Commercial painters and decorators know how to get the perfect finish. They use specialist tools to get the job just right. For example when cutting in or trimming they might use a sash brush, what is a sash brush? A sash brush has a pointed or angled head these brushes are ideal for tricky spots and for cutting in. Use a sash brush along with a conventional brush and it saves time and hence money. 
Sash brushes give even distribution of paint so you get an even coat and they do not spray. 
On top of this professional painter & decorators use a good quality synthetic brush which makes a world of difference. Professional painters operate in the Home Counties & London, for a quote please contact us on 0800 044 3604


Commercial Painters and decorators

The Home Builders Federation along with paint company Dulux have warned there is a shortage of skilled painter and decorators, this shortage amounts to tens of thousands of painters and decorators.In the capital it is thought there is a shortfall of 33,000 craftsmen alone (figures 2015)

This shortage of skilled labour affects the number of new houses built as there is not enough labour to complete projects.

Professional Painters are fortunate enough to have qualified commercial painters and decorators around London on various projects. We undertake large business properties, commercial buildings and extensive domestic   properties.

Our teams are lead by project mangers and are skilled in exterior and interior decorating. We also have specialist teams for night time painting especially if you want minimum disruption during working hours.

For information about our commercial painting services in London give us a call on:

0800 044 3604

Professional Painters London


Unfortunately, there are painting contractors out there who cut corners, use sub-standard materials, and employ inexperienced, low paid staff. At Professional Painters, we do all we can to live up to our name, in terms of using high spec paints and other products, employing experienced tradesmen, and taking a professional approach to Project Management.

What sort of products do we work with?

The standard of paints and other materials used on the job will effect appearances and longevity. There exists a massive variation when it comes to quality concerning surface finishes such as paints and wall coverings. Additionally, there are numerous customized finishes that ought to be utilized for particular functions. Variations in the price of a cheap tin of paint versus a professional grade tin of paint account for serious variations in the constituents, with higher cost paint having higher quality materials which look superior and have a longer lifespan, like binders, resins, and titanium.

Along with surface finishes, the caliber of other sorts of components makes a difference as well. For instance, the standard of filler a decorator applies effects its durability and function. With that said that you need to request specifics of the paints and other materials which will be used on your job whilst ensuring the contractor is aware of what they are working with and the relevance to your desired results.

Bad Practices

The primary shortcut is not to stipulate the kinds of materials to be employed on the work and apply cheap products. This will save a company money whilst impinging on the standard and durability of the decorating job. Find out about the paints which will be applied and be certain they are right for the task.

Quotations and Management

We can provide a fast quote on any job within 24 to 48 hours. However, some companies outsource their estimation work. This raises the following dilemma for a client:

Being the person providing the quote, will you be professionally associated with the work? If you’re not, in what way will the job be managed?

Frequently you might speak to the estimator or manager prior to the start of the project, but they won’t in reality be carrying out the work. That is not unusual, and there is nothing inappropriate with it, so long as the firm has a program for taking care of your job.

It is an area where you can find lousy business practices. If an estimate is very low, make no mistake – the employees will be paid little and will probably be inexperienced and untrained. They do not have a lot of motivation to do a good job. How can a job be expertly handled if lacking professionals taking care of the work?

Project management involves the setting up, delivery and post project support of the work you have paid for. This is significant as it will enable your job to operate correctly and guarantee that you receive the outcome you want.

Great project management consists of:

  • A reliable quote which is comprehensive having specs that checklist the work you have agreed to have conducted and will direct the tradesmen throughout their work.
  • A particular program for undertaking each stage of the undertaking (such as preparation, work surface and equipment protection, paint application, clean up, and so on.)
  • All modifications to the work conveyed and documented and agreed upon by client and contractor.
    A process for the workforce to evaluate and assess the work they do.
  • A final check at the end of the work in which the project manager goes over the project with the customer to guarantee all has gone to plan.

Project management is essential for contract decorating projects as it supports good customer relations as well as minimizing the risk of grievances. By using a suitable project management process, these issues are usually averted and the project will be executed professionally.


