Churchill magazine

Tips for painting your own home

Updated on: 8 July 2021

painting own home

Time for a change? If you’re picking up a paintbrush, it’s important to be prepared so you don’t make a total mess of your walls and carpet. We’ve got some top tips to help you get the job done like a pro.

The correct order for painting any room is to start with the ceiling, then the walls and finally the woodwork and metalwork, like radiators and pipes. Make sure you’ve got a reliable ladder if you need one – you can rent them from some DIY shops if you need to. Ladders that fold out into a working platform are ideal for painting large areas like ceilings.

Then, all you have to do is decide whether you want a matte, soft sheen or silk finish. Matte is the best choice for walls and ceilings as it helps to defuse surface imperfections. Now, it’s time to get stuck in.

Tools of the trade

The traditional way of applying paint is with a brush. This avoids the mottled effect and splashing that you get with a roller, but it’s slower and requires a certain amount of skill. For general-purpose, many people opt for a medium-pile roller and then use a small brush for the edges, corners and ‘cutting in’ around switches and sockets. 

Walls and ceilings


Textured ceilings can become powdery and dusty when old, so you may need to seal them first. To make sure you get a smooth finish, you might also have to fill in any cracks with filler before you paint.

Start painting in one corner and paint the edge in as you go. Apply the ceiling paint about 2cm down onto the wall with the first coat. This means that when you apply the wall paint later, you’ll only have to ‘cut in’ to the ceiling line with the wall colour, which gives a cleaner line. 


Start painting in one corner and paint the edge as you go. ‘Cut in’ around switches and sockets when you reach them, to save going back to them later. Don’t worry about going over the skirting and doorframes a little bit. You can get a nice, neat line with the trim paint later.

Cutting in

You can get special brushes for cutting in if you need it. These have bristles with an angled edge to make cutting in easier. Don’t overload the brush with paint and hold it like a pen. Start from one corner, just below where you want your edge, to paint a straight line. Then, slowly work the paint up towards the required line.

Say no to masking tape

Don’t be tempted to use making tape - the paint can easily creep under the edge of the tape and ruin your nice clean finish!

When you pull it off, you could also rip off the dried paint and expose patches of bare plaster, meaning you’re back to square one. Once you’ve practised cutting in with a brush, you’ll be surprised how neat and efficient it is. 

Roll behind the radiator

Taking a radiator off just to paint the wall can be a nuisance. Instead, buy a small roller to help you reach past the area that’s visible. Then, the radiator will hide any gaps. 

Painting window frames, doors and skirting

Most people use traditional solvent-based paints such as undercoat, gloss, eggshell and satinwood for window frames, but you can also use water-based trim paints.

It’s best to paint in the morning to maximise drying time - you can paint with the window open and close it at night. 

The best order to paint your window frames is to start with glazing bars, then move on to top and bottom horizontal rails, inside vertical rails, outside edges and finally, the outside frame. Finish off the window by cutting in with an angled brush.

For doors, rub them down to remove any flaking paint. Always paint in the direction of the wood grain, to prevent streaks or imperfections. Finish each vertical panel with an upward stroke, and when painting panel doors, make sure you always paint the mouldings first, then the panels. 

What if I have an accident?

Ideally, you should make sure all your carpets and furniture in the room you’re painting are removed or well covered with dustsheets before you start. However, we know that accidents happen. Choosing accidental damage cover as part of your Home Insurance policy could give you peace of mind should any paint spills come your way.

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