Good preparation is important

Interior wall paint is the easiest and least expensive way of decorating your walls. But there lies the problem.

Because it's relatively inexpensive and easy to apply, it's not often used as well as it could be.

Whatever the sort of paint you decide to use, the key to getting a really good paint finish is in the preparation. Most of us will paint over an existing layer of paint or wallpaper enough times so we completely hide the old layer.

Job done!

Wrong. You'll get a much better finish if you prepare the walls first. And usually (not always, but usually) that means removing the old layers and smoothing and priming the walls. Sometimes this involves applying lining paper and painting that.

So don't rush when you decide to paint your walls. Spend time getting the surfaces prepared, don't miss out stages, and if in doubt get professional advice. It can even be worth while paying for advice before you then carry out the work.


preparing walls for painting

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that paint will cover up any holes, cracks or indentations in your walls.

Far better to do the job properly. Fill in any gaps, and then get the surface as smooth as possible using suitable abrasive paper or cloth.

Work put in at this stage will ensure a proper finish for your paint.


Paints for all finishes

Interior wall paint comes in many varieties. Basically, paint is made up of a pigment (which gives the color) mixed in with some sort of binding agent (to hold it all together), and a solvent. The solvent make the paint more workable and then evaporates as the paint dries.

Some paints have other ingredients added to them, such as resins or silicas. These give the paint individual characteristics such as quick drying, resistance to mildew, or textural effects.

You can also buy paints which imitate suede, fabric, verdigris and antique finishes.

Find out more about paint finishes you can use for home decorating.


Emulsion (latex) is the most common paint type used for interior wall paint. It has all the advantages of a water based paint. It is usually the least expensive, especially when purchased in bulk or during 'special offers'.


boy painting wall

Home decorating is a great time to show your children how it's done!

But rather than excluding them because of the mess they'll make, encourage them to do small jobs themselves.



Most paints are water-based or oil-based. Oil based paints are being used less because of their white-spirit content, and also because advances in paint manufacture have resulted in the use of acrylics which give very good professional finishes.

The main advantages of water-based paints is that they don't smell as much, they dry quicker and are easy to wash off hands and clothes. Although they may not be as hard wearing as oil-based paints, you can now get varnishes and color washes which you can apply afterwards which give added protection.

When you buy paints, try to get ones with low or non-existant VOC's (Volatile Organic Compound).

Without going into any technical details, VOC's are not environmentally friendly. They are what cause unpleasant paint smells. Your paint supplier will be able to advise you.

"Green" paints

There are now products available which are basically powder you mix with water. Their makers claim they are ecologically good because they don't include all the usual chemicals which damage the environment. These tend to be produced by small, new businesses.

One advantage of these paints is that you can prepare only as much as you need to use. Of course, you have to get the right proportion of powder to water for a correct consistency.


paint samples

It can be difficult to imagine how your room will look when the painting is finished.

To get some idea of what the end result will be, once you've selected your paint color, buy a sample (tester) can.

These are small cans which only have enough paint for a square yard or so, but that's enough to let you see how it will look.

When using this limited amount of paint, it's best if you paint the adjoining walls in one corner. The lighting will vary on the two walls and give you get a better idea of how the color looks. Don't forget to view the finish in both daylight and artificial light.


Special interior wall paint

You can buy paints for many different situations. For example, epoxy enamels have a hard gloss finish which resists dirt and abrasions. They can be used on metal, porcelain or ceramic tiles.

Non drip paints are available in both water and oil based forms, and don't need thinning or stirring. Trays of solid emulsion, which you use a roller to apply, are also non drip and very useful for ceilings.



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