Most flaws in paint surfaces can be avoided if you are scrupulous in your preparation and always use the correct materials. Even with the utmost care, however, some problems may occur, but these can usually be salvaged and sometimes do not entail too much extra work.


This is caused by moisture or air trapped beneath a coat of oil-based paint. The answer is to strip off the paint, carefully fill any holes and then repaint. With wood, it may be necessary to prime, undercoat and then repaint.


When the new surface reacts badly to what is underneath it, flaking occurs. Emulsion paint, for example, can flake when painted over a high-gloss finish or distemper. Unfortunately if this occurs there is no alternative but to strip the flaking surface, get back to the base, prepare it again properly and paint the area again.


If you apply a second coat of oil-based paint, such as eggshell, before the first coat has dried thoroughly, the surface may wrinkle. Strip the paint and reapply it.

Runs and drips

Possibly the most common problem, runs and drips are caused by loading too much paint onto the brush. Let the paint dry, rub the proud blobs gently with fine-grade sandpaper, remove the dust created by the sandpaper and touch up with fresh paint.


This occurs when a layer of new paint reacts badly with a painted surface underneath, or if layers of paint have different drying times. The only option is to repaint, removing all the layers of paint and preparing the surface again from scratch.

Grit, dust or insects in the paint

If this occurs, wait until the paint dries, then sand the area gently with fine sandpaper and wipe off the dust. If you sand lightly enough, you may not need to touch up the paint.

Stains in paintwork

Stains occur when insufficient preparation is done before the emulsion is applied. Mineral salts, moulds and other residues and impurities can react badly with the water in emulsion and will seep through the surface. Get back to the original surface and coat it with a proprietary primer-sealer and when that has dried, repaint.

Poor coverage

This is most likely to show when you are applying a light colour over a dark base.

Streaky flashes of the base colour will appear under the top coat. Apply further coats of paint, until you have a solid top colour.

Cleaning equipment

Cleaning your equipment after you have finished painting will significantly prolong its life. Brushes, rollers and pads that have been used with emulsion or other water-based paints should be rinsed with cold water to remove excess paint, paying particular attention to the base of the bristles, and then washed in a weak solution of warm water and detergent to remove the residue.

Equipment used for oil-based paint or varnish should be cleaned with turpentine, white spirit or a proprietary cleaner, ensuring that it is worked well into the bristles or pile. When all the paint has been removed, all equipment should be rinsed thoroughly in warm water and shaken vigorously to remove the excess.

To keep their shape, brushes can be wrapped in clean paper towels fixed with masking tape. Hang up brushes and rollers, and place pads face-up to maintain the pile, and your equipment should last you for years.

Professional Painters night-painters




Compared to other paint effects, stamping really can be, quite literally child’s play. Make your own stamps from medium to high-density foam in the same way as a child makes potato-cut stamps, drawing on a design and then cutting away the excess foam with a scalpel. Stick the sponge onto a piece of wood and attach a small door knob to the back of it to make application easier. If, however, you would rather buy a stamp, there are many outlets that now stock a wide range of designs made from rubber or foam, thus making them very hard-wearing.

Apply the paint either with a roller or by dipping the stamp into a plate containing a small amount of paint. Ensure an even coating and then set to work, taking your design across the whole wall.

Stamping is the ideal paint technique if you’re short of time – or skill. A repeat design, such as this simple pattern of hearts stamped onto a colourwashed wall (above photo), gives a dramatic effect, but takes only a matter of hours to carry out.


This is one of the cheapest ways to provide a decorative finish. Use stencils to create a dramatic pictorial effect or use a motif to create a border or all-over pattern at a fraction of the cost of wallpaper. Choose from the enormous selection of pre-cut stencils available or make your own. Draw your design onto an acetate sheet and cut out with a sharp knife. Attach to the wall with masking tape or spray adhesive.

Next, apply the colour. Whether you are using a stencil brush or a spray can, the secret is a light touch. With a spray can, waft it quickly and gently over the surface, gradually building up the colour in subtle layers. If using a stencil brush, rub it on a piece of paper towel until almost all the paint has been removed from the head of the brush, then stipple or swirl it over the stencil. Remove the stencil, reposition and repeat the process.


