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Q&A with Traditional Painter

Listed under Blog, brushes, Little Greene, tikkurila Posted Aug 12 2020

For a change of pace, I am going to share recent Q&A with Traditional Painter. The advice was given one-to-one, but seems useful to share with the many.

What brush brands do you recommend? 

…brush choice depends on a few factors. If you are using acrylic paints, a synthetic bristle is essential. For painting very long straight lines in emulsion paint, a 2.5″ Fox is hard to beat or Proform Picasso.

For painting kitchen cabinets, many painters are using Purdy Sprigs.

If you are laying off your topcoats with Royal and Langnickel brushes, you can pretty much use any brand to lay on the paint. The final strokes with a R+L is almost guaranteed to give you a beautiful finish. These brushes are available from The Range.

After going round the block for several years, I came to the conclusion there is no such thing as a best brush. Within those brands mentioned above, there will be a variety of bristle formats, handle sizes and styles. So whilst I can’t recommend X brush, if you investigate those few as a starting point, you should find an answer to suit your hand size, paint type and surface.

[And then keep your wallet hidden, because once smitten with brushes, you tend to keep buying and trying new ones.]

Yellowing paint

Dear Andy, I have been on your website for hours reading all your great advice but am still unsure of what to do for my issue with the skirting and doors in my Edwardian terrace. Since renovations began I am now about to ask my decorator to paint the woodwork again. This will be the 3rd time in 5 years!!

First decorator painted with Little Greene acrylic white once preparation had taken place. Not sure the primer he used. Over time it has gone yellow. 2nd decorator came in and did some prep, again I can’t remember primer. They then advised we go for Tikkurila Helmi as it’s durable and I can have it mixed in the equivalent of All white. Now on my stairs it has many stains and I feel it’s not lasting well, so now I want to sort again but can’t decide what to tell him to use. Ideally I want a white but not bright with slight sheen as the Matt paints are not easy to clean. Do you have any advice please?

…it sounds like there are issues with tannin (the stuff in knots and resinous woods) bleeding through. I say this because I am fairly confident in saying there is no way the pigment in acrylic eggshell can go yellow on the surface. Yellowing is an issue with oil paints, the lighter the colour the more obvious the colour change.

I would therefore suggest that the next time round you ask the decorators to prime everything with Zinsser BIN shellac primer [or their equivalent bombproof stain blocker.] This will hold back any issues from beneath. You can then overpaint BIN with any paint system.

We tend towards Tikkurila Helmi 30 or Benjamin Moore Scuff-X if you want a “kitchen tough” waterbased paint finish. Or Mylands or Teknos… Apart from Benjamin Moore they can be tinted to any colour from any brand. Ben Moore you would need to choose from their own range, but it is massive, so you should find what you want.

But Helmi 30 has marked…

Thank you Andy for taking the time time write back. It’s very much appreciated. I got the paint for my stairs out the garage this morning and it was Helmi 30 on the stairs and bathroom doors they did 2 years ago but it seems to mark easily. Do you think it could just be bad prep work?

…I’m not sure how the Helmi marks “easily”. It needs a pretty hefty hit to leave marks, assuming it has been applied correctly. [By correctly, avoid skinny, watered down topcoats.]

Maybe on the stairs, over Zinsser BIN primer you should use the oil based version of Helmi, aka, Tikkurila Empire, which is another step up in durability. Any paint system will go over Zinsser primers. I hope that helps

Why tell people how to solve their problems or their decorators’ problems?

From day one, our members have been openly sharing their hard earned knowledge online. It wasn’t the done thing in the UK trade in 2009 and to some degree, with so many decorator groups on social media closed to the public, it still isn’t. When you look back through the history of decorating, the Guilds of yesteryear were ferociously protectionist, so maybe that culture still lingers?

Rarely a day goes past though, when I don’t receive a question from a member of the public or the trade asking for pointers. It seems trite not to try and help, if you know the answer. And when you receive replies like:

Thank you very much. I feel well informed now.

…I get the feeling we are providing a useful service that is helping raise awareness of what a good decorating job looks like and how to achieve it.

This is not the first time a homeowner has told me they have read through the Traditional Painter site and felt able to talk to their decorator about product choice. As a professional, if you haven’t progressed your thinking much beyond what you first learnt 20 years ago, you might be put on the spot on the next quote!

Obviously the hard part is putting advice into practice. Where kitchen painting is concerned, if the advice is beyond your pay grade, there is always a member of Traditional Painter to call on.



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