Learn how to paint a room like a pro
Many of Your Homyze clients think they can tackle a painting job themselves and then come to us with a half-finished room or with concerns about streaking or shadows, asking Your Homyze to help. And of course, we are always happy to help! But for those who want to tackle the task themselves, here is the Homyze guide on how to paint a room like a (Homyze) Pro.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, we have written another post on choosing paint colours, but this is included here for completeness and because we think it is really important in getting the finish you want.
Choosing Paint Colours
Inevitably, every 6 months or so, the design magazines and blogs come out with ‘this season’s colours from Milan’ or some such. And I can’t help but think enviously about the idea that there are people who change their rooms’ colours according to the season. As anyone who has done it knows, however, painting rooms takes longer than you expect and so you want to be confident in your colour choices and finishes when taking the painting plunge. Also, getting a quality finish is not easy and given you usually won’t want to rush into it again after you have finished, you don’t want those little miss-steps to haunt you for years to come!
So, there are a couple of choices to be made for painting a room. The first is colour and the second is finish. Since the first is a personal choice, we won’t make any judgements but just give some context. Generally accepted principles are that lighter rooms feel larger and that colours should become lighter as you travel up the wall. That may be true, but as with all design rules, there are many exceptions.
Your Homyze love a dark TV snug or dining room and sometimes sacrificing this feeling of space is just the right thing to do. Likewise, we have worked a dark ceiling and are still happy with the results. For inspiration, look at the colours you have used elsewhere in your house and that will be in the room. There is a lot to be said for the flowing feeling that comes from a smooth transition of colour from one room to the next – it also makes the house feel larger.
Choosing Paint Finishes
Now that we have delved into the dilemma of colour choice, the next thing to tackle is the finish. For interior painting, emulsion paint is an ideal choice for your walls and ceilings and is available in a range of finishes, most common being matt, satin and silk. Emulsion paint is usually water-based, is created using synthetic binding of pigments and is much quicker to dry (and with less odour) than e.g. oil-based gloss paints. Most water-based paints will be touch dry within a few hours and can normally be painted again by the end of a day (but are best left overnight if possible).
The three primary emulsion types – matt, satin and silk have an increasing amount of sheen (shininess) to them. Matt paint is flat and non-reflective making it perfect to use on cracked and uneven surfaces, while silk paint gives a more glossy, reflective look that works well in busy areas of the home. Silk is also the most hard-wearing, making it better for areas that are likely to have condensation or spillages as it is more amenable to wiping. You guessed it, satin sits between these two and can take an occasional sponge bath (not literally).
For areas of acute concern about e.g. moisture, grease or condensation you can get specialist emulsion paints that are more able to withstand these effects and most hardware stores will carry bathroom and kitchen lines of paint. Simply using a regular emulsion in rooms such as a bathroom or kitchen can soon lead to fading and mould, which is never a good look for your new room.
For joinery items such as doors, skirting boards, TV units or shelves and other wood and metal features, using oil based gloss paint is a great way to help emphasise pieces. As above, oil-based paints normally take longer to dry between coats (usually at least 24 hours but often more depending on the environment) and are likely to be uninhabitable during the drying process as the smell can be extremely strong.
How long does it take to paint a room?
Although it’s never the answer you want, unfortunately – it depends. The primary factors that impact how long it will take to paint a room are: its size (duh!), the number of coats required, the amount of detail (and whether it is to be highlighted/accentuated) and the quality of the walls to begin with.
For a normal sized bedroom (around 3 x 4 metres) one would normally allocate around a day for the walls and ceilings, but this does not include woodwork such as skirtings, door and window frames or cupboards, and would not include detailed work on cornices or ceiling roses. This day would be sufficient to apply 2 coats of emulsion paint.
Detailed work such as picking out features and painting the woodwork would mean an additional day, and if there’s filling and sanding required, add another day again (also to allow the filler to dry before sanding). For an average family sized house of 1,500 – 2,000 square feet and with the walls prepared and/or new, it would take 2 experienced painters around 7 – 10 days to get a quality finish.
How to prepare a wall for painting
Here is our step by step guide to undertaking the painting of a room. Obviously, for some people, not all of these things will be possible, but this is still how it would work in an ideal situation. If you can’t do all of these, do as many as is reasonably practicable.
1. Get all the furniture, fixtures and fittings out of the way
As you can see above and below, fiddly bits such as features, frames, skirting, sockets etc. can add considerable time to a painting job, Ideally, you want your walls (and ceiling) as unencumbered as possible. And in addition to running the risk of having paint splattered on it, having furniture around makes it more difficult to move freely around the room. And freedom of movement is your friend when it comes to painting a room like a pro.
2. If it can’t be moved, cover it
Whether talking about immovable objects or areas that you don’t want to paint, you will never regret the time you spend making sure that everything is covered up properly. Even your Homyze, before properly learning this lesson, painted something they shouldn’t. So learn how to paint a room like a pro from the pros’ mistakes!
3. Tape along all edges
Whether this is where the window meets the wall, or the wall meets the floor (or cornice), like the time you spend covering things up this is an investment worth making. There are excellent specialist products such as Frogtape painter’s masking tape that allow you to get a clean edge (and minimise the chances of any paint seepage underneath). You can use regular masking tape if you must, but be careful about just using paper pushed up against the floor edge (it has a habit of moving at the most inopportune time!).
4. Fill any cracks and sand
The next step in learning how to paint a room like a pro is making sure that the surface is as even as is possible. Fill any little cracks and crevices with some filler, leave to dry (at least 3 or 4 hours) and sand to a smooth finish. You may need to do this twice, and remember that whilst a fresh coat of paint brings a room to life, it also potentially highlights some of the ‘inconsistencies’.
