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If you need advice about a painting or decorating problem not covered elsewhere on the site please leave a comment below.

Recent Comments

Derick – Retirees, not in the best of health, we bought what we expect will be our last home; a Victorian end of terrace. Reading your very informative site it seems poor preparation, poor workmanship and work done by people who don/t know what they are doing is rife. So knowing nothing about building and decorating ourselves, we employed a professional architect to specify and supervise works. A six figure sum and 9 months later work was completed. But now, three years later we have more damp patches or salts ruining the new decorations in several rooms, peeling paintwork on external masonry, cracking paint on woodwork on window frames! Do we blame our architect or the builder he recommended and what should we expect – if anything- in recompense or rectification? Thank you for listening.

If the architect was supposed to be supervising the works then, yes, he/she would be liable. If he/she is a member of RIBA you may contact them for further guidance.

Otherwise it would come down to the specification of works and, if the spec was right, did the builder follow it to the letter? If you had a direct contract with the builder then the liability would be with him.

I would contact the architect in the first instance and get a copy of the specification. Also check the wording of the contract regarding his/her supervision.

It’s likely the works were correctly specified and the builder has cut corners, applying paint finishes before the fabric of the building has fully dried-out. Using cheaper materials than were specified is another trick that’s often employed.

Supervising builders on site is a bit like being a night club bouncer at times and it’s not unusual for an architect to turn a blind eye in order to avoid any conflict.

Also, check your home insurance policy as sometimes there is cover for legal expenses included.

Steve – Can I put water base gloss on top of old oil base gloss after light sanding and no undercoat?
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I wouldn’t recommend it.

Karen – I need to paint a full house that has just been plastered (ceilings n floors) and new skirting added…what do I need to do to prep the walls after the plaster is dry…and when coming to the bathroom is there anything special that needs to be done to the paint there. It is the plan to paint the whole house including woodwork in a Matt emulsion. Thank you
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It depends how deep the plaster is really but, assuming it’s just a skim finish and you have allowed a few weeks for it to dry, then simply use a thinned coat of matt emulsion as a primer and then paint as normal. All paints vary so it will take a bit of trial and error to get the right amount of water to add. Ideally, it needs to be able to soak beneath the surface but not be so thin that it just becomes coloured water.

You can use standard matt for the bathroom but bear in mind that it will be difficult to keep clean. An advanced matt finish, sometimes marketed specifically for bathrooms and kitchens will be better option.

Regarding the woodwork, you’ll need to use an acrylic wood primer first. This is usually labelled as quick-drying or water-based.

I wouldn’t recommend using emulsion as a woodwork finish though. You can get water-based paints for woodwork with a matt finish that are more durable

Jonathan – I have exterior walls that are rendered with a silicon render (K-Rend). The walls are exposed to the prevailing wind and rain and when these are strong they wash off a small amount of material. Over time this small amount will add up! I want to ‘stabilise’ the render but do not want to stop the silicon from working correctly and being waterproof and breathable. Suggestions please.
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It sounds like this miracle wall finish is not living up to its promise. Since you’ve paid this company to do the work I suggest you give them an opportunity to solve it.

Catherine – I have several windows in need of exterior redecoration (to varying extents!). The were previously done with solvent-based gloss. Obviously it’s now too late in the year to tackle the whole job, but I want to put some primer on areas of bare wood to protect it over the winter. I have been advised (by Dulux) that I should choose my primer according to what topcoat I intend to use. But I am now wondering, what are the weather constraints about applying primer (in terms of minimum temp or when rain is next due), and is solvent-based or water-based better to use in weather that might turn chilly or wet soon after I apply it? Thank you.
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I would normally agree with choosing a prime according to the final finish but, since there is going to be a considerable time involved between coats, it matters much less. Paint cures and hardens over time so after a couple of months the compatibility issues become irrelevant.

At present, any primer is better than none at all and your easiest solution would be a quick-drying (water-based) primer/undercoat. It dries within an hour and will be unaffected by rain or frost after about 4 hours.

Sandra – I am repairing an interior window sill which due to window condensation has water dripping down onto it in the corners which then cracks. I have scraped and sanded all the cracks, treated with Zinsser Peel Stop, filled them and will sand again then prime with Zinsser 123. I need my top coat to be moisture resistant and to not crack so thinking gloss? Oil or water based and best one to buy as I hope this will last years as the prep is taking ages.
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Water-based finishes tend to be more flexible but, as always, your top coat is only as good as what is underneath it. Based on what you say, I’m not sure it’s going to make much difference either way?

