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Living room with walls painted in white. 

Overview

For the best results when painting a room, take the time to prepare the surfaces thoroughly. Then choose the right type of paint for the area.

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment.

Steps

1Select your paint

There are different types of paint for different applications. As a general rule, use water-based paints for walls and ceilings, and oil- or water-based enamel for trims, architraves and doors. Oil- and water-based paints are easier to clean and tougher for high-traffic surfaces.

For the ceiling, use specialised ceiling paint. The formula is thicker to avoid dripping. It tends to be flat and doesn’t reflect the light, which helps to avoid showing imperfections.

A litre of paint will usually cover approximately 16 square metres, but if the surface is porous or textured, you may need to allow up to 20 percent more for similar coverage. Check the paint tin for coverage advice and use an online paint calculator to work out how much you’ll need for your room.

A man stirs paint in a tin.

2Protect the room with a drop sheet and painter's tape

Tape up any hardware and fixtures to protect them from drips (power points and switches, light fittings, architraves, skirting boards and other trim, for example).

Protect the floor from spills with a drop sheet, making sure you have covered the area completely.

A man taping skirting and adjusting a drop sheet.

3Prepare the wall

Clean the surface with sugar soap wipes, then use a premixed filler to smooth over cracks and holes. Leave to dry. Smooth over the filler and around the edges with a hand sander and 120-grit abrasive paper. (Always wear a dust mask and safety glasses when sanding.) Brush down the surfaces with a soft-bristled broom to remove all dust.

A man prepares a wall for paint with a soft-bristled broom.

4Apply an undercoat

If you’re working on new walls, if you’ve repaired scuffs or marks, or if you’re painting over a darker colour, use a three-in-one primer, sealer and undercoat on the walls first.

A man uses a paint roller on an extension pole to apply primer to an interior wall.

5Cut in

Whether applying an undercoat or a top coat, the technique is the same. Stir the paint with a paint stirrer to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed. Use an angled brush to paint around power points, switches, door or window frames, around the edges of the wall, under the cornice and into the corners. This is called cutting in. Basically, it means painting anywhere a roller can’t reach neatly or easily. Brush paint evenly along the tape and feather it outwards towards the main part of the wall.

A man standing on a ladder, cutting in a grey topcoat paint.

6Apply the top coat with a paint roller on an extension pole

Rollers are a quick way to cover large areas like walls and ceilings while avoiding leaving brushstrokes. Keep the tray on the drop cloth close to where you’re working to avoid drips. Saturate the roller by dipping into the paint and rolling out the excess on the platform of the tray.

Start rolling the wall about a roller-width out from the edge to avoid leaving a thick line of paint. Roll down to just above the cutting in along the floor and up to just below the cutting in near the ceiling, working in an M pattern to cover about a metre out from the edge.

Reload the roller and paint the next one-metre wide area in the same way. Leave the wall to dry thoroughly, and then apply another coat.

Between coats, cover the paint tray with plastic wrap and keep the roller sealed by wrapping it in a plastic bag to prevent the paint from drying on your paint roller.

 A man rolling a grey topcoat paint onto an interior wall.]

7Peel off the tape

Take off the painter’s tape as soon as you’ve finished. If you leave it until the paint is completely dry, it can lift the fresh paint. To remove the tape, hold the end and peel it away from the wall at a 45° angle to prevent smudging.

A man peels off painters’ tape.

8First time painting an interior wall?

To ensure professional results, follow our step-by-step guide to preparing a wall for paint.

 

Photo Credit: Michelle Holden

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.