Learn how to use a paint brush, foam roller and spray gun like a professional
Use quality tools and professional techniques for the smoothest finish. Image: Getty Images
The right equipment makes all the difference for a professional result when painting a room.
Large areas are more easily covered with rollers or spray applicators, while brushes are best around edges and on corners, trim and woodwork.
Order of application
Finish one wall at a time to prevent streaks. When taking a break, clean brushes and rollers or cover in plastic.
1. START AT THE TOP and use a brush to paint cornices or where the ceiling meets the wall. Paint the ceiling witha roller starting away from the main window and working towards the light to avoid painting in shadow.
2. PAINT THE WALLS starting at the edges and doing all the corners with a brush. Then use a roller, beginning from the top of the wall in square-metre sections and lapping into the wet edge of the previous one.
TIP You can cover about two walls an hour with a roller, taking less than a day to paint the ceiling and walls.
3. PAINT THE TRIM using a brush. Work along the skirting boards, then do the door and the window frames.
Apply a strip of low-tack masking tape along the wall and use a trim cutter for a clean line.
Put masking tape on the floor along the trim to cut a line across the base of the skirting.
How to use a paint brush
Brushes are made from natural bristle, synthetic filament or a blend of both.
NATURAL bristles are made of animal hair that is soft and porous and best used for oil-based paint. Avoid acrylic as the bristles soak it up and turn limp.
SYNTHETIC FILAMENTS are best for use on acrylic paints as they keep their shape in moisture. Quality filaments are tapered to
bend gradually with application.
HANDLES made of unvarnished timber are most comfortable because the grain raises in contact with water or sweat to improve the grip.
CLEAN UP by wiping brushes on newspaper and rinse away acrylic paint in water or soak oil-based paint in turpentine then rinse in water.
How to hold a paintbrush
A tired hand results from hanging onto the brush incorrectly.
Hold the handle between thumb and forefinger, fingertips resting at the top. Dip half the bristles in paint then wipe on the side of the can to remove excess.
PENCIL GRIP is for control and precision when using long sash brushes. Hold with your thumb and index finger pinching the handle like a pencil.
HANDSHAKE GRIP is for wide handles. Hold the handle with your hand spanning it, thumb on the topside like a handshake.
How to use a foam roller
A good roller is sturdy with teeth that grip to prevent the cover from slipping. The roller should spin freely, have an ergonomic and solvent resistant handle and a durable frame with a metal arm.
Use a roller on walls, choosing one between 230 and 270mm wide.
The nap is the pile length. Choose a short 6mm nap for ceilings, smooth surfaces and high-gloss paints.
Use a medium 12mm nap for walls and flat, low-sheen or semi-gloss paint on uneven surfaces. Use a long 20mm nap for rough surfaces.
FOAM applies a seamless finish for cutting close to trim.
MICROFIBRE has minimal lint shedding, suited to most surfaces.
LAMBSWOOL is tough and durable yet the soft fibre holds paint well with minimal spattering.
SYNTHETIC fibres hold lots of paint on the roller, saving application time.
MOHAIR is easy to clean and the extra-fine fibre holds paint well. Best with high-gloss paints.
How to apply paint with a foam roller
Use a brush to apply paint around the edges and into corners of the wall.
Pour paint into the tray, dip the roller then push it back and forth on the shallow part for even coverage.
Don’t apply paint too heavily as it may spatter. Use even pressure with overlapping strokes.
START NEAR THE CEILING rolling upwards, drawing a large M about one square metre in area, a metre below the ceiling. Randomly roll strips of paint across it with even strokes, finishing in one direction.
Start the next area a metre down, lapping into the wet edge.
OVERLAP THE STROKES while rolling back over the painted area with light pressure to smooth and blend, moving across so the roller always slightly overlaps the previous stroke, continuing across the wall.
ROLL NEAR THE FLOOR without reloading, smoothing paint along with long, horizontal strokes, getting as close as possible to taped edges.
AROUND SKIRTING, frames and trim, apply horizontal strokes. Smooth the paint with short, vertical strokes to match the wall texture.
How to use a spray gun
The quickest way to apply paint to a wall or ceiling is with a spray gun.
A high-volume low-pressure (HVLP) gun is designed for interior walls as it produces less overspray and doesn’t waste paint.
A light, portable turbine carried with a shoulder strap generates the air pressure for spraying and is connected to the gun by a flexible hose.
A standard gun has various settings for accurate targeting or a more broad application and usually comes with a 1.8 litre container that can cover up to 12 square metres.
How to paint a wall with a spray gun
Prepare the surface first by sanding with 180 grit paper, then wash with sugar soap, rinse and leave to dry.
COVER UP any surfaces you don’t want to be sprayed. Use sheets of newspaper over doors and windows and drop sheets over flooring. Protect switches, skirtings and architraves with masking tape.
SECURE THE SPRAY ATTACHMENT to the gun then do a test spray on a scrap piece of cardboard.
TIP Dilute the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
START IN A CORNER and hold the gun 250mm from the wall. Don’t stop until the entire wall is covered, to prevent patchiness.