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Think you’re ready to start painting? Make sure you’ve got everything covered with our planning guide. Preparation will help keep costs down, save time and help you avoid common mistakes.

1. Plan your project properly

It’s worth spending some time thinking about all elements of the project, as it’s not just the painting you need to think about. Not only will this help you plan your time but it will also make sure you only have to make one store visit to get everything you need!


  • Clear the room/move furniture into the centre and cover
  • Cover floors with dust sheets
  • Prepare walls for painting—this could mean removing wallpaper, misting new plaster, filling cracks or holes, smoothing uneven areas, and cleaning to remove grease and dust
  • Prep woodwork if you’re painting
  • Tape-off any woodwork, glass and switchplates that need protecting


  • Start with the ceiling (if painting)
  • Paint the walls (leave enough time to dry between coats)
  • Paint woodwork (if doing so)

Clean up

  • Cleaning and storing brushes/rollers/trays
  • Removing any tape
  • Removing dustsheets
  • Moving furniture back in

It’s always better to overestimate the time you think it’ll take, rather than not giving yourself enough time to finish the job.

2. Choose your colour scheme

Start by doing some research into the kind of look you want to achieve. Go online, have a look through decorating and interiors magazines, check out our free colour charts and inspiration guide, and then collect all your research together.

After doing this, you’ll have a good idea about the kind of look you want to create. Remember, if you’re doing more than just painting, consider the more expensive items first—things like the sofa, furniture and curtains/blinds. Paint colours can be chosen to work around the other elements in the room, as they’re less expensive. Or if you’re just painting make sure your colour scheme compliments the other items already in your room.

The next step is to pick up some tester pots. These are vital—once on the walls, they’ll show you what the colour looks like in the room, and how it changes with the light. If you can, paint the testers on a white base, and space them out so one colour doesn’t affect your perception of another. If you’re choosing a new sofa or blinds/curtains, get fabric swatches and hold them up against the dry paint samples to ensure they work together.

Have a look at our advice on paint trends.

3. Pick the right paint

For walls and ceilings, you’ll need emulsion. Emulsion is a water-based paint and can be applied directly onto previously painted walls, lining paper or textured wallpaper. Emulsion usually needs at least two coats, and if you’re painting over darker colours or new plaster, maybe more.

Emulsion comes in different finishes - matt and silk are the main ones, but there are others—satin (sometimes called soft-sheen), and eggshell.

Matt – Gives a flat, non-reflective finish that works well with uneven surfaces. You can buy wipe-clean matt paints too.

Eggshell – This is our trade paint. It’s thicker and produces a durable, soft sheen finish.

Satin – Creates a subtle mid-sheen finish bringing warmth to surfaces.

Silk – Gives a shiny, reflective finish. It’s washable, so good for high-traffic areas.

Durable – This can be scrubbed clean and is twenty times tougher than standard emulsion.

For bathrooms and kitchens, choose paint specifically designed for these rooms. Check out our bathroom and kitchen paint.

Interior woodwork paints

For any woodwork you can use an oil based paint or water based wood paints. Oil based paints tend to give a stronger and longer lasting finish. There are generally two main types of finishes, gloss and satin. Gloss gives you a nice shiny finish whereas satin gives you a more matt finish.

If you’re painting over bare wood you will need to use a primer first to seal the wood (one coat), then one coat of undercoat before one or two coats of your topcoat. You can buy 2in1 primer and undercoat, which can negate the need for a separate undercoat. On already painted wood it’s still advisable to do one coat of undercoat before one or two coats of topcoat.

Between each coat you will need to sand it down lightly with fine sand paper. The reason is that doing this between each coat gives the paint a better surface to attach to. This is known as creating a key for the next coat. If you are painting onto bare wood also give this a light sand before painting with primer.

4. Buy the right amount of paint

Alternative copy until the paint calculator is ready. Before you go in store you’ll need to measure the surface of your walls and ceilings in meters squared.


Measure the length and height of the wall you’re painting (in meters) and multiply the two measurements together to give you the total area in meters squared. Do this for each wall, don’t worry about windows and doors as it’s good to have some contingency. Add all of these together to give you the total area of the room. Multiply this by the amount of coats you want to do.


Measure the length and width of the floor of the room you’re painting (in meters) and multiply the two measurements together to give you the total area of the ceiling in meters squared. Multiply this by the amount of coats you want to do.

5. Tools and materials

Protecting your room and yourself!

  • Dust sheets to cover furniture/carpet, plus tape to secure edges
  • Vacuum to clear room of dust beforehand, and then to clear dust from sanded-down skirting boards/woodwork if painting them
  • Old clothes/overalls

Tools and materials for preparing previously painted walls

  • Sugar soap solution, plus safety gloves and goggles if you’re sanding
  • Sponge/brush for applying sugar soap solution, plus another clean sponge and bucket for rinsing off
  • Filler/filling tool
  • Scraping tool
  • Sandpaper, block (piece of wood or similar to make sandpaper easier to grip) and dust mask
  • Masking tape or Painter’s tape
  • Step ladder/step stool

Tools and materials for stripping wallpaper

  • As well as the above, you’ll need:
  • If removing strippable/peelable wallpaper – putty knife
  • If removing older paper – hot water, bucket/spray bottle, scoring knife/perforation tool
  • If removing stubborn paper – stripping solution or steamer, scoring knife/perforation tool

