Robuild London Painters and Decorators

Painting and Decorating Company, London Contractors Phone 02089062972 Email: info@robuild.co.uk

Preparing the surface for wallpapering

painters decorators repairing walls
For preparing surface wallpaper stripper or warm water and washing-up liquid wallpaper paste (for soaking heavyweight paper) wire brush or serrated scraper steam stripper (if needed) wallpaper stripping knife medium wet and dry glasspaper cellulose filler (if needed) matchsticks (if needed) glue size or wallpaper paste (for sizing walls) fungicidal adhesive (for sizing if using vinyl paper) old brush or paint pad.

To remove the existing paper you will have to soak it with a solution of warm water and washing-up liquid or proprietary wallpaper stripper. Allow extra soaking for heavyweight papers – add a handful of wallpaper paste to the water so the water stays on the wall long enough to soak through to the adhesive.

Stripping off
Score the surface of washable wallpapers with a wire brush or serrated scraper to allow the water to soak through to the backing. If the paper is several layers thick or you cannot score it easily, it may be worth hiring a steam stripper to do the job quickly, but use it carefully since it can damage the plaster underneath. Remove the paper with a wallpaper stripping knife; don’t be too vigorous and try not to dig the knife into the plaster, as you will have to fill any holes you make. Remember you can strip certain types of wall covering just by loosening a corner and pulling off each length, leaving the backing paper on the wall. If this is firmly fixed, use it as a base for re-papering or soak and strip as already described. Rub down the bare walls with wet and dry glasspaper to remove any final nibs of paper. Fill any cracks or holes with cellulose filler and, when hard, rub down any ridges with medium wet and dry glasspaper to form a flush finish. If you have removed any fixtures, push matchsticks into the screw holes, allowing them to protrude about 6mm. When you hang the new wall covering ease it over the matchsticks so they poke through the paper and indicate the position for refitting the fixtures later.

Sizing the walls
Before papering you will have to size sound, porous walls; this is to improve adhesion and ensure the water from the paste is not absorbed too quickly for you to position the paper correctly. You can buy a proprietary glue size or make your own by diluting wallpaper paste according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When using vinyls, size with a diluted fungicidal adhesive since mould may develop on the wall if you use a diluted cellulose adhesive. Apply the size liberally to all parts of the wall with an old brush or paint pad; take care to wipe off any that gets onto painted woodwork immediately as it will be difficult to remove later. Leave the size to dry thoroughly.

Buying wallpaper

Estimating quantity Measure the height of the room from the skirting to the picture rail or ceiling and also the distance around the walls, including doors and windows. Check to see how many rolls of wallpaper you need. If your measurement for the distance around the room falls between two measurements on the chart, use the larger figure. Basic measurements will be sufficient for plain or free match papers. Where you need to match the pattern you must allow for wastage at the foot of each length according to the depth of the repeat; usually an extra roll for every five is enough, although you may need to allow extra if the repeat pattern is very deep. Extra paper will also be needed if the room has recesses or projections since the pattern should be centred on these to give a balanced look.

Buying the paper

Most wall coverings are sold in rolls 10m long and 520mm wide. They are normally supplied ready-trimmed, but if you do select a paper with margins ask your supplier to trim them for you – don’t attempt it yourself. Wallpaper is printed in batches and the colour may vary from batch to batch; make sure every roll you buy bears the same batch number. It is worth buying an extra roll at the outset since you may have trouble obtaining another roll of the same batch later on. Check if you can buy a spare roll on a sale-or-return basis. If you realize halfway through a job that you will not have sufficient paper and you cannot buy another roll from the same batch, use the odd roll in an area where any colour variation will not be so noticeable, such as on a short wall or in a recess. Unfortunately even corresponding batch numbers do not always guarantee an exact colour match. Before hanging the paper inspect the rolls in a good light; if you spot any shade differences, decide the best sequence for hanging. Imperfections in the paper itself can be eliminated when you cut the paper into lengths. But if you find inconsistencies in the pattern take the roll back to your supplier, since you will have a lot of wastage if you try to eliminate ‘repeat’ defects. If after hanging the paper you find the pattern on adjoining lengths will not align, it is probably the result of not soaking the rolls with paste for the same length of time or stretching the paper when putting it up.

Storing wallpaper
Always store rolls of wallpaper flat; never stand them on end or you will damage the edges and make it difficult to obtain neat joins between lengths when hanging.

