Painters and Decorators in London

Painters and Decorators in London

Painting dark rooms

Dark, dreary rooms need not be a problem if you decorate them with imagination. Use colour as your main ally, together with well planned lighting and mirrors, to conjure up a feeling of more light. Extra windows, naturally, are the best way of letting in more light to dark rooms, and you may be able to afford to alter or enlarge the windows in your house. This is more of an upheaval than ingenious decorative treatments, however, and entails structural alterations. Plan what you are going to do. If one of the rooms in your house is dark, and you want to brighten it up, don’t simply increase the wattage in all the light bulbs and paint the walls and ceiling white. There are more subtle-and more effective-treatments for dreary areas, and each room must be dealt with according to its function, shape and size.

Using colour

You can obtain colour charts specially planned to help you create light colour schemes for dark rooms. Different rooms need different treatments, so consider what effect you want to achieve before you go ahead. For instance, an all-white scheme in a living room can make it seem light and airy, but an all-white bathroom would be cold and clinical without the addition of bright pictures, towels and other accessories. Choose cheerful colours like daffodil yellow for tall, dark rooms, or brighten them up with a gay wallpaper, paint the ceiling in one of the paler colours of the wallpaper and use masses of white on the woodwork and furniture.

Low, dark rooms often look best with a white ceiling, but if you want to paint it the same colour as the walls, you can avoid a lowering effect by picking out the cornice in brilliant white, and add bright-looking furniture in white, sky blue or yellow. Using bold colours in a dark room needs special care. Bright red in a small hall looks warm and welcoming, but it can also look dark unless it is mixed with a lot of white plus a big mirror and strong lighting. Remember that pale colours like white, grey and pastel blue are space givers, whereas more dense colours like emerald green and scarlet or orange advance, making a room seem smaller. In the northern hemisphere, north- and east-facing rooms need warm colours to help them feel sunny, so yellows and oranges are good dominant colours. South and west facing rooms will be sunny anyway, even if they are dark, so you can safely use cooler colours like white, pale blue or very pale green. Heavy colours like black and deep brown should be used sparingly in a dark room, although one wall covered in chocolate brown hessian will give a warm feel to a room.

A black-covered kitchen bench could be too sombre in a dark kitchen, but if you choose orange, blue, or even white, the worktop will act as a reflective surface, making the dull room lighter. Window treatments Enlarging windows is the most positive way of creating more light in dark rooms. If you don’t want to widen your windows, a less major operation is to lengthen them to floor level and put in French windows in the basement and ground floor rooms. Long windows can also be put in bedrooms, but this is not a good idea in a child’s room. A small fake balcony outside, attached to a strong pair of brackets, will make the window look more natural; this could take the form of a wrought iron railing, or a big painted brass fender with room for a trough of flowers inside. To catch more light in a ground floor room, change a plain window for a bow-shaped one, or a larger bay window. Installing a bay window would mean extending the walls outwards to take in the shape of the bay. You can add more light fairly simply by changing the type of window inside the original frame.

Small-paned or leaded windows can be replaced by ones with larger panes, but remember that the glass will be more expensive to replace if it gets broken. Many Edwardian houses still have coloured or stained glass panes, particularly in hall or living room windows. If you swap these for plain glass, more light is easily let in. Remember that altering a window will change the whole appearance of a house from the outside. Well thought-out enlarged windows will add a feeling of light both inside and outside the house. But windows that do not blend with the design of the house, especially if it is a decidedly period one, can ruin an otherwise attractive front, although they may improve matters inside.

Curtains and blinds
The main rule to remember in a dark room is never to use dark curtains or blinds. Light window coverings will help reflect what daylight there is in the room. Don’t half-draw curtains; instead, make the rail long enough so that the curtains can be pulled back to clear the edge of the window frame, thus letting in as much light as possible. Blinds are particularly good in dark rooms because they can be neatly rolled up in the daytime so that they don’t obscure the light at all. Shutters are another good choice, because they fold neatly out of the way. In a dark bathroom, you can make your own shutters out of figured hardboard, painted white, or use white-painted louvred shutters. They can be left closed during the day for privacy and will still let in a certain amount of light which can be supplemented by a concealed tungsten strip light behind them if necessary. It is best to keep the feeling of light coming through a window in a dark room by painting the frame white, both inside and out. If you need net curtains, choose a crisp white rather than a pastel shade; the heavy fish net type let in more light than the more dense plain ones. A pretty effect can be achieved by using a thick Nottingham lace with a fairly open pattern to let in the light.