Solve the condensation problem, which I know is easier said than done, or accept that regular maintenance is the only way you’re going to keep on top of this problem.

Dow – Do commercial 2-part wood-fillers work any better than DIY ones? I had extensive rot in a window-cill, which I filled with 2-part wood-filler some 40 years ago. It looked immaculate when I’d finished – but within a year, the filler had separated from the remaining timber, and I had to dig it out. I re-did it with Dulux Weathershield Flexible filler, and whilst that wasn’t nearly as easy to work with, it is still completely intact 40 years later. A year ago, I found a long strip of rot running parallel to the edge of another cill. I dug it out, and this time tried Ronseal High Performance 2- part filler. I added some small stainless-steel screws to provide additional keys for the filler. Gallingly, within 6 months, cracks started to appear between the filler and the timber, and it’s now apparent that I’ll need to re-do the repair. I suspect the problem is that epoxy- or polyester-type fillers just can’t match the flexibility of the timber. I treated the remaining timber with wood preservative before filling, and although I left it for some time to soak in, it may also be that that impairs adhesion between the timber and the filler. Any advice would be much appreciated.

There are so many variables that is impossible to offer a definitive solution. Much depends on the state and type of timber affected and what works perfectly in one situation may fail hopelessly in another.

2-part fillers do cure very hard though and offer little resistance to natural expansion and shrinkage. Single part, ready-mixed fillers such as Dulux Weathershield do not fully cure and, consequently, remain flexible for much longer.

You may get slightly better adhesion if you use a primer or sealer beforehand and allow a couple of days for it to fully cure before filling.

Victor – I had a leak on en-suite it spread water through the hallway ceiling and had few cracks on coving , I put heaters and humidifier. When it’s completely dry do you fill cracks first or put stain blocker first fill and apply stain blocker again? Which is the best stain blocker I should get for water leak damage? Thanks regards Victor

I would apply the stain blocker first and again when the filling is done. For a water-based stain you should use a solvent-based sealer such as Zinsser B-i-n Primer & Sealer (amazon link). Once this has dried you can use a water based finish over the top.

Susan – Hello i would like some advice please, my bathroom walls were previously painted with Matt emulsion but the colour comes off when I wipe the wall, I want to repaint with a wipeable emulsion can I do this straight on top of the other emulsion or do I have to some preparation first?

Should be OK, I would wash down the walls first with a sugar soap solution and then rinse with clean warm water to remove any contamination – which is normal in bathrooms.

You may need to thin the first coat of your chosen finish with water because the previous coating will be slightly absorbent and this will help seal the surface.

Brenda – Hi hope you can help me, I used a trade emulsion on my kitchen walls and it has left a chalky finish any ideas please

What I think you mean is that you used a ‘trade matt’, the type of paint you’d use on new plaster?

In which case, this is quite normal because there is no vinyl component that is usually added to regular wall paints in order to make them washable.

Sherry – What is the best way to deal with recurring black mould on internal concrete(?) walls in the stairwell of our block of flats? It is a very damp building in general. The managing agents are getting it repainted without any thought or preparation (because it’s not their money they’re wasting!).

The mould is likely caused by condensation, warm air coming into contact with a cold wall. It’s unlikely the stairwell is heated and poorly ventilated, which is why it will keep recurring unless the underlying problems are addressed.

At the very least, I would expect the affected areas to be treated with a fungicidal wash and re-painted on regular basis with mould-inhibiting emulsion such as Dulux Trade Sterishield.

It may help your case if you take photos before any work is done, immediately afterwards and again in 6 months time. If the mould is just as bad within this timescale then you would be right to argue that the agents are indeed wasting money. I would also ask the agents for the specification of works carried out as further evidence.

Susan – Hello I have stair handrail that’s light oak stained & varnished but I want to paint it with white gloss, so do I have to sand & undercoat it first? I’m not sure if you can paint stained wood, I would be grateful for your advice thankyou.

Darren – the process for painting a stained handrail is quite labour intensive since they are often varnished and need thorough cleaning before any paint is applied. Preparation is, therefore, essential – otherwise you are best not bothering since the paint will scratch and peel-off over time.

  • Ideally, remove the varnish coating with a chemical paint stripper, wash down and rub-down to bare smooth wood. Then prime and paint as normal.
  • Not ideally, wash down the surface with a sugar soap solution, rinse off and sand down the surface so most of the shine is removed.
  • Apply one or two coats of adhesive/stain blocking primer such as Zinsser Bulls-Eye 123.
  • Most stains are spirit based and this will stop the colour bleeding through but some times a water-based stain is used and you may still see a bit of discolouration. In which case an oil-based undercoat will stop this.
  • Paint as normal with undercoat and gloss or at least two coats of your chosen alternative.
  • If you use a water-based finish it can take weeks for the surface to fully harden – so you should avoid any abrasion for as long as possible.

