Tips and tricks for applying finishes

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Tips for Painting

Select a good quality paint. A good quality paint will have ease of application, good aesthetic appearance and durability. Using a good quality paint or finish saves time and labour by requiring fewer coats, being easier to use and lasting longer.

Tip 1. Prepare well. The key to a professional quality job is in the preparation, so take time to prepare well.

  • Remove as much furniture and other obstacles as possible from the room. 
  • Remove door handles, electric switch covers and light fittings from surfaces to be painted.
  • Wash and lightly sand any surfaces that are dirty, old or glossy.
  • Repair any cracked, peeling or flaky paint.
  • Fill all holes and cracks with suitable filler and allow to dry thoroughly.
  • Vacuum to remove any dust before you start.
  • Use canvas or plastic drop sheets to protect floors.
  • Mask edges with painters tape if needed.


Tip 2. Start from the top.
Do ceilings first (or gutters & fascia’s if painting outside), then walls, windows, doors & trim.


Tip 3. Don’t skip the primer.
A primer can make the difference between a professional looking finish that lasts well, and an amateur looking finish that degrades prematurely.
Primers are specially formulated to serve several functions:

  • they fill the pores and even the absorbency of bare substrates, and surfaces that have been repaired or filled, so the top coat has a uniform surface to cover.
  • they seal in any stains, tannin bleed or strong colours so they don’t show through the top coats.
  • they provide good adhesion to bare substrates and glossy surfaces so the topcoat doesn’t peel or blister.

If you must skip a coat, you are better to tint the primer and skip one of the top coats. However, be aware that this will shorten the life of the finish because it will result in a thinner, less protective coating.


Tip 4. Paint the edges first (called cutting in). Use an edging pad if you’re not confident with a brush. Then roll the wall with a suitable roller. Be sure to roll before the cut-in area has dried to avoid overlap marks (called keeping a ‘wet edge’).


Tip 5. Work to a system

  • When rolling always work from one side of the room to the other.
  • Work paint onto the wall and don’t roll it out too thin.
  • Finish each section by rolling up the wall so the paint is all flowing in the same direction.


Tip 6. Wrap rollers & paint brushes in plastic when taking a break to keep them wet and avoid extra washing. Plastic film can also be laid directly on paint in open buckets or trays to stop it drying out and forming a skin.


Tip 7. Avoid environmental pollution when cleaning up.  
Washing paint brushes, rollers or trays in an outside drain is illegal because these lead directly to our waterways. Washing them in a sink is also not a good idea because the paint ends up in our water treatment systems, which are not designed to handle high chemical loads. A good method for cleaning paint equipment is to wipe off excess paint onto old newspaper and then use a two bucket wash system. Wash well in the first bucket of water, press dry with a rag, then wash clean in the final bucket with a little detergent added. You can then do the final rinse in the sink. Then combine the two buckets and let the paint settle to the bottom overnight. Carefully pour off the clear water from the top into the garden. The ground can handle a small amount of paint residue better than our waterways. Wipe out the remaining paint residue with a cloth and dispose of in the household garbage.


Tip 8. Store any paint for touch-ups in well labeled airtight containers away from extremes of hot & cold.  Cover the paint in the container with a layer of cling wrap before putting the lid it. This will exclude air and keep it from spoiling.


Tip 9. Give away excess paint while still usable to friends or charity groups.