Stripping paint

A new coat of paint can transform a room. But you’ll be wasting your time if you don’t make sure the surface is properly prepared. A sound paint film, even if it is several layers thick is a perfectly suitable base for repainting. Just give it a quick rub down with medium coarse glasspaper wrapped round a wood or cork block, dust well and the surface is keyed ready for its first coat.
paint stripping door

A heavy build-up of paint on the closing edges of doors and windows can result in sticking and adding another coat of paint on top of the old layers will only accentuate this problem. There is no need to remove the old paint from the whole surface though; trimming away from the edges themselves is sufficient. If the paint is peeling, pitted, badly chipped or crazed, however, then the only way you will achieve a satisfactory and long-lasting surface is to strip back to bare wood ready for filling and making smooth before starting to repaint. There are three ways of stripping: by hand (or mechanical) sanding or applying chemicals or heat.

Hand sanding
This method is suitable only when a very thin film of paint has to be removed. Use a piece of medium coarse wet and dry glasspaper wrapped round a wood or cork block and be prepared to exert plenty of elbow grease when rubbing. Wetting this type of glasspaper reduces the spread of dust.

Mechanical sanding
There are various sanding attachments for electric drills, but circular ones are not easy to work with and there is a real danger of scoring the wood if the correct technique is not used. If the wood is scored, you will have to do a great deal of repair work before you can repaint it. A drum sander is the best attachment to use. This comprises a foam drum onto which an abrasive belt is fixed. The belt action is along the grain so avoiding any circular scuffs to the surface of the wood. The action is efficient and quick, the only drawback being excessive dust. Various grades of abrasive belts, from coarse to fine should be used. When dealing with a really thick film start with a coarse grade and switch to a fine grade for the final sweep.

After a quick dusting down and a wipe with a cloth dampened with white spirit, you can begin repainting. You can take off a heavy coat of paint more rapidly with a special power drill accessory known as a paint and varnish remover. This is a chuck-held metal disc with perforations punched through the surface to allow the loosened material to pass through the disc without clogging. When sanding, take the work outside whenever possible to avoid too much mess indoors and, for personal safety, use a dust mask (to cover up your nose and mouth) and protective spectacles or goggles.

Chemical stripping
Decorating shops stock chemical strippers under various brand names. Use a jelly type as it will adhere to the paint longer and will not run on vertical surfaces. Chemical stripper can be expensive so it is not really suitable for large areas, nor where a thick film otpaint has to be removed as two or even three applications may be needed before bare wood is reached. Pour a little of the stripper into a metal container and, using an old paint brush, apply liberally. After a few seconds the paint will start to shrivel and you can remove it with a flat paint scraper. Keep this as upright as possible to prevent digging into the wood and damaging the surface. To strip paint from mouldings or other awkward crevices use a shave-hook. The best type is a heartshaped scraper which has a series ofintricate shapes around the workhead lor dealing with all types of angles and curves. When all the old paint has been removed, apply a thin layer of stripper and finish off by rubbing over the surface with medium steel wool. To make the wool last longer, tear off small amounts from the main ball and, as you work, turn the piece inside out until all the edges have been used. This final rub over will remove all small nibs of paint not obvious to the eye. Chemical stripper will remain in small traces on the surface and must be neutralized before applying fresh paint. So, using a constant supply of clean rags, wipe down the surface thoroughly with white spirit or the solvent recommended by the brand manufacturer. You must wear an old pair of leather or thick rubber gloves, protective spectacles or goggles and preferably a dust mask as well. And remember to protect the floor covering with newspapers.

Heat stripping
Blowtorches have come a long way since the days when they were filled with paraffin or methylated spirit and needed energetic pumping before igniting. Today they are much easier to use since the simple burner head unit fits onto a throw-away gas cartridge or you could use an electric one which is safer. When ignited you can adjust the power of the flame by turning a ridged screw. Before tackling your surface, it is worth getting the feel of the blowtorch by practising on a scrap piece of painted wood. Hold the blowtorch at a constant distance, about 150-200mm from the paintwork. Play it back and forth across a small area and when the paint starts to wrinkle and melt it is ready for scraping off. If the paint sticks, play the flame over the area again and resume scraping. Take care not to scorch the wood by concentrating the flame for too long on one spot.

