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Painting and decorating trade secrets – equipment

Painting and decorating trade secrets number one! A good workman should never blame his tools, but there is no denying that reliable decorating tools and equipment are the key to high quality workmanship. However, if you want to offer the best service, standard decorating kit isn’t enough. Smart trade practice is needed to take a decorator’s service to the next level. These are some of my best decorating trade secrets

I would keep a good distance from a Brushmate, but otherwise these tips from 2009-2011 still hold true 2015. It is slightly demoralising that this article is still news!

Masking and dust sheets »

I do not use traditional cotton dust sheets to protect floors and furniture. Instead, I protect surfaces with heavy duty lining paper and plastic dust sheets, which I tape down using either the blue 3M 2090 14 day tape and / or standard masking tapes. There is also a roll of “non-slip sticky back” Packexe on hand, if I need to lay a polythene walkway from the front door to where I am working.

The main advantage of this system is the ease of cleaning up. It is so easy to sweep up or vacuum paper, and paint spills are stress-free. Compare that to the nightmare of cotton sheets, shaking them out, keeping them dust free, washing them. And paper on the floor removes the danger of tripping over – something we have all done.

Preparing outside walls and woodwork, I recommend the landscape fabric that lets water seep through but keeps bits of paint in place. When painting lay a cotton dust sheet to absorb any paint spots.

Keeping down the dust »

vacuum-extraction-sanding-kitApart from basic scrapers and a caulk gun, the most important tool I use is related to sanding. I rub down walls and woodwork with a Mirka dust extraction sanding kit attached to a Henry vacuum cleaner. The Mirka perforated sanding block reduces the dust in the air by about 90%, which is a huge improvement on the old-fashioned way of working in clouds of dust, sweeping up, masks and hours and hours wasted on cleaning up. I have a Mirka CEROS sander, and I have used Festools and Feins tools but for most types of decorating work, this is the lowest tech yet highly effective and flexible (90%) dust-free sanding solution.

Brushes and brush keeper »

brushmate, tack rag and mirka sandpaperFor painting woodwork, I use Hamilton Perfection Purdy Monarch Wooster brushes stored in a Brushmate vapour box. The Brushmate is an airtight box and the vapour prevents oil paint from drying. The brushes are therefore always ready for use.

Even better, because most traditional paint work is towards the lighter end of the colour spectrum, I can usually change colours simply by brushing off excess paint and working in the new colour on a few feet of lining paper. Consequently, I only use about 1 pint of white spirit every 6 months, which is good news for the environment, the homeowner and me.

Equipment snippets »

4-way-ladderGood tools should have one function and be robust. A scraper scrapes, a filling knife fills, and good steel lasts forever…

Ladders The only time I get annoyed with tools is when I am erecting my ladder. I have a very clever 4-way extension ladder that expands from 3 feet when closed, to 12 feet high. It is a great piece of kit, but apparently brighter people than me also struggle to operate this “simple” device. So if you hear me curse, the chances are, you will find me tangled up in my ladder.

Painting I have tried many gadgets and gizmos. The power-fed airless roller is the most impressive paint applicator I have ever used, and the worst one was a battery-operated spray unit that was so unreliable, it made the modern Dulux Paint Pod look almost useful.

Wallpaper I think I have tried every method of trimming wallpaper, from stupid wheels to all-singing multi-purpose straight edges. But nothing beats a snap-off utility knife (Olfa Sharks fin is the one to own for me) used in tandem with a metal “caulker” blade.

Disposable brushes One of the any things I learnt while painting wooden boats, is to not under-estimate the value of cheapo disposable brushes. China bristle brushes that splay at the first sight of paint have their place in a painter’s tool kit – they are a huge money saver if you are using specialist primers that clean up with nasty solvents. ie Instead of wasting time and solvents on cleaning out a £1 brush dipped in copper-based ablative paint – just let it go hard and throw it away in a hazmat bin.

I highly recommend buying trade quality decorating kit from independent suppliers that cater to the high end decorator, Mypaintbrush is our online destination every time.

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