A simple guide to painting techniques
Using a brush
A paintbrush is a versatile tool for applying primers, undercoats and varnishes, as well as topcoats to a variety of surfaces.
Use one for applying gloss to wood and metalwork and for painting where colours or surfaces meet—around windows and doors, for instance.
1. Stir the paint—unless it is non-drip. Make sure any liquid on the surface is thoroughly mixed into the paint by lifting the stick as you stir.
2. Choose a brush which is the right size. As a rough guide, paint window frames with a 25mm brush, door panels with a 25mm brush, and walls and other large surfaces with a 100mm brush. Grip large brushes around the handle and hold smaller brushes more like a pencil.
3. Flick the bristles against your hand to remove dust and any loose bristles or dried paint particles.
4. Dip the brush into a paint kettle, to about one-third of the bristle depth, to load it with paint.
5. Press the brush against the kettle wall to remove surplus paint. Do not scrape the brush over the rim of the kettle because too much paint will come off.
Painting with non-drip paint
Do not stir non-drip paint and do not remove any excess paint from the brush; it is meant to be heavily loaded. Apply the paint in horizontal bands. Don't overbrush or the paint will run.
Painting with gloss
1. Start at the top of the surface. Paint three vertical strips parallel with each other, leaving a gap just narrower than the brush width between the strips.
2. Do not reload the brush. Working from the top, brush across the painted area horizontally to fill the gaps and smooth the paint.
3. With the brush now almost dry, lightly go over the section you have just painted with vertical strokes to ensure an even coating, stopping on an upward stroke. This is called ‘laying off’.
4. Using the same technique, paint a similar sized section underneath the one you have completed. Work the wet paint into the dry.
Helpful tip: Line a paint kettle with aluminium foil—to make cleaning easier—and pour in paint to fill about one-third of the kettle. Do not work from the tin; you may contaminate the paint with dried paint, dirt and possibly rust from around the rim.
Painting with emulsion
1. Start at the top of the wall. Apply the paint in all directions, working horizontally across the surface and moving down when one band is complete. Do not put the paint on too thickly.
2. Lay off the paint with light brush strokes and a fairly dry brush, working in a criss-cross pattern. Lift the paint finally on upward strokes.
Painting a textured surface
When painting a surface with a heavy texture or relief, load the brush with more paint than for a smooth ceiling or wall.
This cuts down the time it takes to coat the surface and fill all the little indentations. But dip to only a third of the bristle depth.
If you are painting a relief wallpaper, Anaglypta for example, use a brush as wide as you can comfortably manage without putting too much strain on your wrist.
A 100mm paintbrush is ideal. With a textured coating on a wall or a ceiling, you can use a shaggy pile roller.
Using old paint
Wipe the rim before you open an old tin of paint. If a skin has formed, cut around the edge and lift it out. Stir the paint well and then strain it through an old stocking to remove any bits of hardened paint.
‘Beading’ where colours meet
Where walls meet the ceiling and where adjacent walls are of different colours, keep the meeting edge as straight and as neat as possible. Do not rush the job.
1. Turn the paintbrush edge on, holding it like a pen.
2. Load the brush with enough paint to cover about one-third of the bristle depth.
3. Press the brush flat against the surface so that a small amount of paint (the bead) is squeezed from the bristles. Work towards the edge gradually, rather than trying to get close immediately.
4. Draw the brush sideways or downwards along the surface, keeping your hand steady.
Achieve a neat finish along wall and ceiling edges by first painting the edges with a brush, before switching to a roller or pad.
1. Paint four or five overlapping strokes at right angles to the edge.
2. Cross-brush over the painted area in a long, sweeping motion, keeping parallel with the edge.
If you found this article useful, share it!
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.