Wall finishes

One of the high quality, and consequently more expensive, wall finishes is hessian. This is a natural woven material which comes dyed in solid colours with or without paper backing. Hanging requires care and patience, especially with the backless type, as the special adhesive used tends to penetrate the material and appear on the surface in uneven patches. A hessian covered wall has a warmth and character quite distinct from that of vinyl and paper decorations, but being a natural fabric, it is more difficult to clean.

Another rather costly, but high quality, wall finish which offers an unusual and pleasing appearance, is composed of very thin slices of decorative hardwood mounted on a flexible backing. The thinness and small size of the wood pieces enables the paper to be hung in the same way as woven materials, again using a special adhesive. It can also be used loose as a screen or blind.

Natural grass papers enjoyed popularity some years ago when they were first introduced from the Far East. They are composed of strips of natural decorative dried grasses stitched to or mounted on a backing and are hung in the same way as the woven fabric described above. Being a natural product, the pieces vary slightly in width, thickness and colouring, but it is precisely these qualities which give grass papers their distinctive character. The surface of grass paper is surprisingly hard wearing, but it is not easily cleaned due to its coarse texture, and it is expensive. If, after some time, you wanted to change the decoration and paint your walls, you would have to strip off this paper, as it cannot be over-painted. The same also applies to woven fabrics and the hardwood material.

Vinyl wallcoverings

In kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms, where water may splash on walls, or where walls will need frequent cleaning as in playrooms, a surface which can withstand regular wiping down is needed. The new vinyl-faced wall-coverings are excellent here. The vinyl surface is available on either a paper or a fabric backing-of these, the paper-backed types are cheaper and quicker to hang, as they need only a heavy-duty paste.

The fabric-backed types normally require a special adhesive, but they are more stable and less likely to stretch unevenly in the hanging process. Some vinyl wall coverings are available ready pasted. The extensive choice available includes plain colours and patterns with a flat surface, or embossed surfaces that simulate canvas and other fabric finishes. Some patterned vinyl wall-coverings tend to be rather large in scale, and these can be used successfully only on a large wall.


wallpaper bedroom decoration interior design

If a texture or a pattern is preferred to a flat colour, some form of sheet wall covering is indicated. The cheapest material of this type is wallpaper. There are several different kinds of paper available in an incredible range ofpatterns. The largest selection is still to be found in the standard range of wallpaper with flat printed patterns. These include stripes, abstract forms, geometric shapes,.floral and pictorial patterns and regular small-scale designs which give the appearance of texture. Patterns are often available in a choice of colourways. An increasing number of wallpapers are now treated to make them spongeable.

Some are even claimed to be washable, but the extent to which a printed paper surface can be cleaned is inevitably limited; if severe dirtying is likely, a more durable surface should be selected. The range of patterns available in readypasted wallpapers is also steadily increasing. These are generally more costly than standard wallpaper, but may offer savings in time, effort and equipment. Wallpapers with an embossed texture to simulate a woven fabric, or with other raised patterns, are useful for covering walls or ceilings with uneven surfaces or with minor plaster cracks. Some extra-stout embossed papers have patterns which stand out in high relief.

These can be used very effectively with oblique lighting, which will emphasise the pattern by casting strong shadows. They are best used in small areas to accentuate a panel of wall, rather than as a general surface over an entire room. There are several other variants on the basic printed paper flnish. Some manufacturers produce a range of papers with a metallic surface. These often have patterns of stripes or geometric shapes embossed on the surface, which produce varying degrees of reflection from different angles.

They should be used with caution as they can be overpowering and too showy. For many rooms the wall surfaces, while looking attractive in themselves, should act as a background for the furnishings. Too strong a colour or pattern on the walls can produce a harsh and disjointed effect. Metallic papers are often best restricted to smal1 areas, like corridors, where a dramatic effect is wanted.

Flock papers are made by printing the pattern in a glue and dusting the surface with fine shreds of coloured felt which adhere to the surface, and produce a raised velvet effect. They are a modern imitation of handmade papers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, as such, they are used in rooms which seek to reproduce this period. The designs tend to be traditional and rather large in scale and are not really suited to modern, bright and clean interiors. They are also expensive and need careful hanging to ensure that the pattern in adjacent lengths matches.

