10 Painting Tips for Beginners

Whether you are renovating your home or making it your own, paint will definitely be involved. Sometimes when budgets are tight and the jobs with the largest price tag have been done, all that is left is to paint the walls.  DIY decorating is one of the best ways to keep your project on budget, or to save part of the budget for elsewhere.

10 Painting Tips for Beginners
(Woman holding paint roller)

I have done all of the painting in our home (save for the second coat on the ceiling in the kitchen because my neck was wrecked!) and before we had our own home it is something that I have done when I rented and to help out friends and family.

I often get asked about painting via Instagram, often when I have shared a time lapse of me painting ceilings or shared the progress of our renovation.  I thought that I would share them here too and share my 10 Painting Tips for Beginners.  

Although one of the most straight forward DIY jobs you can do in your home, an excellent paint job can make a big difference in a finished room and cannot be underestimated!  Read on as I take you through some of the tips I’ve learned over the last few years.

Get the right paint

Do you know the difference between Contract Matt, Satin, Hardwearing Matt, Vinyl Matt, Eggshell and Gloss? No, neither did I until a few years ago.

They are all different types of paint finishes and using the right one can affect the longevity of your painting project.  

@decoratingcentreonline have always been very helpful when ordering colour match paints from them. They have a guides there to help you choose the right type of paint for the area. Click here to go to their website.

@fenwickandtilbrook also have a section on their website that explains all the paint finishes they offer, and I referred to this when ordering my paint from them. Click here to go to their website.

Generally speaking, you need to have water based emulsion or eggshell on your walls and oil-based eggshell or gloss on your woodwork.

There are exceptions to this.  For example, I have painted the skirting boards and picture rails in some of the rooms in the same colour as the walls using water based emulsion.  The key to this is priming. I used Zinsser (a water based shellac primer) to prime the skirting boards and picture rails before painting them with the water based emulsion.

Your primer should match your paint – water based to water based and oil based to oil based.  

You’ve chosen your paint, you understand the kind of finish you want, and you’re ready to go.  What do you do now?

Prep your walls

I cannot stress how important this is! The main reason why I feel so strongly about this is because our house has walls that have not been taken care and not been prepared properly in the past.  This means that I’ve had more work to do! I do not like prepping a room! 

Strong feelings about this aside, I have already written about how to prepare your walls successfully. Click here to have a read.

Similar principles apply to wood too – sand, fill and prime if necessary.

Now you’re ready to get paint on the walls, you need to have the right tools.


I do love a good paint brush.

I like to buy brushes with good quality bristles.  They last longer and are less likely to shed everywhere as you’re painting.  

Here are some of my favourites and why:

10 Painting Tips for Beginners
(Pictures of five different types of brushes to use that are also linked in the body of the text)

Told you that I love a good paint brush didn’t I!


Rollers can be bought in a variety of sizes and material.  

Make sure you get the right roller for the surface you are painting as this will affect the finish.

10 Painting Tips for Beginners (7 recommended rollers, roller poles and mini rollers - all linked in the body of the text)

Try and get a mixture of large and standard size rollers.  I know that using the larger rollers (approximately 12 inches) helped when I was doing the hall, stairs and landing because I did not want to be painting those walls and ceilings any longer than I needed to!

Smaller rollers are handy for behind radiators and to smooth the brush lines that sometimes happen when cutting in by skirting boards and architraves. You can buy long handled tools for mini rollers to help you get to those harder to reach places and extension poles that can be attached to both cage and double armed roller frames.

What order should I paint in?

I’m sure that there will be a school of thought on this, but I paint in the order that I do based on experience.

I paint from the top down, i.e. ceilings down to skirting boards. Obviously, if you don’t need to paint your ceiling then that’s a bonus. I always like to get any priming of any wood work done before I start painting the walls too. Just a personal preference.

Why do I do this? The reason is paint splatter.  Unless you are super careful, or aren’t using a roller and decide to paint your ceiling with a paintbrush, there is risk of paint splatter on the walls below.  

If I have a mixture of light and dark colours then I like to paint the lighter colour first and then paint with the darker colour.  I find it easier to see and to get my cutting in more precise. Again, this is personal preference.

To tape, or not to tape?

Tapes, like the ones listed below, can be used to protect the surfaces of walls, wood work and anything else you don’t want to get paint on.  Tapes are also used to create wall murals and designs on furniture.

Do I use tape?


I’m fairly confident with my cutting in and I’ve already mentioned that I don’t like general prep of a room, so using a lot of masking tape just takes up more time which I want to be using to paint the wall. Sounds a bit lazy I guess, but I love painting more than preparation!

A lot of the tips I see for using tape include painting over the edge of the tape with the same colour as the wall behind to seal it and to stop the new colour from bleeding through, and to remove the tape when the paint is still a little tacky.

If you’re not happy with your cutting in skills, then using tape would be a great idea and would take a lot of the stress away.

How to get a smooth paint finish

It’s amazing how daylight can make you realise how dodgy your paint job is!

When the light catches a wall that isn’t smooth, it can make a difference to the finish of a room, so how can you get a smooth paint finish?

When you paint, either with a roller or a brush, make sure that your last brush stroke or roll is in one direction.

I often coat my roller generously, work it into the wall so that the area is covered evenly and then roll down.  This ensures that the last roll is going in one direction so the light doesn’t catch it.

When you are ‘rollering’ (doubt it’s a word!) and move from one section to the next, start in the middle of the new section and work in the paint to cover some of the section that you have previously painted.  This means that you don’t get lines from the roller and each section blends into the other.


Keeping your tools fresh

If you are leaving your brushes or rollers overnight, and need to use them the next day, wrap them in a plastic bag. Cover the roller tray also so that no dust gets in and could then mix with any new paint you add the next day.  

This means that you can start on the job straight away and saves spending time on cleaning your brushes when you’re probably tired and just want to relax, get cleaned up and go to bed!

Cleaning brushes and rollers

10 Painting Tips for Beginners
(A Belfast sink full of brushes and rollers which need to be cleaned)

Keeping your brushes and rollers clean and in good condition is really important.  

For water based paint you can just wash them in warm, soapy water to remove the paint from the bristles and the roller.  If you are using oil based paint then you will need to use an extra solution to break that down and then I often clean with soap and water afterwards too.  I’ll be honest though, I rarely bother trying to clean foam rollers when I have used oil-based paint and have decided to have them for one use only. 

Here are some of the tools are handy for cleaning your painting tools:

Admire your work

May seem like a simple one, but it’s really important!

When you’re decorating or renovating yourself, it is really important to appreciate the hard work that you have put into a room.  It is often the area where you can save money you’re your budget and there’s nothing better than knowing that you have saved money and learned new skills long the way.  

With each painting project, you will gain confidence and tips of your own.

10 Painting Tips for Beginners
(Woman sat on the floor of a room, wearing a dress and drinking from a glass of red wine as she admires her paint job)
Admiring your work with a glass of wine is optional, but I’d recommend it!

I hope that these painting tips have helped and I really hope that you feel ready to take on a project of your own too.

Lydia x

Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest

10 Painting Tips for Beginners (Pinterest Pin)

4 thoughts on “10 Painting Tips for Beginners

  1. Ok so I’m not really a beginner but still learned alot from this, for one I had no idea rollers had different uses! I am terrible with washing brushes too, and end up chucking them, need to get better. Love Harris too ❤ Love, Nessie xxx


  2. Thank you for these tips, I love your use of images too!!


  3. Excellent tips Lydia – a handy reference for when I next do a paint job! Thank you


    1. Yay! So pleased it was useful! xxx


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