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How to paint interior walls

by Michael Boyle on June 12, 2019


At Donegal Town Hardware, we meet lots of people who have some painting to do.

We’ve been meeting even more of them since the opening of our dedicated Paint Centre. We stock the full range of Crown Paints and Dulux Paints there, and we have more than 5,000 colours to choose from – so there’s bound to be one that’s perfect for your needs.

People often ask our paint experts for advice on more than just choosing a colour though, and we’re always happy to help. Indeed, we’re so anxious to help that in consultation with our friends at Crown Paints, we’ve put together the following guide on how to achieve the perfect paint job. Now you can have our help any time!

How to paint interior walls DIY Guide

How to decide between matt and sheen finishes

Making this decision depends on several factors to do with the walls and room to be painted. A matt finish can hide lumps and bumps, while a higher sheen can accentuate them. On the other hand, a higher sheen reflects more light and can brighten up a room, while a matt finish absorbs light. This could create a nice atmospheric mood in your room, but it could also leave it looking just a little too dark.

You should also consider the room itself, and how will be using it. If it’s a high-traffic area used by children and/or pets, for example, you should look for a tough, washable paint. In other rooms, such as bathrooms, the paint might need to be steam or mould resistant.

If the colour you want doesn’t come ‘off the shelf’ in the finish you need, just talk to one of our expert Paint Mixing team, and we can make up exactly what you need.

How to calculate how much paint you need

Asking how much paint you need is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string, as obviously it depends on the size of the room, the number of coats that will likely be needed, etc. However, a good estimate of the amount of paint you will need can be had by using the online paint calculator provided by our friends at Crown Paints. Just accurately measure the areas to be painted and key in those values online, to have all the sums done for you!

Remember that if you end up buying too much, we are happy to accept returns of unopened tins.

How to choose a colour from the thousands available

Think about the colours that won’t be changing in the room, for example the furniture or upholstery. Then start to narrow down the choice by using colour cards to pick a broad range of colours to either complement or contrast with those items, depending on personal taste.

When you’ve narrowed it down more, it’s time for tester pots, as different colours will look different in differently lighting conditions. Now you’re almost there – time to choose just one!

How to use paint to freshen up a kitchen

You can inject some fresh life into any kitchen by simply painting its cupboards. Off-whites are a great choice as they complement any design. If you decide to do more, consider the size and shape of your kitchen before picking a colour for the walls. What works well in a small kitchen mightn’t always work so well in a larger one. Consider pairing whites with cool blues or warm naturals.

How to make a room look bigger and brighter

The first thing you could do is paint the ceiling in Brilliant White to really open up the space and ensure all the light that falls on it is reflected downwards. Other great colours to brighten any space with reduced lighting include off-whites, with a slight hint of citrus yellow or green.

You could also consider introducing some bright colours to items such as picture frames or furniture. And always be mindful of the actual lighting of the room, and how the paint will show up in it.

How to choose between satin and gloss for doors

That’s really a personal choice, as both gloss and satin finishes are durable and suitable for interior doors. Lower sheen satin is tactile and comforting, while gloss more clean and crisp.

Gloss is also suitable for exterior doors. It will require undercoating, while satin can be applied directly – but satin will need two coats. Both finishes are available in solvent or water-based Quick Dry versions, with Quick Dry being low odour to allow everybody use the area again much earlier.

How to prepare surfaces for painting

The easy answer is just to say that if it’s dirty or greasy, clean it. If it’s shiny or flaky, sand it or prime it. But not all dirt or shininess or flakiness is created equal, so don’t be shy about asking for specific advice from any of our team. Some of the more common topics we get asked about follow below.

How to deal with ‘powdery’ spots in your plaster

If the surface only feels slightly powdery when you rub your hand across it, using a stabilising solution will usually bind the surface together enough to create a sound surface for painting. Any of our paint expert team can advise on such a solution.

If the plaster is very loose though, to the extent that you can dig into it or even remove it easily, it will probably need to be replaced. We suggest that if in any doubt, you should call in a reputable builder or plasterer to have a look.,

How to deal with cracks and small holes

That depends on the size of the cracks or holes. If they’re small, just use a fine surface filler – we have several available in store.

If they’re larger, you should rake them out to remove any loose material. Fill them then with a suitable interior filler, leaving that filler slightly proud of the surface. When it’s thoroughly dry, smooth it properly with sandpaper.

How to protect your room while painting

Get out the masking tape first, and mask off all those areas you don’t want to paint, such as light switches, power sockets, window frames, etc. This will allow you to paint more quickly, without having to fiddle around with edging so much.

You should put down a couple of dust sheets too, no matter how careful you are with your paints! There’s always bound to be some spilled somewhere along the line, and dust sheets are an inexpensive way of protecting your floors and furniture.

How to choose between rollers

Think first of all about how much you’re going to spend. Cheap roller and tray kits are widely available and can be seen almost as disposable tools, but better quality trays and roller sleeves will combine to do a better job and they can be re-used. Think of this as an investment that will save money in the long run.

Use short pile rollers for smooth walls, long pile for rough surfaces, or smooth gloss rollers for trim and radiators. You might need roller extensions for stairwells or extended roller arms for getting down the back of radiators.

How to decide what brushes you need

Buy brushes of various sizes, to help you get in every corner, and give you a perfect finish. Use large brushes where the roller won’t go, then smaller brushes (such as the edging brush) for painting edges and corners neatly. Synthetic bristle brushes are good value for money and great for using with water based paints as the bristle will not expand when wet. Natural bristle brushes are recommended for oil based paints where a smoother finish and reduced risk of losing bristles is necessary.

How to ensure a consistent finish

Sometimes colour can vary slightly from one batch of paint to the next. If you need to use more than one can, we recommend that you mix the two together to ensure consistency. And if you pop the lid off your paint, don’t panic if it looks different to the colour card you picked it from! Paint in its wet state looks completely different until all the pigments dry out on your wall.

How to know where to start!

When painting a room, always start from the top down. Tackle the ceiling first, then followed by walls and finally doors and skirting. Work methodically – not quickly! – and you’ll do a great job.