Painting & decorating

A splash of paint can instantly rejuvenate a tired looking room. But before you start, consider whether the job is something you can take on yourself, or whether you should call in the professionals.

Here we give you a quick run-down of some of the benefits of using a professional decorator and also provide some tips if you think the do-it-yourself option is the route for you.

One major benefit of using a professional is that they provide you with an estimate of how much the job will cost and how long it will take. This helps to provide an element of certainty if you a working to tight budget and allows greater control of what you will actually receive for your money. If you are taking on the job yourself, it is far more difficult to estimate exactly how much it will cost in terms of money (paint, tools etc) and time. The last thing you want is to be finishing off a painting job after a hard day at your own job.

A key element of any decorating job is the groundwork. John Petrie of William Swanson & Son says, “Although frequently overlooked, knowledge of the different preparation techniques required for wood, metal, masonry, walls, ceilings and doors and so on, is essential to ensure an optimum finish and to make sure the results last.” He adds, “We find it’s the one thing that do-it-yourself practitioners usually skimp on, but it ends up costing them in the long run when they realise they need to re-paint things again soon after.”

Another valuable advantage of using a professional is they will have all the specialist tools required to complete your job on hand and ready to use. What this ultimately means is your job can be completed on time and to a high standard, with the minimum impact possible on your day to day household activities. What’s more, they’ll also do most of cleaning after they are finished. If you do opt for a professional, think about using a member of a registered trade organisation, such as the Scottish Decorators Federation. Your decorator will be bound by a code of conduct and you will have a direct route of complaint if you feel the job done is not up to standard.

Hints to make doing it yourself easier

Depending on your circumstances, you may decide that doing it yourself is the way forward. Before you start, consider these helpful tips.

While it may seem obvious, using lighter colours can help to make a room to appear more spacious, while darker colours can be used to create a more intimate effect.

Take a note of the dimensions of the room or rooms that you will be painting. Your paint supplier will be able to advise you on how much you will need to complete your job. Alternatively, you can try one of the numerous online paint calculators available on the internet such as the one available at

Before selecting your paint products, speak to an expert. They will be able to guide you to the most appropriate coating for your job and will probably be able to give you a heads up on the type of preparation required. Remember good preparation is the key to achieving a good result.

Before you start, remove the room of any furniture and take away larger fittings such as ceiling fans. If the furniture has to stay, move it to the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets. Remove dirt and other marks using sugar soap and scrape off any loose or flaking paint with a scraper.

Masking tape is your friend. Try using it around edges where you are looking for a precise finish such as light switches or plug sockets. You may want to use smaller strips to ensure the seal remains tight around the edge as the last thing you want is for paint to seep underneath. You can use tape around carpet too. Take the tape right up to the edge of your skirting boards and tuck it down the side of the carpet with a knife. When your job is done, carefully peel away the tape to reveal clean, straight lines.

When deciding which area of a room to paint first, a general rule of thumb is to start at the top and work down. This means starting with ceilings before moving onto the walls, then the frames or woodwork and finally the skirting boards.

Try to avoid starting different sections at the same time. You should always attempt to leave a wet edge to continue your work from, which will ensure the coating seamlessly overlaps. Don’t start on a wall or section if you don’t have time to finish it. Failure to do so can leave visible join lines. In addition, don’t skimp on your coats. Two thin coats of paint are normally better than one thick coat. It might be a more work, but the end result will be worth it.

Always make sure you use suitable clothing for the job. Try using old cotton garments as opposed to wool as the fibres may well end up as part of the finish. If you are using solvent based paint, ensure you have suitable ventilation or breathing equipment. If you need to stop painting for an extended period, try wrapping your brush in plastic wrap to keep it moist. You can also use plastic wrap around your paint tray to make cleaning easier at the end of the day.