Switch to a chemical stripper if the paint is thick in mouldings and around window frames, where a build-up of heat can easily crack the glass. If you do scorch the wood, glasspaper or scrape back to bare wood before repainting. As with chemical stripping, some paint particles will be left and these should be glasspapered down. Be careful when using the flame under the house eaves as birds often build their nests here and these can be easily set alight. When you are working near open windows, tie back the curtains and place a metal sheet on the floor to catch the hot paint peelings. Wear an old pair of leather or rubber gloves and protective spectacles or goggles.

Cleaning painting equipment

This is always an unpopular job, but if you want to ensure a long life for your painting equipment you must clean it thoroughly after use.

Brushes
Wipe off surplus oil-based paint by running the bristles across the back of a knife over the open paint can or newspaper. Then hall-fill a container (a jam jar or old bowl will do) with white spirit (turpentine substitute) to clean off what is left. Press the bristles well into the liquid before removing and wiping dry with a rag. Cleaning off the final traces of paint is easier if you rub a little linseed oil well into the bristles before finally washing out with warm water and washing-up liquid or kitchen soap. Then rinse in cold water, shake well and hang up to dry. (If necessary make a hole in the handle to take a piece of wire or string for hanging. ) You can use this cleaning liquid again if you keep it in a screw-top jar, but decant it and leave behind the sediment. Proprietary brush cleaners in liquid form are effective, but costly, and usually have a pungent smell. Follow the same procedure for water-based paints, but use only warm water and washing-up liquid and then rinse in cold water.

Rollers and pads
Clean immediately alter use or the pile will stiffen and clog and be ruined. Both rollers and pads are better used with water-based paints as they only require thorough washing under a running tap – hot or cold. If, however. you use them with oil-based paints you must go through the same method of cleaning as for brushes. Use the roller tray for cleaning so you wash the tray at the same time. If you previously kept the tray clean with a layer of kitchen foil, you may prefer to use your old bowl for cleaning off or line the tray with a clean piece of foil and clean the roller in that. Hang up rollers to dry since if you leave them lying around they will develop a flat edge.

Storing
Before storing away brushes. wrap them in newspaper or brown paper, folding carefully so as to keep a square end to the bristles, and secure around the ferrule with an elastic band or string. Don’t leave them unwrapped or moths may get at the bristles. Once dry, rollers and pads can be stored flat and unwrapped in a paint tray.

Painting pads

Pads are becoming increasingly popular, especially for use on walls and ceilings, because they are simpler, quicker and less tiring to use than brushes. The basic pad is a foam rectangle fixed to a metal or plastic handle, with fine mohair pile ‘bristles’ on the surface of the foam. The largest size being ideal for ceilings and walls and the smallest for doors, skirtings and narrow sections. There are special pads for window frames, mouldings and radiators. As well as individual pads. you can also buy sets of various sizes, sometimes including a handy paint trough incorporating a plastic roller. This roller transfers paint from the trough to the pad, ensuring it is not overloaded. The more usual loading method is direct from the can, paint kettle or an old metal tray. Remember when loading to cover only the mohair and wipe off the excess onto the container before painting. A thin, all-over coating of paint on the pile is a1l you need for successful application. Some pads can be detached from the handle, making replacement easy.

A hollow-handle type is available to take a broom handle which can act as an extension pole. Pads will cope quickly with smooth walls and ceilings; they will also give a good covering to lightly textured surfaces. Unfortunately the short pile will not cope with deeper textures without using excessive pressure, causing the paint to ooze out and drip from the loam backing.