Scott – I’m due to paint my newly plastered kitchen ceiling & walls soon. I’ve Purchased 10l of Tikkurila Anti Reflex White 2 Full Matt. Can I water a few litres down (20-30% water) and apply it as a mist coat on the ceiling and walls. I’d then be looking to apply it to the ceiling as finish coat. As it’s an emulsion I just want to know if I can use it as as a mist coat as I have a lot of this paint?

Darren – According to Tikkurila, the product can be thinned up to 20%

Mike – Hi there I have a room painted in egg shell and want to repaint with emulsion. I’m concerned the emulsion won’t absorb and will sit on the egg shell. What’s the solution? Sand down? or is there a primer or initial coat of something I can apply before the emulsion? Thanks
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Darren – Yes Mike, lightly sand down the surface and use an adhesive primer such water-based (labelled as quick-drying) acrylic prime/undercoat. A specialist primer such as Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 would be ideal but may be costly if it’s a big area?

LIz – Hi I want to paint my stairs in multi colours – can you recommend the best way to do that? Use a non slip varnish over the colour?? Thanks for any help
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Darren – Just be aware that if you use a solvent based (oil-based) paint on the stairs it will take a while to fully harden so you’ll need to avoid walking on the stairs for a couple of weeks to avoid spoiling the finish. You’ll also need to take this into account when applying a protective coating and, also, the potential that it may not be compatible with the paint you’ve chosen. In which case, you are advised to do a small test area first just in case there is a problem.

Obviously, it may not be practical to avoid using the stairs at all for such a length of time but the more you can plan around this issue the better.

Roni – We have had a leak from the water pipe that carries the water into the house. This has resulted in water running around the cavities all around the ground floor of our house. We have had a firm in to use machines to blow hot air into the cavities to dry them out. The paint in all the rooms has bubbled. Will I need to use special paint so that I have no future problems with the paintwork?
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Darren – The most important thing is that you allow the cavities to dry out properly before even thinking of decoration. This is going to take a very long time but it is essential since any trapped moisture is going to cause no end of problems with interstitial condensation.

Once the walls have dried out you should remove any loose paint and redecorate with a breathable finish such as Dulux Trade Supermatt.

Hannah – Hi, I recently decorated a newly plastered kitchen. The plaster looked dry (pale pink) so did my mist coat, then applied my trade paint. In patches the pink hue of the plaster is coming through. What can I do?
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Darren – Sounds like your plaster is still drying out, best leave it for now. The drying process will have been limited by the paint and could take several weeks/months. You may find some paint blisters off, or maybe not? Wait and see.

Stephen – I gloss painted my interior doors a week ago & when we open & shut the doors they stick, also I painted fire surround with the same paint and when my wife picks up ornaments they feel like they stick abit. Does this mean the new tin of paint I used was no good?
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Darren – Not necessarily, paint can take a few weeks to fully harden. Manufacturers should make this more clear, I will concede.

Susan – I would just like to know when repainting a gloss door after rubbing down with sandpaper do I have to apply under coat before painting gloss again? Thankyou
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Darren – With a traditional oil/solvent-based gloss, yes, because there is very little pigment and you’ll find it difficult to cover and to get a decent finish.

With water-based (quick-drying) paints there is generally a higher pigment content and you may be able to get a decent result. You may have to give it two coats though but you’re not risking anything by trying. Obviously, if you’re changing colours, you’ll always need an undercoat regardless.

Stephen – I have Graham & Brown super fresco wallpaper on my chimney breast which I emulsions years ago the paint I used is not vinyl & if I wipe it the paint comes off.
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My question is I want to emulsions wallpaper again with a vinyl Matt emulsion how can I stop previous colour from bleeding through? Previous colour is Red & new colour is pale grey. I would be grateful for your advice please.

Darren – A coat of universal primer sealer such as Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 [amazon link] should do the trick.

John – I’ve bought an external hardwood door from a company who state the following OILS, WAXES AND WATER BASED TREATMENTS INCLUDING PAINTS FOR EXTERNAL DOORS. We do not advise the use of any oil, wax or water based (quick drying) treatment on your external door.
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We feel they do not offer enough protection against the elements and can have a detrimental effect on the way the doors are constructed. They can cause de-lamination and therefore we will not offer any guarantee if they have been finished in this way.

