Painting plain color is the easiest and fastest decorative option of all. The best short cut, as ever, is good preparation. With the right equipment and paint, and a smooth foundation, you can fly along painting walls, ceilings, woodwork and furniture beautifully.
Walls and Ceilings: These are usually painted in water-based emulsion paint as it is so quick and easy to apply. Some special paint effects are the exception, as these usually need an oil-bound base. In either case the technique for covering a large area is the same.
Wherever possible use a roller, as it is much faster than a brush. Use the roller first over the main expanse and then, while the edge of the rolled paint is still wet, cut into the corners, edges and coving with a brush.
Always work your roller in every possible direction as you go. Otherwise you will get an effect called ‘planking’, in which the roller tends to create lines as you work it up and down. Emulsion dries relatively quickly, and must be allowed to do so before applying the next coal.
Except when using commercial paints that are designed to be applied in one coat only, always paint at least two coats of emulsion to surfaces being decorated. It gives a solid base and avoids the patches and shadows that result from insufficient layers.
Woodwork and Radiators: Always use the largest brush compatible with the surface being painted, and with your own ‘comfort zone’.
Having prepared the surface, take a small 2.5 cm (1 in) paintbrush (5 cm/2in if it is a wide skirting or door) and apply a coat of undercoat. Remember to apply undercoat as carefully as you would lop coal.
Once the undercoat is dry, sand and dust ii oil before applying a single lop coal – feel with one hand and sand with the other until it is nib-free and smooth. Paint the top coat carefully, letting the brush do the work. As a general rule, paint in the direction of the wood grain. For radiators, paint in the direction of the indents or metal tubing.
Doors: These are slightly different from other woodwork as there is an order that works best on a paneled door and a way of working that keeps a plain door smooth.
Paint a door with either a roller or a brush. If you are using a roller it will give an ‘orange peel’ finish, so brush out the paint afterwards. This is known as dressing’ the door.
Alternatively you can use just the brush. In this case visualize the door as being made up of squares. Place your loaded brush always in the middle of each square and brush in all different directions. Then ‘dress’ the door as above, using vertical brush strokes. This technique ensures an even, run-free coat over the whole door.
Cutting in: This technique is an important element of working with paint as it provides a neat edge where the colors change, and gives the entire decoration a professional finish if it is properly done. Cutting in is often required around window frames and door architraves, along skirting boards and along the edge of coving.
You will need two brushes – one 5 cm (2 in) household brush and one 1 cm fitch or artist’s brush. Even if you are using a roller, you cut in around the edges with these two brushes to form a border of paint which the roller can overlap without going too close to the edge.
Internal corners cannot be done as well with a larger brush, so the fitch or artist’s brush is used for these.