links here

Interior Painting

Estimating the Amount and Cost of Paint Required
Working Out Colour Schemes
General Hints on Stopping and Filling
Application of undercoats and Finishes

By Ray Lewhite

Modern painting is much easier than it was in the past, since most modern paint flows out without brushmarks and gives good finishes even to those who have never previously painted.The cost of painting a room is really small compared to the improvement effected, and it is good economics to buy only the best paints costing as they no more than an average of approximately Ten pounds a room above the cost of cheap paint. There is no actual saving in cheap paint; high quality paints not only look better and have more coverage, but last longer and so save redecoration.

Estimating the Amount of Paint Required

Interior Painting
All paint manufacturers have the paint area coverage printed on their containers whether oil paints or water based emulsions in square yards to the gallon (5.litres) and from it can easily be deduced the actual amount of paint to be purchased.

Finishes and Materials

Interior Painting
The kind of finish you use will depend on your own personal taste. As a general guide, however a gloss paint is recommended for walls and woodwork where there is steam, heat or condensation. In living rooms, bedrooms, halls, etc., a less gloss effect is preferable on walls and ceilings and emulsion paint, such as vinyl silk or matt should be used. For all woodwork use a gloss or eggshell paint. Eggshell paint or flat-oil. There is some misunderstanding prevelent concerning flat finishes for walls etc. The best and most durable finish is flat oil which costs the same as emulsion paint but does not go as far, is harder to put on, and requires more surface preparation. Emulsion paint can be used on new dry plaster, or over flat oil paint which is in good condition. It is easily applied quick drying and odourless.


Interior Painting
There are two important considerations in the choice of colour for interior decoration. First aspect; if a room faces North and so gets very little sun, then colour can operate to create an illusion of sunshine by painting the room in warm sunny colours. If the room faces East and gets the morning sun, similar treatment will enhance its warmth and appeal throughout the day. Also of importance is the size of the room. Colour definitely has size value. The stronger a colour, the smaller it makes the room appear; the more pastel or soft a colour, the larger it makes it appear. Red, greens, blues and yellows tend to create an illusion of smallness; primrose, cream, ivory or pink tend in the opposite direction. It is worth noting that walls painted with vertical lines of contrasting colours tend to make a room look higher, but at the same time make the floor area appear less. Horizontal lines create an appearance of width but loss of height.

Painting New Woodwork

Interior Painting
There are three component parts to painting new woodwork: Preparation including priming; undercoating, and finishing- all of equal importance in producing satisfactory surfaces free from subsequent failure. Preparation.-The paintwork will not be satisfactory if the surface material to which it is applied is not dry, clean and chemically inert. Good results depend on the proper and adequate preparation of the surface to be painted. This preparation consists of smoothing, knotting, priming and stopping (or filling). Smoothing.-This is the first process in the preparation stage. All nails should be well punched below the surface. The work should be glass-papered with a No.1 glass paper across the grain at an angle of 45 deg. and finished off along the grain. Pay particular attention to the smoothing of edges, recesses and corners. Next remove all traces of dust from the surface and leave completely clean. Knotting.-This is the next stage and consists merely of covering all knots in woodwork with the preparation purchasable under the name of "patent knotting" see Fig.1. Paint the preparation over the knot and about 1/8in. clear either side (but no farther), as it acts as a sealer to the wood and prevents penetration of the next or priming coat. Two thin coats of knotting are better than one, and a dab of flat paint over the dry knotting prior to the application of the primer has decided advantages. Knotting is necessary to contain the resins normally exuded from knots, and so to prevent the appearance of unsightly stains on finished work.


Interior Painting
The priming paint is applied direct to the surface to be painted, and grades are specially prepared for specific purposes as, for example, hardwoods. The type and quality of the primer is important. In order to obtain a perfect finish it is necessary that the paintwork should be built up from the primer to the finishing coat and it cannot be to strongly stressed that the priming coat should not be considered merely as a coat for the covering of new wood but as a foundation of all future coats; it must be properly applied in order to satisfy the porosity of the woodwork. On a porous surface the primer should contain sufficient oil to satisfy the surface demand of the timber so as to obviate losses from the subsequent undercoat. Ready mixed wood-primer is obtainable from most paint manufacturers and is suitable for interior use. An aluminium wood primer can be used provided there is absolutely no moisture about. Aluminium primer is quiet distinct from aluminium paint, with which it should not be confused as this paint is not suitable for priming work. The actual painting with priming paint should be carefully done by brush so as to work the paint well into the wood and allow it to penetrate fully before smoothing off along the grain and so removing all excess paint. Pay particular attention to working the paint into corners, over knots and along joints, and ensure that the entire surface is completely covered.

Stopping and Filling

After the priming coat is dry, stop up all holes, cracks, etc., with a good brand of filler such as "Polyfila". When dry and set rub down with glass paper. Stopping should always be done after priming otherwise the wood would absorb the water out of the stopping and might cause it to come loose. A clear distinction must be made between "stopping" and "filling." Stopping is necessary for cracks and nail holes, but woodwork often has shallow depressions or grain defects, for the correction of which stopping is not suitable, but a filler is required. A well known filler is the proprietary material again "polyfila" and where required should be mixed and used in accordance with the makers instructions. For very high glass results a two-pack woodfiller is recommended. It is obtained ready for use after mixing with the hardener, again follow the makers instructions on the tin. Filling consists in applying the filler so as to fill up all depressions and then by rubbing down to produce a smooth and level surface.


