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Preparing to paint a room

A couple painting a wall
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Ready to freshen up the paintwork? Here are some quick tips to make the task much easier

A new paint colour has a transformative effect on a room, turning it from a dingy spot that you’ve been avoiding to a bright, welcoming space that you can’t wait to spend time in. Getting the prep right will make decorating much simpler.

Preparing a room for decorating

Move everything you can out of the room before you start painting. This gives the ultimate protection from paint splashes. It also gives you the freedom to move your ladder around so you can paint safely.

Bear in mind that not all home contents insurance includes accidental damage from, say, a paint spill. If you’re in any doubt, call your insurer and ask. They may let you buy add-on cover.

If there’s no room elsewhere in the house, consider putting the furniture from the room you are painting into storage for a few days. You can adjust your Store and Insure policy as needed when you have more goods stored.

Should I strip off wallpaper before decorating?

Stripping wallpaper is a very satisfying job – but be aware that wall coverings may hide a multitude of sins. Stripping off wallpaper may leave you needing to replaster. If the wallpaper is light in colour and in acceptable condition (that is, not damp or mouldy) then you can get away with a quick sanding and a re-paint.

What’s the best way to fill holes before decorating?

Before you start repainting, repair small holes with a plaster filler, such as PolyFilla. Where the old paint has flaked off, sand down the edges and smooth the place with a skim of filler and a damp cloth.

Larger holes will need a plasterboard repair patch. Homebase has some helpful advice on repairing different types of wall.

Sanding your walls

Once the repairs are done, it’s time to sand your walls. Wear a dust mask and close the door to keep the rest of the house clean. First smooth off the repairs. Then use sandpaper across the whole surface to give it a bit of tooth.

Do I need to wash the walls before decorating?

Washing the walls down before you start painting will ensure you’re putting paint on to a surface that is free from dust, grease and grime. This is particularly important after sanding. You can use plain water for this, or sugar soap, a special detergent preparation that needs no rinsing.

Do I need an undercoat?

If you’re putting a light colour over a very dark colour, then a couple of thin coats of light-coloured primer is a good idea. It will ensure your chosen colour is true; and a primer will help your paintwork to last longer.

Painting the ceiling

Typically people paint the ceiling white, or in a lighter colour than the walls. Paint the ceiling first, as it is likely that you will drip down the walls. Start by cutting in, that is, painting with a brush around the edges and round any light-fittings. You can use decorator’s tape to protect them if you like, but it is often easier to unscrew them, bring them out of the ceiling and paint up to the hole.

Then go over the rest of the surface with a paint roller. You should expect to do two coats to get a good consistent coverage, and don’t forget to factor in drying time.

Painting the walls

Unscrew light switches and sockets. Some people like to use masking tape around the skirting boards, but others prefer to just go for it. Then you can cut in with your chosen wall colour before getting to work with the roller.

Disposing of decorating waste and getting rid of un-used paint

Paint should never be tipped down the drain, and you should not rinse brushes and trays into a domestic waste water system. While you’re working, cover the tray, roller and brushes with clingfilm to preserve paint overnight and between coats. Consider disposing of trays and brushes, rather than washing them. Or rinse them with a little water in a bucket then mix the painty water with cat litter and dispose of it in domestic waste.

Some people like to keep leftover paint for touching up. But if you need to dispose of paint, many domestic waste centres will take half-full paint cans. Or you may find someone on Freegle or Next Door who would like a small amount of paint for a project.

And now it’s time to enjoy your bright new room!