Top tips from a professional painter and decorator

Top tips from a professional painter and decorator

 by Nige the Decorator

I have been a professional painter and decorator for over twenty years. During this time I have learnt many tricks that make the job of painting and decorating much easier and save time and effort. It can be something very simple or something that can make a difficult job easier to do. 

So here are some simple tips and tricks that I have learnt and have been taught over the years. 


The first tip, which I believe is the most important and something I spend a lot of time doing when working on a painting and decorating job, is preparation. Yes, it can be tedious and time consuming, but if you want the perfect finish then it’s important to sand the walls down and fill any imperfections with the correct filler. This will also make the job of painting much easier because you’ll have a smooth finish to apply paint to. 

Never paint over old wallpaper 

This tip was something I was taught while I was doing my apprenticeship to become a professional painter and decorator. The company I worked for would never paint over old wallpaper no matter what the condition. 

The reason was very simple. Wallpaper can cover up a multitude of problems. Such as damp or mould to name just two. If you just simply paint over it you simply compound the problem. 

So, to get the perfect finish, spend time removing all the old wallpaper to make sure the walls are ok. If you find any issues such as damp or mould, you can treat these issues with either damp sealer or mould killer. Then of course you can either paint the walls or hang new wallpaper whichever is your preference in the knowledge that the walls don’t have any underlying problems. 

Always paint in natural light where possible

I know it’s not always possible to paint in natural light, but it’s important to try. For example, painting at night by electric light results in patches where you have missed getting the right coverage of paint. This is because artificial light creates shadows. This will show up once daylight enters the room so it pays to wait for a time when you can paint using natural light. 

Use quality tools 

This tip is something that I cannot recommend highly enough if you want your painting and decorating to look like a professional painter and decorator has done the job. Invest in quality tools. For example, there are many cheap paintbrushes in the DIY shops but it’s a totally false economy. The bristles will end up on the surface you are painting and you will end up with brush strokes showing everywhere. This also applies to rollers. Buy quality rollers so the paint is applied evenly to give you the perfect finish. 

Avoiding brush strokes 

This is the most obvious, when painting using gloss or satinwood, and it is very obvious when painting doors or skirting boards. So, you may ask, what is the secret? Well, it’s very simple. First of all don’t overload your paintbrush with paint, then paint in broad strokes allowing the brush to do the work for you and don’t go over the same area too often because when the paint dries, it looks streaky.

The order that you should decorate a room

The times I have seen people paint a room from the bottom up! Well, quite honestly, I have lost count. Always paint from the top to bottom of a room. 

When painting or wallpapering a room there is an order that you should always follow. The first part of the job is to paint the ceilings and this is something you should always do first. Yes, it can be awkward and difficult and I have many times seen people leave painting the ceilings and the whole finish of the job is affected. Painting a fresh couple of coats of white paint on your ceiling will reflect light and make your room lighter. 

When starting the walls always cut in the line between ceiling and walls using a cutting in brush. This will give you a nice straight line. If you find it difficult to paint a straight line, another trick is to use a low tack masking tape. 

Working from the corner of the wall using a paint roller, start painting from left to right so you apply an even finish. Finally, once the walls are dry you can paint all the woodwork. The only time you would paint the woodwork before the walls is if you’re hanging wallpaper, then paint all the woodwork first so no paint goes on your new wallpaper. 

Cleaning Brushes 

Many paints such as emulsion are water based so you can clean your brushes with soapy water. You can also buy a brush comb which will take a lot of the paint out of the brush before a final wash. 

If you’re using gloss or satinwood to paint woodwork then you will need to use a cleaning agent such as white spirt or turpentine. It’s important to allow the brushes to soak in the cleaning agent for 24 hours and then you can wash the brushes. A little tip is to use a little bit of washing liquid or powder that you use to wash your clothes. It brings your brushes up like new. 

Wear protective clothing 

Paint is very difficult to remove once it has got on your clothes or hands especially gloss paint. So it’s important to use protective clothing such as overalls – a good investment which will last you years. When you are painting, paint will inevitably get on your hands so always wear protective gloves. Nowadays you can buy cheap gloves that are disposable. This is particularly useful when painting with gloss otherwise you will have to use white spirit or something similar to remove the paint and that is definitely not good for your skin. 

Disposing Of Products 

This is my final tip but a very important one.  I always endeavour to buy paint in metal cans because you can clean them out when they are empty and take them to your local recycling centre. The metal can then be recycled and used again and again which will help the environment. Remember metal packaging is the best sustainable material to use when painting and decorating. 

So those are just a few of my tips and secrets that I have learnt over the last twenty years as a professional painter and decorator.