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How to paint interior walls

How to paint interior walls – Painting your interior walls is a project many people like to do themselves.  Though it takes time, it can be relatively simple and inexpensive with good results; a fresh coat of paint brightens up any room.  Here are some handy tips before you get started.

Preparation – Paint 

Like any DIY job, preparation is essential before you get started.  You’ll need the right tools, for buying paint brushes see here, and of course, the actual paint.

Decide what finish you want to achieve and choose the paint and colour accordingly.  You might want an accent wall rather than having all four walls the same colour.  Bear in mind any existing decor and furniture when choosing the colour.  Check if the ceiling could do with a fresh coat too!

Start by figuring out the general color characteristics: Do you want a warm or cool shade? A neutral or a saturated shade? If you have existing furniture or art, you’ll also want to consider how the shade will compliment them. Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, pick a few shades and get samples. Test the shades to see how they look in the room at different times of day.

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Try the free Dulux visualiser app to get an idea of how the paint colour will look on your walls and/or ask for samples and paint small sections of the walls.   You need to decide on the type of paint as well, for example a flat paint will work well on the ceiling but not as well in playroom, see our handy guide here.  Then you need to know how much paint you will require.  B&Q have a useful online tool to calculate the amount, try it here.

There is a wide range of paint on the market to suit any room from Dulux Easycare, see more here, to luxury paint from Little Greene, see the range here, or Farrow & Ball, see here.  Alternatively, Herts Decorators offer an extensive range to choose from to achieve your perfect look.

If you are changing dark walls to lighter shades or have stains on your walls, you will need to use primer as well.  Many brands have a primer and paint in one.

Preparation – Tools

Get all the tools you will need together before you start as well.  Here’s a list to start with:

  • Painter’s tape (for taping off trim and ceilings)
  • Drop cloths (for protecting carpet and furniture)
  • Ladder
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller
  • Bucket to mix paint (see below)
  • Wooden paint stick (to stir paint)
  • Small brushes

While rollers are great for covering large wall spaces, brushes are ideal for smaller areas and for edging. Natural-bristle brushes are used for applying oil-based paints, while polyester brushes are best for latex paints. Choose an angled brush to make it easy to paint straight lines along areas of trim. Flat-headed brushes are best for filling in larger, even spaces.

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Preparation – the room

Once you have everything that you will need, it’s time to get the room ready. It’s a good idea to clean the walls first as the paint will adhere better on a clean surface.

In one bucket, we mixed 4 litres of warm water, ½ cup of vinegar, and ¼ cup of baking soda. We used this mixture to wash the walls.

We solely utilized warm water in another bucket to cleanse the walls.

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You may want to sand the walls as well to get a smooth surface, use fine grit sanding paper on a sanding pole.

Move the furniture to another space if you can to avoid any splatters.  If there is no other room, move it all to the center of the room and cover it well with drop cloths.  Cover the floor in drop cloths too as there will be some spills no matter how careful you are.

Next, use the painter’s tape to cover the edges of the room’s corners, any moldings or trim, round the doors and windows, outlets and switches.

Then mix your paint.  If you are using more than one tin of paint, combine them in a large bucket so the colour remains even, this is known as ‘boxing’ the paint.  Stir it regularly, using the wooden paint stick.


If you are using primer, apply it first and allow to dry.  Decide on your technique before you start putting paint on the walls.  A popular one is to paint from the ceiling down so you can deal with any drips or spills as you go.

It is best to ‘cut in’ first with a brush at the top and bottom of the wall, then use the roller so you don’t see the brush strokes.  Load the brush with paint then tap it against the side of the tin or bucket to get rid of heavy drips.

Start brushing about a 1/2 inch away from the cut-in area to apply the paint. As the brush unloads, move over and slowly drag the brush along the trim or corner. Let the bristles gently push the paint against the cut-in area where the walls meet. You may have to do this a couple of times to get complete coverage, but it’ll avoid excess paint along woodwork and in corners.

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Then use the roller to cover the large area of wall.

Work from the top of the room down, starting with the ceilings. Planning a bold focal wall? Paint the adjoining light-color walls first. “Don’t worry if you get paint on what will be your accent wall—the dark paint will cover up whatever lighter paint found its way there. After the lighter wall dries, tape off that edge so the dark color doesn’t bleed onto your new paint”

Tackle one wall at a time. Take a brush and “cut in”—paint along the molding and the corners from top to bottom

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Make sure you have adequate ventilation in the room as you go and allow plenty of drying time.  Once the paint has thoroughly dried, remove the painter’s tape and drop cloths.

If DIY is not your thing or time is an issue, you can always get the experts in to ensure you get the perfect finish. Herts Decorators provide high quality and professional decorating services to our clients across Hertfordshire, book a free estimate with our team today!

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George Ryland

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