A Beginner's Guide to Painting


A Beginner’s Guide to painting interior walls with Radical Plastic Free Paint

Tools at the ready!

Here is all you’ll need to complete the job, from beginning to end: 

  • A large, soft fluffy roller and paint tray

  • A 2” angled cutting in brush

  • Filler and a filler tool

  • A scraper and/or a steamer (to remove old wallpaper or flaky paint)

  • Cover sheets (old bedding will do)

  • Masking tape

  • Sugar soap and a sponge for cleaning walls

  • Radical Plastic Free Paint in white or grey - for the base coat

  • Radical Plastic Free Paint in your chosen finish colour

  • Another brand of varnish, wax or trim paint (should you absolutely need to have shiny doors, skirting boards and windows)

  • Lots of motivation, music, drinks, nibbles and friends (they all help!)


Prep your space

Preparation is, without doubt, the most important aspect of the painting process. 


yellow wall with white filler being applied by a trowel


The number one dissatisfaction cited by DIY decorators after painting interior walls is an unsatisfactory finish. And the primary cause of an unsatisfactory finish is skipping or skimping on prepping. 

Just show us the spangly colours already!

We hear you! It can be frustrating having to do this boring stuff. It can even take longer than the fun part (aka the actual painting). But, like any other painstaking preparatory process, it’s definitely necessary, and it most certainly pays off. 

If it helps, just keep thinking of all those wise maxims - “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” “Slow and steady wins the race,“ etc… you get the idea! If this doesn’t help, there’s always the radio to keep you going.

So, in a nutshell, here are the steps you’ll need to take before you even so much as look at a paintbrush.

  1. Move or cover anything you do not want to paint, including the floor;

  2. Remove any old wallpaper or old flaky paint, with a steamer or a scraper; 

  3. Wash the area with warm, soapy water or sugar soap to remove any dust, dirt or marks;

  4. Fill in any holes or dents with filler - you can use a putty knife for this;

  5. Sand the area so that you have a smooth canvas to work on. Even on perfectly flat surfaces you must lightly sand so that the paint has a key to stick to.

  6. Wash the wall again, to remove the dust created by the sanding.

  7. Apply masking tape around skirting boards, door frames, windows, light switches and any other fixtures you don’t want splattered with paint.

HANDY TIP: Do not sand before the first wash, as you’ll simply be rubbing in the dirt, rather than removing it.

Apply your base coat


Yep, it’s tempting to skip this part, too. After all, the surface is now clean and smooth and looks ready to be painted with that long-awaited spangly colour, so why is it so important to apply a pesky base coat?   

Well, there are a couple of excellent reasons, actually.

First, a neutral light grey or white base coat will highlight to the eye any remaining blemishes you’ll need to address before applying the final colour. This will also remove the need to apply extra coats of the finish colour to hide the old colour. 

Second, a neutral surface will ensure that your spangly paint colours show true when you finally get to apply them. 

male painter rollering on base coat of previously prepared yellow wall

Here are a few things to consider when applying a base coat to new plasterboard, when painting over patchy finishes, or when radically changing the existing colour.  

Always use the same type of base coat as the top coat. Different paints can react with each other, which can cause the finish to craze, peel or flake. You can use Radical Plastic Free Paint as a base coat, but we still recommend using either white or grey rather than applying an extra coat of your chosen colour. 

 Allow at least 24 hours after applying the base coat before applying the top coats. This allows sufficient time for most adverse reactions to show themselves.

Do not continue painting if you see any adverse reactions! Contact us for help and guidance.

Test your top coats

It’s finally time to dig out that paint brush. Yay!

At this point, we recommend testing your top coats to see how well they’re covering. This will help you judge how many coats you’ll need and to check that you have enough paint to finish the job, should additional coats be required. It’ll also give you an opportunity to make sure you’re completely happy with your colour choice on the wall.

Work on a metre square patch of wall in the corner of a well-lit area, feathering the edges as you paint. If you decide you hate the colour (perhaps it’s a bit too spangly after all...), paint over the patch with another base coat before starting again with a new colour. 

This may seem like a bit of a faff, but it’s much less of a faff than having to repaint an entire room once you realise the midnight blue you decided on for the baby’s nursery might actually give him nightmares. 

Remember that, once opened, tins of paint can’t be returned, so it really is in your best interests to purchase a small pot and test it out first, just in case.

Apply your top coats

Use either a paintbrush or a roller to apply your Radical Plastic Free Paint. Or, if you prefer, you can dilute it with 10% water and spray paint your walls instead. We recommend using a roller for a nice even finish. Don’t forget to stir the paint with a wooden stick when you first open the tin.

Follow these steps for a paint job that’s so impressive your visitors will assume you’ve had pro decorators in. 

Check your walls are completely dry

Applying more paint to walls that are still wet can cause streaks, bubbles and pitting.

Paint your ceiling

When painting a room, always work from the top down - from the ceiling to the floor. Apply one or two coats to the ceiling, with a brush or roller, starting from one corner and working outwards. Try to paint in smooth straight lines in one direction. 

With a textured ceiling, it’s best to work in a W shape. This will help to ensure that you cover the surface fully.

