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Paint preparation & application

  • Make sure all surfaces to be painted are dry, sound and free from dirt.
  • Lightly rub glossy surfaces wih sandpaper to 'key' the surface for new paint.
  • Remove all dust and debris from the surface, the last thing you want is lumpy bits in your new paintwork.
  • For best results use a primer on your woodwork and metalwork first. A primer will:
    • Provide the best surface for the final coats.
    • Seal unpainted and sanded surfaces.
    • Prevent dark colours from bleeding through when painting over with a lighter colour.
  • For drying times visit our Paint Finishes section and always follow the advice on the tin.

Preparing your room for painting

You've probably got it all covered but our handy checklist below will ensure you've thought of everything.

  1. Roll up rugs, move furniture to the centre of the room and cover. Place dust sheets or newspaper on the remaining floor space.
  2. Loosen wall sockets etc. and remove switch plates and window fittings.
  3. Make sure surfaces to be painted are sound by removing loose paint, plaster or wallpaper.
  4. Use masking tape create crisp edges and protect areas you aren't painting. You'll find this an especially handy tip skirting boards, doors, windows and sockets. Be sure to check that your tape won't pull or damage any existing finishes you want to keep.
  5. If you're painting over wallpaper, ensure all seams are firmly glued down.
  6. Remove any loose plaster from cracks, holes and other imperfections, fill and sand, leaving a smooth finish ready for painting.
  7. Clean any dust from the walls with a damp cloth and vacuum the room before you begin painting
  8. Use good quality brushes and rollers. We recommend a 9 inch roller tray and paint roller as the large ones can be heavy and difficult to handle.
  9. Use the correct roller type for the surface you're painting. Generally speaking the smoother the surface the shorter the roller's pile.

Painting tips

Once you've prepared everything and you're ready to start painting, we've got a few final hints and tips below:

  • Stir your paint thoroughly before use.
  • When working on ceiling and in cramped areas, it can be tricking handling an large can of paint so try decanting some into a smaller container, Plastic food boxes with lids are ideal for emulsion. Use a small tin or paint kettle for gloss.
  • Use the right brushes for the type of paint you are using. Straight edge brushes handle all tasks nicely. Some people find angled brushes more comfortable in tight spots, they are especially good for painting trim and straight edges.
  • Dip the bristles half way into the paint and try not to get paint onto the ferrule (the metak wrapper that holds theh bristles). Clear excess paint from one side of the brush. dragging it against the side of the container, don't drag both sides. Always apply the loaded side of the brush to your surface first.
  • You might struggle to get a roller into awkward spaces so a handy tip from professionals is to paint a 10cm border around the edges of the room, including the corners, ceiling edges, skirting board edges, archtraves, windows, doors, baseboards, light fixtures, plugs and switch plates. Professionals, call this 'cutting in'.
  • Let your borders dry and then use a roller to cover the large areas.
  • Select the appropriate roller for your paint and fit an extension handle for ceilings and high walls.
  • Pour about 2cm of paint into the deepp reservoir end of the paint tray. Leave the other end of the tray clear.
  • Dip the roller into the tray, and move it back and forth on the roller bed. The roller should be saturated with paint but not dripping.
  • Work from the ceiling down and roll an area about 1m square. Work the roller up, down, and across until you've covered the area evenly. Repeat across the entire wall square by square.
  • If paint begins to build up on the wall at the edges of the roller, gently roll out the lines immediately. Some paints can start drying quickly, so don't go back over tacky paint.
  • When painting the trim (picture rail, skirting boards etc.) work from the ceiling downwards.
  • To avoid varying sheen levels with eggshell paint thoroughly mix prior to application. Only apply sufficient paint to maintain a wet edge and apply even coats over the entire surface to avoid overlap marks.
  • When painting windows, try not to lay on paint too thickly. When painting sash windows, slide them up and down during the job to stop them sticking shut. Where possible leave windows open for at least 24 hours while drying.

Cleaning up

Cleaning your brushes: water-based paints

All of our emulsions and acrylic eggshell paints are water-based, so water and possibly a little soap is all that’s needed to clean brushes and rollers.

Rinse under warm water to remove excess paint, adding a few drops of washing-up liquid if necessary. Press dry with kitchen roll or paper towels, and ideally store brushes hanging up.

Our water-based paints include:

  • Zoffany Flat Emulsion
  • Zoffany Elite Emulsion
  • Zoffany Acrylic Eggshell
  • Sanderson Matt Emulsion
  • Sanderson Elite Emulsion
  • Sanderson Acrylic Eggshell

Cleaning your brushes: oil-based paints

Our Eggshell paints are oil-based, so need to be cleaned with a paint thinning solvent, such as white spirit.

Rinse your brush thoroughly in a suitable container of white spirit until all of the bristles are paint-free. Press dry with kitchen roll or paper towels and ideally store hanging up.

Our oil-based paints include:

  • Zoffany Eggshell
  • Sanderson Eggshell

Storing paint

Keep paint tightly sealed in its original container, away from extreme temperatures.

Its useful to note that that sheds, garages and basements may get too cold and damage the paint.


Check your local authority’s waste disposal guidelines for advice on how to dispose of paint cans, waste paint, and cleaning solvents responsibly.

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