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Plan your paint project

To ensure your painting project goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you’ve got everything covered with our planning guide. Clever planning and preparation will help keep costs down, save time and help you avoid common mistakes.

Plan your project properly

Break down your project into the following sections and take the appropriate steps.


  1. Clear the room. Move furniture into the centre and cover
  2. Cover floors with dust sheets
  3. Prepare walls for painting i.e. removing wallpaper, filling cracks or holes, smoothing uneven areas, cleaning to remove grease and dust or preparing bare plaster using a specialist emulsion or with two mist coats of watered down white or light-coloured emulsion (40% water to 60% paint)
  4. Prepare any woodwork you’re painting
  5. Tape off any woodwork, glass and switches or sockets that need protecting


We recommend you paint in the following order, leaving enough time to dry between coats:

  1. Ceiling
  2. Walls
  3. Skirting boards
  4. Windows & doors

It’s best to paint top to bottom to avoid any paint dripping from the ceiling onto the walls or drips from the walls landing on the skirting or woodwork.

Clean up

  1. Clean and store any brushes, rollers or trays
  2. Remove any tape
  3. Remove dust sheets
  4. Move 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. For more information on paint preparation, see our painting FAQs.

Choose your colour scheme

If you don’t already have a colour scheme in mind or would like some inspiration, have a look at our paint ideas and advice to decide on the look you want to achieve. The next step is to pick up some paint tester pots. Once applied, 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, blinds or curtains, get fabric swatches and hold them up against the dry paint samples to ensure they work together.

Pick the right paint

For long-lasting, vibrant results, it’s essential to choose the right paint for the job. For a full guide to different paint types, see our painting interior FAQs.

If you’re painting over bare wood, you will need to use one coat of primer first to seal the wood then one coat of undercoat before one or two coats of your topcoat. You can buy 2-in-1 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, use a fine sandpaper to give the paint a better surface to attach to. This is known as creating a key for the next coat.

Buy the right amount of paint

Use our handy calculator to find out how much paint you’ll need to decorate your space.

Tools and materials

To protect your room and yourself

  • Dust sheets to cover furniture and carpet plus tape to secure the edges
  • Masking tape to protect surfaces and ensure neat lines
  • A hoover to clear the room of dust beforehand then to remove dust from sanded down skirting boards or woodwork
  • Old clothes, overalls or workwear plus safety wear such as dust masks, goggles and gloves if you’re sanding

For preparing previously painted walls

To strip wallpaper

As well as the above, you’ll need:

For preparing newly plastered walls


For more information, see our painting FAQs.