Types of paint

London Painters Decorators

Emulsion paint is, in some cases, an adequate alternative to gloss paint. Apart from its tendency to induce condensation, a gloss paint finish is often unsuitable for walls because of its shiny appearance, which emphasises any slight irregularities in a wall surface. Most interior walls look better with a matt or slightly glossy eggshell finish. The development of emulsion paints, in which particles of the medium are dispersed in water, represented a great advance for the home decorator, since they combine the advantages of a flat finish oil paint with the convenience of a water paint for thinning and cleaning of brushes. Most modern emulsion paints are composed of a synthetic resin emulsified in water.

The finished surface of these paints is very durable and will withstand frequent cleaning. Even more resistant to dirt and moisture are co-polymer or plastic emulsion paints such as those which provide a vinyl finish. These form a continuous surface of plastic ‘skin’ and must be applied to walls that are smooth and free from grease, flaking paint and paper. Oil bound water paint, or distemper, is similar to conventional emulsion paints, but is cheaper and not nearly as durable. Acrylics represent the latest development in emulsion paints and can be used almost anywhere even on damp external walls.

Painted living room interior design

Thixotropic paints are Jelly’ paints with a dense medium which thickens the consistency of the paint, largely eliminating the problem of paint drips. A further advantage to the handyman is that the increased thickness of the paint film results in a greater opacity, so that one coat is often sufficient to produce a uniform tint. The most professional looking results, however, will be obtained by building up several thin layers of paint. Thixotropic paints come in a wide range of colours in gloss, emulsion and vinyl finishes.

Cellulose paints must be applied with a spray gun for best results and are not very suitable for domestic use. They are best used on metal and other surfaces which will need a high gloss finish. Stone paints have small particles of stone mixed in an emulsified resin base. Their normal use is for external brick or rendered surfaces, but they can be used internally to improve the appearance of a brick or a cement rendered wall. Many other paints have been developed for special situations. These provide rust, damp, fungus, fire, or acid and alkali resisting finishes.

Varnishes and sealers are used where exposed natural surfaces, such as wood, stone or slate, need protection. They are transparent and usually based on linseed oil or polyurethane resins. When the natural surface is to be retained, but the colour needs improving, a varnish incorporating a stain can be used.

To obtain a smooth finish, the top coat of paint must adhere thoroughly to the wall surface. Some surfaces, such as old plaster, may vary in their porosity, and if a top coat paint is applied directly onto this surface, it will produce a patchy finish. Primers, therefore, are used as base coats to provide uniformly absorbent surfaces for later coats of paint, and to seal in alkalis or other chemicals which might affect the decorative finish. Primers are usually white or pink.

One or more coats of undercoat are usually necessary on new walls to build up the colour to a dense uniform level. Normally they are fairly thin, but have a high pigment content to give good opacity, and they dry to a matt finish. Existing paint, if it is in good condition, will need only one undercoat and one top coat in most cases. It is important, however, to ensure that existing coats are adhering properly and are being uniformly absorbed. Be certain that new paint is compatible with the old paint you are working over, as some paints react with chemicals in other paints.

Wall coverings

Walls account for the largest surface area of a room, making the choice of a decorative finish very significant. Whether it be mosaic tiles, flock wallpaper or vinyl paint, the finish will influence the entire room’s character.
interior design bedroom ensuite bathroom bespoke cupboards

The choice of wall decoration is dependent upon suitability of appearance, amount of maintenance needed, and cost. Living areas and bedrooms, for example, have relatively minor maintenance problems and the choice for these rooms is likely to be made mainly on the basis of the colour, pattern and texture required for the particular room.

A painted or wallpapered surface might be the most likely choice, although other appropriate finishes could be wood panelling or boarding. Rooms which are liable to high humidity,such as kitchens and bathrooms, need a more durable surface capable of withstanding water splashes, detergents or grease marks and regular cleaning. Tiles, plastic laminates or, in the less vulnerable areas, vinyl wall coverings, would be suitable choices for these areas.

Paint or wallpaper?
bedroom wallpaper london
In rooms that do not require a particularly durable surface, and have suitable wall surfaces (such as smooth plaster with no cracks), the least expensive wall decoration will usually be a painted finish. This may also be the best choice on other grounds. The advantages of paint are that it is readily obtainable from stock without special ordering, inexpensive, can be applied by a competent handyman, and it is the least frustrating way to obtain the colour you want. With wallpaper, hours of searching through pattern books may fail to produce the colour required in a suitable pattern.

