Don’t be out of order when you’re decorating. Here are the right steps to follow to turn your blank canvas into a masterpiece when you’re making over…

Doing things in the correct order saves time, money and a lot of unnecessary hassle when it comes to decorating your home. Yet it’s surprising just how many eager DIYers embark on their interior projects without thinking of doing things in the right order…then need to destroy their beautiful new job in order to install wiring they should have done first, or end up with bodged results that certainly won’t make it to Instagram.

All professionals know the correct order to do things and follow some simple rules to do jobs they’re proud of and more importantly, their customers love.

We carried out research with our bank of pro painters and decorators, plus plasterers and electricians, to bring you this ultimate guide to doing your decorating jobs in the right way. Here’s what we found, in no particular order…

If you’re plastering first

  1. Remove the skirting, dado rail and picture rail.
  2. Get rid of any loose plaster.
  3. Chase out walls for any new sockets and light switches you may be fitting.
  4. Fix back plates for your electrical, then run wires to where they need to go.
  5. Make sure any bare wires are properly sheathed.
  6. Prime walls for plastering.
  7. Replaster room.
  8. Wait for plaster to dry. This can take up to two weeks, you’ll know when it’s dry when it turns a uniform lighter colour.

How to paint a room

  1. Move all furniture out and take any pictures down. Don’t forget the lampshade.
  2. Scrape away old paint, grouting or filler from any cracks.
  3. Sanding your floor? Do this now.
  4. Put down dust sheets on the floor, then use tape and old newspaper to mask the windowsills.
  5. Use filler or decorator’s caulk to fill any cracks or holes, and gaps around windows, doors and skirting boards.
  6. Cut in your edges first. That’s where your wall colour will meet any woodwork or ceiling coving.
  7. Always start from the TOP of any wall, and work downwards in this order: Ceiling, walls, skirting boards, windows and doors.
  8. Paint the large areas of your walls or ceiling.
  9. Do the floor last if you’re painting or varnishing it.
  10. Clean up.
  11. Stand back and admire a perfect job!

How to wallpaper a room

  1. Figure out how much wallpaper you’ll need.  Add the lengths of the wall together, then multiply this number the height to work out the area.
  2. Move all furniture out and take the pictures down. Don’t forget the lampshade.
  3. Scrape away old paint, grouting or filler from any cracks.
  4. Sanding your floor? Do this now.
  5. Put down dust sheets on the floor, then use tape and old newspaper to mask the windowsills.
  6. Prepare the walls. Remove electrical fittings like plugs and light switches loosely with a screwdriver, then tape over the outlets to protect them. Turn off the electricity to make sure they are safe while you’re working.
  7. Remove any old wallpaper with a steamer and wallpaper stripper.
  8. Give the walls a good clean.
  9. Use filler or decorator’s caulk to fill any cracks or holes, and gaps around windows, doors and skirting boards.
  10. Prime the walls with a primer or stain killer to give your wallpaper a good key to adhere to.
  11. Mark a vertical guideline on the wall using a plumb line and chalk. Start around 5cms from the doorway. Measure a distance that’s 2 inches (5.08 cm) shorter than the width of the paper on the wall next to the doorway. You’ll start hanging your paper from this line.
  12. Cut a length of the wallpaper around 10cm longer than the wall, then paste the back of this strip.
  13. Line up the paper against your line, then press against wall leaving around 5cm overhang at the top and bottom. Trim to fit with a sharp knife or scissors.
  14. Gently flatten with a wallpaper brush.
  15. Continue hanging your paper in the same way around the room. Cut paper to fit into any plug and light switch recesses with a sharp knife.
  16. Use a seam roller to press down each on each wallpaper seam, then clean off any excess paste off with a damp sponge.
  17. Clean up.
  18. Stand back and admire a perfect job!

In a fix?

You may have heard decorators and home improvers talking about ‘first fix’ and second fix’. But do you actually know the definitions of these terms? It’s important to know exactly what they cover, particularly if you’re briefing a plumber or electrician prior to decorating your room. Here are the definitions most tradespeople agree on:

First fix means all the work needed in a building from foundations to plastering the walls. This means anything within walls, floors and ceilings, like wiring for cables for electric and pipes for water.

Second fix means any jobs needed after the plastering is completed. Usually the things you can see such as sinks and baths, doors fitted into doorframes and electrical switches or outlets fitted and connected at the consumer unit.

Just to confuse things further, there’s sometimes a third fix. This happens when messy work is still happening during the second fix to avoid damaging any fragile fittings like top-end home entertainment systems or valuable light fittings.

And finally, remember: more preparation means less perspiration

Yes, it’s a cliché but one that’s very true: Fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail. Always spend more time on preparation than you would actually doing the decorating itself. In fact, the professionals tell us they spend around 70% of each job on the prep work to help the painting or wallpapering go smoothly.

Need help painting and decorating? Download the free Smoove Move app from the App Store or Google Play and find trusted local professionals to help you transform your new home.