Using a pad
You must first rub the pad over your hand to remove any loose pile. Load it carefully. use with random strokes and don’t brush out too far before reloading. Clean cutting into corners is a big advantage with a pad, but if you are painting up to wallpaper which is not going to be changed it might be easier to finish off the edges with a 25mm paint brush. Provided you load and use a pad correctly, you can work quickly with far less danger of splashing than with a brush or roller. Keep old pads, even when the pile has worn down, as they will be useful for odd jobs such as soaking wallpaper prior to stripping or applying size to walls.

Paint rollers

These really come into their own on large areas of wall and ceiling. Provided you use the correct type for the job you will get as good a finish as with brushes or pads. Although better suited to emulsion and other water-based paints, rollers can be used to apply oil-based types, but the finish will be slightly stippled. Three basic types are available.

decorators painting walls

Foam
The cheapest type and a good general purpose roller. It gives a reasonable finish and is best suited to the application of water-based paints. Don’t overload it, as paint tends to drip easily from foam; if you press too hard paint will ooze out of the ends. If squashed while stored away, a roller will lose its shape. New sleeves can be fitted when necessary. You can also use this type of roller for applying wallpaper paste * especially with wall coverings, where the paste is applied direct to the wall.

Mohair
Here a short, fine pile sleeve is fixed to a rigid cylindrical frame which you can remove for cleaning. Suitable for use with all types of paint, it is ideal for the application of oil-based ones if you want a really smooth gloss finish.

Lamb’s wool or nylon
Available in a variety of pile lengths and thicknesses which will deal with many different types of surface, this is probably the most popular type of roller for applying water-based paints to walls and ceilings. For the best results always match a roller to the surface you are painting. Follow the general rule of a smooth surface needing a short pile and a rough surface a longer one and you will not go far wrong. Pile lengths vary from 6mm to 31mm. Bearing in mind what type is best used where, choose either a foam, short pile mohair, lamb’s wool or nylon roller for smooth or lightly textured surfaces. For highly textured surfaces pick a long shaggy pile lamb’s w6ol or nylon type. For outside walls buy a roller with a tougher pile specially designed for exterior use, as this will be more durable on rough surfaces such as stucco or pebbledash.

Don’t use a short pile roller on a heavily textured surface as the pile will not reach right into the indentations and the paint will not cover properly. Conversely a long, shaggy pile used on a smooth surface will coat too heavily. Small rollers in a variety of pile types are available for reaching behind radiators and small pipes.

Other equipment
To load your roller ready for use you will need a special paint tray (sometimes supplied with it) which is sloped at one end. Pour the paint into the deep end and load the roller by rolling hall the pile through the paint and moving up the slope to spread the paint evenly over the pile and remove any surplus. To save cleaning the tray after use, line it with aluminium foil, which you can throw away when you have finished. A step ladder with a top platform, on which to place the tray when painting ceilings, is essential unless your tray has special hooks that latch onto one of the top steps. If you do not have a step ladder you can paint ceilings from ground level with a hollow-handled roller into which you insert a long pole. For corners and edges you will need a 25mm paint brush. Paint these areas first, working round the perimeter of the ceiling.

Using a roller
To avoid splashes make sure the roller is not overloaded. Remove any excess while it is still in the tray. Take it carefully to the work surface to avoid ‘spinning’ and when it needs reloading never pull or push it sharply from the surface.

Use the roller in random directions in a crisscross pattern (to ensure even distribution of the paint) and join up all these ‘wet’ patterns before the paint has started to dry. This will be no problem as rolling paint is far quicker than working with a brush. Though oil-based paints can be cleaned off, it is a long, messy job and we recommend you keep your roller for use with water-based paints only. Most painters & decorators think it is better to keep two rollers, one for each.

Store the roller, when cleaned and dry, in a polythene bag . Avoid using a roller with water-based paints over long periods in excessively hot weather because the paint tends to dry hard on the pile. If you are painting in these conditions, wash out the roller once or twice when you reach a natural breaking-off point, such as the end of a wall.

