Painting is one of the most common DIY jobs there is. Most of us will have given a room a new lick of paint at some point; it's an easy job that can make a big difference to the appearance of your home. Doing a good job, however, is important to maintain that fresh look in your house, and it is not uncommon for people to splash on some paint, only to find it is stained and peeling away within a few weeks. To make sure your work doesn't suffer the same fate, here is a quick guide to keep your rooms looking fresh and vibrant for years to come.
Fill any cracks and holes
Whether you are adding a few coats to an existing wall, or working on a newly plastered room, it is important to go round and fill any holes and cracks to give you a nice smooth surface to start off. Preparing the surface is the most important step, as any marks that are left will show through when you've finished, so it's worth the time to do it right.
Wherever there is a gap that needs filling, use a craft knife to remove any raised lumps. Then, go around with the blade, digging a little of the plaster out to turn any holes into craters, and any cracks into a V-shape. This creates a bigger surface area for the filler to bond to and significantly reduces the chance of an ugly line forming where the filler does not stick.
It is then simply a case of forcing some filler into each gap and leaving it to dry. There are two main types of filler: sanding and non-sanding varieties. The choice is up to you, although the sanding varieties are usually a bit easier to work with and tend to give a better finish. If you go with this option, you need to leave each filled hole slightly raised ready for sanding back to a smooth finish. If you decide to go with the non-sanding variety, you will save yourself a bit of time in the long run, but it means that each gap needs leveling to a final finish before the filler sets.
Clean the wall and allow to dry
Once the filler has gone hard, you need to go around smoothing off the surface and removing any dirt. First, using some fine sandpaper, go over the walls and ceilings and remove any raised areas and bumps. If either surface has a textured finish this can be a bit troublesome; just do your best to match the texture as you sand back. The surfaces then need washing with sugar soap and a sponge to remove the dust from sanding and any oil and grime that has built up on the plaster, paying particular attention to all of the edges where dirt can linger.
Depending on the weather conditions where you live, it can take a while for the room to dry properly after the wash. However, it is important to make sure no moisture remains, as it will leave a stain on the paintwork at the end of the job. When you are sure that the room is dry, all you need to do is mask off any necessary edges to protect the other surfaces and give a straight line. If you find the tape is not sticking, you should clean the surface to remove any dirt, and then try again.
You're now ready to go. Start off with the ceiling, making sure you give the paint a thorough stir before you get going. Do the cutting in first around the edges with a wide brush to make sure you get everywhere a roller can't reach. Depending on how long this takes, you might need to leave it to go dry before you start the roller work to prevent it from peeling away if it is still a bit tacky.
When you are ready to start with the roller, half-fill the paint tray (remembering to give the paint a stir again), put the roller in the paint and roll it 4 or 5 times on the tray to make sure the roller has an even coating all over. Then work from one end of the ceiling, making sure you roll in the same direction all the time, and you run the roller over the painted part a few times to spread the paint evenly. You will almost certainly need more than one coat, so once each dries, do the same again, but run the roller at right angles to the previous layer.
With the ceiling complete, it is then the same process for the walls. However, unless you are using the same paint in the whole room (or you have a very steady hand), you will need to mask off around your painted ceiling to ensure a tight line where the colors change. To do this you will need to wait until the paint is 100% dry, or you risk peeling away the paint when removing the tape.
Hopefully, you will now have a pristine room to stand back and admire, and it will stay that way for a while to come. The key to obtaining a good finish is in the preparation, so spending a bit of extra time to make sure everything is right before you slap on the paint is time well spent.