Few decorating projects are more satisfying than working with gold leaf. However, the expense of the material puts it far outside the pocket of most amateur decorators. There is no reason, though, why you should deprive yourself of using lustrous metallic materials in small quantities, perhaps on a motif against a wall painted in a deep rich colour such as lacquer red, midnight blue or forest green.

Given the costs involved, it makes sense to restrict the use of gilding to small areas. This random design of horizontal and vertical gold blocks is restrained but nonetheless extremely effective, giving interest to plain white walls and mirroring the angular patterns of the parquet flooring.

Dutch metal leaf or aluminium leaf are less expensive alternatives to the real thing. Aluminium leaf can be made to gleam like gold with one or two coats of orange shellac. These, and the substances mentioned below, are available from specialist decorating outlets. First, give the wall to be gilded a coat of flat or mid-sheen oil-based paint. Decide on your design or motif and either draw it freehand on the wall or use a stencil as a guide. Paint the areas to be gilded with ready-made red gesso for Dutch metal, or cobalt blue casein for silver or aluminium leaf. When this is dry, paint on a thin layer of goldsize, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the goldsize is only slightly tacky, gently press on a sheet of leaf, leaf-side down, on the sized area. Carefully peel away the leaf’s wax backing and lay down the next sheet so that it slightly overlaps with the first. Continue until you have built up your pattern. Leave for several hours to dry and rub off the loose leaf with a soft cloth; the rest of the leaf should remain in the sized area of your motif. Finish off by varnishing the whole surface with a clear, semi-gloss oil-based varnish.

For those who long for glitter, it is also worth checking out the wide range of metallic paints, powders, creams and pens on the market. These can be put to a wide range of decorating uses, from painting a whole wall to picking out moulding detail.



Making stripes

Stripes and checks comprise a decorating trend that never goes out of fashion; they have a striking, graphic quality, and a fresh, well-ordered, clean-cut appearance, whether or not their edges are sharp, making them suitable for practically any situation – in combination with areas of plain colour or with each other. Hugely versatile, stripes and checks are equally varied in their effect; wide stripes will be bolder than narrower ones, or you can create a more sophisticated rhythm, following one wide with three narrow stripes, for instance, and then repeating it.


Paint allows you to get the effect of hand-blocked wallpaper at a fraction of the cost. This sophisticated looking lattice was created by painting a red top coat over the undercoat which had been covered in criss-crossed masking tape.

Think too about the effect of colour on your chosen stripes; you could create a stunningly dramatic study using dark paint and wide stripes, provided that you could then light it efficiently, but that combination would not work in a kitchen or dining room, where a fresher and lighter effect would be better. All you need is a little patience, a plumb line, your paint and tools.

The quickest, simplest method of creating stripes is to paint the wall in your chosen base colour and then use a roller to create stripes in a contrasting shade using a plumb line to guide you. If you wish to create broader stripes than it is possible to paint with a roller, mark out the area to be painted with masking tape before you start, again using a plumb line to establish a true vertical. If you like stripes but are wary of the crisp, bandbox look, roughly and lightly paint in your stripes and then immediately go over the wet paint with a dry roller to create a slightly distressed effect. A smaller, ‘pin-stripe’ effect can be created by cutting a foam roller into narrow stripes, using tape to keep each part of the roller separate.

You could use this stripe both vertically and horizontally, and in more than one colour, to create a chequered effect.

Few paint effects are simpler to achieve or more dramatic in appearance than stripes. In this country-style bedroom, all four walls have been painted with wide stripes. Marked out using masking tape and a plumb line and then roughly painted in deep red, they are bold and yet far from brash, producing an all-American look.

Using patterned rollers

Patterned rollers have been used to decorate walls for several centuries. They are enjoying a popular revival today because they are easy to use and create interesting effects cheaply – either with colour or with textured paint. You can make your own, or specialist suppliers stock rollers and rockers for more difficult effects – from wood graining to damask.