The final appearance depends a lot on the undercoat. This is a more opaque material of thicker consistency than primer and provides a body of a colour. Often two undercoats are desirable in new work. Wipe down the priming coat after rubbing smooth any rough places. Apply the selected undercoat in an even film and smooth free from brushmarks. When the undercoat is dry rub down with abrasive paper and dust off. If necessary apply a second undercoat.

Finishing Coat

Interior Painting
Apply the finishing coat only when the undercoat is thoroughly dry. Take care to make this coat smooth and free from brush-marks and with a satisfactory appearance as you put on the paint for many "synthetic finishes" are quick drying and do not allow time for smoothing out. In all painting it is essential that each of the three paint types, priming, undercoating, and finishing should marry together and it is always advisable to obtain all the paints from the same manufacturer.

Painting Old Woodwork

Interior Painting
Old paintwork which is greasy, chalky or dirty but otherwise sound, needs thorough washing before repainting. Sugar soap is to be recommended for this purpose and can be purchased from your local paint store. After washing down with the sugar soap, clean with plenty of water as any of the soap left behind can ruin the new paint. When dry stop all cracks carefully and prime any portions of bare wood followed with undercoating and filler if necessary. Make sure everything is quiet dry before applying the new undercoat. Paintwork which is in bad condition must be burnt-off or stripped with a paint remover and the surface treated as described earlier for new woodwork (Fig.3.) It is important to wash down with white spirit when the paint removal has been effected with spirit remover, or the new priming coat will not adhere properly. Then proceed as for new work.

Wall Finishes

Interior Painting
As previously stated, walls and ceilings can be painted with flat oil paint, and emulsion paints. Flat oil paint.- the secret of obtaining a perfect finish with flat oil paint lies in stopping the suction of the surface being decorated. This can be best done by applying a sealer, which can be purchased under the names of preparatory liquid, petrifying liquid or wall sealer. This sealer should be used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and may not require mixing with the first coat of flat oil paint. After this coat has been applied the surface will present a part glossy appearance. Where there are any portions of the surface which appear to have dried flat this will be due to excessive absorption and these must be touched up with the preparation until a uniform part gloss appearance is presented over the entire wall or ceiling. when completely dry apply the flat oil paint with a large flat brush, approx.4inches, applying in the same way as a emulsion paint by flowing the paint on and not bothering about brush marks, as the paint will flow out of its own accord and dry with a flat finish. Flat oil Painting on old Work.--Thoroughly wash down and remove all loose particles. Fill all cracks and holes with appropriate filling or stopping and apply a first coat consisting of one gallon of flat oil paint mixed with half a gallon of a preparatory liquid and thinned with half a pint of white spirit. When dry apply a finishing coat of flat oil paint in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

General Hints

Interior Painting
Moisture is the chief cause of failure when painting plaster. Water in new plaster work may take months to dry out. There are two rules for painting new plaster work:(1) Let the walls dry thoroughly before decorating, at least six months(2)If you must decorate use an oil-bound washable paint or a porous flat oil paint which will allow the surface to go on drying out. In connection with the actual painting, always buy the best paint and stir it well before use. If there is a skin over it, remove it. Always replace the lid firmly after use. As regards brushes again I advise purchasing the best. Each time they have been used with oil paint clean them well with white spirit, then wash them thoroughly in soapy water and rinse well. Allow them to dry naturally, then wrap in paper and store for future use. Use a 1in. brush for painting a door, 2in. for larger areas, and a 4in. for walls etc. (Fig.4). Dip your brush shallowly into the tin and drag it lightly on the edge as you withdraw it to prevent overcharging the brush and causing splashes. Never leave a brush standing in a tin or jar as this bends the bristles. Drill a hole in the handle, and pass a short piece of wire or knitting needle through it and suspend the brush on this across the mouth of the jar so as to keep the bristles away from the bottom. If you require neater painting than usual as for example, fine work, such as a line separating two colours, slip a rubber band over the bristles of your brush, binding them together, and your painting will have cleaner lines (Fig.5). Protect glass or floors when painting sashes or skirtings with a sheet of cardboard or metal held against the edge of the work, thereby preventing paint from going other than where you want it and ensuring a neater edge with quicker working. In painting a door, first paint the architrave, then the door edge, then the moulding, the panels, and lastly the rails and stiles. In painting a wall paint from right to left in strips approximately 2ft. wide by 3ft. deep and also from top to bottom of each strip (Fig.6). When rubbing down keep your abrasive paper flat. Try wrapping round a wood block or an old tin. When applying oil paint or enamel apply it thinly and brush out thoroughly. When applying emulsion paint apply it generously and brush out as little as possible.

Removing Paint Stains

Interior Painting
To remove paint stains from clothes and fabrics, you must tackle them as they are made. Use white spirit on clean rag, rubbing first around the outside of the stain and then over the stain proper. Eucalyptus oil will remove paint stains from delicate fabrics better than white spirit. Emulsion paint spots should be removed with clean water.

Go Back to Home Page

Always make sure to leave
a clean job at the
end of the day