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How to paint a wall the right way

Restoring the look of your home with a fresh coat of paint is an easy DIY task that you can do on the weekend. However, painting a wall needs to be done right if it is going to look good. There are a few basic tips that you need to know before painting a wall in your home – from proper preparation and the application of a primer to the technique of painting and allowing it to dry properly.

Before painting can begin, make sure that you remove all picture frames from the wall. Then, you will need to unscrew any plug covers, light switches, alarm keypads or thermostats. The wall should be unobstructed and bare before applying paint. Likewise, move any furniture or appliances away from the walls and cover carpets or tiles with a sheet of plastic. These preparations are vital and will set you up for a job well done.

Clean the wall before applying paint

The surface needs to be completely clean before any primer or paint can be applied. Wet a sponge or cloth with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Squeeze the sponge to remove excess water, then, rub-down the wall from top to bottom to remove any dust, scuff marks or dirt. 

If the wall is chipped or if the paint is flaking, use some sandpaper to smooth the surface as much as possible. Repair any chips with plaster filler and allow it to dry. Next, apply masking tape to any cornices and trim around the top and bottom of the wall, as well as any doorways and window frames. This will protect these surfaces from unwanted paint and allow you to paint perfectly straight lines along the wall.

Apply a base layer of primer

Once you have prepped the wall, you can add the base layer of primer. A standard white or light grey primer is your best option – speak to your hardware store manager about a good brand to buy. The purpose of a primer is to give the wall a textured surface to which the coloured paint can stick. It also cuts down on the number of coats you will need to achieve the same depth of colour.

Your hardware store manager should also be able to advise you on what volume of paint to buy for the size of your wall. In general, a few litres should be a good start. Apply an even coat of primer using a roller brush. This base coat does not need to be too thick and the roller will allow you to cover a large area in a short period of time.

For tight corners and hard-to-reach spaces, use a handheld brush to apply primer into the gaps. Paint slowly and carefully near the wall fixtures and trims to avoid getting paint on the adjacent surfaces. Leave the primer to dry for about four hours before applying any additional layers of paint. Open the windows or place a fan in the room to speed up the drying process.

Apply the coloured paint

Once the primer is completely dry, you may start applying the coats of coloured paint. Be sure to buy enough paint to finish the wall in one go. Five litres of paint can usually cover around 40 square metres of wall. Remember to shake the can of paint or mix it thoroughly before starting – this will ensure that all the pigments and oils are mixed and that you can get a more even finish.

Start by painting with a handheld brush around the edges of the wall. Use smooth, linear strokes all the way along the edge of the surface, painting a 10cm perimeter. Next, use a roller brush to cover the interior portion of the wall (within the already painted border). The best method for using a roller brush is to use an M-shaped pattern; this zig-zag motion will allow you to spread the paint evenly and smoothly across the wall. Don’t use too much paint as this can result in drips and streaks – just use enough to cover the primer layer.

Leave the paint to dry for a few hours and then add a second and third coat on top. This will give the wall a solid colour and an even finish. Once all your layers are painted, leave the wall to dry overnight. The topcoat will need about 12 hours to set before you can remove the masking tape and reattach any light switches and picture frames.

These easy steps will allow you to paint your own walls like a professional. It is best to do these sorts of DIY projects over a weekend when you have enough time to spend on doing it properly. Painting a room with a fresh colour can transform your home and keep it in tip-top condition.

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Written by Joshua Oates

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