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26 Mar 2021

How to paint your living room or bedroom for £100, even if you've never done it before

To give your space a new lease of life with a fresh lick of paint, follow our top tips for DIY decorating success
Couple painting a wall

Updated 1 April 2021

A fresh coat of paint in your living room or bedroom can transform your space, making it look new or updating your home's style. If you're embarking on this project for the first time this Easter bank holiday, expect to spend a minimum of £100 on DIY decorating essentials.

This can cover buying the basic decorating equipment and paint you'll need to repaint your bedroom or living room yourself. We've compared prices of a basket of decorating essentials from popular DIY stores to help you get started.

The colour you choose for your walls will set the tone of your living or sleeping space, whether that's relaxing, vibrant, energising or peaceful.

To give you an idea of the costs, we've also rounded-up the prices of best-selling branded and own-brand emulsion paints from B&Q, Homebase and Wickes.

All three DIY stores currently have offers on certain emulsion paints - use our research to check whether they'll save you money.

Plus we asked a painting and decorating firm and Which? Trusted Trader of the year for tips on how to paint your room like a pro.

For decorating inspiration, see our kitchen design ideas, fitted wardrobe inspiration and home office ideas.

Person shopping for paint in a DIY store
Cheapest retailers to buy painting and decorating essentials

If this is your first time decorating, besides paint, here's what you'll need, according to a Trusted Trader painter and decorator:

  • 2u201d and 3u201d paint brushes
  • 9u201d roller and sleeve
  • Paint scuttle
  • Painter's pole
  • Dust sheet
  • Multi-purpose filler
  • Brush cleaner or white spirit
  • Sandpaper

Below we've compared the prices of these decorating essentials in popular DIY stores. We chose the cheapest equivalent option we could find of each product, including own-branded items where available.

DIY retailerTotal cost (excluding paint)Total cost including 10l white emulsion, 2.5l undercoat and 2.5l gloss

Footnote: Prices are from an independent pricing website, averaged over three months from November 2020 to February 2021 and rounded to the nearest whole pound. Cheapest product of each type included, excluding single-use paintbrushes and trays.

Our basket of decorating essentials cost £20 more at Screwfix compared with B&Q and Homebase. But with paint included, Wickes was the cheapest store by a small margin.

But DIY stores don't sell identical products. For example it was cheapest to buy a set containing a roller and sleeve at B&Q, Homebase and Wickes whereas you'd need to buy them separately in Screwfix and Toolstation.

Toolstation did not sell own-brand paint and sold sandpaper in 10m rolls only during our research, whereas the other shops sold 5m rolls.

Besides pricing, find out which stores customers rated the best DIY and decorating shops.

Besides these you'll need your choice of paint for the walls, ceilings and woodwork, plus a ladder to reach tricky spots. We've not included the costs of these above - keep reading for the cheapest places to buy popular Dulux and Crown paints.

Dulux polished pebble matt emulsion paint
Cheapest Dulux emulsion paint

Dulux's Polished Pebble Matt Emulsion is the best-selling emulsion at both B&Q and Wickes (and the bestselling coloured emulsion at Homebase).

You'll need at least eight litres to paint the walls of a room that's 3.5x4m, and it's a good idea to allow some extra (around 10%) for errors and wastage. This is based on paint which covers 10m2 per litre so check the paint you choose.

It cost the same (£26 for a 5l tin) in B&Q, Homebase and Wickes between November 2020 and February 2021. That adds up to £52 for 10l - enough to paint our room.

But if you're able to get to more than one DIY retailer, keep an eye out for promotions. In 5l tins, this Dulux paint was on promotion somewhere for a third of the time between February 2018 and February 2021.

Dulux Polished Pebble Matt EmulsionB&QHomebaseWickes
Number of weeks on promotion, 5l243317
Number of weeks on promotion, 2.5l165997

Footnote: Prices are from an independent pricing website between February 2018 to February 2021. Screwfix and Toolstation didn't sell this paint when we checked.

