Interior painting and decorating period property
When painting and decorating period property, homeowners should seek out professionals who not only know the “old school” way, but can work with modern materials, techniques and kit
It isn’t easy to find decorating specialists who have an appreciation of traditional finishes and construction techniques, and have also embraced all that modern technology and efficient equipment has to offer.
If you read below how Traditional Painter associates think and operate, you will get an idea of the level of craftsmanship required to guarantee highest quality results in a timely fashion with minimum fuss.
Obviously, not everything new is best, but in general terms, it really isn’t good enough to be covered in dust, stinking the house out with turps, and making a Hamiltons bristle paint brush do all the work.
Instead, working smart with high specification kit and materials, a motivated and interested generation of pro decorators can deliver the best work in less time, or with less disruption, than the old school decorators still stuck in their 1980’s thinking
You should expect your painters and decorators to apply the same level of cleanliness and attention to detail, regardless of the type or scale of interior decorating work they take on.
On period properties, especially those still occupied, vacuum extraction sanding should be an absolute must and minimum requirement.
Low odour water-borne paints have come on leaps and bounds, and the brushes and rollers that have come to the market in the last 3 years have revolutionised the quality and speed of application.
Modern spray equipment and access equipment, abrasives and conditioners, brush cleaners, work wear even, all play their part in moving services and end results out of the realm of average decorating.
If you read below and appreciate the difference between a job that will do and a job done thoroughly with pride, one or some of those craftsmen in your area will be well worth a call!
This is a summary of a comprehensive approach to an interior painting and decorating job done right, to Traditional Painter standards.
To protect your carpets or hardwood flooring, we tend not to default to dusty cotton sheets. Of course they have their place, but the first thought is to protect precious surfaces with paper and plastic, or specialist products like Correx. Initially, it takes more time to set up than draping a sheet once, but it is only done once, and means your carpets and flooring are guaranteed to stay fine throughout the duration of the work. Paper, plastic and floor films are quick and easy to sweep and vacuum. An easy-to-clean room makes it simple to keep the paintwork nice and dust free. Olde fashioned tidying up time is now spent on productive work instead.
Hepa vacuum and dust extraction sanders are standard. Even sanding all day, we are going to generate minimal dust, even compared to those decorators who do the absolute minimum, rubbing down with a piece of aluminium oxide paper bolted to a pole sander.
Prepare and paint woodwork
For interior woodwork, we sand, fill, skim fill skirtings, and would usually apply at least 3 coats of paint, denibbing between coats, cleaning with vacuum and tack rags.
Although we will use oil-based eggshell on kitchen units, increasingly we specify premium acrylic and water-borne paints for interior door frames, skirtings and doors. With the brushes we use and a few tips and tricks, the finish is really nice.
Acrylic trim paint is tough and it will not yellow or lose its sheen. Also it is very fast drying, almost no odour. As an example of user-friendliness, Little Greene acrylic eggshell is Toy Safe certified, and all Mythic trim paint is zero toxic. Eico eggshell is very low VOC.
Where you want something with a bit more sheen, there is Mythic semi gloss enamel. It is shinier than eggshell, but when applied is not so high glossy as conventional gloss. Acrylic latex finishes do not tend to dull either or lose their whiteness. (Some modern oil based white gloss dulls after a year or so anyway, and will look equivalent to the semi gloss!)
We are quietly looking at a genuine high gloss acrylic water-borne paint that will match the highest gloss oil paints. Generally though, a mainstream UK true water based gloss still isn’t around.
Water-borne satin hybrids can look like an oil-based satin finish! Paint advances have come a long way and there is no need to suffer inside from paint fumes.
There are also proven “hybrid” paints for exterior woodwork, such as Sadolin Superdec which perform as you would hope. Despite its marketing clout, Farrow and Ball is nowhere close to being an industry-leading hybrid paint maker.
Oil paints in a modern post 2010 formulation can be problematic in that the drying times have extended, and for some, premature yellowing is an issue. Eggshell is good for an understated finish, and most designer eggshell is around the 20% sheen level of yesteryear.
Tikkurila, Little Greene and their Sandersons and Paint Library colleagues, and Johnstones still seem to have it dead right, with their oil paint performing as expected. (We will be investigating exotic oil paints from Scandinavia and will report back.)
Bottom line, traditional oil finishes are going to be phased out from general use in our lifetime, so no point denying it.
Glazed doors can be painted with sash brushes or sprayed. There is HVLP, Air Assisted Airless or Airless to choose from, depending on scale of work and specification. Ron Taylor has written the definitive guides to spraying acrylic paint
Spindles on stairs, if they are a natural finish now, can be primed with an adhesion primer and painted. For a contrast, leave the handrail in natural timber for a visual high impact change.
“Number 10 Downing St” front doors With thorough preparation including Gras a lacquer, a special oil based fine surface filler, we can improve the glossy sheen on all oil-based paint and water based too. Finish with Sikkens AZ or XD gloss, or Tikkurila Miranol, a thixotropic gloss paint for a sheen to behold.
Walls are sanded as a matter of course these days, to get rid of old filler snots, roller marks etc from the last painters. Dust Eaters can wipe a wall down in seconds, leaving it ready for painting or wallpapering.
The paints available from premium paint suppliers are much more reliable and give a better end result than the usual trade paints being used generally.
For instance, Mythic acrylic flat paint for ceilings is a way better option than trade (vinyl or contract) matt. 1200 colours, it is also so low odour, I doubt you will even know it is being used. Coverage is fantastic, it dries back flat.
High acrylic content wall paints like Little Greene Intelligent emulsion or Tikkurila Eco Joker are premium grade, apparently pricey, but are probably equivalent to, if not more durable than Dulux Diamond matt, at the same or lower price point! That is marketing for you.
If you like the Farrow and Ball sort of traditional look, I would tend to use Little Greene paints instead. They are identical in every way to Farrow and Ball, (ie chalky look, lovely deep Heritage colours,) except the Little Greene Ultimatt is really really tough and the acrylic matt (equivalent to estate emulsion) invariably only needs 2 coats to cover really well. (To disprove the rule, the LG Shirting White has poor coverage though and needs extra coats.)
As one decorator said, he can no longer deny the obvious – Little Greene is fantastic trade quality heritage/period property paint. (That might be what I think he said, but I am not alone in saying it!)
For a superior blemish free wall finish, skim over dinged and damaged painted walls with Toupret TX 120 or 130 filler before painting. Pulsar fine surface filler can be spray applied. This range of marble dust fillers can all be buffed with dust free sanders to give a blotting paper end result, and often require 2 coats of acrylic paint only. So there are ways and means of dealing with any and every surface and requirement while respecting the age of a property.
When you walk into a room that has been decorated by a Traditional Painter, there will never be any doubt that it has been completed to a very high standard.
More information on interior painting and decorating
Protecting your carpets and furniture
Keeping down the dust while work is in progress.
Decorating a damp affected wall
Victorian townhouse, Philadelphia
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Since day one we have been committed to sharing our hard earned knowledge with readers. In our case studies we openly explain how we prepare and paint kitchens and furniture. We also share decades of specialist decorating experience in TP blog articles in the hope that all DIY and trade decorators can take away and use our ideas to achieve better, more professional results.
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