Tools and materials for preparing newly plastered walls

  • Wickes Paint for New Plaster or a mist coat, emulsion mixed with water (40% water/60% white emulsion) to seal the wall. See our FAQs on painting for more info on mist coats.
  • Roller
  • Paint tray
  • Filler/filling tool if any imperfections show after sealing
  • Sandpaper and block (piece of wood or similar to make sandpaper easier to grip)
  • Dust sheets to cover furniture/floor
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Old clothes/overalls
  • Vacuum to clear room of dust beforehand, and then to clear dust from sanded-down skirting boards/woodwork if painting
  • Step ladder/step stool

Tools and materials for painting

  • Old newspaper
  • Roller/s
  • Paint brushes (cutting-in/woodwork)
  • Roller tray and paint kettles
  • Screwdriver to open paint tins
  • White spirit for cleaning brushes (if using solvent-based paints on wood)


There are three things to think about when choosing a brush—type of bristle, the job and the paint being used. As a general rule, use natural or mixed bristle for oil-based paints and synthetic brushes for water-based paints.

Synthetic bristles - Hard wearing and last a lot longer than natural bristles. They don’t tend to produce tramlines in paintwork as they don’t absorb water and swell like natural bristles. They’re a good choice when using water-based paints.

Natural & mixed bristles - These take and hold paint well, and their split ends help to produce a fine finish with solvent paints. But they don’t work well with water- based paints.

Size - The larger the area you’re painting, the larger the brush should be. A 1" or 2" brush will give you flexibility when painting doors and skirting boards. For cutting-in, we recommend a 2" or 3" brush. A 5" brush is good for floors, walls, and ceilings.

Choose the right paint brush for your job

Mixed Bristle Mixed bristle

High quality and long lasting.
Designed for solvent based undercoat, gloss and eggshell paint.

Synthetic Synthetic

High quality with soft bristles for a quick and smoother finish
with all emulsion paint.

Wickes All Purpose All purpose

Suitable for everyday painting and with all paint formulations.

Gel comfort Gel comfort

Gel inserts for superior comfort.
Sleek finish and control with all paint formulations.

Premier Premier

Exceptional paint pick-up, smooth finish, comfort grip.
Suitable for gloss, emulsion and stains.

No loss evolution No loss evolution

100% no bristle loss guarantee.
Suitable for all paint formulations.

Easy clean Easy clean

Smooth and easy to paint with, easy to clean.
Suitable for all paint formulations.

Wickes tip
Always wash new brushes before use to remove any manufacturing residue or dust.

Check out our selection of paint brushes.


Rollers are great for painting large areas, especially ceilings. The type of roller you pick depends on the wall surface, but generally speaking, the rougher the surface of the wall, the longer the hair on the sleeve should be.

Short pile and smooth foam rollers perform well on flat surfaces (like newly plastered walls).

Medium pile rollers are good for slightly uneven or textured surfaces.

Long pile rollers are best with heavily textured surfaces.

Sheepskin rollers have an extra long pile and are great very rough surfaces.

For oil-based paints, a synthetic fibre roller is a good choice.

For painting behind radiators you can buy mini rollers with long handles that are designed to fit behind most radiators.

Take a look at our selection of rollers.

Wickes tip
Always wash new rollers before use to remove any manufacturing residue or dust.

6. Do the jobs in the right order


Remove as much as you can from the room before putting all remaining furniture in the centre. That way you can move more freely around the room.

Cover the furniture and the floor with dust sheets, it’s best to use ones that won’t allow the paint to soak through them.

You’re now ready to prepare the walls and woodwork.

All walls should be smooth, dry and clean. If you’re painting onto already painted walls, fill any holes with suitable filler and sand it smooth when dry. Now you can wash the walls with sugar soap solution to remove any grease and dirt.

If you’re removing wallpaper before painting, fill any holes once the paper has been fully removed, sand and then wash down with sugar soap.

If you’re painting onto newly plastered walls you will need to apply Wickes Paint for new Plaster or a mist coat to help the new paint bond more strongly (mist coat – 40% water/60% white emulsion).

Wait for the walls to dry before sanding your woodwork.

Make sure you clear up any dust caused by the sanding. The top of skirting boards and windowsills are key areas where dust will collect.

You’re now ready to paint!


Start with the ceiling, then move onto the walls, then skirting boards and finish with the windows and doors. Essentially you paint top to bottom so you don’t need to worry about getting any paint spots from the ceiling onto the walls or from the walls onto the skirting or woodwork.

Wait for the paint to dry (follow manufacturers instructions) before applying the next coat. If you can, leave doors and windows open to aid ventilation.

Check out our painting FAQ’s for more info.

Wickes tip
Wickes Pink To White paint is a fantastic way of making sure you get the best coverage. It’s almost impossible to paint white on white without missing a patch here and there, but this remarkable paint goes on pink and dries white, so you can easily see any areas you might have missed.

Paint-day checklist

  •  Dust sheets
  •  Fillers
  •  Filling knife
  •  Sandpaper
  •  Masking tape
  •  Brushes
  •  Paint rollers and trays
  •  Brush cleaners or wipes
  •  Step ladder