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Bedroom Redecoration by Level 2 student Hertfordshire

Listed under Apprentice decorators seeking employer in Herts, Axus, Blog, newlife paint Posted Nov 10 2013

As part of our Apprentice Corner initiative, this is Simon Verrall’s account of a bedroom redecoration.

Simon is based in Hertfordshire, he has completed Level 1 & 2 National Diploma in Painting and Decorating, finding his own work, reading blogs and researching online. He is planning to go for Level 3, and continue his apprenticeship full time with a professional decorating company willing to take him on.

Specification for Bedroom Redecoration, Private Residence.

room before

· Remove old woodchip wall covering

· Prepare walls for lining with 800 grade lining paper

· Prepare Woodwork for repair & re-paint with W/B undercoat & white eggshell topcoat

· Line Walls & apply two coats of matt emulsion

· Ceiling: N/A (already done as insulation recently added prior to redecoration)

room after

Evaluating the job

Although I know the owners of the property, and have been in this room previously, I was unexpectedly asked to redecorate it after I had visited. I didn’t get the chance to do a proper evaluation of the room. Plus it was fully furnished with large, heavy furniture, which was hiding a lot of problem areas, most of which were soon to appear.

Day one on job

The room had been emptied before I arrived, and the first thing I noticed when I walked in was an area where a TV wall bracket had been, and the holes where the screws etc. had been in the wall.

woodchip fail 20130328_172922

The wall was exposed from woodchip (I believe it came away with the bracket which had been removed before my arrival), so I started examining the area to gauge what repair steps would be necessary to clean up, prepare, fill, and skim.

I noticed there was some loose plaster that was coming away from the wall, which I tried to take back to a sound edge for skimming with Toupret. I couldn’t get enough of a sound edge however, and upon further inspection I soon realised that the plaster beneath the woodchip wasn’t looking good at all. In the end, after inspecting the remaining walls, I resigned myself to using a steam stripper to deliberately blow the unstable plaster on the entire room. Not something I was expecting!

Prepare walls

The picture below highlights the failed plaster and how easily it came away.

failed plaster

Now I was in uncertain territory. Although I’d dealt with steam strippers and blown plaster before, it was on a much smaller scale and the repairs had thankfully been easy and successful. This however would need a little more work.

I ended up going to the shops and bought myself a set of basic plastering trowels, PVA for the chalky/unstable walls, and some Gyproc Easi-Fill, which was recommended to me as a suitable product for this type of ‘emergency’. The PVA bonding coat was straightforward enough, but the Easi-Fill was something I’d never used before, and I’d certainly never plastered!

After a little head scratching, searching YouTube tutorials, and a small dose of anxiety, I set about applying the Easi-Fill by trowel. It’s not easy at first, but soon becomes something you get used to with respect to how to hold the trowel etc. There is certainly an art to plastering, and it’s one I’d like to learn how to do properly one day!

Once the Easi-Fill coat had dried it was time to sand it down. Sadly, this was before I had the luxury of a Mirka Ceros & Extraction unit, so it was the pole sander and aluminium oxide for me! Although I had a Mirka handy with a Henry vacuum cleaner, I didn’t think it was adequate enough for this scale of job. Picture below shows the walls after Easi-Fill skim coat, and during the sanding down.

sand and skim easi fill

Prepare Woodwork

Once the dust had settled overnight, the clean-up began. The walls were wiped down with a very lightly wetted cloth, and vacuumed after with the attachments. Next was the woodwork, which sadly was also not in the best condition.

flaking gloss

The previous owners had painted quickly in a bid to freshen up for sale, and that meant the paint was effectively dead. The paint coating just splintered off the skirting boards. The fact they painted over some sort of stain without preparation of any sort didn’t help. The paint on the window frame, door frame, and skirting all ended up having to be scraped off back to basics.

stripped paintwork

Once filled, I applied a coat of Zinsser BIN to the woodwork. This provided a primer for the undercoat as well as a stain block to hide the dark wood of the frames.

Once the BIN had been applied and allowed to dry, I again lightly dusted/vacuumed the walls to remove any remaining surface dust before starting the job of applying the lining paper.

Lining paper

Happily, I’d already invested in the Olfa Tools MT-1/WP wall paper trimming knife and the Axus Décor wallpaper scissors, which make cutting lengths, and trimming edges a lot easier as they are razor sharp! I’m not a fan of hanging paper at all, I’ll be honest and say it’s probably one of my weaker areas, and which I’m keen to improve on and gain more confidence in. However, having the right tools and equipment does help! Below is a shot of the room after the lining had been completed.

BIN on woodwork

Once the lining was done, I used fine surface filler on a couple of joins in the paper which were visible, and once dry, rubbed it back very carefully with Abranet P400 by hand. I then got busy with the caulk. Skirting, coving, door frame, window frame, it all got a nice clean bead of caulk to finish off and enhance the finish.

Painting walls

As I know the owners, and they trust my judgement, I had pretty much free reign on suggesting paint manufacturers for them. Newlife recycled paint

I’d seen and spoken to Newlife Paints quite a lot on Twitter and was keen to try their products. They were extremely helpful and promptly sent me information and colour cards. Two colours were chosen for this room; Apple Sorbet for the three main walls, and Sea Grass for the smaller wall as a feature.


