Decorating is preparation – five tips for DIY painters


If you’ve ever heard the saying “decorating is preparation” (right? Just me?), you might not be surprised to learn that it’s true. Many of us are budgeting right now, but that doesn’t mean you should put your home improvement projects on hold.

You might well think, however, that you need to do more yourself rather than hire someone to sort out the work. Whether you’re redecorating the whole house or sprucing up a room, the painting and decorating experts at Tool station have five tips to help you achieve a pro-level finish you can be truly proud of.

Spend 90% of your time preparing

Do-it-yourselfers are often eager to get started, but there are several steps that need to be taken first. Realistically, you should spend most of your time prepping the surface and then finishing with painting. This way your paint job will last longer and it will be much easier to achieve a professional finish.

Fill in the cracks first, then sand off the excess. Then come in with a vacuum cleaner and some sugar soap to dust and clean the walls. Remember that you will need to wash off the sugar soap afterwards.

Don’t forget to remove the hardware

Removing hardware like doorknobs, hinges, and window hardware can be tedious and time-consuming. But it’s definitely worth it. No matter how good you are with a brush, if you leave it on you will inevitably end up with paint on it.

As for the hinges, instead of removing the doors completely, always remove one hinge at a time, starting at the top. Reinstall and descend as you paint.

Always mix your paint

If you’ve ever watched a professional painter and decorator, you might notice that they begin by using a power drill and palette to thoroughly mix the paint. This is a great idea as some paints tend to separate.

If you don’t have a paddle mixer, a specially designed paint stirrer is the next best thing. Many people make the mistake of using a stick from the garden. This is best avoided as they lack the surface area to agitate the paint effectively.

Try adding water to water-based paint

It may be a bit controversial, but some of the most experienced decorators swear by lightly thinning the paint with clean water. It can make water-based emulsion paint easier to work with because it flows more easily. And, contrary to what you might think, it can cover much better.

When it comes to how much water you need, remember that you can add some, but you can’t take any out. Generally, about 200ml is perfect for a five liter can of paint. If you are painting new plaster you can go up to 500ml as fresh plaster really sucks up a lot of water.

Load your brush first

Prepare your brush by soaking the bristles in water and then wringing out the excess. This makes application smoother as it helps pull the paint towards the brush. As a bonus, it also seems to make the dreaded task of washing your brushes easier!


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