Painting techniques for home decorating

Oil-based gloss paint should be applied in smooth, even strokes. Do not have too much paint on your brush. Dipping it 25 mm into your paint tin at the most is ample.

On a large area, working from the top, paint two vertical strips of a convenient width and depth for you to reach without having to move, leaving a gap of the same width between them. Then, with horizontal brush strokes, work the paint across the gap without putting any more on your brush. This should ensure that the paint over the whole area is not too thick, and prevent unsightly runs and sags.

Finish off with gentle vertical strokes of the brush, feathering the edges, and you should have no brush marks left when the paint is dry.

Work across the rest of the area in strips like this, and then move to a lower level and repeat the pattern. Keep going until the whole job is done, or the hard edge where you stopped work may show when the paint has dried.

With non-drip paints do not brush out in the same way. Concentrate on an even, not-too-thick coating in the first place and leave it at that.

Doors and windows

There are two points to bear in mind when painting windows. The first is that the paint must form a seal between the woodwork and the glass to prevent moisture from condensation seeping into the wood and rotting it. To achieve this, when painting the window bars and main frame, the paint should also cover about 3 mm of the glass all round. To ensure a neat job, place strips of masking tape all round each pane, leaving the suggested gap between its outer edge and the putty or wood. With a 12 mm or 25 mm brush, paint away, but peel off the masking tape almost at once afterwards. If you leave it until the paint is even partially dry, it may pull the paint away from the seal you have made.

The second point to note concerns sash windows. To avoid any possibility of the frames sticking, do not paint in the slots in which the window slides.

Metal windows

Some metal windows are made of alloys which need not be painted, although you may wish to do so to change the colour. Others may rust and must be painted.

Remove any rust before you start, using emery paper and/or a wire brush. A chromate primer should be used on iron and steel. Aluminium paint can also be used as a primer or as a final coat over metal primers because of the attractive finish it produces.

Painting radiators

There are few paints which will resist at least some colour change when used on radiators. This is particularly so with light shades. Aluminium paint stays as it is, even on the hottest radiator, but if you do not want a metallic finish, use a chromate primer, undercoat and gloss finish. Special, long-handled brushes with the bristles mounted at an angle can be bought for reaching awkward places behind radiators.

Use of paint rollers

Paint rollers are probably easier and quicker for a beginner to use for large areas such as ceilings and walls. They are suitable for either emulsion or gloss paints. Do not overfill the paint tray when using this method of painting. Rollers are particularly good for painting textured surfaces as the soft lambswool from which most good ones are made carries the paint into all the indentations without you having to work at it. Be prepared to touch up with a brush or paint pad in those places, such as corners and edges of ceilings, where the roller cannot reach.

Use of paint pads

Paint pads with mohair heads are best for large areas such as walls and ceilings, whether textured or plain. They are available in a wide range of sizes. Some have a hollow handle which will take a broom handle to extend your reach. For use with walls and ceilings a 100 mm pad is recommended. Paint pads should not be left loaded with paint as the mohair is so fine that it soon hardens. Wash out the pads after each session; this will save a great deal of trouble later.

Porous and textured surfaces will take more paint than smooth ones. If you are using several coats on a surface, allow for this. If an emulsion paint is thinned, it will go further. Average spreading rate Square metre Square yard per litre

Masonry sealer 12 14

Undercoat 11 13

Gloss 17 20

Non-drip gloss 12 14

Eggshell 16 19

Flat 16 19

Emulsion 14 17