Paint brushes

Even with all the new additives and manufacturing processes now used to make painting easier, a first class finish can often be ruined if you don’t have a good paint brush. So don’t waste your money buying a brush that will have a limited life but buy the best quality you can afford and look after it.

painter decorator london robuild

Pure hog’s bristle
This is the very best quality, with bristles set in rubber mastic which is then vulcanized to hold them firmly. The rough-textured bristles hold paint well and the natural taper at the tips enables you to apply a smooth, even coat.
A good check for pure bristle is to bend the bristles back to 90 degrees to make sure they are well bulked and have a stiff, springy feel. A good length of bristle (known as the filling) is also important so is price -the more you pay the better the brush.

Artificial fibre bristle
This is either cheap animal hair or ny1on,-the closest synthetic material to pure bristle. Although the bristles may be well bulked they will not have that all-important springy feel. And, being smoother, they will not hold the paint nearly so well or bind sufficiently at the tips. This will result in brush marks on the finished surface. The worst of the cheap brushes contain the minimum of bristle causing a ‘mouth’ through their centre. You can see this if you bend back the bristles and it becomes even more noticeable when dipped in the paint. This type of brush holds very little paint and the bristles are likely to work loose as you are painting. Even worse is when the ferrule (the metal band joined to the handle and covering the bristles is loose and moves when in use.

All brushes – even the best quality will shed hairs at first; before you use one for the first, dip it in clean water and brush it out on a rough surface such as an outside wa11 of your house. Wash it in soap and water to remove dust and any loose hairs, rinsing out thoroughly in clean, cold water. Finally, dry it out by first squeezing the bristles and then spinning the handle between your palms. Leave to dry. Before using, ensure the brush is thoroughly dry, as moisture will affect your finish. This is particularly important with oil-based and gloss paint. With water-based and emulsion types, paint will trickle down the handle if the brush is damp. especially when working overhead.

Cutting-in brush
Used for painting window frames, this brush has bristles cut at an angle to allow for the normal 3mm overlap onto the glass. (With an ordinary brush, even in the steadiest hand, you get smudges on the glass.) You can make one yourself by cutting to an angle the bristles of an old brush.

Crevice and radiator brushes
The long wire handle can be bent to any shape and this, with the shaped head, allows you to paint awkward areas, such as behind radiators and pipes.

Temporary storage
For short periods between painting you can wrap the bristles tightly in kitchen foil or a plastic bag(which is preferable to putting the brush in water) as this will delay the paint from drying on the brush. A brush to be used with oil-based paint frequently over several weeks is best stored by suspending the bristles in a container with a mixture of three parts white spirit (not paraffin) and one part linseed oil. Before using the brush again, wipe out the bulk of the liquid and brush off any surplus on a clean dust-free piece of wood or hardboard.

Paints

Primer
This may be oil or water-based and is used to seal unpainted surfaces to prevent further coats of paint soaking in. It is vital to use the right type of primer for the surface being painted wood. metal or plaster although there is an all-purpose primer available.

Undercoat
Usually oil-based, undercoat is applied between primer and top coats to build up the surface and provide the right colour base for the finish paint.

Enamel
Term was used by manufacturers as synonymous with gloss; now commonly used to describe an alkyd modified paint.

Anti-condensation
For use in steamy conditions, such as in kitchens and bathrooms, this paint is specially formulated to prevent the surface becoming cold to the touch and therefore less conducive to condensation. It is not a cure for condensation, only a way of reducing its effect on painted surfaces. (Normal emulsion paints are satisfactory here, provided the level of steam is not too high.)

Fire-retardant
Containing an additive to provide a fire-resistant quality, this type will not resist fire completely, but has a greater resistance than ordinary paint and will reduce the spread of flames. Use it as an added safety measure on expanded polystyrene ceiling tiles or timber, hardboard and chipboard or any combustible surface which can be painted.

Anti-burglar
Two types are available, both nontoxic. One remains slippery when dry and is used particularly to prevent people climbing walls. The other dries on the surface, but sticks to the hand when pressure is applied. White spirit will take off the paint, at the same time releasing a dye which cannot be removed.

