Home decorating is really easy and by doing it yourself a lot of money can be saved. Painting and wallpapering does need care, but not an exceptional amount of skill.
Careful planning beforehand will enable you to do the work in stages, so that a little can be done at a time if that is more convenient.
When decorating for the first time buy the best materials and tools you can afford, especially paint brushes, and you will be set up for a long time to come.
Basic decorating tools consist of the following: three sizes of paint brushes -13 mm, 25 mm, 50 mm ; a choice of either a larger brush, paint pad or paint roller for large areas of work, such as walls and ceilings; step ladder and trestles; builder’s board; scrapers; putty knife; sanding block; blow-torch or chemical paint stripper; paperhanging brush; paste brush; scissors; plumb line; Stanley knife; metre rule; steel tape; seam roller; wire brush; filling knife.
Choosing the paper
There is a very wide choice of paper available. Papers with small patterns, completely plain, or with vertical stripes are the most economical, as there is less waste when matching the pattern of adjoining strips. A patterned paper will help to disguise unevenness in the surface of a wall.
They are also good for stairways and passages where the walls are likely to get rubbed or marked by people passing.
Ready-pasted papers cost a little more than normal wallpaper, but you do not have to buy paste or a paste brush, or buy or borrow a pasting table. They save no end of time, and are the ideal thing to use if you only want to do a small section of your papering at one time. You can hangjust one strip in, literally, a matter of minutes if you want to, and then call it a day, with hardly anything to clear up afterwards.
Your wallpaper supplier will tell you how many rolls of paper you should need if you give him the height of the room and the total distance round the room, taking in the window and door spaces.
There are two main types of pastes – the old-established cold water flour paste and cellulose paste – and both have their merits. Generally speaking, cellulose paste is less likely to stain than flour paste. On the other hand, flour paste is less likely to disturb the pattern of loosely bound pigmented papers and have less tendency to strike through from the back of the paper. It is always a good idea to ask the advice of the wallpaper supplier on this matter.
For hanging vinyl wallcoverings, a paste should be used which contains a fungicide, because the vinyl film is impervious and will not allow moisture to evaporate off.
Choosing the paint
After you have made your choice of colours, you have to decide what kind of paint you are going to use. So many brands, so many names. What do they all mean?
These have a tough, hard, shiny finish. They are known as oil-based paints as linseed oil was used traditionally in their manufacture. Nowadays, synthetic resins such as polyurethane are used instead, making them even tougher and harder wearing.
Gloss paint is the one normally used for woodwork and metalwork, and for rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, where there is likely to be steam about. They are comparatively slow-drying and need to be left at least overnight before a second coat is applied. A primer and probably an undercoat will be needed for previously unpainted surfaces.
Normally, oil-based paints come ready for use in the can, but they will need a thorough stirring to make certain that any pigment settled in the bottom of the tin is well mixed in. They should not need thinning, but if old paint in a tin has hardened up, use white spirit or turpentine.
In addition to those of full gloss finish, oil-based paints can have satin, eggshell, silk and semi-gloss finishes, although all of these are slightly less hard-wearing.
Also known as one coat or jelly paints, these incorporate an undercoat and are available in both oil-based and water-borne paints. They are applied thicker than ordinary paints as they do not drip easily. Generally speaking, jelly paints do not appeal to the experienced painter as they cannot be brushed out to a very fine finish. On new work these paints can be adequate, but where a colour change is required, sometimes there is insufficient pigment to obliterate an under-colour without applying two coats. Non-drip paints have not replaced standard paints, but rather have supplemented them.
These are water-based and do not contain oil, which is a great advantage as the brushes or paint rollers can very easily be cleaned under a tap after use. Words like ‘acrylic’ and ‘vinyl’ used with emulsion refers to resins contained in them, which give them tough and hard-wearing surfaces, although they are not normally as tough as gloss paint.
Emulsions are nowadays made which can be used for outside painting and woodwork, but in general their main use is still for walls and ceilings, where a high gloss is not required. They are so quick-drying that after about two hours a second coat can be applied. Emulsions only require a primer on very porous surfaces but, thinned with water according to the maker’s instructions on the tin, they will make their own primer.
Primers give both wood and metal a good surface for subsequent paintwork, but are really not needed inside the house, except on things like metal window frames. They waterproof the surface and help to prevent rust, and on outside woodwork which is subject to the weather they should be used.
The instructions on your paint tin will tell you whether an undercoat is needed. Undercoats give a good surface for a top coat of gloss to adhere to and are advisable if a really professional job is aimed at. Their greatest value is in covering up a dark colour if you want to paint over it with a lighter one. The dark colour might well show through if gloss alone were used.