From painting walls to narrow window frames, using the right techniques will not only achieve a more professional finish but also help your paint go further.

It’s all in the detail

After you’ve taped the areas you don’t need to paint, select a small cutting-in brush to paint the bits a roller can’t quite reach, like window frames and corners.

When dipping the brush into your paint container, put no more than 3-5cm of the brush into the paint to reduce the chance of drips. Tapping the brush on the side of the paint pot, as opposed to scraping it, will help to remove excess paint, ensuring you have the perfect amount on your brush every time.

The fine bristles of a cutting-in brush allow for sharp, consistent straight lines and prevent any paint from bleeding through your masking tape. Use long, careful brushstrokes with a generous dash of paint, spreading the coating evenly across the surface.

The same technique can be applied to painting skirting boards, around pipes or electrical fittings.

Rolling right

A roller reduces painting time and makes your paint go further because it applies the paint evenly.

A roller is essential for any flat surfaces. It cuts down on time and makes your paint go further because it applies the paint evenly.

Spraying your roller with a light coating of water reduces the chance of it shedding fluff and increases paint absorption. After you’ve filled one third of your roller tray, dip your roller into the paint and get an even coating with a few quick rolls on the textured part of the tray.

Strokes with your roller vary slightly depending on the surface. If you’re painting a wall or door, keep gravity in mind: upward strokes prevent dripping, giving a more even application. On floors, it’s good practice to work from back to front across the surface. Using a considered system ensures an even coating. A general rule of thumb is to paint in broad ‘W’ shapes to avoid overlaps.

Rollers do the legwork for large surfaces. For any tight corners or edges, it’s best to switch to a cutting-in or fitch brush.

To find out more about all the tools you’ll need for your paint project, have a read of our guide: Our guide to rollers, brushes and extra kit.

Strokes for uneven surfaces

Using a synthetic brush is best for uneven surfaces as it creates smooth strokes and coats surface contours.

From brickwork to wooden tables, there are some surfaces on which a roller can’t be used. The best brush for these jobs is synthetic as it creates smooth strokes and will coat the intricate surface contours. For solvent-based paint, use a natural-bristle brush. If you’re dealing with any raw, unpainted surfaces, apply a coat of primer before painting.

Dip your brush one third of the way up its bristles to get a generous coating of paint and use broad strokes, remembering to stroke upwards on vertical surfaces. Wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second. If you’re changing the colour from one distinct shade to another – dark blue to cream for example – you may need more than one coat or a primer.

Post-painting tips to make clearing up easy

When you’ve finished a painting project, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend a long time cleaning. To save time, scrape as much as paint as possible from the brush on the edge of the paint can.

To clean a roller, scrape as much paint off with a paint roller scraper before washing. Research has shown that this not only halves the amount of water used to clean the roller but also the time taken to clean it.

Getting creative with leftover paint

Painting wooden chairs is a great way to use up leftover paint and complement the colours on your walls.

Once your walls are beautifully painted, you might have some paint left in the tin. This doesn’t have to go to waste. From plant pots to wooden chairs, adding a splash of colour to furniture and accessories will complement the colours you’ve chosen for your walls. Take a look at our ideas to help your paint go further: 7 inventive ideas for using up leftover paint.