Bituminous
Thick and usually black, this is for areas where high water resistance is needed. Apply it with an old paint brush on the inside of your cast iron gutters and metal cold water tank.

Never apply normal gloss or oil-based types over bituminous paint before applying a coat of aluminium sealer; otherwise the bitumen will bleed through and stain the fresh paint brown.

Decorating tips

painter decorator london

To avoid bending the hairs of a brush when keeping it in a jar of water or spirit, drill a small hole through the handle near the bristles. This will allow you to hang it on a piece of stiff wire resting across the rim of the jar. This method of storage avoids stiffening.

As an excellent substitute for proprietary plastic wall plugs, dip cotton wool or old bandage in cellulose filler such as Polyfilla and pack it tightly into the hole. Let it dry before inserting the screw.

When drilling plaster, stick a small piece of transparent tape over the spot where you will drill. This will stop the drill slipping, and also keep the plaster from chipping.

Old polished furniture covered with dirt and a thick build-up of wax is best cleaned with an old fashioned brass polish such as Brasso. This is mildly abrasive, and will remove the wax without harming the varnish.

Measuring across the top of an alcove single-handed can be tricky. You can save trouble by cutting the ends of two battens to a point and laying them together so that they overlap with the points outwards. Hold this arrangement across the alcove and slide the battens apart until they touch the sides, then make a pencil mark across both battens. Take them down and rearrange them so that the pencil marks line up again, then measure across the battens from point to point. These ‘pinch sticks’ can also be used for measuring the inside diagonals of frames when checking them for square.

If you have to drill a lot of holes to the same depth, as you would for wall plugs, make a simple depth stop for your drill by cutting a piece of rubber or plastic tube to a suitable length and slipping it over the drill bit. You can also use dowel drilled down the middle.

Old well-stuck or waterproof wallpaper can be removed by scratching the surface thoroughly with coarse sandpaper or a wire brush (either can be mounted on a power drill to speed things up). Then brush on warm water, preferably with a little vinegar or soda (but not both) added. When the paper begins to bubble up, scrape it off in the usual way. Water with washing-up liquid also helps.

Store paint tins upside down. This will stop air entering the tin and forming a crust on the paint.

Before cutting and hanging wallpaper, undo each roll and check for faults and colour matching. Even if the batch number stamped on the back of each roll is the same (which it should be) there may still be discrepancies. When batch numbers differ there can be marked differences.

Paint of any type will cover corners better if the corners have been slightly rounded.

Large plastic washing-up liquid and floor polish containers with moulded-in handles can be cut to make useful paint containers that can be hung up when you are working on a ladder. But check that the type of paint you are using doesn’t dissolve the plastic.

When painting around a window, allow the paint to flow slightly on to the glass; this gives a watertight seal.

Colours and paints

Colours are the key to success in the modern homes and can be used boldly and imaginatively. The often seen whites and the neutral colours of natural surfaces have been eliminated. The cold and clinical impression, frequently associated with the ‘modern’ look, should be been done away with because of the exciting and original colour treatment in a London home.

painting decorating london

The dominant colour of the house and whether used all over, as in the dining room, or lightened to a colour wash of shocking pink, as in the main bedroom, it gives a feeling of warmth and friendliness. The house is mainly on one level and built in a T-shape, surrounded by an attractive courtyard and garden. All the bedrooms, apart from the main suite and the spare room, are on the ground floor. The feeling of space has been preserved through the use of glass and the closeness of the garden. Lighting is totally up-to-date, with downlighters, spotlights and kinetic lights for effect. Dimmers have been used to give added adaptability to the lighting schemes. There are no standard lamps in the house and only one table light, on the study desk. The totally modern feeling starts at the front door which is made of stainless steel. All the hall doors are laced in stainless steel with matching architraves, and white sand cement rendered walls and ceiling. The colour comes from a collection of bold avant-garde prints in stainless steel frames. Entering into the sitting room, there is a feeling of openness and spaciousness. The huge windows link the interior to the garden outside. A generously cushioned seating pit in the centre of the room is closely carpeted with a white shaggy rug. The jumbo cushions are covered in linen with a geometric pattern of maroon, black and white. At the far end of the seating pit is a rectangle of stainless steel, set into the floor’ This is the lid to the hi-fi system, cleverly concealed underneath it.

