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Painting How To Guide

Quick Tips

Protecting - A window guard can be used to keep paint off windows when you are painting the frames, or for creating a clean edge at skirting-boards and cornices.

Dusting - A tack cloth will remove all traces of dust before you apply a final coat of paint.

Mixing and storing - Professionals tend to decant paint into more convenient smaller containers known as kettles, commonly available in either metal or plastic

Radiators - A mini roller with an extra long handle allows you to paint the difficult-to-reach bits behind the radiator.

Paint Interiors

Painting is one of the most pleasurable parts of decorating, but don’t rush into it. Walls usually need some surface preparation before you can apply the first brushstroke of paint.

Before you start

  • Clear the room as much as possible. Move anything that has to stay into the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets. Use dust sheets to protect the floor too.
  • Fill holes and cracks, then wash down walls, ceilings and woodwork with a sugar soap solution. Wear protective gloves and goggles as sugar soap can irritate the skin. Rinse with clean water and leave to dry.
  • Depending on the wall, you may need to seal or prime it (for more detail, see the you can do it book).

Paint in sequence

Do you need to paint the ceiling? If so, paint it first, since you are bound to get some on the walls. Then paint the walls, and finally the woodwork. Start painting by the window or light source, and paint in bands away from and in parallel to it.

Applying liquid emulsion with a brush

Stir the paint and pour it into a paint kettle so that it is about a third full. Dip a 100mm–125mm brush into the paint to cover about one-third of the bristle depth. Press the brush against the rim to get rid of the excess; don’t scrape it on the edge - you'll take off too much paint and create build up on the inside of the kettle.

1. Start at the top of the wall and apply the paint with short, overlapping horizontal and vertical strokes. Work in panels about 1 sq m at a time, allowing each area to merge into the next one while the edge is still wet.

2. Work systematically across the wall. Try and finish a complete wall before you take a break or there may be a visible change of tone where you stopped. For painting edges, see the you can do it book.

Using a roller

Applying emulsion with a roller is the quickest way of covering a large surface area, though you may need more coats than when painting with a brush because the paint goes on quite thinly. Solid non-drip emulsion, which comes in a tray, is also applied with a roller – as you apply the roller, the paint liquifies.

1. Pour the emulsion paint into the paint tray reservoir – it should be about a third full. Dip the roller sleeve into the paint and roll it firmly up and down the trays ribbed incline to spread the paint evenly.

2. Move the roller over the wall surface, using random strokes applied with a light, even pressure. Try not to work too fast or you will create a fine mist of paint spray. Each time the roller is dipped in the paint, move it to an adjacent unpainted area and work your way back to the painted area in overlapping strokes to blend in the wet edges.

Cleaning and storing paintbrushes

Brushes used with water-based paints are simply washed with water. Work a little soap into the bristles, rinse clean and leave them to dry. Clean, dry brushes, rollers and pads can be stored wrapped in lint-free cloth, plastic bags, foil or brown paper. Brushes steeped in oil- or solvent-based paint can be stored immersed in an appropriate cleaner or solvent.

1. A paintbrush cleaning tub is ideal for storing as well as cleaning brushes that have been used with oil- and solvent-based paints. Snap the brushes into position and add enough cleaning fluid to cover just the bristles.

2. Fasten the lid and rock the container backwards and forwards several times to clean the brush. Dispose of the fluid as instructed, and replace with fresh fluid up to the mark. Keep the lid on while the brush is in storage.

Wallpapering How To Guide

This 'How to' teaches you all about hanging wall coverings. You'll find useful tips for choosing how many rolls of paper you'll need and how to match various patterns. You'll learn when and how to hang lining paper, patterned wallpaper and other wallcoverings, such as anaglypta. Simple instructions show how to tackle those awkward bits, such as doorways and arches, that can make a straightforward job seem quite daunting. Hanging wall coverings isn't difficult. You just need to give it a little thought and patience – and as much time as it takes.

About lining paper

You need lining paper to cross-line a wall if you're hanging embossed or expensive wallcoverings, or if the wall has imperfections that will show through your wallcovering. Hang the paper horizontally so that the joins don’t match up with those in your top layer. If you intend to paint over the lining paper, hang it vertically.

Wallpaper options

Buy all papers with the same batch numbers, otherwise there may be some colour variation. The following wallcoverings are good choices for beginners:

  • Heavy papers – easier to hang than lightweight, which tear easily when wet
  • Good quality paper – cheap paper may stretch or tear easily
  • Woodchip papers or washable papers
  • A small 'all over' pattern – helps to disguise mistakes
How many rolls? First measure the:
  • Perimeter: all the way round the room, including doors and small windows
  • Drop: the height of the walls to be papered, down to the skirting board
  • Roll width and length

To estimate lining paper for cross-lining divide the drop by the roll width and then multiply by the perimeter.
Divide by the roll length.
2.24m÷ 0.56m = 4
4 x 12m = 48
48 ÷ 10.5 = 4.7
You'll need five rolls of lining paper.

To estimate wallcoverings (or lining paper to hang vertically)
Divide the perimeter by the roll width to give the number of pieces required (A).
Divide roll length by drop + 100mm to give the number of pieces from each roll (B).
Divide (A) by (B) for the number of rolls required.
Allow extra for wastage or pattern matching.

12m ÷ 0.56m = 21.4
You need 22 lengths of paper (A)
10.5 ÷ 2.34m = 4.5
You get 4 pieces from each roll (B)
21.4 ÷ 4.5 = 4.8
You need 5 rolls of paper, plus a sixth for wastage
You can usually cut four pieces of paper per roll. But if the pattern is very big, you may only get three or even two pieces per roll, as you need to allow for pattern matching.

Hint - If you overestimate, you may be able to return unopened rolls to the store for a refund.

Pattern matching

Matching different types of pattern results in varying amounts of waste. You need to bear this in mind when choosing your wall covering and estimating how many rolls you need. The label on the wall covering should advise you further.

  • Free match – Continuous pattern. These patterns don’t need matching – cut the drops anywhere according to length.
  • Straight match – Same part of the pattern running down both edges of the paper. Ensure enough overlap at the top and bottom of each piece to exactly align the motifs and allow for trimming.
  • Offset match or dropmatch – Motifs staggered between the drops. Edges will be different on each side. Allow extra for this. The pattern repeat length should be shown on the label.
  • Random – Some pattern drops have to be hung with each length the opposite way up. Read the label carefully.


  • Many product labels and pattern books use symbols to indicate the type of wallcovering and how to use it.
  • You can hire trestles and scaffold boards.
  • Scaffold boards come in various lengths. Choose to suit the length and width of your room. They are essential when cross-lining walls.
  • Before using a new pasting table, use a felt pen to mark lines at 100mm intervals. Then give the surface and edges two coats of polyurethane varnish. This makes it easier to measure the paper and clean the table.
  • After each project thoroughly wash the papering brush, wrap in newspaper or lining paper and dry in an airing cupboard.