New to painting? Learn more here...
Is this your first home renovation project, or were you dissatisfied with the standard of your last paint job?
Fear not, help is at hand!
Understanding the basics
Painting your own home isn't hard. You just need to apply some common sense.
Paint will adhere better, and therefore last longer, if it's applied to a clean, dry surface that has a little bit of roughness for the paint to "grab" on to, and no loose or powdery material. If your surface already has these qualities you can get straight onto painting.
But if there are surface imperfections like holes or bumps or textured areas, it's unlikely that paint will cover them. That's where surface preparation comes in.
Do I need to sand before painting?
The happy news is "Generally no". In most cases all you need to do is ensure that the surface is clean, by washing it down with some soapy water then rinsing it with clear water.
But sanding will still be required if:
- there is unevenness in the surface that you don't want to show up, or
- the surface is bubbling, flaking, or peeling.
If you paint over paint that is flaking or peeling, the new coat of paint will cling to the flaking surface, but when the flaking surface comes away from the base you'll end up with holes in your paint.
If some of the paint is loose but other patches are firmly attached, you can just scrape and sand the loose sections. If you want a nice finish you'll either need to sand the edges of the remaining paint so there is no "step" down to the base surface, or spread a thin coat of polyfiller over the surface to create a gentle slope between the sections with old paint and the sections that you’ve sanded or scraped back to the surface underneath.
What should I do about cracks and nail holes?
Buy some polyfiller from the hardware store. We recommend the powdered product sold in plastic bags because there will be little waste and it will keep for years if it is stored wrapped tightly to keep moisture out. The tubs of premixed filler often dry up between the first and second use and need to be discarded. Premix is also more expensive than powdered mix for the same quantity...and there is less plastic packaging (win win win!).
Tip some polyfiller powder into a clean empty container, such as an old takeaway food container, add water slowly and mix until it forms a thick paste like cream cheese or miso.
Use a butter knife from the kitchen or a palette knife from the hardware store to press a generous amount of filler into the crack or hole. Overfill it so the fill is above the level of the surrounding surface.
A couple of hours later (perhaps a bit longer if the air is very humid) you will be able to sand back the excess filler with very little effort, leaving a lovely even surface.
Once you paint over the patched area, you won't even be able to see where it was. Magic.
Which kind of paint should I use?
We have provided some information on each product listing about suitable uses for the paint, and reasons why you might choose that type of paint or prefer another type.
The basic rule is this: you can use exterior paint to paint interior surfaces, but you cannot use interior paint outside.
Exterior paint includes additives that make it resistant to fading, and also has polymers that expand and contract when the temperature changes, making exterior paint unlikely to crack and peel. Exterior paint also contains anti-mould agents. This is not the case for interior paints, so an interior paint used outside won't be durable enough to withstand exposure to the elements.
Water-based enamels are suitable for interior and exterior use, so you will find that all of this stock is displayed in your search results regardless of whether you select "Interior" or "Exterior" paints in your filters.
What will I need on hand to start painting?
1. Paint (obviously), including primer if you are painting a surface that has never been painted before, and including an undercoat if you are going from a dark colour to a light one.
2. One or more rollers (a wide roller for walls, and a narrow roller for woodwork)
3. A paint tray that is the right size for your roller/s (check this! There are many different roller and tray widths!!)
4. An angled brush for cutting in the edges.
5. Two buckets for washing out rollers and brushes (one for the first wash, and one for the rinsing).
6. A small bag of flocculant (Aluminium Sulphate / alum - we sell it for 50 cents a bag) to separate your suspended paint from the brush washing water, and ideally a bit of Bicarb Soda too so the flocculate works optimally.
7. Newspaper or other waste paper for running out rollers and brushes before washing.
8. Sandpaper and a sanding block - only required if your surface isn't already smooth and free of flaking or peeling paint.
9. A drop sheet - ideally use some waste plastic or thick fabric like an old curtain.
10. Rags to wipe up drips and to wipe your hands.
11. Soap and a source of water.
12. Music. Because painting is more fun if you're dancing.
If you need to scrape and sand back flaking paint, please ensure that you catch the paint flakes on a dropsheet, and transfer the flakes and dust to your landfill bin. Dried paint flakes that enter our stormwater drains are a significant source of the microplastics polluting our oceans.
How much paint will I need?
Great question! You are going to have to do some maths, and you're going to have to use some judgement. Paint calculators ask you to work out the number of square metres to be painted.
But even if you can accurately calculate the area to be painted, the true answer to the question of "How much?" is "it depends". It depends on how big a change in colour you're wanting to make, and on the roughness of the surface you're painting.
Smoother surfaces use less paint than rougher surfaces simply because there is less surface area to be painted.
If you are painting a similar colour over the base surface, you will need much less paint than if you are changing the colour significantly. Going from light to dark requires much less paint than going from dark to light.
If you wish to cover a dark colour with a lighter one, we strongly recommend that you purchase an undercoat and apply that before the paint in the new colour. You will end up using less paint and spending less money this way. In the absence of undercoat, it's terrifying how many coats of off-white wall paint you will need to erase that hideous purple that someone painted your room.
You should generally assume that two coats of paint will be required to get an even finish.
The volume calculators provided by paint manufacturers err on the side of generous, meaning you will probably end up with waste paint if you follow their guidance. Please consider the advice above when deciding whether to adjust the volumes suggested by paint manufacturers. As a rough guide, we'd suggest that you'll probably need 20% less paint than the calculator says if you're painting a smooth surface and not making a significant colour change. You may need 50% to 75% more paint if you are painting a rough surface.
Here are some of the paint volume calculators available online:
Can I apply water-based paint over oil-based paint?
The general view is that this isn’t a great idea, because the water-based (acrylic) paint has a bit of trouble adhering to the oil-based paint surface.
The solution is giving the surface a light sand, remove the dust, then apply a coat of primer (undercoat) and allow it to dry before you start applying the water-based paint.