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The Basics of Painting – Step by Step

How to paint a wall

How to Paint a Wall – Step by Step Guide

Be it for a profession or as a personal project, at some point everyone has to paint a wall, and it is incredible how many people do it wrong – painting over surfaces incorrectly, be that wallpaper, metal, stickers, or over old drawings and graffiti, etc. Painting a wall, or garden fence, even a radiator, can be very therapeutic. There is more to it that simply shaking the tin around and slapping paint onto the surface in dollops reminiscent of lumps of ice-cream. Dare we say, painting a wall can even be an art-form!

No-one likes looking at a wall which has been cut-in incorrectly around the ceiling, or where paint has clumped up around the skirting board. How about squidgy paint drip trails around light switches? All of this can be avoided very easily. Painting a wall should be looked at in the same way as spray painting a car – it needs the same care and attention to detail. Imagine sitting back on a sunny day in your lazy-boy chair, with the sun pouring in through the window, a mocktail in your hand, some cool jazz vibes playing on the radio and a badly painted wall constantly catching your eye, where your brain constantly says “MISSED A BIT!”. It’s not a nice thought is it? So, let’s get this paint job done, and let’s do it right!

General guidance on use and preparation is given below, but full technical, health and safety information and directions are available on the tins and data sheets, it is essential that a full understanding of the product and its uses is obtained before use.

1. Preparation

The devil is in the details:

  • Ensure all surfaces are clean and dry.
  • Smooth surfaces generally benefit from roughening or rubbing down prior to painting.
  • Fill and make good any damage.
  • Remove loose and flaking materials.

With some specialist coatings, check any compatibility and temperature/ climate issues, (e.g. suitability of the product in certain weather, humidity, etc. See 4 Things to Check Before Starting Any Painting Project).

  • Examine the area to cover and ensure you have the correct amount of material.
  • Perform any etching or degreasing required and use fungicidal washes if necessary.
  • Thoroughly inspect the surface after the preparation to ensure everything is clean, dry, repaired and ready to paint.

2. Priming

Depending on the product and application you may need to prime the surface first with a priming coat (sometimes thinned) or use a specific primer (e.g. anti-corrosive primers on steel, wood primers on wood, stabilisers on masonry or sealer coats). A primer will ensure the best performance of the top coat. Read the instructions and technical information prior to use.

3. Finishing

Ensure the primer, if used, is dry. If a ‘two pack’ system is used make sure that you overcoat the primer coat within the correct time period. Failure to do this can result in the topcoat flaking off the primer. Apply in the correct conditions of temperature, climate etc. and ensure all the necessary health and safety regulations are adhered to. Keep to the correct coverage level ensuring the product is not applied too thickly, this will impair drying and performance.

4. Clean Up

Clean all equipment with the relevant solvent be it water or oil based thinners and dispose of any waste in the correct way. Do not tip excess paint into the drains or watercourses.


If you follow the simple steps above, you will be able to look back at the paint-job with a sign of satisfaction and maybe even start planning more work! Keep an eye on Rawlins Paints’ Help and Advice section for more tips, tricks and insider tactics.

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