Painting a room can be a most enjoyable task, provided you have prepared the room well before you start. You want the room to be as empty as possible and, obviously, there should be nothing on the walls. If you cannot move everything out of the room, stack it all in the centre and cover it with a dustsheet. Lay dustsheets over the floor, particularly if you have fitted carpets or tiles.

Unless it is a very low room, or you are a very tall person, you will need a stepladder. Even better is a lightweight combination ladder, which can fold into a platform, but this is not essential. You can make a simple, but perfectly safe platform by resting a strong plank across the steps of two stepladders. Do It Yourself Home Decorating

Prepare the surfaces by cleaning them thoroughly. All walls should be washed with sugar soap, but in wall that is showing signs of wear further preparation is necessary. Clean out any cracks, removing loose material. Fill the cracks with a proprietary plaster filler, sanding the area smooth once the filler is dry. Brush any loose material off the wall, using a paint scraper to remove any flaking paint. Lightly sand the wall to make it smooth, being careful not to damage the plaster. Finally wash the wall with sugar soap.

Protect the edges of the skirting board and other wood surrounds by covering them with masking tape.

You will need to give the wall 2 coats of emulsion paint. The first coat can be thinned slightly with water to make it easier to apply, but the second coat should be a relatively thick coat that gives a completely even coverage.You can apply the paint either with a brush or a roller.

Using A Brush

Use a six inch brush with a smaller, two inch one for the edges. Use a good quality brush that will not shed bristles. Do not overload the brush with paint – the rule is "little and often". Dip the first third of the brush into the paint and wipe the brush on the edge of the paint tin as you remove it – this prevents drips and overloading. Try different ways of holding the brush until you find the one that suits you best. Paint the wall with vertical strokes and then with horizontal strokes to make sure there is complete coverage.

The brush should be cleaned each time you have finished using it. Wipe off as much excess paint as you can – you can use old newspaper for this – and then wash the brush in warm soapy water. Give it a final rinse in clear water, shake it well to get rid of excess water and leave it standing upright in a jar so that it can dry. You can obviously use a damp brush when working with emulsion.

Using A Roller

Buy a roller that is about 8 or 9 inches long. You may find that you will also need a small brush, just to finish off round the edges. You can get a number of different sleeves to fit the roller. For the sort of wall we are dealing with here – a smooth, plaster wall, a short pile roller is the best. (If your wall has been papered with a textured paper, use a long haired roller – the sheepskin ones are excellent for this.) You need a special paint tray to use a roller. Fill the reservoir of the tray with paint, dip the roller into it lightly – do not submerge it – and run the roller back and forth over the grooved section of the tray to remove excess paint. Paint the wall by using diagonal strokes, painting in all directions to cover the whole wall surface. Cleaning the roller after use is the disadvantage of using a roller rather than a brush. The roller sleeve has absorbed a great deal of paint. Remove the sleeve and try to press out as much paint as possible, using old newspapers. Then wash the roller in warm soapy water; you will find that you will need several changes of water. Rinse it finally in clean water.

To paint round electric light switches and sockets, loosen the face plate and paint the wall behind it with a small brush. Let the paint dry before replacing the plate.