Using textured paint

Apart from the practical aspects of textured paint, and it is very useful for covering less than perfect surfaces, its aesthetic potential is much under-rated. You can buy a range of patterned roller sleeves specifically for textured paint and with a little time, effort and imagination, it is possible to achieve sophisticated, sculpted effects for relatively little.


Paint is a truly versatile material which, provided you have time and patience on your side, allows you to create a huge range of decorative effects for relatively little cost.

Trompe Voeil painting has a lineage almost as long as the history of painting. Although it tends to bring to mind the grandiose ceilings of Italian palazzi or mural schemes in the great country houses, this is nothing more than a great misconception. The term means ‘an accomplished visual trick’ – and whether you want to reproduce a vista on a wall, or a grisaille frieze, or an eighteenth-century ‘book door’, or the effect of tiles or marble, sandstone or granite, troinpe voeil is the name of the game. It is merely a question of playing a witty visual trick on the passer by.

Successful trompe Voeil painting requires a substantial level of skill, but the finished result is worth the work. You can expand a small space or contract a large one, you can even create an Aegean view in the middle of a city, with views of islands across the bay – the stuff of daydreams, the perfect setting for a cosy armchair and a good book.

Painting a mural

Whilst not necessarily possessing the creative or technical abilities of Mantegna, Tiepolo or Veronese, you should not be frightened of trying to create a grand pictorial effect for yourself in your own home. You could add a sumptuous garden view to a windowless room, or create a fantastic landscape mural on an entire wall, or you could complement a simple period scheme with painted architectural detailing: just consider which seems most appropriate to the scale and function of the room. What is more, trompe voeil painting is ideal for having fun; exaggeration and weird perspective may result in a surreal effect, but that may be just what you want -a visual diversion and a talking point!

Perhaps you have been inspired by an illustration in a book or magazine; in a way this would be an easier course to pursue than working from scratch if your artistic skills are limited because all the basic techniques of copying an image from a book are relatively easy to master. Someone else has done the difficult bit, making all the elements of the image work together; all you need to do is scale up the image to fit the chosen site.

The first thing to do is to trace the design onto tracing paper using pen or pencil and then draw a grid over it, numbering each square. Next, draw a grid directly onto the wall, with the same number of squares, numbered to correspond with your original grid.

It is worth remembering to prepare your wall with a base coat of paint before you transfer your design. Then copy the traced design closely onto the wall in pen or soft pencil, using the grid to guide you. Work square by square; it may help to look at each square as a series of abstract lines, rather than as part of the whole scheme; you can always soften up the junctions between the squares once you have copied all of them. It may help also to fix the traced design onto the wall using masking tape as a constant reference; you should always stand back and take stock as you work. Do not pay too much attention to detail at this stage as you only want a sketched guide. If you define everything too rigidly, you will find it very difficult to paint freely and this will most likely result in a stiff, lifeless design. Once your sketch exists, start painting and be bold!

If you are not confident about your technique with a paintbrush, do not struggle with an ambitious project in the vain hope of producing a masterpiece. Try decoupage to recreate decorative plasterwork rather than trying to reproduce a Renaissance frieze freehand. If you have access to a photocopier and your desired motif is reasonably small-scale, it is obviously very easy to enlarge or shrink a design mechanically, and to repeat a motif for a border. Or mock up panels using stone-effect paper, antiquing it with a tinted glaze.

In a kitchen or bathroom, it might be more appropriate to think simple, and to use a small radiator roller to create a quick and effective tile effect. Load the roller evenly and paint rows of tiles – either horizontally or as diamonds – leaving a grout space between each tile’ for a more realistic look.


Once you have mastered some basic paint techniques, you may wish to try something a little more adventurous. Faux finishes allow you to imitate the effect of wood, stone, fabric and other unusual materials at a fraction of the cost. The key to success is to use a light touch — and to know when to stop. Never be tempted to splash on too much paint; rather, build up the effect in layers.

Draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources. Begin by looking at the real thing -marble, wood grain and stone — then at postcards, books, paintings, even films.

