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The key to getting excellent results, as any professional decorator will tell you, is preparation. Preparation can be divided into 3 basic categories – sanding/smoothing the surfaces, priming/sealing the surfaces, and masking.
The first thing you need to look at is the surface of the wall to be covered – is it even, does it have lumps, cracks or craters? Does it look uneven? If so you need to fix those issues first otherwise no matter how much paint you apply to it those imperfections will still be there, just a different colour!

If you paint onto a surface that has dirt, oil or dust on it, it will peel or chip off so it really is a false economy not to bother preparing your surface before painting.
Sand any lumps and bumps down until they are flattened to the same level as the rest of the wall.  (Use a sanding block) Fill any cracks and holes with filler and allow 24 hours for it to dry.

Sand all your trims and skirting boards with a fine sanding sponge after removing and coarse lumps and bumps with sandpaper or a sharp knife. The fine sanding sponge will get into all the crevices and give you the smoothest possible painting surface, clean with warm water and decorators soap allowing 24 hours to completely dry before the first coat of primer. Give particular attention to things like light switch panels and door knobs, use hotter water and a stronger soap solution to get any greasy fingerprints and dirt marks, you will be amazed how clean and shiny they will be after this, and it always looks better in the end if they have a had a thorough cleaning and then carefully masked prior to any painting.

Clean the wall with decorator’s soap and warm water and when it is completely dry, flat and free of dust and dirt then if there are ceilings, skirting boards, doorframes etc. you do not want paint to get on, carefully mask these areas with tape. Take your time on this and ensure the tape is pushed in firmly and any bubbles flattened to avoid the paint seeping in there later.

Now you can apply a single coat of primer. Primer is important because it will seal the wall surface and gives you an even surface that has a uniform porosity (there is such a word I googled it!) This will actually be more economical in the long run as it will mean your wall will be less porous therefore it will absorb less paint. You will find painting on a primed well prepared surface far easier than any other non- prepped wall you have ever painted on, the brush or roller will simply glide over it and you will use less paint to get the even consistent surface finish you want, that will stay on the wall a very long time.

Once you have finished painting a wall, use a sharp blade to cut the dried paint edges where the masking tape meets the wall. This way you will reduce the amount of touching- up needed once all the tape is removed. It is so annoying when you pull the tape off and large areas of paint come away from the wall at the same time so that’s how to avoid it.

Using a roller is always going to give a better more even coat on a wall or ceiling than a brush but you can still end up with long ridges in your paintwork – these are called lap marks and the way to avoid them is to avoid rolling over painted areas that have already partially dried. You do this by making sure that you always have a wet edge to roll over, each roller pass needs to overlap the previous one and you will be able to get a nice even surface covering with no ugly stripes.

If you live in the Cheshire/Manchester area you should check out Britannia paints, they have an excellent range of both indoor and outdoor paints and are specialists in waterproofing, floor painting and roofing protection.