Painting, Decorating, Wallpapering Guide Book

Painting, Decorating, Wallpapering Guide Book

I’ve written a little guide book full of decorating tips and info about paint and wallpaper. It is a useful guide if you wish to save money on tools for doing the job and includes detailed instructions on wallpapering into window recesses and the problems  which can occur with wallpaper or paint.

The book is available as either a Kindle download or a softback, delivered by Amazon. Click on the links below for info:



Paste The Wall Wallpaper

Paste The Wall Wallpaper

The theory behind ‘Paste The Wall’ wallpaper is that there will be less mess and the job will be quicker because there is no need to soak the paper. Some manufacturers even suggest, amusingly, that you won’t need a pasting table and can simply apply the paper straight from the roll to the wall….

In reality, Paste The Wall wallpaper is more difficult to apply than traditional paste the paper wallpaper.

Here is why:

There isn’t any give in the paper.

Pasted paper will be floppy when you apply it to the wall. Paste The Wall wallpaper will be dry as a bone and this makes negotiating any obstacles more difficult because the paper won’t crease into a frame in order to be cut as neatly as possible. It won’t crease at the ceiling to make cutting a clean wall to ceiling edge nice and easy.

Cutting a stiff piece of paper around obstacles takes more time, not less.

Plus, you do still need a pasting table because if there is a pattern, you still have to cut to match it and sometimes you have to measure and cut long strips to fit certain obstacles. It helps to have a table to use for this cutting work.

The only advantage in using Paste The Wall wallpaper is that it is more stable – it doesn’t expand & contract as it dries…… actually sometimes it does, because not all Paste The Wall wallpapers are reliably stable. Some do expand just like paste the paper wallpaper, resulting in pattern mismatches…

Can’t find an advantage to using Paste The Wall wallpaper. Not a single one.

So when buying your wallpaper, check which type it is first and only buy Paste The Wall if you are prepared for the added level of difficulty.

  • Don’t use on a wall with numerous obstacles – it’ll drive you mad.
  • If possible remove *socket covers – this will stop you going mad.
  • Always use Paste The Wall paste.

Some wallpaper manufacturers insist that you use their wallpaper paste. This is so that in the event of a problem, you can show that it really is the wallpaper that is at fault and not the wallpaper adhesive.

Paste The Wall paste is not the same as Paste The Wallpaper paste. Paste The Wall wallpaper adhesive is much stronger and usually has PVA as part of its composition.

If you are not using the paste recommended by the wallpaper manufacturer, ensure that your alternative is made by a reputable brand, i.e. Solvite, Polycell, Beeline, and ensure it is appropriate for the type of wall covering, i.e. Vinyl, embossed paper etc.

So, always use Paste The Wall paste.

And of course, always **size the wall first.

Happy papering!

*Before doing any electrical work, switch off the electricity supply at the mains.

**Size is a solution of wallpaper adhesive which should be painted onto the wall area to be wallpapered and allowed to dry, prior to wallpapering.



White Gloss That Does Not Stay White!

White Gloss That Does Not Stay White!

In another post here I stated that I *always use One Coat Gloss or Satinwood on woodwork because it provides excellent coverage that will not require several coats, thus saving time.

There is a drawback to this and here it is:

One Coat is oil based and due to EU regulations on composition, oil based white paints will no longer remain white for very long.

They will start to turn off-white within months.

It does not matter which brand of oil based paint you use or how much you spend, none of them will retain their whiteness.


The answer is to use water based gloss or satinwood. Water based paint retains its whiteness for years – as long as you would expect before redecorating.

How can you tell which paints are oil based and which are water based?

  • All ‘One Coat’ gloss or satinwood paints are oil based.
  • All ‘Quick Dry’ gloss or satinwood paints are water based.

In between those two types of paint there are tins of gloss/satinwood that do not describe themselves as either One Coat or Quick Dry so how can you tell what their composition is?

Check the back of the tin.

  • If it advises you to clean brushes with brush cleaner or white spirit, it is oil based.
  • If it advises you to clean brushes with water, it is water based.

Some manufacturers – after dealing with a great deal of complaints – have cottoned onto the fact that it is annoying to have your newly painted woodwork start to yellow within months of painting (!) and have started to write on the tin phrases such as, ‘Stays white for longer’.

However, to be absolutely certain that you are buying the right paint, check the cleaning instructions.

Happy painting!


*So, when I wrote that I ‘always’ use One Coat it depends upon the situation. I have to consider things such as ‘If I paint this door white and it stays bright white, it will stick out like a sore thumb next to the other doors which the customer is not having painted at this time.’ Or, ‘The customer has white walls etc. therefore water based paint must be used because it will maintain whiteness for longer.’


