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  • Writer's picturetaLK interiors

Decorating - Yep, It's All About the Prep

This pains me to say, but decorating really is All About the Prep.

I’ve just spent the past week redecorating our home office; obviously redecorating a room doesn’t usually take a week but we were undertaking a fair amount; adding sockets, moving lighting and light switches, fitting new wall-hung furniture, so there was a LOT of prep; wall-chasing, filling, sanding, priming and cleaning. And our compact Edwardian terrace is chock-full of black mortar, so every time we take a drill or angle-grinder to a wall, we are suddenly swamped in layers of thick, black coal dust. Trying to keep the mess contained to one room is practically impossible; no matter how well you tape up the room and put down dust sheets, it always manages to seep through to leave a clingy coating in some unexpected location. And then it’s a race to find the fall-out… can I clean it up before there are trails of little black paw prints scattered throughout the house? The answer is usually no; our furry contingent usually have a second sense when it comes to any kind of mischief-making.

I wouldn’t say I love decorating, but I do absolutely love the end result. Preparation is so frustrating because it seems to take such a long time and there’s no instant payback. It’s usually quite dusty and dismal work, involving either crawling around on all fours or balancing precariously at the top of a ladder, wearing a roll of masking tape like a bangle with a (retracted) Stanley knife clenched between your teeth. But if you want to be thorough, there are no short cuts. Don’t fall for the promise of ‘one-coat’ paint, it’s unlikely to save you time or money. If you don’t do the proper prep, you’ll most probably regret it, so no matter how annoying or tedious you find it, you just have to pull up your DIY dungarees and crack on with it. There is absolutely no doubt that at the end of it all, when you can sit back with a large glass of something and admire your handiwork, you will be rewarded with a job very well done.

So here are my tips for decent decorating:

· Gear yourself up for the prep

· Remove any unwanted plastic rawl/wall plugs by inserting a screw part way and then use a pair of pliers, with a small block of wood held immediately underneath as leverage, to grip the screw and pull it out

· Fill any cracks and gaps in walls with filler but make sure to buy the powder & mix to a paste with water, it’s easier to sand and gives a much better finish than ready-mixed Polyfilla plus it’s cheaper

· Sand and prime where necessary, prime the filler with a mist coat (emulsion diluted in water)

· Clean up, including washing walls, using sugar soap if dirty, for example, when you have black mortar and the entire room is covered in coal dust

· Clear clutter and cover floor and furniture you can’t move with dust sheets

· Use masking tape on pretty much everything; low tack is best for use on painted walls that you don’t want to damage, whilst the less expensive tape can be used on windows and woodwork

· Slightly loosen sockets and switches to paint underneath the edges for a more professional finish; needless to say be careful with electrics

· Don’t scrimp on buying brushes and rollers; it’s really annoying when the cheaper ones shed and you have to constantly pick out bristles and roller fluff from newly painted surfaces

· For a drastic change in colour, you’ll need to use a coat of paint primer first; from dark to light use white, the other way, use grey

· When painting, start with the ceiling and work down, leaving woodwork until last

· Don’t forget to take off your watch otherwise it’ll get covered in tiny splats, yes, I’m speaking from experience

· Keep a record of what paint you have used and where, for future touch-ups

That's it! Good luck and know that you are not alone when you’re enduring the seemingly endless task; I’m afraid you just can’t sidestep the prep!

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