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One of the easiest ways to freshen up the look of a room is by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls. Painting can not only add your own personality to the home, but can make it look cleaner and, in some cases, bigger and lighter.

Colour and Tone

Before you begin any preparatory work, it is helpful to select your paint colours and consider the tones that you would like to work with, as this will help your to choose your paints efficiently. By looking at different colours and finding out what works well together, you can build up a colour scheme that works throughout your home.

Primary colours - Any shade of paint you use will come from one of the three primary colours: red, blue, and yellow. This even applies to neutral shades such as ivories and magnolias, as these may have blue tones to make them look cooler, or yellow tones to make them appear warmer.

Secondary colours - The secondary colours – green, orange, and purple – are created when two primary colours are mixed together equally. Secondary colours are complementary with the primary colour not used to make it, and contrast most dramatically. That means green paint contrasts with red, orange paint contrasts with blue, and purple paint contrasts with yellow.

Tertiary colours - When a secondary paint colour is mixed with one of its component primary colours, it will create a tertiary colour, such as turquoise, violet, or magenta. Using similar primary, secondary and tertiary colours creates a harmonious colour scheme.

Primary, secondary and tertiary colours are normally used in lighter forms to paint full rooms, or in stronger tones for accent walls.

Neutrals - The most popular colour scheme to look at when painting rooms is neutrals, which includes white, cream, beige, and grey. Neutrals with a yellow tone will give the room a warmer feel.

Types of Paint

There are a number of different types of paint for the different areas of the room you will be painting, so it is important to choose the correct type for the job.

Emulsion - This is the most common type of paint used for internal decorating. These are the typical large pots of paint you will pick up at your local DIY store. These usually come with a matte or satin finish, so make sure to get the same type of finish if you need to buy multiple pots of paint.

One coat - Most emulsion paint will require more than one coat to achieve a solid, non-patchy finish, however one coat paint is thicker, and should cover even bolder colours in just one coat.

Non-drip - Non-drip paints often are quite solid in consistency and come in a tray rather than a traditional pot. This type of paint is better for decorating ceilings, as it causes less mess and reduces the risk of paint dripping on to the surfaces below.

Gloss - Gloss paint has a shiny, mirror finish, and is usually used to paint woodwork, including dado rails, skirting boards or embossed wall coverings. Gloss finish paints can accentuate any ‘blemishes’ such as chips, scratches or uneven surfaces.

Silk/Satin - Satin paint also is used for woodwork, and gives a softer, less shiny finish than gloss paint. It is less likely to show up fingerprints and scuffs, and is more forgiving on uneven surfaces than other paints.

Textured paints  - Textured paints can be used to cover cracks up to 2mm wide or uneven patches in walls and ceilings. The paint is thick, and will usually only require one coat.


Preparation of the room and surfaces is vital if you want to get the best results out of your painting and decorating.

Make sure the room that you’re decorating is clear of as much furniture as possible, and that anything that can’t be removed is covered with dust sheets. This will avoid them getting marked or damaged by the wet paint.

Use a light filling plaster to fill in any cracks, dents, or holes in the wall that will not be covered by paint on its own. Follow the instructions on the packet, and allow to dry. The plaster will need to be sanded before you paint over it using sandpaper.

Thoroughly clean the room, using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of any dust and cobwebs, and wiping down any woodwork with a damp cloth. Wipe down the wall with warm, soapy water and a sponge. This will get rid of any dust or residue left on the walls.

Protect the floor under the walls by using newspaper, bin bags, or a dustsheet positioned right next to the base of the wall. This will protect your flooring.

Tape off skirting board areas, or any areas that do not require paint, such at the edge of a different coloured accent wall, with masking tape, to avoid accidentally marking the area.

Some surfaces, such as woods, metals, ceramics, and areas which have previously been stained by damp, leaks or scuffs, for example. Wood primers will prevent the paint from soaking into the wood, metal primers help to avoid rusting, ceramic primers help paint better adhere to surfaces, and stain primers help paint to cover the marks more effectively.

Tools of the trade

There are many methods used to apply paint that will give you different finishes or coverage.

Brushes - Paintbrushes come in different materials and varying degrees of firmness. Most paintbrushes for decorating work will be synthetic. Firmer brushes should be used for rougher, textured work, whereas softer brushes should be used for more precise work, such as woodwork. This is because they are easier to control and are less likely to leave brush strokes.

Rollers  - Paint rollers will give you a smoother finish and will allow you to cover more space in a shorter time. Rollers are particularly good for larger surface areas, such as walls and ceilings. The roller covers are usually made of a synthetic material that has a similar feel to wool, and may need to be changed regularly.

When using a roller, you will need to decant paint from its original pot into a paint tray, and you should wipe off excess paint on the edge of the tray before applying it to the wall to avoid drips.

Pads - Painting pads can be used in a similar way to rollers, as they can also cover large areas of wall or ceiling quickly and smoothly. Paint pads are made out of sponge, come in a range of sizes, and can be shaped to paint hard to reach places. Like with rollers, you should decant the paint into a tray, wiping off the excess before you apply it to the surface to get a smoother finish.



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