Painting & Decorating

Painting cast iron and metal gutters

cast iron
Metal guttering should be well painted for protection. First test the pipework to see if it has been treated with bituminous paint. To do this apply a little white gloss to a small area of the gutter. If the gloss turns brown the coating is bituminous and you will have to apply an aluminium primer to prevent it ‘bleeding’ through the new paint. (Remember that the guttering may have been painted with bitumen on the inside only.) Paint the outside of the guttering with an undercoat and a top coat to complement the rest of your exterior decoration. It does not matter what colour you paint the inside of the gutter since it cannot be seen from the ground, so here is the ideal opportunity to use up any leftover gloss from other jobs.

Choosing curtains

Curtains are one of the many design factors and any room and, if the windows are large, they can become its most important feature. To get precisely the effect you want, pay attention to the many details which make one pair of curtains look completely different from another. Make a list of these and go through each point, deciding what suits your taste and your window.
bedroom curtains
Types of heading
A curtain’s heading is the way it is gathered before it is attached to the track and the type of heading you choose will dictate the amount of material you need for the curtain.

This type is the easiest to make and the cheapest since it requires just one and a half times the width of the track in material. Looking very much like the random gathering on a skirt waistband, it is suitable for curtains where the top will be hidden behind a pelmet or for simple, short, unlined curtains.

Pencil pleats
Also very easy to do, this heading is more even and formal than the gathered type and needs two to three times the track width in material to look effective.

Pinch pleat
A very formal triple pleat which alternates with flat sections of material. The finest pinch pleats are gathered and sewn by hand and take two to two and a half widths of the track.

Cartridge pleats
This heading consists of single, cylindrical pleats often stuffed with cotton wadding or tissue paper so they keep their plump shape. Like pinch pleats, they alternate with flat sections of fabric and are still done by hand in curtain workshops, taking about double the track width.

Heading tape
Although the best pinch and cartridge pleats are still hand-made! you can buy heading tape for all four types. One company now distributes a slightly different kind of heading tape which gives a smocking effect at the top of the curtain. This tape is sewn with four rows of stitching and requires about twice the width of the track in material. In theory, all you have to do is sew these tapes to the top of the curtain and pull the cords to get the required heading; but in practice some headings are easier to handle than others. To get the best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and never skimp on material. It is much better to buy a generous quantity of cheap cotton which will always look luxurious because of its fullness, than to use too little of an expensive fabric which will look mean no matter what it costs. If you are planning to use one of these tapes, ask your retailer for a cord tidy at the same time. When you pull your curtains up to the required width you will have a length ol cord left over which you will need when you want to pull them flat for cleaning this inexpensive accessory keeps this length of cord out of the way.

bedroom curtains

Deciding on length
Our grandmothers usually had heavy curtains which trailed on the floor to keep out draughts. Nowadays there are two main lengths: to the sill or to the floor – anything in between will give a very awkward ‘halfl-mast’ effect. If your curtains will hitting to sill level only, keep them just above the sill or 50 – 75mm below. Floor length curtains should clear the floor by about 13mm to protect them from dust and dirt. If they are very long and heavy, allow 50mm clearance since they are bound to drop after a time. Sill length curtains are best when there is a radiator under the window since long ones will prevent heat getting into the room. If you need light and privacy at the same time, choose cafe curtains which are usually hung to sill length from a pole fitted halfway down the window. Whichever style you decide on special weighted tape sewn into the hem will make your curtains hang more neatly.

Lining and interlining
Unless you particularly want the light to filter in through your curtains, it is almost always better to line them, usually with cotton sateen. Besides helping them to hang more attractively lining protects curtains from dirt and from the sun which will fade and damage any fabric exposed to it over a long period of time. The lining fabric can be hung separately from your curtains so you can take it down for washing, but you will find the curtains look better if the lining and fabric are treated as one. To give the outside of your house a co-ordinated appearance use the same colour lining throughout. Cream or ecru is usually best unless most of your curtains are white or have a white background, in which case white lining would be more appropriate. There are several special linings on the market which add more to the effectiveness of your curtains than ordinary ones.