Which Paint Should I Buy?

Which Paint Should I Buy?

I can’t tell you what to buy of course, but I can tell you which paints I buy and which paint types I avoid, based upon my experience of the product.

1. If a MATT WHITE is required for the painting of a ceiling, I ALWAYS use Dulux Matt White. It is available in large tubs at most DIY shops i.e. B&Q.

Why do I use it? Because it provides excellent coverage, often requiring just one coat to do the job on a ceiling that is already white.

I really would not consider any other brand. Even if the customer was providing the paint, I would still arrive with Dulux Matt for the ceiling.

2. For woodwork I use ONE COAT SATIN or GLOSS. Dulux is the best brand. One coat may not provide good coverage everywhere but if you use ONE COAT paint products, you will rarely have to apply a third coat.

I NEVER use the water based, quick dry versions of satin/gloss. (UNLESS the gloss or satinwood to be applied is WHITE – go here to find out why.)

Why not? Because it will take several coats to produce a decent finish. Painting the same door five times wears a bit thin.

3. I would never purchase ONE COAT EMULSION for walls or ceilings, of any brand.

Why not? Because I have never used a One Coat Emulsion that did not require a second coat – one particular brand of ONE COAT required THREE coats to provide coverage.

4. Tip: Only purchase ONE COAT EMULSION for walls and ceilings if it is either, the same price as regular emulsion or, the colour you want is only available in ONE COAT.

Why? Because One Coat emulsion requires more than one coat in my experience.

5. Kitchen specific paint does not provide good coverage when compared to the same colour in the non-kitchen specific range.

The additives used to prevent mould have an effect on the quality of the coverage – buy twice as much paint as you would normally expect to use.

Only use kitchen specific brands of paint if your kitchen has a known condensation problem. If not, it really doesn’t matter which type of paint you use.

Bathroom Paint: Same as above.

6. Dulux is the best paint brand with Crown a close second.

Cheaper brands are a false economy because more coats are required to acheive a good result.


If you have any queries regarding paint types, please send a message and I’ll add it to the list.



Hairline Fine Cracks in Plaster

Hairline Fine Cracks in Plaster

There are three main causes of cracking plaster.

1.The first, is the environment in which the plaster dried:

For example, if the heating is whacked on in order to speed up the drying process, this has the effect of sucking the moisture out of the plaster too quickly and this causes uneven drying and shrinkage resulting in cracks.

A similar effect can occur at the top of unventilated stairwells because the heat in the upper section will be considerably higher than that of the lower section.

Ventilation throughout the drying process resolves this issue but is not always possible – perhaps a window or skylight does not open or can’t be left open for security reasons.

If this was the reason for your cracks, then your attempts to fix the cracks – such as filling and sanding – should work if the environmental conditions were different when the remedies were applied.

If the cracks return…

2.The second reason for cracking – wall movement:

Stable, plastered walls do not repeatedly crack dependent on the weather.

If you have walls with recurring cracks, that none of the usual remedies have fixed – this points to there being movement in the walls.

A typical cause of this can be inadequately secured door frames and windows. So, every time a culprit door is closed it moves the wall slightly causing cracks in the surrounding plaster. Poorly installed replacement UPVC windows and doors are known for causing cracks to the surrounding plaster.

If this is the cause of your movement, the cracks will keep coming back while it exists.

You have two solution options: Either, persist with bare plaster and locate the cause of any wall movement, have the wall re-skimmed and control the environment while it dries. With this solution there is always a risk that the problem will return because you may not have found the exact cause of the wall movement.

Second option – have the walls lining papered. Yes, this is covering up the issue but if there is no evidence of an underlying damp problem and if the root cause of the wall movement can’t be located, this is often the most cost effective solution that brings the problem to an end.

3.The third cause of cracking plaster that repeatedly cracks after repair is:

a.Poorly mixed plaster – in other words, the plaster mix was too thin and poorly applied to the wall surface.

b.Structural issues with the property – if you have ruled out all other causes of the cracking and yet the cracks return and grow, then you may have a structural defect that requires attention.

Before you panic and think foundation problems and £££, please double check that you do not have any plumbing work that is leaking unseen, within walls.

If you have any queries about your particular plaster issues, please be in touch.


Painting on New Plaster – Painting on Wet Plaster?

Painting on New Plaster – Painting on Wet Plaster?


Do NOTHING until you have read this post!