The paint was lovely to apply, I used a 2.5” Proform Oval to cut in, and a 9” Wooster Pro-Doo-Z, 3/8” nap roller sleeve on the Wooster Sherlock roller frame. Two coats had the room looking really nice!

2 tone green

Paint woodwork

The woodwork paint was sourced by the customer before I arrived; they had been shopping and picked it up. B&Q water based undercoat and water based eggshell. To be fair though, it went on well and two undercoats followed by two coats of eggshell (with a gentle rub down between coats with Abranet P400 on the Mirka Handy), and the woodwork was looking good again.

room after

I’ve been back recently and the room still looks like the day it was done, I’m really pleased with it, and more importantly, so are the owners!

Apprentice Corner

This is us doing our bit to support the next generation coming through into decorating. The blogs we publish here are all the students’ own work, just edited for flow.

Primarily we hope that blogging will do for apprentices what it does for professionals who blog regularly – it opens doors and generates opportunities.

The students who submit blogs, are demonstrating their potential. Many of them will not have a full time job or a mentor to learn from outside the classroom, and need a professional firm to get them through NVQ level 3.

We invite comments below from pros who can give the apprentices some pointers on how certain aspects could be done better next time.

We appreciate you taking the time to read this.

Please share it on Twitter, Facebook, or print it out for reference. Thanks.

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3 comments to “Bedroom Redecoration by Level 2 student Hertfordshire”

  1. Charles Budd

    That’s a good job Simon – the best aspect is the conscientiousness you applied to getting the surfaces back to a sound substrate.

  2. Bruce Co Axus Decor

    Congratulations must go out to Simon, I meet him just over a year ago in CDC Luton whilst he was at college, very keen to know about OLFA & what Axus products we had in.

    I then met him at the P&D show last year and what money he did have was very kindly spent on our stand (even though I know he bought some Wooster, Traitor!!!!)

    Simon and I are in contact through Twitter and he couldn’t be anymore of an inspiration to up and coming decorators, his work ethic is second to none, it’s a great pleasure in knowing him and his continued support.

    Its so refreshing that for once the new decorators are at long last buying the correct tools for the job rather than buying cheap..
    (Money is tight but without the right tools the jobs would take longer)

    Really looking forward in seeing Simon this year at the P&D Show and this time he can’t get away from us as we’re on stand 42 (Right at the entrance!)

    Bring a fat wallet with you Simon you’re gong to need it..

    Congratulation again Simon, you deserve it.

    Now where did I put my order pad?…..

  3. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Im not just saying this because you have read the site from cover to cover and used a lot of our ways and used kit featured on here, but hats off, as Charlie said. That was a tough job and you stuck at it and it does look well. There are a few classic “mistakes” in there, but as a 2nd year student, that’s quite the end result. I bet there a few people will read this, will learn something from you and will use it on their next job or DIY project.

    I have to say, my heart would have sunk discovering the plaster skim was shot. Fair play for sticking at all that prep. Skimming with Easifill or Toupret TX 120 and sanding back with abranet, when you get the hang of it, will produce a top quality result. (I don’t quite understand why you abandoned the Abranet hand sander, it would still have been hard work, but certainly the advantages of clean working conditions and the sanding power of abranet without gashing the surface would have won it for me. )

    If using Toupret tub fillers, they should produce a better painted finish than straight gypsum based plaster skimming. Not saying plasterers cant get a beautiful smooth finish, but the Toupret fillers are designed for taking paint and when buffed, produce a very nice end result. A sanding tip I picked up from Derby Maintenance guy, if you have a thin acrylic emulsion, finish the final sanding with a fine 320 abrasive, or if using a heavier bigger particled vinyl matt, final sand with 180 grade and the paint will lay flat in the “holes” so to speak. Denib between coats with 320 abrasive, it can get like blotting paper smooth.

    Now you have your CEROS sander, you can do these sorts of ultra finishes in double quick time

    The main message really, is you learnt a harsh lesson in not checking a job thoroughly before taking it on. A walk round with a hammer would let you know the extent of the hollow (blown) plaster. Hope you had your time covered for what you did.

    It doesn’t matter how badly adhered that bumped coat of gloss was, its still a lot of work to get it all off and start again. It is commendable that you primed it all up with Zinsser BIN, the right choice in my opinion. I’m sure a lot of pros will say, well, yeah, course it is the right primer, but if you look around and talk around the trade, there is a lot of angst and indecision over which premium performance primers to use when and where. Basically, only shellac primer will definitely hold back stains without any fernagling. Oil based like coverstain or Otex etc can do the job, but you have to think harder about the overall paint system.

    I will leave it there on the work side, I’m sure some folks will have something to add.

    With materials, I hate that you let the client give you B&Q paint to use on the woodwork! That was a risky imposition on their part and I don’t suppose you ever used it at college – for a reason! I guess a bedroom doesn’t need to take much wear and tear, but overall, the cost of paint is such a minor consideration in the whole cost of a decorating job, in future, just go for premium paint that you know works. Newlife – great company and eco ethos. And the only thing that I found Eco Eze is good for is those kettles, I have a few myself, and love that grip.

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