19th Aug 2021

Painting wooden surfaces is a skill all on its own. Read our helpful guide to make sure you are approaching the challenges in the correct way.

Preparation – Materials and equipment

Firstly, have available clothes you’re ok to work in and coverings for the floor if working indoors or, for example, path/patio slabs if working outdoors. Secondly, have available the appropriate equipment/materials to do the work intended (e.g. good quality brushes or rollers, cleaning fluids such as white spirit, rags/cloths, scrapers, and a sanding device) and include a face mask, especially if sanding down, and eye protection. Thirdly, ensure each working area is well ventilated.

Preparation – Sanding Down

If new wood, a light sanding using an orbital sander with a light-grade grit should be done but the wood should NOT be washed with water as this will then need time to dry out thoroughly before painting. Dust produced by the sanding process should be removed by a vacuum or with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol or, even better, both.

If the wood’s previously been used and painted, again sand it down, initially with a light-grade grit, bearing in mind that the purpose of sanding is to provide a solid base for the new paint so it’s not necessary to remove all previous paint but the finish must be clean and with no loose or flaking areas.


This is a specially formulated paint that’s applied as the first coat, especially on new wood but also can be applied to pre-used/painted wood. Its purpose is to give the new paint an even surface to bond to and provide a consistent finish to the end result. It can be applied with a brush or roller and you should use a good quality primer brand to maximise the final job appearance.

After drying, lightly re-sand the primed area to ensure smoothness and, as before, clean the dust off by vacuuming or wiping with the rag soaked in rubbing alcohol or both.


Only use interior paint for indoors and exterior paint for outdoors. For an even superior finish, use an undercoat over the primer that’s similar in tone to the intended top coat but not identical.

The top coat is the crowning glory and you’ll need to decide whether you want a matt, satin, or full gloss finish. This is when the quality of the paint brush or roller shines through in that top quality tools will make it easier to achieve an attractive end result.

When using a brush, don’t have it overloaded with paint. Stroke the brush in straight lines either horizontally (e.g. on a skirting board) or vertically (e.g. on a door or window frame) in both directions but avoid the temptation to go over it more than once or twice. If using a roller (e.g. on a larger flat surface), again don’t load too much paint and apply it with long strokes in both directions along the grain. As before, don’t re-work the area more than once or twice. It’s important to avoid working in conditions that’ll dry the paint too quickly (e.g. if outside, too much wind or sun and, if inside, too much warmth).


By following these simple steps and recommendations, you can achieve a finish that will be, and remain, not only attractive but also protective for many years.


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