Plasterers, I love them. They transform ‘orrible pock marked surfaces into lovely, smooth, blank canvases for me to paint or paper and the finish will be gorgeous because of their excellent work.


Why therefore, would anyone, take the plasterer’s dreamily smooth surface and ruin it by painting on it before it is dry? Or just as bad, papering over it before applying a basecoat?

Why would anyone do that, expecially after paying the plasterer to provide a lovely new surface to decorate?

Why, indeed.

Patience Pays

If you are wondering whether or not you can paint on wet plaster or whether you really do HAVE to wait weeks for it to throroughly dry out, then ofcourse the answer is no, you don’t HAVE to. There isn’t a law or anything. But there ought to be.

Painting or wallpapering over plaster that has not had several weeks to dry properly is a big mistake. HUGE.

By doing so you are storing up problems for the future which will result in your lovely smooth surface looking hideous.

I have written numerous posts describing what happens if you work on plaster too soon and problems caused by decorating on wet/damp plaster account for 99% of my mailbox.

It really isn’t worth the time saved.

Painting on New Plaster – Painting on Wet Plaster?

Here is the Law according to PainterJack:

  • Painting or any type of decorating on wet plaster – under 2 weeks old – don’t. Just don’t do it.
  • Decorating on damp plaster – 2-7 weeks old. Don’t do it. If you absolutely must because you have a time issue then you HAVE to prepare the plaster correctly prior to decorating. See this post.
  • Decorating plaster that is over 7 weeks old – in winter allow 10 weeks drying – yes, decorate. Prepare the bare plaster with a sloppy mix of water and matt white paint. Must be MATT. Apply two coats and allow to dry thorougly.
  • Only after you have base coated your plaster should you consider applying decoration to the surface.

Thank you.

Happy Decorating!



Paint Bubbling & Flaking Off When Rollered – Looks a mess!

Paint Bubbling & Flaking Off When Rollered – Looks a mess!

This is a common occurrence – you start to roller your paint onto the wall or ceiling and as you roll, the previous paint colour peels off onto the roller!

In another post I have explained why this happens – see here – but knowing why it’s happened doesn’t solve your current problem i.e. a wall or ceiling that looks an absolute disaster.

There are a few things you can do to remedy the situation depending upon the severity and size of your problem surface.

I do not recommend anything that simply covers the problem up – I recommend sorting the problem out.

Key to successfully solving the problem – drying time.

A lack of drying time is what caused the problem in the first place so in order to solve the problem properly, several days need to be set aside for the job.

Tools for the Job:

Before starting the job, buy a large tub of bog standard matt white paint, any brand will do, and a bucket.

You will also need a scraper and a sanding block with some rough sanding paper.

Sponge and bucket of water.

Cover sheets – it’s going to be messy.

To Start – Assess Your Particular Problem Area

Peeling paint problems are dormant most of the time and usually only raise their ugly head when you try to repaint the surface.

So, to find out just how bad your wall or ceiling is effected, you need to get it wet with paint so that it will start to peel.

This might sound completely bonkers but it is the best way to reveal where the problems are and it also dampens and softens the underlying paint, allowing it to be scraped off more easily. There is method in the madness.

You need to protect your surrounding surfaces because the paint you will be scraping off will be wet.

So, paint roller loaded with white matt paint – watered down & made sloppy – roller a section of wall. Take your scraper and scrape off the entire painted surface including the peeling areas. The underlying paint should come off easily.

Not all areas of your surface will have the problem so if part of the wall has paint that doesn’t peel off easily with your scraper that is fine, that section is okay.

The scraping should be easy – just messy.

Paint another section of wall and repeat the process until you have removed all the worst offending areas from the surface.

Now take your sponge and bucket filled with water and soak up the excess paint on your surface, rinsing your sponge as you go – apart from getting rid of excess lumps of paint you are also evening out the surface.

Leave to dry overnight.

Next day, if your surface is completely dry,  take your sanding block of rough sanding paper and sand over the entire surface to provide a key for painting.

(If when sanding, it is obvious that the surface is still damp, allow it more time to dry. If it is still damp after two days, this is a sign that you have an underlying damp problem.)

Assuming there is no damp problem, paint your surface with a sloppy mixture of matt white paint & water. You are priming the surface. Any small remaining problem areas will raise their head – deal with each of them by scraping off.

Allow to dry overnight.

Paint in the colour of your choice.


It is winter and everything is cold and damp. So have your heating on to ensure that walls and ceilings are warm and in a dry atmosphere  throughout this repair process.

Another Solution would be to…..

