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How to paint a room like a pro – our experts share their trade secrets.

A seamless plaint job doesn’t start when you load that brush with colour. If you want to be delighted with the end result, the planning and prepping is equally crucial. Here’s the lowdown on how to get it right.

Plan your colour

The way colour looks on a swatch in store is not how that colour will look on your walls – that’s a promise. The reason? One word – light.  The time of year; which direction a room faces; how big the windows are; the time of day… All of these things influence the light and that affects how your eye perceives the colour. Our #1 Top Pro Tip? Buy tester pots in the shades you’re thinking of. Paint them on the walls in giant blocks, not just teeny swatches! Then look at the colour at different times of the day as well as in the evening when you have the lights on. Still like what you see?

Figure out how much paint you’ll need

Having enough paint to finish the job is a no-brainer, but it’s especially crucial if you are painting any colour other than standard white. That’s because in theory the tint you choose should be the same batch after batch. But in reality a second can of paint will most likely differ from the first. It may be ever so slight, but it will be noticeable and will ruin your paint job. It’s best to figure out how much paint you will need quite precisely before you start, then buy all the cans you need and combine and stir them together in a bigger container.

Start by calculating the size of your room in square metres. Then look at how many square metres you will get out of every litre of a particular paint and for safety give yourself a 10% extra buffer. (We handily indicate it on our site. Just click on the paint you like and under the ‘Highlights’ section you’ll see how many square metres that paint will give you.) Also assume that you will need a minimum of two coats, and bear in mind that if you are covering a dark surface with a lighter paint, you will most likely need a third or even fourth coat. In this case, we highly recommend you first cover that dark colour with an undercoat.

Put your kit together

Work with rubbish and you’ll get a rubbish finish. That’s the short and sweet of it when it comes to brushes and rollers. We’re not suggesting you buy the most expensive, but no halfway decent paint finish has ever been achieved with a spiky, ragged-edge brush. Aim for a midway price point and you’ll end up with a brush and roller that’s good enough. Also make sure you buy the right size brush and right kind of roller (PVA vs enamel) for the job. With that said, here’s the basics you need in your kit: brushes, rollers, a paint tray, painter’s tape (masking tape tends to leave a sticky residue), sandpaper, a putty knife, rags for wiping up spills, turpentine (if you’re working with enamel paint), a canvas drop cloth.

Get the room ready

If you can, remove furniture from the room. If that’s not possible, push it all together in the middle of the room so that you have loads of space to work. Cover furniture with cloths because paint splatters, that’s a given. Unscrew the plates over light switches and plug outlets. Trying to paint around them is the lazy painter’s way and never gives professional results. If you are painting the doors, remove the knobs and any other decorative door hardware. Finally cover the floor with a canvas drop cloth.

Get the walls ready

The best paint and paint technique in the world will not hide a rubbish wall. If you paint over dirty walls, the paint is more likely to chip and peel down the line. So start by cleaning. If walls are not dirty, just dust them and give them a quick wipe down with a damp cloth. If walls are dirty, especially with anything sticky or oily, wash them down with a sugarsoap solution.

Use a putty knife to scrape off any visibly loose, flaky paint. Pull out any nails you don’t want in the walls any more and fill the holes. Study the walls for any other holes, no matter how tiny, as well as any cracks and fill them with the appropriate Plascon filler. Once dry, sand it smooth. We highly recommend you paint these sections with a primer. That’s because the chalky, porous nature of fillers tends to suck up more paint, and will likely leave you with dull splotches when you do get around to painting.

Also sand smooth any other bumpy plaster imperfections. Give the walls a final wipe down and you’re almost done. Your last prep step is to protect skirting boards, mouldings, doors and window frames from getting paint on them by masking them with a line of painter’s tape where they meet the wall.

Time to paint

Always stir the paint well before you start painting. Also stir it while you are painting as colours can separate with standing. Use a smallish brush to paint the edges and corners where a roller cannot reach first. But don’t paint all the walls. Prepare just one wall. If you do the entire room, this edging paint will dry completely and form a visible line where it joins with the sections you’ll be painting with a roller. For a flawless transition, grab your roller and paint the rest of the wall while these edging strips (also known as cut-in) are still wet.

The pro secret is always maintaining a wet edge! So once it comes to roller-painting the rest of the wall, avoid lap marks by ensuring each stroke of your roller overlaps the previous stroke. It also helps to not let your roller get too dry, reload it often so it’s always at least half loaded. Our final pro tip? Chances are you won’t be done in a day. Simply load your roller with paint, wrap it up airtight in a plastic bag and it will be good to go the next morning.

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