If not oil based or water based, then what? I’ve looked at solvent based, but that term seems to be interchangeable with oil based. From reviews I’ve seen they have rejected claims where Dulux Weathershield was used.

Darren – It looks like they are using this as a general get-out for any subsequent claims for damage rather than as any sort of useful advise or guidance.

Using a water-based primer on a bare wood door can sometimes cause problems such as swelling/warping and (for non-solid wood doors) delamination but not so with solvent/oil-based finishes.

You don’t say if the door is already treated or primed, and the material composition – this would have a bearing on any furtheradvice I could give you.

Biddy – Can I paint a bathroom floor, it’s one put in by council for my elderly mother for her same level shower. It has mica type bits in. (Ten years ago, she has passed on eight years ago). It’s really hard to clean as it chews up most mops and only a scrubbing brush works.
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It is now dark water marked where the shower is although still a pretty pink the other half of the room. It will be really complicated and expensive to replace as it is bonded to the floor, goes up the sides like a skirting.

But I need to make it look better! Are there any specialist paints that would do the job. It needs to withstand being in the shower itself. Thanks for any suggestions.

Darren – You could use a standard floor paint. Make sure that the floor is thoroughly cleaned before hand, rinsed of any detergent residue and completely dry.

I can’t guarantee how long this will last because I don’t know what state the floor is in now, how well you will prepare the surface or the quality of paint you’ll be using but it’s the easiest and cheapest solution to your problem.

Elaine – I have a very old lincrusta paper on my ceiling in a Victorian house. It has been painted many times , not by us over the years and the paint is now flaking off. Can you advise how to stabilise the flaking before we paint it again. Thanks.
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Darren – You can’t really do much about the flaking paint other than try and remove as much as you can before painting over it. The reason for this is because the paint loses its contact with the surface over time and any extra load of more paint will make the matter worse.

John – Hi, I wonder if you could help me with the below query? I have a rendered breeze block wall which has been painted on the front side with 1 coat of thinned down white masonry paint and 2 coats of Valspar masonry paint.
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Unfortunately there has been significant flaking. We did believe this may be down to the builder not putting any damp course when constructing the wall. However, I have noticed that the exposed wall seems very sandy when you rub it, so I was thinking the not enough cement was used in the render.

Anyway, I need help in rectifying the issue, I presume we can rub down any excess flaking. But I was wondering what should be use as a primer before trying to paint the wall again?

Note the wall is breeze block with sand/cement render the front side. The rear is bare breeze block with chippings as a barrier between the hedge/bank. I look forward to hearing from you from you soon. Regards

Darren – External rendering can be quite powdery after drying out and it’s best to leave it a while to weather before painting. In other words, let rain wash away the powdery residue over time. You don’t say how new this render is but this was my first thought.

As for adding not enough cement to the render, I think this unlikely since builders tend to go to the other extreme and add too much. In any case, I doubt this would be the answer to your problem?

I would remove as much flaking paint as possible and leave it for a year or, at least, until the ‘sandiness’ is less obvious. Ensure any further coats are thinned sufficiently to soak into the surface. This may also have been a cause of the initial problem.

Dave – I have an old terraced property built around 1910. I would like to paint the brick wall in my back yard. The previous owner painted it – probably many, many years ago. The existing white paint is still on much of the wall, although much of it is now flaking off. I was planning to scrape off the loose, flaking paint, clean it and then paint it with Dulux Trade Weathershield Exterior Masonry Paint in brilliant white.
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However, the on-line data sheet says the paint is not suitable for ‘common brick’. Do you think my 1910 old yard wall is likely to be common brick? I don’t really know what that is.

If so, is there a paint for common brick? I thought this would be a fairly straightforward task to spruce up the yard, especially as it had previously been painted, but now I’m worried I am doing this wrong. Thank you very much.

Darren – Common Brick is term used to describe high-density bricks which are typically used at DPC level because they are resistant to the absorption of moisture. It is not usual for commons to be used for yard walls or large areas of brickwork elsewhere.

It is unfortunate that the word ‘common’ is used out of context in this case since these kind of bricks are anything but.

Sally – I have oak windows and they have a uv lacquer ‘coating’ and where this has broken down we have applied UV Osmo oil. The finish is patchy and we have decided to resand and paint them black instead.
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Which is better to adhere to the lightly sanded treated wood – Oil or Water-based and also, some of the windows are south facing and so whatever we use needs to be stable in the sun… hope all this makes sense, any advice welcome !! Thanks

Darren – You will need to ensure that the oil already applied has totally dried and soaked below the surface of the wood.