Wallpaper inspiration

Consider the size and shape of your room before buying patterned wallpaper as the design may appear to alter the room’s shape; height is increased by vertical stripes, while horizontal lines make the ceiling seem lower.
Certain designs will emphasize structural faults in the room, so choose patterned paper carefully.

wallpaper ensuite bathroom bedroom

When it comes to choosing wallpaper, go for better quality, medium or heavyweight papers rather than thin, cheap ones which tear and stretch easily when pasted and need very careful handling. Cheaper wallpapers have the design printed directly onto the paper; better quality papers are usually given a protective coating before the pattern is printed. Top quality ones also have a clear coating over the pattern to protect the surface.

Basic types
The following run-down on the various types available will help you to select the right wallpaper for specific areas. Washable The paper is covered with a clear water-resistant coating of matt or gloss PVA (polyvinyl acetate) making it ideal for use in the kitchen or bathroom.

Vinyl
A layer of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is fused onto a paper backing to produce a really tough vinyl-faced covering that is steam and water resistant and can even be scrubbed clean.

Ready-pasted
Dried fungicidal adhesive on the back does away with the traditional pasting operation. To activate the paste you draw each length of paper through a water-filled trough (usually supplied with the paper) immediately before hanging.

Polyethylene
This type is lighter than ordinary wallpaper and warm to the touch. It is easier and quicker to hang than other wall coverings because you paste the wall rather than the paper and you do not have to cut the paper into lengths, but use it straight from the ro1l. Work with the special adhesive recommended for this type of wall covering.

Dry-strip
Washable and ready-pasted papers already described are not easily removed using the conventional soak-and-strip method since the water cannot penetrate the water-resistant coating to act on the adhesive. But dry-strip papers and vinyls are available; you peel away the decorative face to leave a paper backing on the wall. If this backing is firmly fixed, use it as a base for re-papering or strip it off in the usual way.

Lining paper
Thin paper used under the decorative wall covering to give a high quality finish. It is available in several weights: use light papers on smooth wall surfaces and heavier papers to help conceal uneven surfaces. Hang lining paper horizontally on the walls so the joins between lengths will not coincide with the vertical joins of the decorative wall covering.

Selecting a pattern

If you decide you would like a patterned paper, remember different types of pattern demand varying degrees of skill to apply. Complicated patterns are not easy to match and often mistakes only show when the lengths have been hung.

Free match paper
The simplest type to apply since it has random motifs that do not require matching. It is also the most economical as there is no wastage.

Set patterns
Demand more skill since you have to match the design horizontally across adjoining lengths. There will be some wastage (especially if the repeat does not fit in with your room height) but this can sometimes be minimized by cutting lengths from two or more rolls at a time.

Drop patterns
Can be difficult to match as the design runs diagonally across adjacent lengths – the first length aligns with the third, the second with the fourth, the fifth with the seventh, and so on. Wastage is inevitable, but again this can be minimized by working from more than one roll.

Effects of patterns
Before choosing a design consider the size and shape of your room as the pattern on the wallpaper may appear to alter its dimensions. Vertical lines will seem to increase the room’s height, while horizontal stripes will give the opposite effect. However attractive large motifs or bright colours look when you are flicking through a pattern book, remember these can be overbearing in small rooms. Certain designs will show up faults in the structure of the room. If the ceiling slopes, the motifs in a set or drop pattern will gradually disappear along the ceiling line. This also applies to papering ceilings : if they are not perfect squares or rectangles the pattern will run out of true. Unfortunately it is not easy to check ceiling line irregularities; they usually become apparent only when the wallpaper is hung.

Vertical stripes will emphasize corners that are out of square, so you should always check these before buying this type of pattern. Suspend a plumb bob and string line from a small nail fixed as high up the wall as possible the string line will hang down at a true vertical and you will be able to see if the corner is square. Check the condition of your wall surface. If it is undulating or pitted, don’t buy a striped paper as this will only emphasize the defects; go for a busy, colourful pattern that will hide the faults. There is obviously a lot to recommend a free match paper. It is the simplest to hang, there is no wastage and it can disguise many structural defects.

Wallpapering tools

1 Working platform
Essential to do a good job safely. Hire, buy or borrow two step ladders and a good scaffold board to give easy access to ceilings and top parts of walls

2 Paperhanger’s apron
Not essential, but has large pockets to carry brush and shears and so saves you time getting up and down step ladder fetching them. Could improvise by hanging plastic carrier bag at top of ladder.