Whip out the electric sander and sand the entire surface back to the bare plaster.

Again, this will be a very messy job and a mask and goggles should be worn. Goes without saying that all surfaces should be covered and doors through to other rooms closed (have a window open), the dust will get everywhere.

Once you have a bare plaster wall, prime it with a sloppy mix of matt paint and water.

Allow to dry overnight.


Paint in the colour of your choice.


Both solutions are very messy but as long as you do not have a damp issue, they will solve the problem.

Now, at the beginning of this post I stated that I wouldn’t recommend any solution that simply covered the problem up.

That is a very easy statement to make when it is not your wall or ceiling!

So, if the above solutions sound like too much hassle and time consuming mess, then another solution would be to apply lining paper to the surface. Only do this if you are absolutely sure there is no underlying damp issue.

Yes, lining paper is simply covering up the problem but sometimes that is all you want. Good luck.

Any queries regarding your problem surface, please be in touch.



Wallpapering On New Bare Plaster Walls or Ceilings?

Wallpapering On New Bare Plaster Walls or Ceilings?

As explained in this post applying size to a wall or ceiling prior to papering prevents wallpaper shrinkage. This avoids the horrid gaps that can appear between each hung length once the paste has dried.

With new plaster the shrinkage problem increases because new plaster will suck the life out of wallpaper if the plaster isn’t sealed before doing anything with it.

So, you have your new bare plaster wall or ceiling. It needs to be sealed using either a sloppy mix of Dulux Supermatt or a solution of bog standard white matt paint with water added to make it sloppy – more detail in this post.

Paint your sloppy solution all over your new plaster.

You will notice that the sloppy solution dries incredibly quickly on the new plaster. That is because the plaster has sucked all the moisture out of the sloppy solution. Exactly what it would do to your lovely wallpaper, resulting in an awful finish.

Once dry, paint on another coat of the sloppy solution.

Allow to dry overnight.

Next day, apply wallpaper size to the wall.

Again, allow to dry overnight.

Your newly plastered walls or ceilings are now prepped and ready for wallpaper.


Gap Between Each Length of Hung Wallpaper!

Gap Between Each Length of Hung Wallpaper!

So, you have bought your favourite paper and hung it on the wall using a quality brand of wallpaper paste.

You allowed each length of wallpaper its proper soaking time after applying the paste, before hanging on the wall.

You met the edges of each length together with the next to create the best end result.

It looks fantastic.

And yet…..

The next day, when the wallpaper paste has dried, there are gaps of a couple of millimetres between each hung length! Oh, the horror!

Why does this happen?

If you hang wallpaper on unprepared walls or ceilings, the walls and ceilings will suck all the moisture out of the wallpaper and paste.

This causes the paper to shrink and results in the gap between hung lengths.

How can I prevent this from happening?

Prevention is very simple.

On everything except new plaster, so on previously painted or papered walls, an application of size is required.

Size is a runnier version of wallpaper paste which you can buy in sachets from all good DIY shops – it will be right next to the packets of wallpaper paste. As with wallpaper paste it does not cost much but in terms of how your wallpaper will look at the end of the project it’s priceless!

Mix the size powder with the appropriate amount of water and paste it onto the wall or ceiling you intend to paper.

Leave overnight to dry.

This will give you time to plan the wallpapering project ahead so don’t think of it as wasted time when all you want to do is get the job done.

On the contrary, consider the size time as THE most important part of the job.

Next day….

Apply your paper, butting your edges against each other.

You will notice that with walls that have been sized, you are able to slip and slide your length of pasted wallpaper into position more easily.

Upon drying you will not have gaps between each hung length of paper. Unless you left a gap of course!

Job well done.


Painting Over Varnish

Painting Over Varnish

When painting over varnish preparation is everything.

Ideally the varnish will be removed by stripping prior to painting but that is not always possible. For example, if the varnish is on staircase spindles, removal can be extremely time consuming which would of course add to the cost of having the job done.

If the varnish is not removed prior to painting it must be well sanded to give the paint grip. Otherwise the slightest scratch will remove the paint and expose the varnish underneath.

When employing a decorator to paint over the varnish ask them to quote for sanding down the varnish in preparation – in other words make sure the decorator knows that you know that that needs to be done prior to painting and are expecting the quote to include time spent on preparation.

This preparation will of course increase the cost of the job but in the long run it is worth doing as you will not have to keep touching up scratches.

However, sometimes you just want to have the cheapest job possible done. So at the very least insist upon and undercoat or one of the no-sanding undercoats that are now available.