Painting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to transform your home. Whether you’re painting a room, reviving old furniture, or giving your house an external makeover, the principles for great painting are the same. Here are 10 tips to help you get a professional finish.
You need to get a flat and even surface before you start smoothing it. That means filling holes and crevices and scraping off lumps. Use a paint scraper and keep it flat to the wall to slice off any small lumps in a smooth motion. Use a multi-purpose filler to fill up holes and crevices. Apply with a spatula and aim for a smooth finish. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and to use more rather than less, as you’ll sand it back when it’s dry.
Sanding and Cleaning
The balance with sanding is to get a flat surface which is smooth, but not to scratch it in the process. There’s always a temptation to use a coarse paper like 40 grit to get a quicker result with some rougher surfaces, but you’re going to damage the overall finish in the process. Be patient and use something more like 120 grit to get a smooth finish. Then take a clean paint brush and a cloth to brush off all the dust and clean the surface ready for painting.
If you’re painting very different colours next to each other - such as a navy blue wall with a white door frame - then you want to use tape to ensure a straight line. Use masking tape along the wood, right up to the join with the wall. It will allow you to paint with ease. If you’re painting an off-white wall, then you might not need to use tape on door frames and skirting boards. It might come down to how confident in your painting you are. If you do use tape, then wait until everything is completely dry before peeling it off. Also remember to put sheets down on the floor or any furniture to protect them from damage.
Bunnings is excellent for help with colours. The choice is massive, so I like to go in with a basic plan. Pinterest is excellent for inspiration, regardless of what you are painting. I’ve set up boards with colour schemes for caravan interiors and exteriors, furniture restoration and interior designs. Have a play around and see what fits together. When I painted one caravan navy blue, orange and white, I set up a board with just those three colours - then printed out images and took them to Bunnings to buy the paint.
Water-based vs Oil-based
The first choice to navigate when it comes to paint choice is the consistency. Water-based is easier to use. It dries quicker, so you might be able to apply multiple coats on the same day. It also doesn’t smell as much and is easier to get off your hands. It’s great for interior walls and ceilings. But water-based paint is not as durable as oil-based. Oil-based is thicker and stronger, so use it for outside surfaces, furniture and the likes of door frames. You need to paint reasonably quickly with oil-based paint and keep spreading it, especially on a warm day, as it can get sticky.
Matt, Gloss or Semi-Gloss
Rather like the consistency of the paint, the finish also depends on what you’re painting. For a wall in a room you’re likely to use matt or semi-gloss as your finish. Something that will give a flat but satin-like finish over a big surface. If I’m wanting a “shabby chic” look when restoring furniture, I will also use a matt finish and sand it back to create a distressed look. For the outside of a caravan or for window and door frames I’ll use a gloss, so that it looks shiny and bright. Gloss features against a matt background always looks amazing.
Before you start, give the paint a good stir. Don’t shake the can, just take the lid off and stir. You don’t want to paint straight out of the tin. Pour what you need into a pot or a tray - typically an eighth of a tin at a time - and then put the lid back on. If you’re painting something like a door frame with a brush, then pour the paint into a pot. If you’re rolling a big surface, then use a paint tray. Sometimes I’ll add a thinner to the paint so that it spreads easier and settles more evenly. A capful of Penatrol or some mineral turpentine in oil-based paints can give a really beautiful finish.
Undercoat can help give you a great result. It seals the surface, helping to provide a more even surface and ensuring that it doesn’t soak up too much paint. An undercoat can also help ensure that previous colours don’t bleed though. I use a white undercoat on everything. The only exception is furniture that I want to look distressed and have old wood or old colours show through. I will then use something like a grey undercoat if the top coat is going to be dark to help reinforce the depth of colour.
I try to use rollers whenever I can, even on smaller surfaces. I think they give a more even finish and help get job done faster. Even for door frames I’ll use a roller on the flatter front part of the frame. But there are times that you can only use brushes, such as the side of a door frame. You also need a brush for the corners of walls. Before you start painting a wall with a roller, you need to “cut-in” with a brush. This means taking a decent size brush and painting down the creases of the wall, and then fading this out (feathering) to virtually nothing as you move out from the corner. When you use the roller, the finish will look smooth.
Rollers are easy to use and give a wonderfully smooth finish. Pour the paint in the trough of the tray and then roll it back and forward on the flat of the tray to get the roller coated evenly. Then cover the wall (or whatever else you are painting) reasonably quickly and evenly, keeping the paint moving. Spread the paint and keep going until your roller needs coating again and the area looks even. Then stand back, have a cup of tea, and admire your handiwork.