Brush up this Easter: top tips on painting your home

Nothing transforms a room as fast as paint. We've got top tips on everything you need to know before you tackle that feature wall or create a fun kid's room with this season's hottest hues.

Nothing transforms a room as fast as paint. Do some trompe l’oeil panelling, paint a mural, cover a feature wall in a fashionable dark colour, or paint inside an alcove to make a niche for a desk. 

Run a citrus stripe along a skirting, or paint a chair in singing flame for instant zing. 

Work with different tones of the same colour on wall, cornices and ceiling for an “architectural” look, or put strongly contrasting colours on walls and doors for elegant fun. 


Use one strong colour, such as a dark blue, on everything — or just apply a shocking-pink band right round a room like a wide ribbon. Be a devil and do the ceilings a darker colour than white — if you don’t like it, change it.

Colour lifts your spirits. And since even posh paint only costs about £40 for a can that will coat the walls of a smallish room, pick up a brush. There are hundreds of colours, so choose a brand, do some tests, and get cracking.

Why it always pays to buy quality brands

If you use cheap paint, you will spend just as much of your precious time applying it but the result won’t be as good. In particular, it may not look as good in certain lights. Pigments appear different under electric and natural light. It is worth spending a few pounds more to get the best result.


Buy good-quality brushes, ideally with natural bristles. Cheap brushes shed hairs, and picking hairs out of a painted wall is just a waste of time.

At the end of the job always clean the brush meticulously, with white spirit if using oil paint, or water and a bit of washing-up liquid if the paint is water-based. A really clean brush can be used over and over, but one left half-clean will dry rock hard.

Tester pots

Order a tester pot of your top choices. This small outlay helps to minimise mistakes. Paint a big test patch on white paper, write the paint name by it, and when dry, tack it to the wall with masking tape. Look at it in natural and electric light and move it on to 

different walls to see the true colour effect.

Oil or water based?

For centuries, most paint was mixed by eye in a bucket using linseed oil, pigments, and turpentine to thin or flatten. 

House painters knew basic recipes by heart, mixed with a limited range of cheap earth tones, such as yellow ochre, green earth, lamp black (from soot), white lead (from lead —poisonous), along with precious pigments such as blue made from ground-up lapis lazuli. 

From the Seventies, advanced chemistry and concern about volatile solvents including turpentine led to a surge of acrylic water-based paints. Pioneers were companies such as Crown. 

Today, water-based paints come in many finishes from flat to glossy and can be really durable, wipeable — and of course, they dry fast. But demand for traditional oil-based paints has surged again, mainly because they use natural ingredients, they last even better —particularly for outside woodwork — and look gorgeous. Many smart companies now offer them once more.

And finally…. what about those half-used tins? 

Once opened, as long as you close the tin tight and use tape to secure the lid, most unused paint will last about a year — longer if you decant it carefully into a suitable smaller container; this removes air, so helps prevent drying out. 

But do label it with its name and type. Small amounts are great for touching up, but stir very well before reuse. 

Don’t pour unwanted paint down the sink — that’s an eco no-no. Take the cans to the local dump. Most have special disposal areas for paint.


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