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15 absolute worst errors you make when painting walls

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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Painting a wall is easy, right? You just slap some paint on and it's done? No! There is so much more to successfully painting a wall and we don't want you to feel disappointed with a lacklustre finish, so brought together a list of absolute painting no-nos. 

We looked at how professional decorators tackle the task of painting, gleaned all their top tips and we aren't afraid to share the love with you. After all, we want you to have the best home possible and if that means spilling the beans on all the professional secrets we can find, so be it.

Read on to learn all about the mistakes you really don't want to be making!

1. Skipping the prep stage

It can be tempting to assume that your walls are fine as they are but preparation is a major part of the painting process. You need to clean your walls thoroughly and let them dry before you start, not to mention filling holes and sanding back the filler. 

Don't skip the prep, it just isn't worth it!

2. Buying cheap rollers and brushes

Those value packs in DIY stores sure do seem like good value for money, don't they? That is until they start shedding bristles into your fresh paint and leaving chunks of fluff where you don't want them. 

Buy cheap, buy twice; that's the rule, so fork out a little more and you'll find the job a lot easier.

3. Thinking any tape will do

Washi tape and masking tape are not the same things as professional painter's tape. They will leave a residue where you don't want it or, worse still, rip off existing paint! 

Buy the proper stuff and you'll find the end result far more satisfactory.

4. Not using primer

This goes doubly for those of you putting a light colour over an existing dark one. Primer does exactly what it says on the tin; gives you a good surface to paint your final colour onto. 

Yes, you will have to paint the room more than once but your finished walls will look far more even and beautiful.

5. Choosing a matte finish in a high traffic area

It's easy to lose yourself when staring at paint chips and getting excited about colours, but don't forget to think about the type of paint you are buying. 

A matte finish is a nightmare in heavy traffic areas as you can't wash it. If you're not hugely keen on a shiny finish, opt for satin or a more expensive wipeable matte. 

6. Painting over gloss without sanding

If you have gloss walls, say in your living room, that you're desperate to get rid of, there is no easy fix. We're sorry to break it to you, but you will have to sand them before you paint over. 

If you don't, you'll get a patchy finish that could actually peel off so make sure to factor in time to 'key' the walls for proper adhesion. 

7. Adding too much paint to your brush

More isn't always better and big globs of paint that drip off your brush onto the floor and run down the walls make for a terrible finish. 

The key is even strokes, so only load as much as you need onto your brush and work slowly and methodically. Why rush if you'll have to sand it back and start again anyway?

8. Starting without a direction plan

Think about where you're going to start painting and make a plan. We always think you should start at ceiling height and work down, covering evenly as you go. 

If you work your way up, you might lean into fresh paint as you steady yourself and that leads to an awful mess!

9. Trying to paint over wallpaper with water-based paint

It just doesn't work! You're far better off stripping the wallpaper off and starting from scratch, or using a heavier paint. If you have heavily patterned paper, getting good coverage will be difficult anyway so why make it harder for yourself? 

Grab a steamer and start stripping!

10. Not trying colour swatches in the room

You might have an idea of what colour you want, but unless you colour swatch you won't really know if it will work and look good. 

You need to take into account lighting during different times of the day, how your furniture looks and all sorts of other aesthetic concerns before you take the plunge and buy a huge pot.

11. Ignoring the impact your lighting will have

Georgian Farmhouse: country Living room by Etons of Bath

Speaking of lighting, you need to get a good idea of how your natural and electrical lighting will work with your chosen colour. 

To do this, we suggest painting a large square in the centre of your biggest wall and seeing how the room feels in the morning, afternoon and at night. If you're still happy, then by all means go wild and paint all the other walls too.

12. Choosing fashion colours that you don't actually like

Deep grey throughout: modern Bedroom by Forster Inc

Just because a colour is in Vogue, it doesn't mean you have to paint your house in it. 

If you happen to like the colours that are in right now, great. But if not, who really cares? It's your house so paint it how you want to, not how the Pantone colour of the year suggests you should.

13. Using colours that get grubby quickly in a family home

You might love pastel colours but are they practical in a family home that has pets? 

Grubby fingers and paws make quick work of making paler colours look tired and grubby, so think about those high traffic areas and practicality. It'll be you cleaning it, after all!

14. Trying fancy techniques before you have the basics mastered

country Bedroom by Paint & Courage

Hey, we applaud anyone that's willing to 'have a go' at some fancy techniques, but don't run before you can walk. 

Practice on some lining paper before you take that bespoke roller to your bedroom walls or you could end up with a serious mess on your hands and a far more abstract wall than you planned for.

15. Skipping the clear-up

Contemporary Kitchen: minimalistic Kitchen by NAKED Kitchens

Just like the prep stage, we know that clear up is a chore but do it right and you'll be able to re-use your brushes and rollers at a later date. 

Find out how you need to clean them by looking on your paint tins and actually spend 15 minutes doing it. It's not long and will save you money on your next home improvement project!

For more DIY advice, take a look at this Ideabook: Mistakes people made painting their house façade.

Have you been making any of these mistakes?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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