Allow to dry and paint again if necessary

Once the first coat is dry, it should be obvious whether you’ll need to apply a second coat. Two coats should be enough to cover a ceiling in most cases. 

Cutting in

Before you rush in to paint the walls, you’ll need to paint a 2” border around the edges. This helps to achieve those crisp lines along the crease line where the walls and ceiling meet. It’s best to use a 2” angled brush for this.

There shouldn’t be too much paint on your brush - if it’s dripping, there’s too much. You can remove excess paint by dragging the bristles of your brush on the edge of your tin or tray. You’ll get better results by applying more thin strokes than one thick blob - and this is actually quicker too.

When cutting in, paint in a crescent shape, but avoid starting at the edge with a newly loaded brush. Start slightly away from the line of the wall, track the line for a few inches, then gradually pull away and toward yourself. At first, you may notice there is more paint at the top of the crescent than at the bottom. Just smooth out the paint to broaden the line, then reload your brush and continue.

You’ll find that you can draw longer crescent lines with a single, linear brush stroke as you get more experienced. If you make a mistake and get paint where you don’t want it to be, simply wipe it away immediately with a damp rag.

Paint in squares

OK, so here comes the really fun part - finally! You are now officially ready to apply your top coats.

man painting grey over primed painted all

Paint in squares, overlapping each one slightly to keep track of where you’ve already painted. Apply one coat of paint to each wall, as thinly as possible. If the paint is running down your brush or dripping off your roller, you have too much on it. It’s better to use up a litre of paint on two coats, rather than one coat! 

Leave to dry

Radical paint will be dry to the touch within one hour, but we recommend you wait 2-4 hours before applying that second coat. After that, it will need another 12-24 hours to cure.

Depending on the colour of your chosen paint and how well you’ve applied the base coat, you may find that one coat is enough. In most cases, though, you’ll need to apply a second coat to bring out the true colour of the paint.

Keep going until coverage is A1

Should you find that the second coat is not enough, you’ll need to keep going until full coverage is achieved. This is often necessary when painting with very dark colours, when trying to cover bright colours with lighter tones, or when the base coat stage has been skipped. See our article about dark and bright colours for more information regarding coverage.

Cleaning up

Clean all tools and equipment thoroughly in warm, soapy water, immediately after painting.

Paint your trims

Once you’ve finished painting your ceiling and walls, it’s time to paint your skirting boards, doors, and window frames. 

Most other paint brands offer “trim paint” for these areas as they are harder wearing and easier to clean than wall paint.

This is not the case with Radical Plastic Free Paint, though. Radical Paint is both a wall paint and a trim paint combined. Our paint is only available in matt, as it’s currently not possible to produce gloss paint without adding plastics or nasty chemicals. You have a few options at this point. 

  1. Commit to matt and use Radical Paint in your chosen trim colour, After all, who said trims must shine!

  2. Apply natural wax over Radical Paint and buff it to a soft sheen;

  3. Apply a clear varnish over the top coat and don’t beat yourself up about it. You can be happy knowing that you’ve already reduced the amount of plastic on your walls by over 90%;

  4. If you don’t fancy that idea, buy a trim paint from another company. It may not be plastic free or low in VOCs, but you have already taken a huge leap forward and should be very pleased with yourself.

HANDY TIP: Remember that old trim paint is usually quite hard, and it will require more robust sanding than walls at the prep stage. You absolutely must remove the shine from the trims before painting.

Sit back and admire your work

lady sat on sofa drinking tea with painter looking down on her

That’s it! Job done. Now, pour yourself a glass of something celebratory and take some time to kick back and relax after all your hard work.  To be fair, you can do this bit at any time throughout the job!

You will be able to move your furniture back into the room within 12-24 hours. Radical PF Paint will reach full hardness and washability within five days. We’ve found that warm soapy water alone will remove most marks, including oil and cooking splatters, so you’ll only need to use chemical cleaning products when absolutely necessary.

Be sure to keep the area well ventilated for a full five days to allow all the VOCs to evaporate. When you can no longer smell the strong odour emanating from the room, the harmful VOCs should be gone. Read our article about odourless paint to see why your nose is the best guide, and why we consider odourless paint to be a misnomer!

Which surfaces can you paint with Radical Plastic Free Paint?

Radical paint has amazing grip power, which means it can adhere to almost any surface. It works as a primer, a base coat and as a top coat.  

However, no paint likes shiny smooth surfaces (such as plastic trims, ceramics and metal objects), and these surfaces must be well sanded to provide a key for the paint to stick to. 

Radical Plastic Free Paint can be used on most types of interior surfaces, including (but not limited to):

  • Plasterboard
  • Dry wall
  • Wallpaper
  • Kitchen cupboard doors
  • Wood (including wooden furniture)
  • Radiators
  • Metal
  • Ornaments 

We have not yet fully tested Radical Paint for exterior painting, so we don’t currently recommend using it outside of the home or office. We have done some limited testing on garden furniture, which has proven to be very successful.

Always test surfaces to be painted, as chemical reactions can, and do, occur with any paint.

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