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.

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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.

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.

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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.


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.

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.

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

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.)

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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

Choosing the paint colour scheme

Before choosing your colour scheme there are several considerations to be taken in account. If you are fortunate enough to be decorating a large, well lit room, with a southerly aspect, you will be free to experiment with almost any colour scheme you may have in mind. On the other hand, if the room is on the small side the use of warm colours will make it look smaller still. The effect can be quite cosy, but also claustrophobic. Aim at increasing the sense of space as much as possible. This involves using dull, cool colours on most of the larger surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors. The sense of space can be further increased if you incorporate the colours used in the small room into a larger, neighbouring room.

This will prevent the small room from seeming to be cut off from the rest of your home. The pattern of the curtains in the small room might well be used for the wallpaper in the next room. If you paint one wall in a darker colour than the others, it will have the effect of opening up the room. Don’t choose a colour that contrasts too strongly with the others. The effect may be to diminish the room size. A room may be dark either because the window is small or because it faces north.

The use of dark colours over large areas of such a room will tend to accentuate the darkness. If the room is used mostly in the evening, find out if the colours you choose will look very different in the shop compared to your home. Shop lighting is deliberately chosen for display purposes, and is usually much brighter than domestic illumination. It is best to concentrate on light colours, as these will brighten the room considerably. If your room is quite high, paint the ceiling in a dark shade. This will have the effect of lowering the ceiling. Don’t use this method if your room is of an average height, as the result will be to ‘lower’ the room to an uncomfortable extent.

Paint Colour,Chromatic intensity

Chromatic intensity refers to the chromatic brilliance of a colour. Adding grey to any colour will lower its intensity. Of the primary colours, red has the highest intensity, followed by yellow, then blue. The intensity of the colours you choose will affect your colour scheme in a number of ways. A room decorated in very intense colours will be highly stimulating-reminiscent of the colours at a funfair. However, you’ll find such strong colours quite unsuitable for a living room and other leisure areas of your house, where you spend a lot of time. Only use intense colours in small doses. Flowers, cushions and ornaments present excellent opportunities for highly colourful temporary displays. Remember that a room decorated totally in low intensity colours can be very dull. The stimulus of stronger colours in small areas of the room is essential. Try to create a balance between the two extremes. For living areas, it’s a good idea to concentrate on gradual colour changes for the walls. For instance, you could start off with a brilliant red and, by adding more and more green, merge gradually into a rich brown. In the same way, you can merge yellow into cream, or blue into steel grey. By adding white or black you can change a colour totally. For example, red can be turned into a restful pink by adding white. The intensity of the colour you choose should be related to the size and shape of the surface to be covered. Warm colours like red, orange and yellow are very dominant particularly in a small room. This can be extremely tiring on the eye. Such colours are best used for highlighting the colour of objects like lampshades and ornaments. Blues and greens are cool, retiring colours. They are good when used as background shades. Objects painted in these colours tend to lose definition. This can be useful in painting ugly but essential-furniture. You would be well advised to avoid the use of contrasting full intensity colours, such as red and green or orange and violet. They can provide initial excitement, but the long term effect will be tiring and dazzling.

The use of colour in the home

A good sense of colour is essential if your interior decor is to be a success. Apart from the technical skills involved in painting and paper hanging, you need to be able to combine colours and patterns for maximum appeal. With a little care you can choose a colour scheme that will add greatly to the beauty and comfort of your home. Before starting to decorate your home, you should spend some time considering various colour schemes. When choosing colours that go well together there are no real hard and fast rules to bear in mind, and there is no such thing as a good or bad colour. People’s reactions to colour vary tremendously, and your feelings about a particular combination of colours might be quite different from someone else’s. The kind of colour scheme you choose will depend very much on the use to which a particular room is to be put. For instance, a good colour scheme for a study might be mainly brown-dark leather chairs with mahogany furniture and woodwork. The walls could be a cream or light chocolate colour, and the carpet a plum colour. Silver ware could be placed around on shelves, or in a glass fronted cupboard. With this sort of colour scheme the effect will be of solid and subdued comfort. This kind of colour scheme is ideal for a room like a study. In rooms where you relax for lengthy periods of time the emphasis should be on cheerful yet unobtrusive colours. Try not to be too influenced by the latest fashion in colours. Many people have followed the latest trends slavishly-often with disastrous results. Your own tastes, combined with careful judgment, are far more important. When discussing colour schemes, the main concern is how to combine different colours successfully. It is here that you will benefit on how to get the most out of your personal preferences.

Colour properties

A very great deal has been written about the theory of colour. Before choosing a colour scheme for a particular room you should know about the basic properties of colour. These are hue, tonal value and chromatic intensity. Hue is the quality which distinguishes one colour from another-red and blue for example. Black, neutral greys, and white have no hue. There are three basic groups of colour primary, secondary and tertiary. The colours in the primary group are red, yellow and blue. By mixing any two of these together you can get orange, green and purple. These are the secondary colours. Tertiary colours are mixtures of primary and secondary colours-adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. They are yellow green, blue green, blue violet, red violet, red orange and yellow orange. Altogether, twelve colours go to make the colour wheel, This will be of considerable help to you when working out possible colour combinations. Tonal value refers to the lightness, or darkness, of a colour. For example, yellow is lighter than all but the palest of violets. Light tones are more reflective than darker colours. This is why dark rooms are made brighter by the use of light coloured paints. On the other hand, rooms with large windows, with plenty of access to sunshine, will remain light and cheerful even with a very dark colour scheme. A colour scheme made up of subtle tone changes will make a room seem larger and play down the appearance of awkward shaped furniture. Such a scheme will give a quiet overall effect. You should pick out something in an opposite shade to the general colour scheme. This will provide a point of interest and prevent the room be,coming boring. Strong tonal contrasts catch the eye. Your furniture wilt stand out where such a colour. scheme is used. A contrast between the walls and curtains will make a room look much smaller. The reason for this is that the different surfaces will be ‘cut up’, or separated. You’ll find that the effect can be pleasantly lively and stimulating. An understanding of tone is one way of making sure that you use colour attractively. Two colours which do not seem to combine satisfactorily may well do so when one of them is lightened or darkened.