3 Paste bucket
Must hold reasonable amount of paste. Line inside with polythene to save cleaning out. Tie piece of string across middle of bucket to rest brush on

4 Pasting table
Can use kitchen table or board on trestles ; but lightweight foldaway pasting table, about 1800 x 60mm is convenient and inexpensive

5 Shears
Paperhanger’s shears, about 200-3O0mm long, ensure good, clean cuts

6 Wood seam roller
Not essential, but handy for smoothing joins between lengths. Don’t use on embossed paper as it will flatten pattern

7 Plumb bob
To mark true verticals on walls as guide to hanging paper. You can make your own by tying string to balanced weight.

8 Paste brush
Use old 125 or 150mm distemper brush

9 Paper-hanging brush
For smoothing paper onto wall, Choose pure bristle to avoid scratching paper

10 Pencil and metal straight-edge
For marking and measuring

11 Trimming knife
For making intricate cuts round fittings and for trimming edges

12 Wallpaper paste
Always use adhesive specified by wallpaper manufacturer and follow mixing instructions exactly. lf you use wrong paste, paper might not stick properly or mould might develop behind paper. Don’t get adhesive on decorative face of paper or paper will discolour.

How to paint doors & windows

Order of painting

If you have to shut the door or window after painting. work first on the surfaces that come into contact when closed, to give them time to dry thoroughly.

Always start with the panel or bead inside edge sections on panelled door.
Follow same pattern for a casement window.
Paint a sash window in the same way. but first pull down the top sash and lift the bottom one to get at the top sash meeting rail. You need only paint those sections of the runners that show when the window is open. Don’t get paint on the cords or you will weaken them.

Complete the handle side last to make it easier to open and close during work, unless doors and windows have to be closed when painting has finished. In this case surfaces that come into contact when the door or window is closed must be painted first to allow for the longest possible drying time. Warning If you touch a tacky surface with soft clothing, for example, that leaves bits on the paint don’t rush in with a rag. Wait two or three weeks for the surface to harden thoroughly before gently rubbing down with fine wet and dry glasspaper, lightly wetted. Then dry off the surface and apply another top coat over the affected area.

Painting faults

Paint itself is rarely to blame for faults in the paintwork since reputable brands are subjected to careful quality control by the manufacturers. The following are the major causes of poor results.

-Poor surface preparation
-Getting dust in the paint
-Poor, incorrect or dirty equipment
-Faulty application technique
-Unsuitable paint for the job
-Adverse weather conditions
Causes of the common faults, their prevention and remedies are given with each section, but remember faults may arise through more than one factor.

Painting window frames

Pay particular attention to preparing the bottom of the frame to ensure the finished surface is as good as the rest. Clear away all flaking paintwork and dirt, right back to bare wood if necessary. Flaking and general deterioration are caused by moisture from condensation running down the glass and mixing with the dust that collects on the frame. Prepare this part of the frame well or it will only deteriorate soon after being repainted. Prime bare wood before using undercoat and gloss. Always brush about 3mm of paint onto the glass to prevent moisture getting into the putty and breaking it up. You may find it easier to use a cutting-in brush, specially angled for this job. Alternatives are a metal paint shield, which you rest on the glass at the correct distance from the frame, or masking tape.
london decorators painting windows
If you use masking tape make sure to remove it while the paint is still tacky. If you leave it until the paint is dry you run the risk of pulling away the paint on the frame. The general rule for painting frames is to paint any surfaces which show inside the room when the window is open in the interior colour.

Painting doors

carpenters painters painting door window
First remove handles, keyhole plates, finger plates and coat hooks to give yourself an uninterrupted surface. If you try to paint round these they will cause a build-up of paint, leading to unsightly runs. Clean out the keyholes to remove dirt and grease, which otherwise will be picked up on the brush and transferred to the rest of the work. It is a good idea to paint the top of the door as well, because although it is not normally visible it will make cleaning that much easier. Open the door and fix it in position with a wedge underneath, leaving both hands free for painting. This will also ensure the door stays where it is until the paint has dried. Plan to finish painting each area in one session to avoid the edge line showing up where painting is restarted.

london painters decorators

Panel doors
Preferably use a 50mm brush, although you can use a 25mm one to make it easier to cut into mouldings. Don’t overload the brush when painting the mouldings, as a build-up of paint will cause runs.