5. Give the room a really good clean
Vacuuming and mopping the room is really essential to getting a good quality finish. You will be surprised at just how many ‘dusties’ (our non-trademarked name for the otherwise unnoticed little nasties) there are in a room. And of course, as soon as you start painting, and particularly as you run along an edge, they will get caught up in the bristles of your brush. Say goodbye to your desired smooth finish.
6. Clean any walls to be painted
In addition to making sure that there are no strays making their way onto your walls and ceilings, it is also worth giving your surfaces a once-over with some warm, soapy water to ensure that there is no latent oil (or other) residue. This is particularly important in kitchens and bathrooms and again ensures that you have a consistent (high-quality!) finish and a pro-painted looking room!
7. Prime (or ‘spot prime’) your surfaces
If you are painting over a surface that was previously painted in a low-gloss or water-based paint, you may not need to prime the areas before painting. But particularly where you have applied filler, or if the room was previously painted with an oil-based paint, you should prime (or spot-prime the filled areas) before painting.
8. That’s it!
You’ve learnt the basic on how to paint a room like a pro! You’re now ready for painting!
Cutting in refers to the hand-painting (with a brush) of the area adjacent to cornice, skirting, edges etc. that are too tight for rollers. This is done in preparation for the use of a roller on the larger surfaces and is where you can test the steadiness of your hand! The neatness of this cutting in is critical to the overall quality of the job and is something that improves with practice.
Another contributor to the quality of your cutting in is the tools you use. Your paintbrush should have a nice crisp edge to it, rather than insubordinate bristles that go in all directions. You are looking for a crisp, straight line and an even application of paint. There are specialist angle-edged cutting in brushes and as a rule, you get what you pay for when it comes to painting brushes. They are the equivalent of a chef’s knives for the Homyze painting professionals – treated with reverence, often being used for years and likely ‘a favourite’ amongst the set.
It is said that Michelangelo spent 4 years on his back painting the Sistine Chapel. And whilst there is no question that that was time well-spent (from our perspective), hopefully your undertaking will be a little less laborious. The issue that comes with painting a ceiling is obviously how to deal with the height. There are three main options here: a roller on a pole, using a ladder and erecting a scaffold tower. Each has pluses and minuses but all are capable of giving you a good quality finish.
First, the ceiling should be prepared as per the rest of the room to ensure you have a smooth and clean surface for painting. Using a roller on a pole is perhaps the easiest to implement. Buy an extension pole and add your roller to the end. The benefit is that you can get the same freedom of movement that you hopefully have for your wall painting. The downside is that you are not quite so close to the action to ensure that you are getting the even and full coverage that you want.
Like a pole, using a ladder is easy to do. Buy a ladder, climb it and get your paint on. The downside though is the compromised freedom of movement, and often the lack of anywhere to put your tin or tray of paint. Whilst you are more easily able to see that the paint is going on as you want, you will only be able to paint small amounts of the ceiling before descending the ladder to move to the next spot.
Using a scaffold tower is a cross between the above. It generally gives you greater ability to move around than does a ladder, but not as much as being at ground level. But instead of being at ground level, you are up high and thus able to keep an eagle eye on the paint as it goes on. The primary drawback of a tower is … who has a scaffold mini-tower? Usually only professional painters.
How to paint a wall
How do you paint a wall? You paint it. Wish that it were so simple! Of course, painting itself is not complicated, but there are some tricks to achieving a quality finish. First, as above, you need to do the cutting to ensure that you get an even finish across the whole of the surface. Then when you are ready to roll (as in, use a roller) start from the top and work your way down. There is a fairly simple reason for this … any excess paint will drip downward, and if you roll over it again when you get to that level it will ensure your surface stays smooth.
Of course, as you approach the skirting or floor, you will need to be a little more judicious in your paint so that these drips are less likely to occur.This advice doesn’t help you if you have a different colour for your skirting (and we assume you aren’t painting your floor the same colour!).
How to paint a room like a Pro using a roller
It is easy to see the benefits of a roller. In addition to dramatically reducing the painting time required, it also means you get a more even surface. First, let’s make sure you come armed with the right tools for the job. There are two primary types of roller – the smooth, spongy (or pad) sort and the textured type. The smooth rollers are used for gloss paint – e.g. to pick out the woodwork – whilst the textured roller is for use with emulsion.
With both, make sure that you take off any excess paint by rolling in the tray before taking it to the wall, and work in small areas (around 2-3 feet square) at a time. As above, start at the top of the wall and work your way down and apply even pressure.
How to paint a wall with a brush
Before you can start painting the wall, you have to get some paint on your brush. Before you put your brush in the (water-based) paint, it is best to give it a little bit of water to moisten the bristles and ensure they are uniform and ready to take the paint. Then dip the brush around a third up the way up the bristles, and lightly dab against the side of the tin or tray to remove excess paint. Do this two or three times to ensure that the paintbrush is properly ‘loaded’ and ready for action.
When applying the paint, you want to ensure as smooth a movement as possible, with the bristles slightly flexed. The paint should be applied using the narrow edge and the speed should be just enough to stop any paint from dripping down. When the paintbrush starts to skip and jump slightly, it is time to reload.
In Summary on How to Paint a Room Like a Pro
Painting a room can make all the difference. It is one of the most impactful things you can do to your home, whether it is being done for sale or for sanity. And because it can have such an influence on your home, it is worth doing well. There is a huge difference between a good and bad paint job and hopefully, some of these tips will help you achieve the former. If you would rather the results without some of the stress, get in touch with us here at Homyze. We are always happy to help with your home work.