Available only in cream, this lining costs more than the normal types but is very useful where you want to block out all the sun’s rays, such as in a nursery where children could have difficulty sleeping while it is still light.

This has a special aluminium backing which keeps out more light than ordinary sateen and helps to insulate your home against cold in winter and heat in summer. Although the side which faces the curtain fabric has a metallic look, the other side is quite plain and available in a wide range of colours.

A flame-resistant material often used in public buildings and office blocks. It consists of plain sateen treated with a fireproof substance.

Interlined curtains, which are especially thick, soft and heavy, have an additional layer between the curtain fabric and the lining. Usually called bump, this is a thick cotton which has its surface brushed up to make it thicker and help it cling to the other two layers. Interlined curtains offer effective insulation and are particularly good in rooms which are subject to cold and draughts.

Pelmets and valances
A pelmet is a piece of buckram (coarse linen or cloth stiffened with gum or paste) or wood which you place over the top of the curtains to conceal the track and heading. If this covering is gathered or pleated, it is called a valance, while a single piece of draped fabric is called a swag. With the advent of plainer, good looking tracks, these are becoming less common; but if you find your track unattractive, fix a pelmet or valance yourself or buy one ready made.

Curtain trimmings
The most common curtain decoration is a set of tie backs which give the window a formal look and hold the curtains back so as much light as possible is allowed in. If your window is very narrow, make a single curtain and hold it to one side with a tie. Link your curtains to other design elements in the room by fixing a border decoration or band in fabric which has been used for upholstery, cushions or lampshades. One particularly fancy curtain is called a festoon and is lifted up by cords running vertically at intervals across it, rather than pulled to each side. A very old fashioned style of curtain, these were often used in restaurants and public houses.

Choosing fabric
Before you buy your fabric measure carefully, calculating the width and length of material required from the track and not from the window itself. There is no such thing as an average window and you will not know what you need unless you take precise measurements.

How to paper a ceiling

If the ceiling is in good condition, size the surface and leave it to dry before papering. If the Plaster is uneven, line the ceiling first for the best result. As with walls, always hang lining paper at right-angles to the decorative covering so the joins do not coincide.

Hang ceiling paper parallel to the main window in the room so the joins are not too noticeable. Measure the width of the paper, deduct 6mm for turning onto the end wall and mark this distance in pencil at both sides of the ceiling. Chalk a length of string and fix it at one side with a drawing pin. Stretch the string between the two pencil marks and pluck it so the chalk is transferred to the ceiling. Cut the number of lengths required, allowing for the pattern to match and for trimming at both ends. Paste and fold each length concertina-fashion as for lining paper. Hang the first length flush against the chalk line. Unfold the last pleat and smooth it onto the ceiling. Release the paper one pleat at a time, supporting the rest of the Paper with a spare roll. Brush out each section onto the ceiling. Turn 6mm onto the end and side walls then trim and sponge away any surplus paste. Hang the other lengths in the same way, butt-joining the edges and turning 6mm onto both side walls. Remember to allow 6mm in the width of the last length for turning onto the end wall. At a ceiling light, make star-shaped cuts as for projecting light switches. Smooth paper round fitting and trim flaps.

How to hang wallpaper

Hanging wallpaper the correct way is all important, since the final effect will be ruined if you make awkward turns in the wrong places or don’t hang the paper straight. And always remember to prepare the surface properly.

lining wallpaper

Putting up lining paper
If using lining paper, hang it on the wa1ls horizontally to avoid the joins coinciding with the vertical joins of the decorative paper. Cut the paper into lengths 25mm longer than the width of the wall to allow for 12mm turns onto the adjacent walls. Lay one end of the length on the pasting table, leaving the rest to hang to the floor, and paste this piece carefully. Fold over, with pasted sides together, about 380mm of paper. Then fold over 760mm and turn back the first folded piece to make pleats. Continue pasting and concertina pleating in this way until you near the end of the length, then paste this end and fold it over to meet the pleats. Start hanging the paper from a top corner of the wall, releasing one fold at a time and smoothing out with a roller or brush. Work right round and down the wall with subsequent lengths in the same way, butting adjoining strips together.