Normally I would say a water-based primer and finish is best on new wood but the presence of oil residue would make this unadvisable. A regular oil-base wood primer, undercoat and gloss would be best.

As for using black paint, please bear in mind that dark colours absorb UV light much more readily than light colours so this may not be a great idea in this particular instance?

Dominic – Hi there I previously asked about painting a sapele door which had been factory primed by the joiner. I have now identified the primer used, it is Remmers Induline ZW-425. This claims to offer excellent protection against discoloration from substances contained within the wood.
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Please could you advise how is best to proceed? Aluminium primer? Water based stain blocking primer like Sikkens Cetol BL?

Ultimately I want to put a water based F&B undercoat and top coat on, just not sure what if anything to put underneath that to give the best adhesion and protection against resin from the sapele. Thanks for your help!

Darren – You said previously that your joiner had applied a primer by spray and I replied that it didn’t matter what you do after this since whatever you apply now is only as good as this spray applied coating. For the avoidance of further doubt, applying a primer by spray to external timber is about the dumbest thing that can be done.

Consult your joiner.

Steve – I’ve recently wallpapered a ceiling. There was a water leak in the ceiling years ago. The source of the water leak has been fixed, but there is some yellow staining visible on the surface of the wallpaper caused by the leak.
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I’m not sure if the staining would be considered as a heavy stain or not, but it is clearly visible in the day during sunlight.

To cover the staining effectively, would it be best to use an oil based sealer or a stain block spray?

And would it be possible just to cover the stained area of the ceiling wallpaper or will the entire ceiling need painting after applying stain block on the stained area? Thanks for your advice.

Darren – An oil or spirit based stain blocker will usually be effective for a water-based stain. The aerosol-types tend to be spirit based so that may be your best bet.

You only need to go slightly over the edge of the stain, not the whole ceiling. Whether the entire ceiling needs repainting will depend on the colour and finish. A white matt finish, for example, can usually be touched-up quite effectively whilst some colours will be difficult to match exactly and painting a small area may stand out too much, necessitating a full repaint.

Janice – Can you advise on zinc downpipes? My builder says he will have a primer for zinc which is great and asked us to get paint specially formulated for zinc for the topcoat.
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However at the paint shop they said they said there wasn’t such a paint and that normal metal paint would be fine if it had a zinc primer underneath. Do you have any advice or guidance to assist? Thanks for your help.

Darren – Zinc is naturally resistant to oxidization and, therefore, does not require a specialist primer. What it does need though is to be properly degreased prior to painting and it may also need an etching-primer in order for any coating to stick to the surface. (Etching primer is, basically, an acid-based solution which takes away the shiny finish from surfaces such as zinc and galvanised steel).

The alternative is to leave the surface untreated for a year in order for it to ‘weather’. In other words, the natural process of being rained on repeatedly will denature the finish to such a degree that no further preparation is needed.

Once prepared (or weathered), I would use a general all-purpose solvent based metal primer and two coats of solvent based undercoat, finished with one or two coats of solvent based gloss. (*solvent based = oil-based).

If you are paying someone to do this for you then ensure you receive a written specification before any work is carried out.

Tom – Hi this is a great site very useful. My house is an old Victorian terrace (1888) on the seafront. It is rendered and painted regularly with Sandtex STHC smooth.
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Long shot I know but is there a better product to withstand the elements and do you have any advice on any specialist gloss paint for the window woodwork.

As you might expect the repainting seems to be every 5 years rather than 10. Just wondered if there was a better product or whether more coats would be a good idea.

Darren – Dulux Trade Maximum Exposure Masonry Paint [link] is formulated for coastal environments and is claimed to perform better than the regular alternative. Whether it would be worth the added expense is hard to say though since you’ll be painting over an existing coating and, as always, any paint is only as good as the surface it is applied to.

In theory, you may get a bit more time between recoats but it can’t be guaranteed so that’s a risk you’ll have to judge for yourself.

As for the woodwork, Dulux Trade Weathershield exterior undercoat and gloss will perform as well as anything and much better than most standard finishes. In your case, over existing woodwork that is in good condition, the oil-based option will be the better choice.

Re applying extra coats, with previously-painted woodwork, absolutely yes. Two coats of gloss are better than one and three coats better than two.

And for masonry paint, not so much, since you want any internal moisture to be able to escape and multiple coats will have a detrimental effect on this process.