Yokel D-I-Y: Top 5 Painting Tips

Painting. Probably the first – perhaps only – DIY task that most of ever take on in our homes. Yet it is one that we all think that we can do innately without any prior forethought or planning, to the point where the very concept of it being a profession that we might hire seems ludicrous. Well, the joke’s on us and that’s why professional painters and decorators secretly hate us and our amateur daubings. I’ve been painting in my own, typically shambolic fashion for over 15 years and here’s what I have learned the hard way (it’s a list because, y’know lists)It’s worth saying that is not an exhaustive “How To” guide, or indeed anything comprehensive, just a brief collection of things to bare in mind, ignore or vehemently disagree with as you see fit. So let’s get started;

  1. If you don’t cut in, you’re an idiot
    Cutting in is an essential part of painting any set of walls (or a ceiling) if you want to get

    Cutting in with the purple in the kitchen box

    Cutting in with the purple in the kitchen box

    a consistent finish. For those who are wondering in what “cutting in” meant, it is the process of painting the very edges of a wall, where they meet the ceiling, skirting, window and door frames; the spots where you’ll not be able to get proper access with a roller. In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that you do multiple coats of cutting in until it you are happy it won’t need any further touching up before you do any over coating of the rest of the walls (so probably 2-3 coats). It will feel like you’re not making any progress and will be time-consuming, but it will be worth it.

  2. Don’t bother washing rollers
    This might seem to be a really stupid thing to say; of course you should always wash your rollers, cleaning up is a really important part of painting, right? If you’re using oil based paints, then totally. However, for water-based paints, it really is less important IF you take a few basic precautions when you’re working on a project.Water-based paints stay liquid as long as they don’t dry out, so therefore so do brushes and rollers that are caked in them. If you’re painting a room with a roller for example, between coats, wrap the roller in one of those thin plastic supermarket bags, knotting the bag tightly, and the roller will remain fresh for days, maybe weeks. The same goes for roller trays (with inserts). And let’s face it, after staring at Misty Buff or Abattoir Scarlet for a few days while you’re painting, you’ll be sick of the sight of it, so once you’re finished, just bin it (packs of 1 & 3/4″ roller inserts work out at less than a couple of quick per roller at Wickes).
  3. Masking tape is – most of the time – utterly useless
    There is a dance that the amateur decorator performs re: masking tape. It works thus;

    Covering the pock-marked walls in the master bedroom (cutting in extends to doing initial overcoating of any bare plaster too, as that is a 'hungry' surface in terms of absorption)

    Covering the pock-marked walls in the master bedroom (cutting in extends to doing initial overcoating of any bare plaster too, as that is a ‘hungry’ surface in terms of absorption)

    apply masking tape, paint along edge, remove masking tape and either paint has crept underneath and/or it has removed paint from the wall you were trying to protect in the first place. Most of the time, it is just better to be careful, buy a set of modelling brushes and only worry about getting straight lines when you come to gloss/satin woodwork at the end of the job (gloss/satinwood cover just about anything in a single coat).The only exception is where you have awkward spots where using a small edging brush is going to be tricky (like very high corners). In those cases, getting some tape up as best you can and removing it immediately after coating is the next best option.

  4. The poorer your walls, the more expensive the paint you should choose
    Not all paint is created equal. Cheap emulsion paint typically has a higher water to pigment ratio, meaning that it will take more coats to create a decent finish. This is

    Good quality flat matt paint will help hide many blemishes (as here in living room, with Farrow & Ball 'French Grey', where the walls are not terrible even).

    Good quality flat matt paint will help hide many blemishes (as here in living room, with Farrow & Ball ‘French Grey’, where the walls are not terrible even).

    especially important when you have uneven walls, where using the deepest, flattest matt paint is essential to hiding those imperfections is essential (reflections are the enemy of hiding flaws). The best thing about higher pigment paints is that not only do they hide the lumps and bumps, but they also tend – due to their higher pigment ratio – to require fewer coats. The poster boy here is Farrow & Ball (and I admit, I am a fan, especially for Victorian drabs), but the more bargaintastic Wickes’ Chalky Flat Matt or even Dulux Once will suffice.

  5. You’ll never be totally happy with the finish; don’t sweat it
    Once you’re done, you will constantly notice things you wish you could change. Indeed, you’ll want to jump out of your seat/bed/toilet seat and immediately grab a paintbrush and do the millionth bit of “touching up”. You’ve heard about those bridge painters that seemingly never finish their job and think that you fancy a bit of that action. I’m afraid you are suffering from what I call “Overcoat Madness” where you labour under the misapprehension that one day this wall/door/ceiling will have a paint finish akin to a mirror. Put the brush down. It’ll never be perfect. get a beer and STOP THE MADNESS.


About Matt Hero

Thinking global, acting yokel
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