Let the Good Times Roll: Painting Like a Professional Without Having to Pay a Professional

"Did you really paint the house yourselves on The Block NZ?" I still get asked that question! The answer is YES, there was no painting crew who came in after the cameras went away, it was us – Caleb and I averaging about 3.5 hours sleep a night and filming for 66 days without one day off.

A normal response to that situation would probably be “I will never pick up another paint brush again” and yet this year I have painted my way through our outdoor renovation and our rumpus renovation. When it came to our relocatable renovation – I knew we were walking into our biggest painting project to date. It was at that point we considered “maybe we should get a professional in”, then we got a quote for $17,000 which resulted in a very clear decision – if anyone was painting this house, it was going to be us.

I feel like I need to note that our decision to not use a professional isn’t because we don’t endorse painters or the work they do, this is purely about the fact that we struggle to allocate budget to something we can do ourselves. While $17,000 seems like a crazy amount of money, this painting project requires a lot of time and attention to detail. If you are selecting a painter we would recommend not just going with whoever provides the best price, as most of the time the cheapest painter will do the least amount of work which will impact the quality of your paint finish.

If you are like me - free painting labour, I feel your pain but hopefully I can provide you with what I have learnt through my long and unpaid painting career.


Painting 101 : Preparation is more important than Painting

The quality of your paint job means nothing you are painting over surfaces that are in bad condition. If you have not prepared your surfaces you run the risk of having new paint flaking or chipping off, stains showing through under your new paint job and rough surfaces being highlighted by new paint.

Preparation is a process, first removing any surfaces you don’t want (like wallpaper), cleaning all the wall and ceilings, filling all the holes and gaps, sanding back all the surfaces, cleaning away all the dust and then taping for painting.

Stripping Old Wallpaper and Pigmented Sealer

Tools required:         Wallpaper stripping solution, scraper, scorer, bucket and sponge, steamer, pigmented sealer, foam roller, tray and paint brush all from Guthrie Bowron.

Time Required:        Around 80 hours

Technique Required:   

  • Focus the wallpaper stripping on two layers, first removing the wallpaper itself. Depending on its condition you will either scorer and then steam the walls to help lift wallpaper OR soak in solution and scrape off.
  • If you don’t like using strong chemicals, adding a little fabric softener is another option (it also smells great).
  • The next layer is the glue, while it is harder to see, it needs to be removed completely otherwise you run the risk of it chipping off the wall long after you have plastered and painted. Soak the walls and use a scraper to remove.
  • All the surfaces that you have removed wallpaper from need to be sealed with pigmented sealer before the jib stopper will plaster a skim coat.
  • For further advice see our how to video.

Filling Gaps, Sanding Surfaces, Cleaning and Taping for Spray Painting

Tools Required:         Permafilla, No More Gaps, Sanding Blocks, Sugar Soap, Sponge, Painters Rags, Duster Brush, Masking Tape and Masking Sheets from Guthrie Bowron. Sanders and Vacuum for our Tool Shed.

Time Required:         Around 100 hours

Technique Required:   

  • Use no more gaps and gun to fill all the gaps in your scotia, skirtings, door frames and window trims.
  •  Fill all the nail holes and small wall holes with a filler.
  •  Scrape peeling or flaking paint from wall, ceiling or windows and sand back all surfaces. Use sanders for surfaces with existing paint and a foam sanding block for smoothing out the filler.
  • Remove all the dust and dirt from the house, including removing any stains on walls and ceiling. Broom all the floors, dust down all the surfaces and then vacuum. Finally use a wet cloth (or several) to wipe down all the surfaces.
  • Tape and cover all the areas you do not want painted by the paint sprayer. In our case, we removed all the doors and taped all the floors and windows.

Painting 101 : You can completely paint your whole house in two weekends!

For what is a long investment in preparation, we make up for in one weekend with a paint sprayer in hand. The way to achieve this is simple - we paint all our walls AND ceilings in the same white colour with the low sheen finish. While a complete white out isn’t a look everyone will love, it creates a look that works for the way I design and did I mention... it saves so much time!

Painting with an Airless Sprayer

Tools required:         20 litres of Dulux 1 Step Primer, Sealer & Undercoat, 50 litres of Dulux Wash and Wear Kitchen and Bathroom Low Sheen tinted in Mt Aspiring Quarter, Face Mask, Gloves, Painting Suit, 3 days hireage of Paint Sprayer all from Guthrie Bowron. Old Buckets and Cleaning Equipment from our Tool Shed.

Time Required:        Around 12 hours (does not include drying time between coats)

Technique Required:   

  • Start by doing a spray test on piece of jib to find the correct distance to spray from and to adjust the gun as needed. Getting the correct pressure in important for the paint coverage.
  • Prime to whole house with Dulux 1 Step Primer, Sealer & Undercoat, taking time to fully coat all door frames and skirtings.
  • Leave to dry completely then do your first coat of wall paint. To ensure even coverage, keep the gun moving at a steady speed and avoid arcing at the end of your stroke.
  • Don’t use too much paint – it will cause drips and won’t give you the best finish.
  • Leave to dry and then sand between each coat. I would recommend at least 2 coats of wall paint, though we did 3 coats.

Final Coat on Walls and Ceiling and Painting Windows, Door Frames and Skirtings

Tools required:         8 litres Dulux Wash and Wear Kitchen and Bathroom Low Sheen tinted in Mt Aspiring Quarter, Dulux Aquanamel Gloss tinted in Okarito, Maverick Oval Cutter, Two Fussy Blokes Microfiber Roller and Mini Roller Naps, Rollers and Trays, Masking Tape all from Guthrie Bowron. Extendable Pole for Roller from our Tool Shed.

Time Required:         Around 20 hours

Technique Required:   

  • Remove all tape over spray painting.
  • Cut In everywhere on your walls and ceiling where the roller will not reach. Make sure you don’t create any hard lines while you do this, you can use a second brush to thin out any lines as you go.
  • The key to rolling your wall well is to use a quality roller and always having plenty of paint on your roller. To ensure you cover the whole surface use a work light which will highlight where the areas are that do not have paint.
  • Leave to dry
  • Use Purple Delicate Washi Masking to prepare to paint all of your trims. It is important to not use a tape with a strong adhesive on freshly painted walls – no you run the risk of losing your paint along with the masking tape when it is removed.
  • Work with a quality paint brush to paint skirtings.
  • We would recommend Two Fussy Blokes Mini Paint Rollers on windows and door frames. Find out more about this awesome product here.

If you are attempting to paint your house yourself, we would recommend seeking plenty of advice as you go through each step. For the best result, inform your local Guthrie Bowron paint team of your house’s current state and the end result you are wanting to achieve, they will guide you through what you need to do and what products to use. Our relocatable renovation is the ninth house that I have either been the main painter or project manager of a professional team – and experience has taught me every house requires its own unique approach to a painting project.

Thank you Guthrie Bowron for helping us through our painting project.

Posted on December 1, 2017 .