But with paint the availability of a wide range of standard colours and the facility for precise mixing of special colours make it possible to obtain an exact choice. Mistakes can be corrected more easily with paint as well. If you find, for example, after hanging one or two pieces of wallpaper that the scale of the pattern or the general effect is not as anticipated, it will be necessary either to live with your mistake, or to reject the whole supply outright and buy fresh stock. If, however, a sample panel of paint indicates the colour is strong or the hue needs adjusting, it is a simple matter to mix in the appropriate corrective colour. Always prepare a test panel and check this before proceeding with an entire room, since a small pattern on a colour card can give a false impression of the effect over large areas.

Varieties of paint
All paints are basically similar in composition consisting of a pigment mixed in a suitable medium, with various additives to improve certain qualities. Hard gloss oil paint uses linseed oil as its medium, mixed with pigment, a thinner to improve workability, and a drier to speed up drying. A traditional finish for woodwork, it is usually applied to walls only when a durable, washable surface is required. Before beginning to paint it is essential that the wall is dry, since the paint forms an impervious film which will not allow moisture to evaporate; if dampness is present, it will normally cause blistering and flaking of the paint layer. Because it is non-absorbent, a gloss paint surface on walls or ceiling in a room subject to high humidity will cause condensation-in severe cases water will collect and drip from the ceiling and run down the walls. It is not, therefore, a very suitable material for kitchens and bathrooms, although in the past it was often used in these areas because of its washability.

Today, however, there is a wider choice of more suitable finishes, made from various synthetic resins and marketed under different trade names. Condensation in kitchens and especially in bathrooms will occur to some extent, no matter what type of wall covering you choose to use. Enamels formerly meant paints designed solely for applying to metal or clay surfaces which are fired at high temperatures to produce a stoved finish (vitreous enamel), but the term is often used loosely today to describe a superior hard gloss paint for normal use. It is especially good to use on flush surfaces such as cupboards or on areas where a fine finish is wanted. Most gloss paints can be thinned with mineral turpentine substi tutes, but it is important to follow the manufacturers’ directions as some have complex compositions.


Cutting the wallpaper

Unroll the wallpaper face (‘right’ side) upwards. Measure the length required and cut off 51-102mm (2-4in) below this (the additional amount is for easing the paper at the top and bottom). If the paper is patterned, find the first complete motif and cut off 25- 51mm (l-2in) above. Measure the length, and cut off 25-5.1 mm (1-2in) below. These extra amounts allow you to position the paper accurately, and to ease it in at the top and bottom. Cut the next length, checking that the pattern matches exactly at the top and sides, again allowing the additional inches at top and bottom. Lay the cut lengths on top of each other. Cut 2-3 lengths before pasting. Turn the pile over, so that the ‘wrong’ side now faces upwards, with the first cut length on top.

Pasting the wallpaper

Arrange the pile of paper centrally on the width of the pasting board, so that a little board shows on either side of the paper and the top edge of the paper is on your right. If the paper is longer than the board, have the overhang on your left. Push the top length only so that its far edge slightly overlaps the edge of the board. This is to avoid getting paste on to the board, and then on to the face of one of the other sheets. Apply a liberal brushful of paste along the centre of the length of the paper, and brush out to the far edge. Always brush outwards, as there is a danger of paste getting on to the face of the paper if you brush inwards.

Slide the paper towards you, so that the unpasted side now slightly overlaps the near side ol the board. Brush the paste from the centre to this edge. When the length on the table has been pasted, lift both the corners on the right edge and bring them over to make a large fold, without creasing (the pasted sides will be facing). Gently draw the paper along the table until the unpasted portion is flush with the left-hand edge of the board. Paste this length as before and then bring this section over and down to meet the first fold. As each length is pasted, place it on another table to ‘rest’. This lets the paste soak in-the time depends on manufacturers’ instructions-and the paper becomes supple.

Hanging the wallpaper

Lift the first length of paper over your arm and carry it to the wall. Unfold the top half and, holding the length carefully, place the top edge in position, easing it upwards until the 25-51mm (1-2in) excess overlaps at the top. Keep the side edge exactly level with the plumb line. If the corner is vertical, ease the paper into it exactly. Otherwise let it overlap into the corner. Smooth along the top of the piece with the paperhanger’s brush to hold it in place. Now smooth down the centre and out to the sides in a series of arrowhead motions. This movement eliminates air bubbles, and spreads the paste evenly on the wall. Don’t brush from side to side, as this could move the paper out of position.

