Top painting and decorating tips for DIY beginners


There are plenty of painting and decorating tips out there, but many are specific to particular projects or assume you know certain techniques. We’ve put together this guide for DIY novices who are just getting started painting and decorating their home. Find out how to develop the best technique, use the right tools and get the finish you’re dreaming of.

painting and decorating tips

Making preparations

Any professional decorator will tell you that preparation is the key to pulling off any DIY job. Making sure you start your job with a clean slate is one of the most important painting and decorating tips. Trying to do these things as you go along or worse, forgetting to do them at all, means spending more time on a project and getting poor results.

Here are a few examples of essential preparation for painting and decorating:

  • Before painting walls – Check your walls are free from cracks, holes, old paint and mould. Will you need to strip wallpaper or use filler in places?
  • Before fitting skirting or coving – Check your walls are clean, free from dirt or debris, and that the skirting/coving is a suitable fit for your room.
  • Before painting your front door – Check if you’ll need to scrape away old paint/finish, make sure it’s sanded and that all hardware is either removed or protected.

Speaking of a clean slate, make sure you’re protecting your floors and furniture with dust sheets during painting projects. You may also need to use masking tape along edges, architrave, light switches or door handles, to protect them from paint splatters.

Using the right tools

When it comes to your tools, it’s important to get the right ones for the job. From the type of screws certain woods can take to the correct paint brushes for various paints, different products will require different tools.

A good “how-to” guide will always tell you what you need at the beginning. Use this as your shopping list as, chances are, you’ll struggle to do the job without those tools.

There are tools you’re likely to use for a number of painting and decorating projects, including painting walls and ceilings, putting up shelving or picture frames, fitting skirting, applying wallpaper and more. This includes:

How you use your tools is as crucial as having the right ones. There are plenty of painting and decorating tips that will help you stay savvy with your toolkit:

  • You don’t necessarily need to splash out on natural fibre paint brushes - synthetic bristles will work for both oil and water-based paints, making them the more versatile option.
  • Use good quality roller cover, as cheaper material covers will shed fluff and fibres into your paint and walls.
  • Elastic bands can be your best friend – use one across a paint tin to wipe excess paint from your brush, or on the base of your brush when cutting into corners and around architrave.
  • If you’re taking a break, wrap your brushes in cling film or place in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out – also replace the lid on the paint tin.

painting tips

Fine tuning your technique

The most important part of developing a good technique is practice. For example, if you haven’t cut wood with a mitre before, practice with an offcut. Or, practice painting with various size brushes or rollers to find one you’re comfortable with. Do your research and practice techniques before working on the final product.

Here are a few top painting and decorating tips for developing a better technique:

  • Start by painting the edges and corners of a wall before the main area for a quicker job and better results. Do this for each individual wall to ensure the paint blends well.
  • When using a roller, don’t saturate it completely in paint – dip it in halfway and use the tray to roll and spread paint evenly across the roller. You may need to do this a few times at first, but as you go on, a couple dips should do.
  • Paint from top to bottom for the best coverage – layer on any area of paint with long, horizontal strokes and then gently smooth the area over with short, vertical strokes while it’s still wet.

Finally, one of the most valuable painting and decorating tips we can give you is to be patient. With any project, take your time and focus on quality rather than speed. Always refer back to product instructions such as drying times and use products as they were intended. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if things don’t go right first time. Most things can be fixed, sanded, painted over or re-worked, so keep going.

Take a look at our other Expert Advice guides to get the help and advice you need on a range of projects. Or browse our painting and decorating products and get everything you need to tackle your next DIY project.