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DIY decorating tools can be such poor quality

Listed under Blog, Equipment Posted Aug 13 2010

Not every tool in a DIY store is junk, but by and large the home brand DIY painting products are abysmal compared to trade standards.

And why would an occasional home decorator need to consider a pro tool? No offense but most homeowners need all the help they can get. Unfortunately, what do Brits get sold at B&Q or Americans at Home Depot? Home brand agony. 

DIY filler

No wonder DIY filling work usually looks amateurish, when all you have to work with is home-brand filler that is coarser than pro filler or hard to sand smooth. Compare whats on the DIY shelves with the trade choices for filler.  

DIY rollers and brushes

No wonder DIYers have trouble with basics, like painting a wall without getting uneven patches or roller lines – the bargain basement sleeves they are sold have no pile on the edges and shoddy pile everywhere else.

Is it any wonder DIY enthusiasts hate painting ceilings, when the “ceiling paint” they are sold is chalky water. And it isn’t cheap either, because it takes 3 coats to cover what pro quality paint is designed to cover in 2 good applications. So, more expensive per square foot than trade paint, and more time-consuming to boot. No wonder so many homeowners hate decorating.

And what is the thinking behind selling an unskilled painter a bristle brush with worse split ends than that girl on the TV shampoo ad? How can anyone paint a straight line with a tool that can’t keep its shape for more than a couple of minutes, and sheds its hairs as soon as you look at it ?

DIY protecting carpets and furniture

And why are the plastic sheets so flimsy that a hard stare will leave a hole in it just big enough for the runny ceiling paint to drip onto the carpet below?

And why is DIY masking tape sold in 25m rolls? Why isn’t it sold in proper 50m lengths, plenty long enough to deal with the requirements of a standard size room? Instead, the half-size roll runs out 5m short, and you have to spend out on more fuel to go get an extra cheap roll (that will stay mostly unused till next year, by which time it has glued itself together) Alternatively you can endure the stress that comes with carrying on working without enough material for the job.

Consider using plastic backed cotton sheets, or go mad and do like I do!

DIY paint tins

And finally, ( I have at least 20 more gripes, but have to draw the line somewhere) what is up with the trend for fancy paint containers that look like they contain 2.5 litres but on closer inspection only hold 2.25? This is a long slippery slope to the rip-off that is a US gallon of paint. 

Please, DIY decorators, don’t take the abuse any more! Don’t buy into the sly marketing ploys of home brand paint manufacturers and megastore moguls telling you one thing and doing another. Their cheap tools aren’t good value, their cheap paint is expensive, the end results from home brand can’t be as good as from even half way decent professional kit.

Where should DIY buy tools and paint

To minimise the chances of despondency setting in, give yourself a fighting chance and go to Dulux Decorator Centers, or if you want to support the small guys, your local independent merchant, and check out their mid-range tools and sundries.

And for paint, apart from whites, trade paint is about the same price as the superstores retail. And for feelgood goes-on-good paint, contact Newlife Paints and order their recycled emulsions, which I can assure you are of trade quality and won’t leave you losing the will to live.

And at least with trade whites, you know you are probably getting some proper body and pigment in a proper size tin. 2.25 litres, whoever came up with that for a size?!!

The End

I will try to put together a list of a kit I bought for my brother and a couple of friends who had a lot of home decorating to do. They were very happy with their equipment and did manage to paint a straight line and got all the paint on the ceiling with a decent roller.

As a starting point, I would suggest a pack of latex gloves to keep your hands clean, and a roll of 1.5″ masking tape and lining paper (cut in half) for protecting round the edges of your skirting boards – before you start doing anything else!

These are some trade tools I use that may be of interest too. They will last a part-time decorator years.

And remember, the marketers don’t know how to paint, and don’t want to learn what it is like to use their own products – they earn enough to employ a professional to do it properly for them.

Footnote: You will see me in B&Q occasionally, and I have a few Wickes items in my toolkit (their tools are between trade and DIY standard), and Wickes heavy-duty 1400 grade lining is the bargain of the year, but I never ever use DIY home brand paints – the cost of labour to apply them is prohibitive!)

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4 comments to “DIY decorating tools can be such poor quality”

  1. acmasterpainter

    Slightly irreverent post about DIY #decorating tools & #painting products https://traditionalpainter.com/diy-decora… inspired by master of DIY? @SmallCasserole

  2. Projectbook

    RT @acmasterpainter: slightly irreverent post about DIY #decorating tools & #painting products https://traditionalpainter.com/diy-decora… inspired by master …

  3. Flora

    Agreed – the materials in DIY shops are usually overpriced and impractical. Why else can some of them have “15% off” events every few weeks? However, the general public can wander into decorating merchants like Brewer’s or Leyland outlets for good advice and quality products. Screwfix is also good on price for a small range of paint, and they’re open seven days a week.

  4. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

    Even the trade outlets have a lot of work to do still. But I agree, overall, DIY are better off at a decorator merchant, especially a local independent, than a DIY superstore

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