Walls that imitate materials such as terracotta or plaster are a wonderful foil for relaxed interiors. They look particularly good as a backdrop for wood or sumptuous textiles. Picking out the colour and, as here, the texture of the wall in the furnishings of a room brings cohesion to a scheme that may in fact contain many disparate elements.


Few people are fortunate enough to live with genuine, original old plaster walls. ‘Ageing’ a surface is a relatively simple process, however, and fun to do too. Dry brushing is an effective way of recreating the effect of an old wall, or you may wish to use layers of paint in slightly different tones. Start with the brightest shade and gradually ‘age’ the surface with layers of wash, working with the original shade and darkening it by degrees with a little raw umber. Smear on the paint roughly with a brush or cloth and when it is dry, rub gently at the paint surface with some sandpaper or wire wool, revealing glimpses of the original colour and even touches of plaster.


There are many different kinds of marble and, consequently, many different kinds of marbling. Study the real thing to decide on the kind of effect you want to recreate and practise on a piece of paper or board before you embark on your panelling or walls.

verdigris finishes
There are really no limits to the kind of effects you can achieve on your walls. These walls have been given the soft, coppery bloom of verdigris. As with all faux technigues, it is essential that you study the real thing before you start, to ensure that you get the detail right.

The key to successful marbling is subtlety. Here soft creams and greys applied with a very light touch look as appropriate with the wooden floor as they do with the more contemporary chrome table.

Use a soft cloth to rub some transparent oil glaze onto a base of two coats of eggshell. Dip a fine artist’s brush into a glaze of the required colour; quickly and gently flick some veins across the paint surface. Do not worry about a few breaks and blobs in the paint; this will add to the finished effect. Using the tip of a softening brush, softly stroke the veins to blur them. Dip a fine artist’s brush into white spirit and gently go over the glazed surface, roughly following the lines of some of the veins. Soften the surface again, this time in one direction only. And finally, take a clean softener brush and go lightly over the surface to eliminate any brush marks, and creating the desired cloudy finish.

Faux bois

Elaborate wood-graining effects that are designed to imitate rich and desirable marks and patterns — those found in burr walnut, for instance – will take some time to perfect, but even a decorating novice can achieve good basic graining effects.

Choose a suitable base colour – deep red is a good base for a mahogany effect while a pale golden cream creates realistic oak grain – and apply two coats of eggshell. Mix up the graining colour by thinning some transparent oil glaze with white spirit and colouring it with a little artist’s oil paint: a dark purplish brown or even black creates a realistic glaze for mahogany, while a little burnt umber can replicate oak. Apply the glaze in an even, dense coat on top of the eggshell.

Take a dusting brush and drag it along the length of the surface in a light sweep. Repeat this sweeping brush-stroke to blur any hard lines. With a clean softener or dusting brush, quickly and gently work across the gram.

Imitation terracotta

Warm ‘terracotta’ walls are the perfect backdrop for today’s ethnically inspired interiors, and a convincing effect is simple to achieve.

Paint the wall with a base coat of matt emulsion in a creamy gold colour. Dilute terracotta-coloured emulsion – equal parts of paint to water – and coat the wall with a wide decorating brush, brushing backwards and forwards over the painted surface, continuing even when the wash begins to dry.

Allow the paint to dry out completely and then take a clean decorating brush dipped in water to dampen down the surface, working on the usual 1 sq  m   at a time. Dilute some cream-coloured emulsion: mix 1 part paint to 2 parts water. Using a 2.5cm   decorating brush, make a rough pattern of lines across the damp piece of wall. Using a slightly dampened natural sponge, dab at the paint surface to blur and smudge the lines. Keep gently sponging the area until you have achieved the soft, cloudy bloom of terracotta. Use this technique with different colours to imitate lead or unfinished plaster.


To recreate on walls the wonderful blue-green patina of weathered copper, brass or bronze, start with a dark brown coat of matt emulsion. When it has dried, stipple a light covering of bright turquoise green over the entire surface, allowing a trace of the base colour to show through. Repeat the process in some areas, making the turquoise deeper.

