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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.