How to transform your home with paint

By Emma Norris  |  2 Apr, 2021

It’s incredible what a fresh lick of paint can do to transform a home. It can breathe new life into space and quickly take it from looking shabby and dated to modern and sophisticated.

Whether you’re renovating, preparing to rent or sell or just want to give your home a quick makeover, there are many reasons to pull out the paintbrush. That said, if you’re going down the DIY route, painting can be a time-consuming and messy task – especially if you’ve never done it before.

In this beginner’s guide, we’re sharing 5 top tips to make painting your home a fun and fuss-free experience.

Calculate your paint needs

The first step to painting your home is to figure out exactly how much paint you’ll need. After all, you don’t want to be mid-paint and realise you need to duck out to the hardware store again – nor do you want to end up with ten extra cans of paint that you have nowhere to store!

The good news is, there’s a simple formula to determine exactly how much paint you’ll need – which will save you time and money!  First, figure out exactly what walls and areas you’ll be painting.

Are you painting the entire room or house, or just one feature wall? Are there any window frames you need to paint over? Are you painting your ceilings or just walls? How many coats of paint will you need? (The standard is two, but if you’re using a darker colour, it may require more to look smooth and even.) These are all important questions to ask yourself.

Next, pull out the measuring tape. Multiply the wall height and width to find the total area of the wall in square metres. Divide this by the spreading rate of the paint in square metres per litre (sometimes called coverage area). Multiply this number by the number of coats you will need (for example, two) and you will have the total litres of paint required.

Maths not your strong point? No problem. Companies like Bunnings and Dulux have simple online paint calculators. These allow you to plug in your measurements and will tell you exactly how much paint you’ll need.

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Choose your paint

Now for the fun part – paint shopping!  With over 18 decillion colours in the universe, there are endless choices to adorn your walls. So, how do you choose? If you’re preparing to sell or rent, the wise choice is to go with a light, neutral colour like white or cream, as this will make your home look airier and more spacious.

If you’re painting your forever home, you can afford to get a little more adventurous. Think about what kind of vibe or aesthetic you’re trying to achieve in your space. Lighter colours like pale blue and pink tend to create a tranquil atmosphere, while darker hues like sage or purple can make a space feel cosy and lived-in. If you do want to go for bright, statement colours like fuchsia or teal, be sure to consider the size of the space you’re working in – as you don’t want it to be overpowering.

Want to use different colours on multiple walls? Be sure to think about how your colour palette works together. The colour wheel (traditionally used in art and design) is a handy rule of thumb here. Generally, analogous colours (shades that sit next to each other on the colour wheel such as blue and green) are harmonious, while complementary (opposite each other, like purple and orange) are more bold and striking.

There are many apps that make it easier to pick your paint colour – such as Dulux’s Colour App, which gives you a realistic mock-up of how the shade will look on your walls. You can also visit paint and hardware stores to compare swatches.

paint swatch colour selection

However, the best way to really visualise how the colour will look on your walls is to request a small sample of it, paint a tiny section of the wall, and sit with it for a couple of days. This will allow you to make sure you’re happy with it before you commit to painting the entire room.

Colour isn’t the only consideration when it comes to picking your paint. You should also think about the type and finish of the paint. Latex paint is popular for its quick-drying and durable nature and, while oil-based paints take longer to dry but leave a smoother finish.

When it comes to sheens, gloss finishes are shiny and reflective but are unforgiving of imperfections on the wall. Meanwhile, matte finishes have a flatter appearance and cover imperfections with fewer coats but are less durable. Remember, there’s no ‘right’ choice here – it’s all about your individual needs and preferences.

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Use the right tools

A painter is only as good as their toolkit! Having high-quality tools at the ready will not only make the process quicker and easier, but will also give you much a better result in the long-run. But, as a beginner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the bits and bobs on offer in the painting aisle and to end up spending way more than you need to.

So, what do you actually need? Non-negotiables are wall cleaning equipment, to ensure the paint actually adheres to the wall, painters’ tape like scotch or masking tape to seal off the corners and deliver a sharp finish and, of course, a sturdy ladder.

As for your painting tools, you’ll want both a roller to quickly cover larger areas, and a brush to get into those smaller areas. For your roller, you’ll usually want 6-8mm nap covers for gloss and semi-gloss paints, 10-12mm nap covers for flat and matte finishes and 20-32mm nap covers for painting rough or textured surfaces. You’ll also need a tray to pour your paint into.

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Prep your surface

Preparation is everything when it comes to nailing your paint job. If you have drop cloths, place them on the ground to protect your floor and any nearby furniture (otherwise, newspapers can do the trick). Then, use your cleaning supplies or soapy water to give your walls a good scrub. Be sure to then give it a rinse and ample time to dry, so that soap bubbles don’t prevent paint from sticking to the walls.

If you notice any peeling or flaking on the existing paint, scrape the area back to remove the loose paint, then gently sand the surface. This will help ensure you have a smooth surface to work on. You’ll also want to use some acrylic sealant to fill any gaps and holes on the wall, and sand those down too once dry.

Finally, apply your masking or scotch tape to any skirting boards and fittings to protect from any splatters. Make sure you’ve mixed your paint and cracked open any windows for ventilation, and you’re ready to paint!

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Perfect your painting technique

Just like any project, having a clear strategy is important. Determine which wall you’re going to paint first (you should do light walls before any accent walls, as it won’t matter if you get any paint on the latter) and tackle one at a time. With your roller, work from the top of the room down, starting from the ceiling. Use long strokes in a ‘W’ pattern, for maximum coverage.

For tighter spots, use the ‘cut-in’ technique. Take a paintbrush and lightly dip it in the paint, then glide it along the wall in smooth, horizontal or vertical (depending on the space you’re painting) lines.

Once your paint is dry, apply your second and third coat if needed. Remove your painters’ tape, collect your drop cloths or newspaper, and wait for it to dry. Then, you’re ready to admire your masterpiece!

By following these simple, beginners’ tips, you can paint like a pro and get a flawless result every time.

woman painting walls of home

Words by Emma Norris

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