Then look at a real piece of verdigris to get an exact colour match for the kind of effect you want and choose a bright shade of green. Go over parts of the turquoise green with a stipple brush. And finally, with a very light hand and an almost dry brush, stipple some of the wall once more — with faint traces of dark gold or bronze paint.

Finally apply a coat of matt varnish; you might perhaps like to mix a little white paint into it to dull the finish slightly.

Faux leather

A leather effect in deep oxblood, bottle green or dark brown can look very smart, particularly when used to add richness to a small space. Using a small to medium-sized decorating brush, stipple the wall thickly with a paler-coloured matt emulsion than the finished effect you are looking for. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.

Repeat the process with a darker shade of emulsion, this time splaying and twisting the brush as you work to create texture. Allow this layer to dry, again for at least 24 hours.

Mix some artist’s oil paint – one part raw umber to one part burnt sienna — into a transparent oil glaze and rub this over the surface of the wall with a cloth; take another soft cloth and gently but thoroughly rub off the excess glaze, allowing the texture of the emulsion to show through. In places, rub the surface with fine sandpaper to reveal some of the emulsion, but ultimately protect the surface with a semi-matt varnish.


Brushes, rollers and pads

Make sure that you have the correct equipment for both the material you are using and the surface being painted in order to minimize the time the task will take. Never use brushes, rollers and pads that are past their best; the end product will not reflect the amount of time you have invested.

Good brushes have a decent length of bristle; they should not be stubby. Rollers can be more messy than brushes, as the paint is more likely to splatter, but they are a good choice for large areas such as walls and ceilings because they speed up the application.

Rollers produce a slightly more mottled surface than brushes. Indeed, if you want a super-smooth surface, do not use a foam roller, because the air trapped in the foam will produce an ‘orange-peel’ effect. And this texture will survive subsequent paint layers.

Paint pads are similar to rollers; using a paint pad is an excellent and speedy way of covering large surfaces. Made from mohair bonded onto a foam backing, they are available in several sizes. There are special edging pads for precision painting and small pads to use on mouldings and glazing bars. Best used with water-based paint, paint pads produce a smooth finish, but they do apply less paint per coat than rollers, so you may need an extra coat for the same density of finish.

Buy enough of the appropriate paintbrushes, rollers and paint pads for the task, but it is probably not worth buying heavy-duty industrial equipment unless you are renovating a whole house from top to bottom. If you require any expensive or specialized tools, consider hiring them instead.

First steps to painting walls

Before you start, dust the rim of the paint can with a dry brush or damp cloth to remove any dust or grit which could fall into the paint and contaminate it. Work your way around the tin with the spoon handle, levering gently until the lid flips off. Stir the paint thoroughly in a figure-of-eight movement with a clean piece of dowel.

Pour a quantity of the paint into a clean paint kettle, tray or plastic bucket because, when you are moving up and down ladders, this is easier to handle than a full tin.

Using a brush

Before using a new brush, get rid of loose bristles by working it vigorously backwards and forwards across the palm of your hand.

To begin painting, dip the brush into the kettle until one third to half of the bristles is covered. Remove the excess by dabbing the brush against the inside of the kettle, not by scraping the brush against the rim of the tin. Scraping it pulls the bristles out of the brush, contaminates the paint with stray bristles, and can make a mess of the outside of the tin. Alternatively, you could tie a piece of string taut across the top of the kettle and clean the brush against that. Do not be tempted to overload the brush as it will be much more difficult to manoeuvre and it will almost certainly result in drips that will show on the finished paint surface. It is also essential not to apply the paint too thickly and that you leave enough drying time between coats; consult the directions.

If you are using emulsion paint, you need to work fast because the rapid drying time of the paint can lead to shading. Using a 10—15cm   brush, work across the room in areas approximately 70cm   square. Use criss-cross brush-strokes to cover the area evenly and finish on a light, upward stroke. This is called ‘laying off’. Move swiftly and methodically as you paint across the wall.

