Paul Barber Traditional Painter Q&A
I asked Paul Barber Traditional Painter, a few questions in order to provide some background to how he arrived at this point in his career.
What part of the UK do you cover for Traditional Painter?
Northampton, Bedfordshire, Bucks and Hertfordshire. No more than an hour from our base.
At what age did you first wield a paint brush for money? And for how much?
My first week’s pay was £12, within 6 months it had shot up to £40, which was a fair bit of money for a 16 year old in the ’70s.
Can you briefly outline your formal training?
Left school at 16 & went straight into an apprenticeship in the decorating trade, where I was awarded a City & Guilds with distinction after finishing my training.
Who do you consider your “mentor” in your early years, and why? (Name names!)
One of the first mentors from my early days was my charge hand Wally Valantine, a great man and master paper hanger.
What brand paint were you predominantly using on woodwork when you started out?
Permoglaze was a big brand back then and was used by many companies in London at that time.
And now, what would you use as your best shot on a front door?
On a front door you would have to go a long way to beat any of the Sikkens range of external paints & Stains.
What was the most unpleasant decorating job you ever did? (Don’t name names!)
On the Edgware Road in London, a very old house where I was stripping the old lining paper from the ceilings. It was alive with bugs, I ran out of the house and did not go back until it had been de-bugged.
Tell us briefly about a job that you think encapsulates your craft skills?
One of the biggest challenges I have had in my 40 years in decorating, was the main staircase to the then Swedish Embassy, a massive area where I was commissioned to hang the wallcovering, a hand painted Italian silk that had been especially made for the embassy. It took over 6 weeks to hang.
Name one aspect of the decorating trade today that makes you cringe?
There are a lot of aspects of the decorating world that make me cringe today, but the lack of preparation is terrible. My old Charge hand Wally would be turning in his grave.
Name one aspect of decorating that is infinitely better than when you first started out.
One improvement I have noticed in recent years would be new build property. A lot better than the 70s that’s for sure, when emulsion was used by many cowboys as primer on woodwork.
If a young person said they wanted to be a painter, what would your advice be?
I would advise any young person coming in to the trade to watch and learn as much as you can.
What decorating trend do you hope never makes a comeback?
Woodchip has got to be the worse wallcovering of all time.
Based on your experience, is there a “most popular colour” for hand-painted kitchen cabinets?
The most popular hand painted kitchen colour is any shade of grey and still off-whites.
Is your own home decorated to the nth degree, or is it a case of cobbler’s shoes?
I try to keep my house reasonable in between painting kitchens.
Outside of work, what are you working on at the moment?
In my spare time I like to travel down to my caravan in Cornwall for a break and spend time with my lovely wife, May and our 2 grandsons Khy & George.
Please share it on Twitter, Facebook, or print it out for reference. Thanks.