24/7 Support  01727 226666

Find a Branch

Lawsons are the largest independent timber, building & fencing merchants in London and the South East of England. Established in 1921 Lawsons now have a number of branches offering the complete range of building materials.

Find Your Nearest Branch

Decorating Tips and Tricks from the Professionals

Painting and decorating is one of those skills at which many try their hand and few succeed. This is usually down to underestimating the importance of preparation rather than a lack of skill or ability.

There are certain tricks of the trade which when taken heed of, will ensure that your DIY decorating job looks as good as a professional job.


The necessary supplies listed here are all equally important. Don’t skimp when it comes to ensuring you’ve got the right gear – that’s part of what will set your DIY decorating apart from the amateurs.

You will need the following if you’re tackling at least one room and this is assuming you do not need to scrape off any old wallpaper or fill any holes!

  • Drop sheets; enough to cover floors and any furniture too large or cumbersome to remove entirely
  • Stepladders
  • A good selection of high quality brushes in a variety of sizes
  • Paint roller
  • 2 Paint trays to enable fast colour changes
  • Sanding paper and block
  • Masking tape
  • 2 Paint cans known as a ‘kettle’ in the trade (any old container will do but don’t choose one that’s too large and try to find one with a handle)
  • Clingfilm; Professional decorators rarely use roller covers or the like, preferring instead to wrap unused rollers and brushes in Clingfilm which will stop oil based paints from drying hard
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment


  • Primer; this is to cover any existing colour
  • Interior paint; this is your main colour
  • Gloss, satin or eggshell; for doors, skirting and frames

Your personal taste as well as the needs of your household will direct your paint choices to some extent. Easy to clean paints are best for families with children and pets.


As mentioned earlier, preparation is the key to a really professional finish and if you skimp on this, it will show in your final result.

Remove any furniture from its usual place and assemble in the centre of the room. If your room is not large then it will be preferable to remove it from the space entirely.

Cover carpets and remaining furniture with drop sheets and apply masking tape to the edges of your flooring.

Now it’s time to prep your surfaces by ‘keying’ them. You can use a fine sandpaper to just remove the shine from the woodwork. Vacuum as you go to ensure that the dust does not settle all over surfaces and ruin your paint finish.


If you can find an assistant it’s a good idea to ask them to hold the vacuum nozzle close to the area which you’re sanding, this ensure that most of the dust is removed before it can infiltrate too much. Always wear a mask when sanding.

Once you’ve completed the woodwork preparation, it’s time to open that paint up!

Painting tips

  • Ceilings come first; ceilings are the trickiest part of painting a room for many people, owing to the awkward position and to the height; make sure your stepladders are in good condition before you start and always have someone at the foot!
  • Cut in the edges of the ceiling where it meets the walls first; do this with an angled brush. Once that’s complete then you can take your roller and put your first coat on.
  • While the ceiling dries, you can move onto the walls; again begin with the brush and cut in, only using the roller once the cutting in is complete.
  • Once the walls are painted, you can now add your second ceiling coat. Again, wait for the walls to be dry before adding a second coat to them.
  • Move onto your woodwork and if you are using gloss, be very careful not to ‘overwork’ the paint. Take broad strokes and let the brush do the work. Don’t be tempted to ‘go over’ areas which look streaky, you will make it worse. Wait until you apply a second coat and if you use the right amount of paint, any first-coat-mistakes will be covered up.

Take your time with your decorating; don’t be tempted to rush or to cut corners or your room will look badly finished.

Set aside a complete day for your first ever attempt so that you know you can dedicate yourself completely to the task at hand.

Visit Lawsons today to see their wide range of paints and accessories and get your DIY decoration off to a flying start.