The system is piped throughout the house. The idea of building the hi-fi literally into the floor or ceilings is a good one, because the DVD, music records, etc are easy to change from the nearby seats and the equipment does not clutter the room with extra furniture. The outside perimeter of the room is covered with brindle-coloured quarry tiles. At the end of the room, in two arched recesses, are large fitted mahogany bookshelves with cupboards below. The arch on the left side is a concealed door. The whole unit can be swung open easily and it leads into the exciting garden room. The reason for a concealed door-besides being a good topic for conversation!-is that it makes the garden room into a private, quiet place.

It also means the room can be effectively shut off in cold weather. The huge door is built on the same principle as a bank safe door. Being heavy, it is supported on three stainless steel strap hinges. The leading edge of the door is on a roller which runs on a stainless steel track. The garden room is a kaleidoscope of colour with cheerful zig-zag stripes painted along two walls. The louvred doors conceal Top: The original and bold colour treatment in the garden room leaves a decisive and unforgettable impression. A mini-kitchen and fitted cupboards are neatly concealed behind the louvred doors.

Visual emphasis

Every room needs some sort of emphasis in the colour scheme to give point to the whole design. For instance, the table in a dining area could be emphasized with flowers. They will be shown off to better effect if the pattern of the wallpaper is not too strong. The visual emphasis in a room should relate to its function. In a dining area the main function is eating-which centres around the table. If too strong a colour or pattern is used here, the table will be subdued-where it needs to be highlighted. Once you have learn the basic rules of planning colour schemes you will be able to experiment more ambitiously. A well planned colour scheme will make your home much more attractive to the visitor-as well as a more comfortable place to live.

The best colour scheme for your home

When choosing a colour scheme it is often hard to know where to begin. Colours work best when they are related to their surroundings. For instance, the view from the window may suggest the dominant colour for a particular room. A picture, or the pattern in a set of curtains, may lead to a starting off point. Select a subordinate colour in the picture, or pattern, as the dominant colour in your scheme for the room. Remember, there is no such thing as the ‘right way’ of choosing colours. If you intend to keep the existing carpets or curtains it is quite pointless selecting colours which clash with them. Always start with what you have, and build from there. As far as possible, consider the walls and curtains first. These cover the major area in any room.

Next, choose the colour or pattern of the carpet, and the colour of the ceiling. Having selected the colour scheme for the major areas of the room, you should consider the shade and patterns for any upholstery. Now you can think about the smaller objects in the room-like ornaments and small cushions. If your basic colour scheme is in light and restful shades, splashes of stronger colours will add interest to the room. Remember, any colours you consider must be seen in relation to the room you are decorating before a definite choice is made. Mistakes are difficult to avoid completely-but they can be kept to a minimum. The final result of a successful colour scheme should be one of harmony, there should be some sort of theme. Try to establish a definite connection between living areas. This can be done by using the same dominant colour, or pattern, on walls or in curtaining. A living room, where you wish to relax and spend a lot of time, will benefit from subdued rather than pretty patterns. Also, there should be no strong contrasts in colour, or tone. Pretty patterns and strong contrasting colours are best used in rooms which are only used for brief periods-like bathrooms.

A sense of balance and proportion is all important. Colours and patterns should help to highlight the focal point in a room-be it a fireplace or a large table. Try to create a balance between patterned and plain surfaces. If you do this the eye will be neither over-stimulated or bored. Every room needs some light areas, no matter how dark the overall effect of the colour scheme is. Some surfaces, or objects, should be accentuated even in the most subdued of rooms. A room decorated in warm colours needs a cold colour somewhere for visual relief.