Handling the tools

Oil-based paint requires a different approach. It dries more slowly than emulsion and thus allows a little more flexibility. Use a smaller, 2.5—5cm   brush, held between thumb and forefinger, like a pen, and begin to make parallel vertical lines of paint across an area measuring approx. 30 cm   square. When you have used up most of the paint on the brush, work swiftly across the vertical lines, blending them together into a solid layer of paint. Finish the area off with light, vertical strokes and move on quickly to the adjoining area.

Using a paint pad

Pour some well-mixed paint into a paint tray; you can use either a standard roller tray or one specially designed for use with pads. Load the paint by running the pad backwards and forwards over the ridged area of the paint tray, or over the loading roller in a paint-pad tray, to ensure an even application. Work on the edges of the wall first using a small pad or a special edging pad. Then, using a larger pad  , apply the paint in overlapping criss-cross strokes, working on an area of 1 sq  m   at a time. If you are painting ceilings or high walls, fitting the pad to an extension pole will speed up the process considerably.

Using a roller

Select a suitable sleeve for the wall surface and slide it onto the roller cage until it clicks shut. Pour some well-mixed paint into a roller tray and run the roller down the sloping part of the tray into the paint. Roll it up and down along the ridged slope to remove excess paint.

After cutting in with a paintbrush at the edges of the room, apply the paint in side-to-side, up-and-down strokes, spreading the paint evenly over areas approx. 60cm   wide. Lay off on a light upward stroke before reloading for the next area, taking care to blend the edges of the two areas together. If you are working on a ceiling or on high walls, you may wish to add an extension pole to the roller.

Tools and equipment

Containers: for paintbrushes, use metal or plastic buckets; for rollers, plastic trays.

Decorating brushes:

  • 10-12.5cm brushes for walls.
  • 2.5-5cm brushes for details.
  • 5-7.5cm brushes for ‘cutting in’ around the tops of walls.
  • 2.5cm brushes or angled-headed brushes for window frames.
  • a selection of artist’s brushes for details.
  • 5-10cm oval-headed brushes for applying varnish.

Roller cage: can hold a variety of sleeves.

Roller sleeves:

  • short-pile mohair for applying silk emulsion. medium-pile sheepskin for matt emulsion. medium-long pile for textured surfaces.
  • patterned foam rollers for dramatic effects.

Extension pole: for pads and rollers, when painting high areas such as ceilings.

Radiator roller: small roller on a long handle for reaching into the awkward space behind radiators.

Paint pads: often have hollow handles so they can be used with an extension pole.

Mahl stick: to steady your hand for details.

Stepladder or ladders: to create a painting platform.

For decorative paint effects:

  • pieces of natural sponge.
  • flogger: for dragging.
  • dusting brush or specialist graining brush.
  • selection of stencilling brushes.
  • large stippling brush.
  • softener brush: to soften brush marks.
  • fitch brushes: for spattering and stippling.
  • specialist rollers, rockers and combs.
  • lint-free rags: for rag rolling.

Equipment to hire

  • Spray guns: to cover large areas very quickly. Always wear a face mask.
  • Battery-powered paintbrushes and rollers: the paint is pumped from an attached reservoir along a plastic tube.
  • Scaffold tower: a safe platform if painting a very high room.


Standard paints


Oil-based eggshell has a smooth, hard- wearing surface and a slight sheen. A more elegant finish for woodwork than gloss, it can also be used on furniture and interior walls and ceilings as it provides a resilient surface and wears beautifully. It is therefore good for heavy-duty areas such as halls, bathrooms and kitchens. Can also be used for paint effects. Drying time: 12—16 hours. Look out for quick- drying water-based eggshell; this gives the same effect but lives up to its name and dries in 2-4 hours.


Use on metalwork for best effect, including radiators.


Shiny gloss paints are mostly oil-based, but water-based varieties are now available. Available in semi-gloss, gloss and high-gloss finishes. High-gloss paint shows every bump and surface flaw. Durable, chip-resistant, and easy to wipe clean, gloss paint can be used on woodwork, metalwork and walls; it can also be used on plastic without an undercoat. It is perfect for heavy- use areas: hallways, door and window frames, children’s rooms, kitchens and exterior woodwork. Liquid gloss must be used over proprietary undercoat, whereas non-drip and self-undercoat- ing versions do not need undercoats.

