When it’s time to start painting a house you’ve just ripped apart and put back together, it really feels like you’re on the home straight – want the bad news? It takes a long time and a lot of concentration to get it right. The good news – it completely changes the feel of the room, even if you’re missing crucial things like doors or furniture. Here’s a handy guide to painting your first house, by a complete beginner.
Picking your paint
One coat paint is a lie. Don’t believe what the tin tells you. Four coats later and we’ve still got a patchy wall. One coat paint feels a bit like the foolproof option at first, but alas, it’s thick and gloopy and really difficult to spread around, making it difficult to get a smooth and even coat. Cue coat two.
Choose your colour carefully – off white is not the same as white. Did you know you can get whites with hints of green, yellow, pink, and every other colour of the rainbow? Once it’s on your walls, it ain’t just white. Especially easy to see if you have anything else painted white in the room, like windowsills or doorframes. If you’re picking an off white, best to aim for one with an undertone the same as your planned furniture or floor.
The same way that off-white looks different on your walls, be prepared for every other colour to be amplified. A grey that seems middle ground in the shop, can suddenly look like a scary goth-like choice once it’s actually on your wall. Don’t be afraid of test pots, even if they do cost you a quid each. It’s less heartbreaking than having to wait for the wrong colour to dry, and then try to paint over it again in white.
Choose your weapon
Pad vs roller vs brush. What’s even the difference? We found rollers were good for big areas, especially with the long sticks to do the ceilings. Stand back and get a rhythm going and your wall will start to cover pretty quickly. The downside? Paint flicks everywhere if you go too fast, or if your paint is too watery. Make sure you don’t put too much paint on the roller or you’ll end up with paint textured walls.
Paint brushes are good for the detail, not a whole wall. When you’re building up supplies just remember, buy cheap buy twice. Ask the pros in store which brushes are decent, those with rubbish bristles are likely to leave some nice lines down your walls, and become even more of a pain once you try to start glossing.
Paint pads can almost feel like a safe in between, the coverage of a roller without the paint flicking everywhere – but get too much on your pad and your walls can look like a five year old had a go.
Long story short, buy one of each and have a go, especially if you’ve got a few rooms to do.
Base coat vs coat three – not white!
If you’re having your walls plastered before the painting parties begin, this can be a curse as well as a blessing. Be prepared for your walls to drink paint like they’re a sixteen year old discovering alcohol at their first house party. The base coat on new plaster is an important one, don’t throw it on before your plaster is fully dry. Most plasterers suggest you can paint after around 5 days, depending on the plaster, but if you can wait even longer it’s worth it. It will ensure a smoother base coat, and less work in the long run.
Your basecoat onto plaster should be white and mixed with water, don’t worry about getting the best paint in the world here, just a lot of it. Our fave was Valspar 10L, and it did the job perfectly. Mix 50-50 paint and water and roller on, don’t be surprised when the walls soak it up and they start to look chalky. And don’t expect it to look even either.
Fail to prepare… prepare to get paint everywhere.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. A key thing we learnt the hard way during our painting parties, was if you don’t prep your room – chances are it isn’t going to go your way. Make masking tape your best friend and cover everywhere you don’t want painting with something to protect it. Paint gets to places you wouldn’t think possible. While we were in the painting stage, it wasn’t unusual for friends and family to point out the paint still left over in our eyelashes.
Long story short, painting is expensive if you get it done professionally, but it’s a job you can do yourself with no particular skill. Just buy decent paint and tools, and prepare to be patient.