Flush doors
A 60mm or 75mm brush is best; if you prefer, a pad or suitable roller can be used. Any of these will enable you to complete the work quickly and join up all the edges before they start to dry. When painting hinges, clean out the newly painted screw slots with a screwdriver before the paint has started to dry. Wipe the blade immediately after use. Clearing the slots is essential as you may want to remove the door at a later stage or adjust the hinges.

Painting over wallpaper

Some textured papers provide an ideal surface on which to paint, but thinner types can present problems.
london painter decorator painting walls
Make sure the paper is well stuck down because the paint can soften the paper and cause it to bubble. The safest way to check the possible results is first to paint a small inconspicuous area, such as behind a piece of furniture permanently placed against the wall. If bubbles result you will either have to make minor repairs to the paper in the same way as for ceiling bubbles or strip off the paper completely. You may find the texture or pattern of some papers will still show through, even after two or three coats of paint, and seams between lengths that were overlapped when hung will become more evident.

Painting doors, walls & windows

General preparation
decorator london painting woodwork
For general woodwork wash down the surface with sugar soap, washing soda or a proprietary paint cleaner, rinse off with plenty of clean water and allow to dry thoroughly. Fill in any cracks or holes in the wood with a proprietary wood filler. Make a key for the new paint by lightly rubbing down the old gloss to remove the shine with medium fine wet and dry glasspaper wrapped round a wood or cork block. Lightly wet the glasspaper to reduce the spread of dust and rub with the grain. With painted walls wash down as for woodwork to remove all grease and dirt. If gloss paint has been used previously, key the surface with wet and dry glasspaper wrapped round a wood or cork block. Fill any cracks in the plaster with proprietary plaster filler, glasspapering smooth when dry. Make good any damaged plaster.

Painting techniques
painters decorators painting window
When you apply free-flowing oil-based paints with a brush, spread and lay off the paint in the following way to avoid runs and sags. Spread a liberal coat using strong pressure on the bristles, finishing with long parallel strokes along the grain. Wiping any surplus paint on the sides of the can or paint kettle, apply lighter strokes across the surface to provide an even spread. Finally lay off with lighter strokes from the tips of the bristles along the original direction. With emulsion paints, which are water-based and usually heavy bodied, or the gel type non-drip gloss paints, use the minimum of brushing out. Apply with even, random strokes to ensure a full application without paint running. Keep the brushing of non-drip gloss to a minimum, as too much brushing or over-stirring will only make the paint too thin. A second coat of gloss can be applied within 12-24 hours. Alternatively leave the paint at least four days to harden, then lightly rub down the surface with fine glasspaper and dust off before applying a second coat. Always wipe the surface of the paint with a rag when dusting off before the second coat.

Painting walls

painters decorators painting walls
Paint a complete wall without a break to avoid edges showing through. If you have to stop, make sure you break off when you reach a corner, such as on a chimney-breast. Use a 100 or 130mm brush, paint pad or roller, working away from the natural light to see where you have painted. With emulsion paint work in 300mm deep horizontal strips across the wall in downward strokes, starting at the top. With oil-based paint work in 600mm squares. If the paint is drying too quickly and the edges cannot be joined up in time to avoid unsightly marks, lower the temperature by turning off any heating to slow down drying. Reverse the procedure when work is complete to accelerate drying.

Painting faults

Pimples
Particularly noticeable in shiny, gloss surfaces, these are caused by specks of dust which may have been on the surface, on the brush or in the paint itself. Or a very fine skin on the surface of the paint (especially non-drip gloss) may have got broken and worked into the paint on application.

Make sure the surface is clean and free of dust at each stage of the work: after burning off or rubbing down, and before applying primer, undercoat and top coat. Clean the surface with a tacky (resin-impregnated) rag or a clean, lint-free one dampened with white spirit. Pay particular attention to corners since pockets of dust here, though difficult to clean with a rag, will be picked up on the brush and spread across the surface. Use a pointed stick under the rag to ensure every particle of dust is removed from the corners. Paint brushes must be cleaned and even new brushes need rinsing before use as the bristles will contain some dust and loose hairs. Wipe the lid and rim of the paint can before removing the lid otherwise any dust will fall into the tin. It is a good idea to transfer a small amount of before paint into a clean paint kettle or other container and work from this. If dust falls into the kettle only a small amount of paint will be affected. Clean the room thoroughly before starting work and allow time for dust to settle using paint.

