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Painting interiors – FAQs

Got a question about painting?

Chances are you’ll find the answer here. We’ve answered the most common questions we get asked in-store.

I’m confused by all the different paint types. Help!


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.

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.

How many coats of paint do I need?

For walls and ceilings it depends on the surface you’re painting on.

Painting on bare plaster: You can either but specialist paint for new plaster or you can do two coats of what the trade call mist coats. This is watered down emulsion (40% water/60% paint). You can do this with any light emulsion you have or just use white.

The reason for this is that if you paint un-thinned emulsion straight onto bare plaster it dries too quickly and doesn’t bond with the wall properly meaning that the finish won’t last as long. If you ever see bits of paint peeling off from fairly newly painted walls its unlikely that mist coats have been applied. After the mist coats you will need two or three topcoats.

Painting over existing paint: It obviously depends on the colour you’re painting over. If it’s a light colour you should be able to use two coats of your new topcoat colour. If you’re painting a light colour over a dark colour it’s best to do one or two coats of white emulsion first and then two coats of your topcoat.

Painting interior woodwork: 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.

Do I really need to sand between each coat on woodwork?

Yes, if you want a good long lasting finish. The reason is that if you use fine sand paper to sand between each coat it 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.

What does cutting in mean?

Cutting in is the term used for painting the areas that are too small for a roller and normally where two different paint colours or types meet. Typically where the edge of a wall meets the ceiling and skirting or woodwork. You can buy smaller angled brushes to help with this.

Do I need a special paint for kitchens?

Yes it’s advisable. Kitchen paints are designed to resist heat and steam better than standard paints plus they are generally grease proof so you can wash food stains off more easily. Check out our selection of kitchen paint.

Do I need a special paint for bathrooms?

Yes, because this room is subject to a lot of moisture you’ll need a paint that is more moisture resistant than a standard emulsion. Check out our selection of bathroom paint.

Should I paint the room in any particular order?

Yes. 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 any paint spots from the ceiling onto the wall and from the walls onto the skirting or woodwork.

How do I choose a roller?

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.

A synthetic fibre roller is a good choice for oil-based paints.

Take a look at our selection of rollers.

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

How do I clean brushes after painting?

Emulsion – If using the next day, place brushes in a jar of water so they don’t dry out. If you’re storing your brushes, rub excess paint on to newspaper, then rinse under cold water. Then clean with a little detergent and warm water, then rinse well and pat dry.

Oil paints – If you’re using the brushes the next day with the same colour paint, wrap them in Clingfilm. For storage, use white spirit to clean them, then press them dry with paper towels.

To remove hardened paint - Try dipping the brush in paint remover to soften it. Don't soak for too long because you could damage the bristles. Repeat as needed, then rinse in hot soapy water and hang up to dry.

How should I store brushes and rollers?

Once you’ve finished the job and cleaned the brushes/rollers, wrap them in cling film, cardboard or kitchen foil, and store them flat. If you stand brushes up, you risk the bristles bending out of shape.

How do I choose a paint brush?

Please refer to our giude on how to choose a brush

How do I stop bristles falling out of the brush while I’m painting?

Before you start, gently work the bristles with your fingers or against a wall to get rid of any dust or loose bristles.

How do I paint a radiator?

First, turn it off and let it cool completely. If you can, remove it from the wall—it’s much easier to paint. Wipe it down to remove any dust or grease, then rub it down with ‘Wet and Dry’ sanding paper, making sure you get rid of any rust spots.

Now wipe the radiator down, removing any debris, leaving the surface clean and dry, ready for the primer. Once you’ve applied the primer, and let it dry (follow the manufacturer’s instructions), you’re ready to paint. You can use specialist radiator paint, or a solvent-based paint. It’s likely you’ll need two coats, so leave the first coat to dry for 24 hours before starting the second.

Once painted, let the radiator dry completely before turning it on again. When you do use it, it’s normal to smell paint—this should soon disappear.

Wickes tip
An angled brush will help you reach into the grooves of the radiator.

How do I paint the wall behind a radiator?

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

Can I paint over stained wood?

Yes you can, but you’ll need to roughen the surface with sandpaper first to remove any trace of sheen.

Can I paint tiles?

Yes you can, but only using specialist paint.