Promotions for 5l tins included 3 for 2 and Buy One Get One Half Price, which can be handy if you need several tins. But before you buy, check whether the promotion will save you money compared with the usual price across stores (£26).

In 2.5l tins, it was on promotion at one store or another for 79% of the time over three years.

As a general rule, it's more cost-effective to buy the paint in bigger 5l tins. For 10l it cost £20 more to buy Dulux's Polished Pebble in 2.5l tins compared with 5l tins at one major DIY retailer.

So it's worth calculating how much you're likely to need in advance so you don't need to buy several smaller tins to finish the job.

Wall murals can add excitement and colour to your room - see wall mural inspiration and other lockdown DIY projects.

Crown Paint pure brilliant white matt emulsion
Cheapest Crown Paint

Crown Paint's Pure Brilliant White Matt Emulsion is the best-selling branded white emulsion at Homebase. It comes in 10l tins, which should be more than enough to paint the ceiling of most rooms.

Crown Pure Brilliant White Emulsion, 10lB&QHomebaseScrewfixWickes
Number of weeks on promotion0253835

Footnote: Prices are from an independent pricing website between February 2018 to February 2021. Toolstation didn't sell this paint when we checked.

As with Dulux, keep an eye out for offers. This Crown paint was on promotion for half the time it was available in stores overall.

Popular alternative own-brand paints

B&Q, Homebase and Wickes all sell own-brand emulsion paint, as well as Dulux, Crown and others. Own-brand paint is typically cheaper - we've compared the cost of painting a room with these paints compared with the bestselling Dulux paint above:

  • B&Q's most popular emulsion is Good Home Walls & Ceilings Hamptons Matt Emulsion (£20 for 5l), £12 less than Dulux to paint a room
  • Homebase's most popular emulsion is Homebase Matt Paint in Pure Brilliant White (£8 for 2.5l), £18 less than Dulux to paint a room, and Homebase Matt Paint in Feather Grey (£13 for 2.5l), the same as Dulux to paint a room
  • Wickes' most popular emulsion is Wickes Urban Nights No.240 Vinyl Matt Emulsion Paint (£12 for 2.5l), £2 less than Dulux to paint a room

Tin of orange paint, paintbrush and roller
Should I buy decorating supplies on Amazon?

Amazon sells decorating essentials, including paint brushes, paint rollers and paint. We found that it did not consistently sell the full basket of goods we were looking for, however, so it's not included in our price comparison.

While it did sell cheaper 2.5l tins of Dulux's Polished Pebble Matt Emulsion paint than B&Q, Homebase and Wickes, Amazon did not sell the larger 5l tins directly.

Amazon Marketplace was not included in our research.

Man painting a wall in a v or W shape
How to paint a room: Which? Trusted Trader decorating tips

We spoke to Shaun McKay from Which? Trusted Trader Splash of Colour Painters & Decorators Ltd, for tips on painting your room like a pro.

He said: 'Remove all furniture from the room. If you don't have space, cover it with dust sheets. Put a drop cloth underneath the area you're painting. Paint drips have a tendency to sneak onto your floor no matter how careful you are so it's better to be safe than sorry.'

Before you start, prepare all surfaces:

  • Dust down the walls and sand down any uneven patches
  • Remove any old nails or screws, filling in the gaps with a multi-purpose filler
  • Sand all woodwork including doors, facings, skirting boards, windows

Painting a door frame
Shaun explains that the correct order to decorate your room is:

  1. Paint the ceiling with two coats of emulsion
  2. Paint the walls
  3. Paint the woodwork (windows, doors and skirting boards) with one coat of undercoat and one top coat (e.g. satinwood, eggshell or gloss)

Tips to get the best finish when painting your walls:

  • Cut the colour in like a picture frame around the edge of the wall, then roll the walls
  • Leave the first cost of paint to dry, then apply a second coat
  • Use your roller in a V or W-shape, upwards and then downwards. This will give you an even, stripe-free finish

If you're not confident to decorate your home yourself, or want a professional finish, find painters and decorators near you using Which? Trusted Traders.