9. Regardless of whether you have done any filling work, it’s a good idea to denib the walls before painting. This is simply a matter of lightly sanding the whole surface to remove any slight imperfections.

Stirring the paint if required

10. If necessary, stir the paint (read the label on the tin), then transfer some to a paint kettle.

Cutting in with a brush

11. Paint the edges first, using a decent size brush. This is called cutting in. The size of brush you use depends on what you can comfortably manage, but don’t be tempted to use a very small brush - this actually makes the job more difficult. A 2” brush is usually fine for cutting in. Load paint onto the brush and work the paint along the edge.

Adjusting pressure and angle of brush

12. You should aim to keep the bristles at a slight angle to the edge so that paint flows smoothly from them. The angle and pressure used can be adjusted slightly as you work along allowing the brush to follow the edge accurately. Long continuous strokes will enable you to produce a smooth line. It does take a little practice – try working on an offcut of board to get the hang of it. By practicing running straight edges you’ll soon be more comfortable with it and able to cut in surprisingly quickly.

Cutting in wall edges

13. Working on one wall at a time, paint a band of paint around the edge of the wall. At the top and bottom you’ll obviously need to cut in carefully to get a neat straight edge to you paintwork. However, on the verticals between walls you can cut in both sides of the corner in one go rather than doing one then the other.

Cutting in around window

14. Cut in around all obstructions for the wall in question – door frames, windows and cill boards. Around windows, it is often easier to paint the head and reveals entirely with the brush while you’re there. Basically you want to paint all the areas where the roller will not be able to reach.

Cutting in around light switches

15. Cut in carefully around all switches and electrical points on the wall you’re working on. Applying the paint a little bit away from the socket or switch and then working it up to it is often the easiest method.

Loading the tray and roller

Loading paint into roller tray

16. Once all the cutting in for the first wall has been done, pour some of the paint into a roller tray. Load the roller by rolling it in the paint. Then roll it on the grid of the tray to spread the paint evenly over the roller.

Roller painting

Applying the paint with the roller

17. Start at the top corner of the wall, apply a band of paint about 1m long and about 300mm from the corner. Cross roller this band to spread the paint so that you’ve covered around a metre square. Finally, lightly roller the area vertically to give a smooth finish. Rollering up and down from the outer edge back towards the corner, use overlapping strokes to finish the paint without any tram lines.

18. Continue with a bay of about the same size below to the first one. As you lay off the paint with the final rollering, work back into the first bay. As a general rule you should always work wet paint back into dry rather than the other way round. This minimises the chance of variable sheen showing in the finished work. Carry on working down the wall to the bottom.

Continue to paint in bays along the wall

19. Now repeat the process with a new row of bays starting at the top of the wall next to the first bay. As before, for the final laying off, roller from wet back into the dryer paint. Continue in this fashion across the whole wall.

20. As your experience builds, you’ll find that you can roller back and forth in a tight ‘W’ pattern leaving a good finish very quickly. Keep the roller fully in contact with the surface to avoid skipping or skidding

Roller painting around switches

21. When you get to obstructions such as switches and sockets, simply roller reasonably close so that the new paint overlaps the cutting in done earlier. You don’t need to roller right up to the fitting – just as close as you comfortably can without getting paint on the fitting.

22. When painting a second coat or painting over a very similar colour, it can sometimes be difficult to see where you’ve painted and where you haven’t. The best way round this is to position yourself so that the light from the window is reflected on the new paint as you go along. This should help eliminate skips and misses which would otherwise spoil your work.

Second Coat

23. One the first coat has fully dried, a second coat is normally required to ensure full bodied coverage. Check on the paint tin to see how long the paint needs to be allowed to dry before recoating. Emulsions are normally re-coatable in 4 hours or so. Rather than washing out brushes and rollers after the first coat, you can put them in a sealed plastic bag to keep out the air and stop them drying.

Cutting in the second coat of paint

24. Repeat the process exactly as before. Cut in around the edges with a reasonable size brush.

Cutting in second coat around socket

25. Cut in a band of paint around obstructions such as windows and electrical points.

Roller painting the second coat

26. Roller the main area again using the bay method described above.

Finishing

Completed walls

27. Once you’ve finished painting the ceiling, return any excess paint from the kettle and roller tray to the paint tub. If the paint has become contaminated or partly dry, don’t bother trying to keep it as it will ruin the remaining paint in the tub.

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