Drying time: 12—16 hours.

Kitchen/bathroom emulsion

A water-based paint containing fungicide, for areas that may become damp.

Oil-based mid-sheen paint

Also known as semi-sheen or satin finish. Similar to eggshell but with a less attractive finish, this paint has been adapted for faster application; some varieties need no undercoat, require only one coat, and are drip-resistant. Can be used on woodwork, window and door frames. Drying time: 2 hours.


Specially designed to seal bare surfaces and available in water- or oil-based versions, special primers should be used for wood, plaster and metal.

Quick-drying eggshell

See Eggshell, water-based.

Soft distemper

See Whitewash.

Solid emulsion

See also Vinyl matt and Vinyl silk emulsions. A thick type of paint that comes ready to use in its own tray. Its heavy consistency reduces the risk of drips and splatters and is therefore appropriate for use on walls and ceilings. Do not use on new plaster without primer.

Textured paint A water-based paint that adds texture to plaster surfaces. Usually used on walls and ceilings, it is particularly useful for covering up minor imperfections and rough surfaces. Difficult to clean. Be warned too: it is extremely difficult to remove if you change your mind.


A thick, opaque paint that fills in small cracks and irregularities in the surface being painted. Matt, slightly chalky texture. Available in either oil-based or water-based versions. Easy to apply and though it comes in few colours, it can be easily tinted. Use on primed surfaces. Do not use on plastic or stainless steel. Not intended as a finish but sometimes used as such. In heavy-use areas, where it is likely to get scuffed, use a matt varnish to protect it. Drying time: 8—12 hours.

Vinyl matt emulsion

A water-based paint with a flat finish. Easy to apply, vinyl matt emulsion gives good coverage, and is quick to use — and cheap. It should be used on walls and ceilings, and can be used for paint effects — thinned to create a wash, it provides a good base for stencilling; thickened with whiting, it has a textured effect. Can be used on new plaster or on rough, porous surfaces such as interior stone or brickwork. Not easy to wash clean. Drying time: approx. 4 hours.

Vinyl Silk Emulsion

A water-based paint similar to vinyl matt emulsion, this silk emulsion has a slight sheen finish and is more durable. Best suited to walls, it is also a good base for decorative finishes, mixing well with stainers, powder colours and water-based artist’s tube colours. Drying time: 2—4 hours.

Special paints


One of the earliest domestic paints, buttermilk was used widely in early

American interiors and is still good for creating an authentic country feel.

Made from soaked, dry pigment, but termilk and a small quantity of fungicide to prevent mould, it has a matt appearance. As inconsistencies in mixing show up more markedly in dark colours, it lends itself better to paler shades.

Flat oil paint

A smart, flat paint which is a great favourite with decorators as a finish, or thinned as a glaze. Obtainable only through specialist paint suppliers. Drying time: 6-12 hours.

Historic colours

Enjoying a huge revival, these paints are sometimes mixed by eye – even today – using traditional materials, recipes and techniques. They do provide a wonderful depth of colour and the range of colours available is surprisingly wide. As a concession to modernity, these paint ranges are often available in a variety of finishes: matt emulsion, flat oil, eggshell, gloss, exterior paint, distemper, floor paint.

Use a brush, rather than a roller or pad, for a truly authentic effect.

Metallic paints

Using metallic paints in interiors is becoming increasingly popular. Basic metallic paints are cheaper than gold leaf where cost is a factor, although the finish is not as lustrous. Hammer-finish paints provide a variegated texture.

Metallic paints usually require proprietary primers and thinners; they give a better finish if sprayed rather than applied with a brush, although on smaller areas such as radiators they can be brushed on if preferred.


Inexpensive matt paint with a soft, powdery finish. It is easy to make, using a combination of calcium carbonate powder, rabbit-skin glue and water.

Distemper is the same, but the whitewash is mixed with powder pigment to tint it to the colour required. Experiment until you get the right consistency and colour. Because it cannot be cleaned, it may be short lived; it can even be rubbed off with time. Remove before applying oil- based or emulsion paint.