by Don Brodderick
(Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Ask any professional painter and decorator and they will tell you the most important part of decorating is the preparation. The correct preparation of a room can take longer than the actual painting but will make the difference between a professional finish and a disappointing end result.
Before you start decorating a room remove as much furniture and as many objects as you can so that you have good room to move around. If this is not possible you can pile everything up in the middle but you will run the risk of tripping over everything.
The next important thing is to get the room which is to be decorated to be as clean as possible. Dust and Dirt will pick up on brushes and spread causing discoloration to paint and a rough finish.
Woodwork should be cleaned with a sugar soap or similar gentle abrasive while a damp cloth will normally suffice for plasterwork. Once the room is clean use dust sheets to cover all floors and furniture, and masking tape to cover anything that doesn’t require paintingsuch as door handles, glass and cupboards.
Once the room is cleaned all the woodwork can be rubbed down with sandpaper to make sure it is smooth and ready to take paint. Any rough plasterwork can also be sanded with a fine grade sandpaper. Once sanded it is time to fill any cracks or depressions.
Small cracks in woodwork, or joints between wood and plaster can be filled with an acrylic filler which will harden when it dries. This can be purchased to be used in a filler gun. For holes or depressions in wood and plaster use a powdered or premixed filler which is can be sanded. Once the filler has dried sand it until smooth and in line with the original surface. If necessary refill and sand again until you have the perfect finish.
Once again clean away any dust and then undercoat all woodwork. Do not worry about running over onto plasterwork as this will help seal any filler where wood meets plaster. If the room has suffered from mildew or mold paint this with oil based undercoat as well as any dark marks or stains as undercoat will cover these better. Emulsion paints will cover undercoat easily and this will help keep anything dark underneath. When all woodwork has dried sand this with a fine grade of wet and dry sandpaper and wipe down with a damp cloth.
Preparation is now complete and you can begin decorating in earnest. Always do one wall at a time, starting by painting with a brush the top, bottom and edges, paint around any fixtures or corners Once done use a roller to get an even coverage of paint on the wall.
Do the darkest walls first followed by the lighter, and if the ceiling is to be white do this last. Expect to do at least two coats on every wall, more if covering a darker color up.