Try not to over handle or stretch the paper. If any paste seeps out from the sides of the paper, wipe it off with a rag. Keep the paperhanger’s brush completely clean, and don’t let any paste get on to the ‘right’ side of the paper. Check again for correct placing, then unfold the bottom section and smooth it out, brushing it as before, until the whole length is completely flat without creases or blisters. The bottom edge will overlap the skirting board. Run the back edge of the scissors along the paper into the angle between the wall and the cornice or picture rail. Ease the top of the paper from the wall gently, and trim off the excess paper along the crease. Now repeat the procedure at the bottom, where the wall meets the skirting board. If you overlapped the paper into the corner, trim off the excess in a similar way. Smooth the paper back into position. Hang the next pieces of paper in the same way, butting the edges together (do not overlap them) and carefully matching the pattern. Run the seam roller down the joint when the paste is nearly dry.

Lining Paper

Lining the walls with lining paper

For a really first-class wallpapering job, always use a lining paper under the wallpaper. It provides an ideal surface of even porosity, to which the wallpaper and its adhesive will marry, particularly if the wallpaper is heavy (the principle being that paper sticks to paper more firmly than to plaster). Heavy papers, especially embossed ones, have a tendency to stretch as their fibres first absorb the paste but shrink on drying. This can mean that the joints (joins between pieces) open because the paper loses its grip on the plaster surface.

lining paper

Lining paper prevents this happening. Another advantage of lining papers is that they can disguise a ‘bad’ surface, as well as having some insulating value. The method of pasting and hanging lining paper is similar to that for wallpaper. It is best hung horizontally as the finished effect is smoother. This makes the paper rather difficult to handle on a long wall, so you should fold the paper, without creasing, concertina fashion (always with pasted side to pasted side). Start in the right hand corner of the wall and, holding the paper with your left hand, brush it out with your right hand (reverse this if you are left handed). If you prefer to hang the paper vertically, stagger the joints with those of the wallpaper to avoid the possibility of ridges. Like wallpaper, lining paper should be butt-jointed (the pieces are positioned edge-to-edge,with no overlap).

Wallpaper Adhesives

Make up the adhesive according to the directions given on the packet at least 2O minutes before you want it. This gives it time to absorb the water properly and become completely smooth.

wallpaper adhesives

Always make up a complete packet at a time to ensure a correct consistency-any paste left over can be kept in a completely airtight jar and be used for touching up, if necessary. Don’t mix batches of paste. When the wallpaper is cut, it is a good idea to test for colour-fastness on a waste piece. If the colours do run, take extra care not to get paste on the surface of your cut pieces.

Prepairing the walls for paperhanging

Walls must be carefully and thoroughly prepared in order to make paperhanging a complete success. New wallpaper slapped on top of old is by no means certain to stay up, and is likely to bubble and blister. The walls should be as even as possible, and completely clean and free of grease. Newly plastered walls containing lime can be papered if they are perfectly dry.

painter decorator repairing walls

Coat the area with an alkali-resisting primer which will neutralise any active lime in the plaster. Alternatively, use one of the papers which have been specially treated for use on new plaster; a lining paper would be useful here. Distempered walls should be washed down with soapy water to remove all grime. Painted walls should also be washed down with soapy water to remove all grime. When dry, gloss-painted walls should be keyed by thorough scouring with coarse glasspaper (this slight roughening of the surface will help the paper adhere securely).

Previously papered wa1ls should first be stripped by soaking the paper well with warm water and an old distemper brush. A chemical stripper may be added to the water-but if the chemical splashes the paintwork, wipe it off straight away. While the paper is still wet, use the stripping knife to ease it off a little at a time. Properly soaked paper will come away from the wall easily and cleanly. Once all the paper is off, wash the walls with soapy water, rinse with clean water and, when dry, sand them lightly to remove surface blemishes, small pieces of paper, old paint drips, and so on.

Making good the walls

Fill any holes and cracks with a proprietary cellulose filler and when it is completely dry smooth it with glasspaper. The next step is to ‘size’ the walls. This prevents them from absorbing the paste too quickly, allowing time to position the paper on the walls correctly. To make size, dilute the adhesive you intend to use according to the manufacturers’ instructions (the packets usually give instructions for making it up for both size and adhesive). Coat the walls with it, using a pasting brush.