Painting a Room: Learning DIY Basics

Painting a room is the most fundamental part of decorating a home and one of the most straight-forward DIY jobs you can undertake. Repainting the walls and ceiling can be an inexpensive and simple way to transform your room in a matter of hours.

However, if you’re a complete DIY notice, there are a few pitfalls you should try and avoid if possible. For instance, whether it’s your bedroom, hallway or kitchen, every room has one thing in common: a hard to reach ceiling. While it may be tempting to leave the ceiling as the original colour and tell guests “it’s the accent wall” at A Fancy Home we figured it’s best just to battle with the beast.

Read our ultimate guide to painting a room:

painting a room - paint pots

Painting a Room: Preparation

Research Paint and Type of Finish

One of the big starting points when painting a room is to consider the type of paint you should use to achieve the finish you want. Spend time understanding the different types out there: matte emulsion, flat matte emulsion, satin, silk, eggshell, or gloss.

And it gets more complicated; there are even subcategories of these types meaning real consideration is needed before painting a room. Get this right, and it will make all the difference. We put together a table below with some basic guidelines of each:

Type of Paint: Finish:
Matte Emulsion Matte Emulsion is a good choice for imperfect walls that need some TLC to achieve a sleek finish. This paint type often has a smooth and velvety finish.


Flat Matte Emulsion Flat Matte Emulsion is like the above with the matte exception. This makes the finish even smoother and velvetier (yippee). This type of paint looks best in darker shades.


Satin Satin finish paint is known as a “mid-sheen”, meaning it has a slight shine and will reflect some light. As a result, this paint isn’t good at hiding imperfections so is only recommended for newly built features. Satin paint is most commonly reserved for woodwork.


Silk This paint is similar to Satin in that it has a “mid-sheen” finish, however, Silk is often reserved for walls. Thanks to the nature of this finish it’s easily wipeable making it a good choice for high-traffic or utilitarian rooms.


Eggshell This paint is imaginatively named after its finish that replicates that of an eggshell. Its finish lays somewhere between Satin and Matte. This paint can be used on either woodwork or walls but is preferred for wood.


Gloss Gloss, again imaginatively named, has a glossy finish and is designed for woodwork. The high-shine gives a lovely, contrasting finish to walls in a matte paint.



Preparing the Work Area

painting a room - preparing the work area (1)

Preparation is vital to get the best results. It includes everything from removing old paint, killing mould, filling holes, sorting cracks, cleaning the wall and taping. Professionals usually spend around 60% of the time prepping. Not only will you get better results but it will also make the process easier and the result smoother.

When using tape, avoid using ones like masking, make sure to purchase and only use dedicated painters tape – we recommend FrogTape.

Top tip: when filling cracks and holes, remember to let the patch completely dry and sand it down. Failure to do so will lead to glaringly obvious bumps in your walls.

Invest in the Best

When it comes to DIY tools, you often get what you pay for, so it’s always worth spending that little extra to get better tools for the job. Invest in quality equipment as they’re easier to use and maintain. More importantly, buying good quality paint is a must. Painting is physically demanding and investing in cheap products could complicate things down the line.

You Will Need:

  • A large 3-inch paint brush;
  • A roller and pan (anything from 3/8″ to 1 1/4″ – bigger rollers for rougher surfaces);
  • Paint;
  • Painters tape;
  • Protective sheets;
  • Cloth (for cleaning rogue paint);
  • Ladder;
  • Detail paint brush;
  • Overalls (or old, fitted clothing);

Top tip: rolling pans do work, but for the amateur DIY enthusiast, you are much better off with a rolling grid – you’re much less likely to kick this over while doing difficult bits of painting. You could grab a 5-gallon bucket of paint with a rolling grid inside.

How to Paint a Room:

Semi painted wall

Technique Is Key

The real tip for painting a room, after preparation, is considering your technique. Painting incorrectly can lead to many issues such as unsightly lines and uneven blotches – and a lot of wasted time and energy if you’re not happy with the result!

These are our 4 technique tips:

  1. How much paint?

The first tip is to consider how much paint to have on the brush, too much could cause the coat to run – this will lead to drips, drops and a generally messy job. Dipping up to half of the brush should be more than enough.

  1. Keep a wet edge.

To avoid lines and for an all in one finish, every time your paint is applied you should keep the edge for the next section wet. This is achieved by holding the brush at 90 degrees and applying a newly added coat over the previous edge.

  1. Apply in long strokes:

Focus on one area and remember not to stretch the paint out but also paint in long strokes – which will help achieve a smoother finish.

  1. Apply in manageable sections:

When using a roller, the aim isn’t to coat the whole wall in one go; it’s impossible to get a good finish this way.

For better results, aim for a 3ft wide section at a time. Start from the ceiling to the middle and then start from middle to the bottom.

How to Paint a Ceiling:

Painting a ceiling is a whole different kettle of fish to a normal wall. From arm ache to awkward angles and vertigo, there are a lot more pressures to deal with. We put together two steps to help use your chore:

painting a ceiling (1)
[Photo credit]

Step 1: Use a Paint Brush

Unlike with your walls where you gradually move across keeping the overlap wet, when it comes to painting the ceiling start by painting the corners with a hand brush. Do this along the edges also, making sure you do not touch the walls (or picture rail, depending on where your paint line is finishing).

Do the same with any light fixtures that you have – give them 4 inches of cover.

Painting the Edges of the Ceiling with Paintbrush

Step 2: Time to Get Rolling!

Now that your edges are complete you can switch to a roller and pan (or grid).

The best direction to roll is towards the main light source coming into the room; this will help to prevent shadows in the finished paint. Rolling direction is not so important if you have a textured ceiling.

Initially, you should roll the paint on thickly and then once you have the paint on you can then stretch it out better across the area you want to cover; you should do this section by section. Divide your ceiling up into a left and right side and then you can start putting paint on one area of around 3 ft.

Ceiling painting

Smooth off the initial paint stroke and then keep moving around so that each area slowly gets more paint. Make sure that all your strokes overlap as much as possible. Always use the two-step process of putting it on thickly and then smoothing it off afterwards.

Always push any excess paint towards the middle of the room. And you’ll be done in no time.

Tip top: always under-apply initial paint stroke – it’s easier to add more paint than it is to take away!


And now you’re away. Let us know on Twitter how your redecorating job goes – why not upload a photo for a chance to have it featured!