Painting. You either have the skill or you don’t. I’m not talking about painting a picture, a bowl of fruit or something. I’m talking about painting a wall. I can see you laughing, painting a wall or a surface is easy you say. It is though, is it really? Slop a bit of paint onto a brush and put it on a wall but does it end there? You can’t use any old paint or brush it has to be done in a certain way. There are all those tricky corners and edge’s that you never quite get perfect and you end up staring at for hours, days even because they just aren’t right. You know what I mean? You’ve had that problem; I can see it in your eyes. So here is a guide of how to paint, to seek perfection with our painting.

Picking a Brush, Pad or Roller

When picking a brush you need to make sure that it is of good quality to avoid the bristles dropping from the brush during painting and this can be infuriating and less economical in the long run as you will need to buy paintbrushes more often. A brush about 200mm (8inches) wide will give you the quickest coverage, but if you are not used to painting your hand will soon tire so a brush of around 150mm (6inches) may suit you better. You may only need a small brush though if you are only planning on painting windows or you have tricky corners and edges to paint you would need a brush as small as 50mm (2inches) to get the accuracy that you need. The size of the brush you pick depends on how comfortable you feel using the brush; you may chose to use a small brush for the whole job if this makes you feel more relaxed. It is all about choice.

If you are picking a roller you need to first think about the surface you are thinking of covering. The average size of a roller is 225mm (9inches) but there are other smaller sizes for different jobs. The sizes that are available to buy are subject to what the store chooses to sell. There are a number of different sleeves to pick for your roller all depending on the look you are hoping to achieve. Longhaired sheepskin and synthetic-fibre sleeves are excellent if you are hoping to achieve a texture wall or look – these work particularly well with emulsion paint, as it is water-soluble. However, choose a shorter pile if you would like to achieve a smooth surface with a gloss or satin paint. Disposable sleeves are also available if you are thinking of using a specialist paint and do not want it to stain your other sleeves however, they seen lose their resilience and skid across the wall.

Paint pads for large surfaces have flat, rectangular surfaces and are 200mm (8inches) in size. However, the exact size of your pad depends on the brand you choose to buy as different brands vary the size of their pads. Paint pads are generally covered in short mohair giving a smooth, neat finish to your surface. To help you to produce a good finishing look you will need to use a small pad of around 100mm (4inches) or you may choose to use a small brush as this maybe simpler then buying many different sized pads.

Preparing a Brush

The type of brush that you pick to paint with really does depend on the job you are hoping to complete with it. If you are planning on painting walls or ceilings you will need a brush 100mm (4inches) or wider in size, your brush will need to be much smaller for door and window frames at 25 - 75mm (1 – 3inches) in width. Wider brushes are best for larger jobs where the surface is smooth and easy to cover, a small, artist's brush would be more suitable for tricky corners and such tasks.

Flicking Bristles and Loading Your Brush

Flick bristles against your hand to shake any debris of paint that could have been left on the brush from previous painting tasks. If the brush is new this will give the brush chance to lose any lose bristles that could fall into the fresh paint and go directly on to your surface.

Dip the brush straight into the paint covering no more than a third of the brush. Remove the excess paint but dabbing on to the side of the tin of paint or whatever you are holding the paint in during your task. However, do not scrap it over the rim as this will just make the task messier than it actually needs to be.

Using a Roller

Roller sleeves are available in various ranges of widths, textures and materials. Foam and mohair pile sleeves are good for coating large, flat areas whereas deep-pile synthetic and lamb's wool sleeves are ideal for applying paint to textures or rough unprepared surfaces. Before using a roller on the wall you will need to prepare the walls and most of all the edges and corners of windows and doorframes. To prevent the paint from splattering when applying you will need to use thin coats of the colour, this could be eased by only putting a little amount into a roller tray.

Filling Your tray, Loading Your Roller, Applying the Paint and Laying Off

Make that the tray you are intending on using is clean, the same goes for the roller too. Before you start to paint you will need to thoroughly clean both utensils and then dry before pouring the paint into the tray. Emulsion is very suitable to be used with a roller because it is water soluble whereas oil-paint is a little harder as it cannot not be easily removed from the roller or tray when your job is finished.

Slide the sleeve into the cage and rub your hand over it to check that it is clean then dip it into the paint. Roll it up and down the incline of the tray, spreading the paint thoroughly over the sleeve of the roller, covering it all. Push the roller up and down the wall, and from side to side, making sure you are using random strokes and spreading the paint evenly over the wall not letting the roller slide on the surface causing uneven marks on your walls. Lift off on an upward stroke and reload. Move to an adjacent area and roll over the wet areas to blend the paint.

Using a Paint Pad

Paint pads, like rollers, are tools for applying water-based paints to large areas - such as walls. They are available in many different shapes and sizes and can be used on a varied number of surfaces - textured surfaces, wood and metalwork. You can use oil-paints on paint pads but the solvents to clean off oil-paints could damage the sponge on the paint pad.

Loading Pad and Applying Paint

Put the paint into the paint pad trough (or you can use a roller tray), dip the pad into the paint so the tip of the pad is covered in paint. The pad must be fully loaded but not submerged in paint... Check that the pad is not overloaded before apply to the surface, you can always get rid of excess paint on the pad trough. Rub the loaded paint pad in various directions over the wall. You will need to experiment to find out what type of pressure you need to apply the paint without causing a drip. The difference to a roller is that it will need to be reloaded more often, some find this a nuisance but a pad is generally easier to work with when painting a large surface.

Applying Emulsion

Emulsion is easy to use and can be applied with a paintbrush, roller or paint pad. Emulsion provides a water resistant finish and can be bought in both matt and silk finishing. Unlike other paints it is fast drying so it is important to amply the paint quickly to avoid any shading or discolouring on your walls. Work so that a wet edge is maintained, allowing one paint area to emerge dry as the other one is just finished being covered. Painting is all about timing.

Beginning and Laying off

Dust the surface you are set to paint on. You should start your painting near a natural light source, either at the top or corner of the wall near a window as this will give you a clear view of where you are painting and will help you to avoid missing any parts of the wall due to shadows. Grip a large brush around the handle and work in areas of around 60cm in order to paint evenly.

Smooth the already painted area with a light criss-cross action with your paintbrush. Then finish with a gentle upward stroke known as 'laying off' and then move quickly to an adjacent area remembering not to apply the paint to thickly as this could cause the paint to run - which is not the effect we are currently trying to achieve. Wait until the paint is thoroughly dry before applying subsequent coats, you should leave it to dry for at least half a day.

Applying Oil-Based Paint

Oil paints are available to buy in gloss, eggshell and flat finishes and they produce a durable and waterproof coating. They must be applied carefully and in layers, if applying to wood they will need to start with a primer and finish with one or more topcoats. Whilst painting with oils you should keep the room well ventilated, opening windows and closing doors to stop fumes spreading. Oil-Paints have strong and potentially dangerous fumes so ventilation precautions must be taken.

Applying Vertical Strokes, Joining Strokes and Finishing

Begin by applying vertical, parallel lines of paint that are not directly next to each other - leave gaps of around an inch. Work in areas of 30cm (6inches) in order to get accuracy and use a small, pen-like brush and hold steadily. When the brush is out of paint, do not reload it but work quickly across the vertical lines from the top, creating horizontal bands to cover the area. Lightly brush in the vertical movements over the now wet paint and then immediately reload the brush. Move to the next area adjoining the wet edges for a smooth blending of colour all over the painting surface.

With thanks too:

  • The D.I.Y Manual.
  • My Mother and her brilliant painting (or not).
  • My old, weird art teacher. You rocked!