Marking the starting point
The usual starting point for vertical hanging is on a wall adjacent to a window so any overlap between adjoining lengths will not cast a shadow. When using paper with a large pattern, centre the pattern on the chimney-breast and on other main features of the room, if desirable, to give an overall balanced look when the room is finished. On plain wall You must establish a true vertical to align the edge of the first length. Measure out from the corner of the starting wall a distance l2mm less than the width of the paper (this extra 12mm will be turned onto the window wall). At this point suspend a plumb bob from a small nail as high up the wall as possible. Mark the wall at several points behind the line and use a straightedge and pencil to join the points together.

On chimney-breast
Measure from the pattern centre to the left-hand edge of the paper. Measure this distance to the left of the centre line on the chimney-breast, suspend a plumb bob at this point, mark the vertical line and hang the first length to one side of it. Hang the second length to the other side of the 1ine, butting up to the first length. Alternatively, you can hang two widths so the motifs at the edges to be butted match up in adjacent lengths at the centre of your chimney breast or projection. Suspend a plumb bob at the centre of the projection, mark the line as before and hang the first length against this. Hang the second length on the other side of the centre line.

Cutting lengths and pasting
Cut the paper into lengths, each about 200mm longer than the height of the wall to allow for trimming later. If the paper has a set or drop pattern, match the lengths on the pasting table; remember to work from two or even three rol1s at once to reduce wastage. As you cut the lengths number them on the back so you can tell at a glance the order in which to hang them. Also indicate which end is to be hung at the top of the wall to avoid hanging the paper upside down. Lay the lengths, decorative side down, on the pasting table. Line up the end and far edge of the first sheet of paper with the end and far edge of the table. allowing it to overhang by 6mm. At the other end let the rest of the paper fall onto the floor.

Imagine the width of the paper is divided into three strips; paste the centre strip, then paste the section farthest away from you, working towards the edge (never work from the edges towards the centre as the paste will seep under the paper and spoil the decorative face). Pull the paper towards you so the near edge overhangs the table by about 6mm and paste this final strip, remembering to work from the centre towards the edge. Fold over the pasted end to the centre of the length, pull the unpasted paper onto the table and paste and fold as before. You do not need to leave the paste to soak in with thin papers, which you can hang immediately. Heavier papers have to soak for about ten minutes. To save time lay the pasted length (with the ends still folded back onto the centre) on a clean surface and paste the next length. It is a good idea to write the time of pasting on the back of each length to ensure each piece soaks for the same time.

Hanging the paper
Drape the pasted length over your arm, making sure you remember which end is to go at the top of the wall. Unfold the top hall of the length, keeping a firm hold on the lower half so it does not stretch. The positioning of the first length is critical. Align the edge of the paper with the line you marked on wall and position the top with the ceiling line, allowing a 75-100mm overlap at the top for trimming and folding. Fold this top edge overlap back onto the pasted side to prevent paste getting on the ceiling: if paste runs onto plaster or woodwork, remove at once with dampened sponge. Smooth down the centre of the paper with the hanging brush then work towards the edges to expel any air bubbles beneath the paper. Open out the lower half of the paper and repeat the procedure, folding the bottom edge overlap in the same way. Run the back of your scissors along the edges at the ceiling and skirting board to mark the trimming line. Peel back the paper and cut carefully along the crease before brushing the edges back into place and smoothing down. Hang subsequent lengths in the same way. matching the pattern (if any) at the top with the length already hung and position the edge of the new length as close as possible to the first. Slide the length along to form a neat butt join. After hanging each length go over the joins with a seam roller, unless the paper is embossed.