Don’t try to remove specks while the paint is still wet as you will only add to the problem by smearing the paint. Allow the paint to harden for several days; even though it may seem dry after a few hours, only the surface will have dried. Rub down the affected areas with fine wet and dry glasspaper, wash with clean water, dry thoroughly and apply a new finishing coat. Skin often forms on old paint. If you spot it, carefully lift it away before stirring; if it is extremely thin you can stir it into the paint and then strain the paint through fine muslin or mesh.

Flaking
Paint falling away from surface is due to poor preparation or bad use of primer. It can take weeks to show and will usually be confined to small areas on the surface.

Clean and prepare the surface thoroughly. If stripping back to bare wood apply a suitable primer. Emulsion flaking from walls or ceilings normally means you have applied the paint over distemper. Before painting, remove distemper by washing and scraping off the loose material, covering the remainder with a coat of primer sealer.

If flaking occurs in small patches, strip these areas back to the bare surface, fill depressions with fine surface filler and repaint. If flaking is extensive, however, you will have to strip off the whole lot and start again.

Slow drying
Sometimes paint (particularly oil-based paint) will take a few weeks to dry or even remain permanently tacky. This indicates you applied the paint over a dirty or greasy surface, used an unsuitable thinner or did not stir the paint before applying.

Clean and prepare your surface thoroughly paying particular attention to skirtings which tend to collect a build-up of polish from the floor. Always stir the paint. You can add a small amount of proprietary dryer to stocks of old paint but never to new paint, which should be returned to the manufacturer for testing.

If the room is badly ventilated, open the windows for a few days to see if this accelerates drying. If not you will have to strip off all the paint with thinners and start again or refer to the manufacturer for advice.

Blisters
Mostly affecting exterior woodwork, blisters can vary in size from pin heads to large areas. The cause is moisture in the wood or on the surface, trapped between coats of paint, or there may be resinous knots in the wood. Another less common cause is painting over a soft, thick coat. The action of very strong sunshine when any of these conditions exist is likely to cause blistering.

Try to paint external woodwork towards the end of the summer when, ideally, it should have dried out completely. If this is not possible, try to paint in dry, warm conditions. Don’t paint immediately after rainfall or washing down, unless the surfaces are thoroughly dried off. Strip off any thick, soft paint and always apply knotting to all resinous areas after stripping back to bare wood.

Cut off the surface of the blister and with fine wet and dry glasspaper rub back to a sound surface or bare wood if blistering is extensive. Apply knotting and primer as necessary, fill depressions with fine surface filler and apply undercoat and top coat.

Runs, sags and wrinkles
Fine lines or drips on a painted surface result from bad application. Wrinkles are likely to occur on thick, sagging paint.

Do not overload the brush and always brush out each application before adding another. Look at the paint five minutes after application; it may still be possible to brush out any runs.

If you notice runs before the paint has started to dry, brush them out lightly; if paint is drying, you will smear the surface. Or treat as for Pimples.

Dull gloss
Dull finish occurs if thinners used wrongly, surface not properly primed or undercoated. undercoat not given time to dry or finish over brushed or painted in damp or frosty conditions.

Prepare thoroughly. Leave the undercoat to dry for the recommended time, avoid using a thinner in gloss paint and do not apply in damp or frosty weather conditions.

Allow the paint to dry, then rub down lightly with fine glasspaper, dust off and apply a new finishing coat.

Grinning
The colour of the previous coat shows through the dry paint film indicating another coat is needed. Grinning may also occur if you use the wrong undercoat, do not stir paint sufficiently, thin it too much or overbrush finishing coat.

Use the correct undercoat and the recommended number of finishing coats. Make sure you stir the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Never brush out the finishing coat too far.

Apply extra finishing coats as needed.

Brush marks
These can be seen in the finished paint. The cause is insufficient rubbing down of the old paint surface, faulty application (applying the paint too thickly and not brushing out correctly) or using poor quality brushes.

Carefully prepare the surface, making sure poor paint is rubbed right back. Apply the paint evenly and finish brushing out in the direction of the grain. Slightly thin excessively thick paint and always use good quality brushes.