How much do you cost?
For each job I come and discuss the work to be carried out with the customer. I then provide a written quotation that gives a detailed description of the work to be carried out and a fixed price for the whole job, showing the division of labour and materials costs. This price will only change if the specification changes – and by mutual agreement.
Will you buy the paint?
I can provide any materials required for a decorating project. If a customer wishes to provide their own – perhaps they already have some paint at home – then that of course is fine, and it won’t be included in the price. I can also provide brochures, colour cards and paint samples to assist a customer in their choices and am always happy to talk through the options available.
What type of paint is best to use?
There are a vast array of paints available, for every conceivable surface and situation. This may hold little interest to you and you may simply want me to get on with supplying the right colour and getting it on the walls. No problem at all! But if you are interested, for domestic interior decorating there are a few simple distinctions that are worth knowing about:
Retail/Trade – Trade paints are those made specifically for decorating professionals by companies such as Johnstones, Dulux and Crown. They generally have better coverage and opacity than paints manufactured for the DIY market and sold at places like B&Q. They also come in larger sizes, and can be bought at trade discount, so can prove more economical.
Budget/Premium – A further distinction in the paint market can be made between these ‘budget’ trade paints and the premium quality paints produced by companies such as Little Greene, Sanderson and Farrow & Ball. These premium paints are more expensive but have a higher pigment content and so offer greater depth of colour as well as subtle changes of shade in relation to the light. This can really make a room come alive. Their emulsions usually give a more traditional, flatter effect on walls. In some circumstances, premium paints may also cover in fewer coats than their budget equivalents whilst offering greater durability and therefore actually work out cheaper in the long run.
Vinyl Matt/Acrylic Matt – Other than kitchens and bathrooms, ceilings and walls are invariably painted with matt emulsion. Standard trade emulsion is usually ‘vinyl matt’, with a wipeable, ever-so-slightly sheeny finish, whilst the premium paint manufacturers produce ‘acrylic matt’ emulsion, which is softer in look and richer in colour. Little Greene’s ‘Intelligent Matt Emulsion’ is a particularly innovative paint that offers high-pigment quality, a flat matt finish, and real toughness and durability.
Eggshell/Satin/Gloss – These are the standard finishes for woodwork – skirting boards, architraves, doors etc. Eggshell having the lowest sheen, gloss the most, and satin somewhere in between. Modern eggshells often have quite a bit of sheen when they are first applied which dulls down over time to leave a flatter, more traditional finish.
Water-based/Oil-based – The above finishes come in water-based or oil-based paints (water-based can be washed out of brushes with water, oil-based must be washed out with white spirit). In general, there is a move away from oil-based paints in the decorating industry, with EU legislation coming into force in 2010 limiting the amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – the nasty, smelly stuff – that manufacturers could put in their products. As well as being less toxic and more pleasant to use, water-based paints have the advantage of drying much more quickly than oil-based ones and therefore allow for two coats to be applied in a day rather than one. On the other hand, many decorators feel they still do not match the flawless, brush-stroke-free finish that can be achieved with oil-based paints. They are working on it though!
Primers – The key to good decorating is surface preparation. In the preparation process I often use primers from the American company Zinsser. Their wide range of primers possess excellent adhesion to problem-surfaces and create an ideal, even surface for topcoat finishes.
There are many other options you can look at in the process of specifying paint for a job (environmental impact, for example) and I’m always happy to discuss them with a customer.
Can you repair cracks and holes in the plaster?
Yes, I can make all kinds of surface repairs with the appropriate fillers. I’m not a plasterer though, and if there is a lot of damage or deterioration in the plaster, you may need to get one in before I can prep and paint the surface.
Will there be lots of dust?
Good preparation usually means quite a lot of sanding but for ceilings, walls and woodwork I use an electric Mirka sander fitted with a vacuum attachment that extracts the dust away into my vacuum cleaner as soon as it’s created. It will not remove every single speck of dust but is a massive improvement on the old methods of hand-sanding and hardly leaves anything at all. If there is any, I will be sure to have it clear at the end of the day.
Will you protect any items of furniture or carpeting while you are working?
Yes, I always take care to leave a customer’s home as clean and tidy as it was at the start of a job. I do this by using clean, professional-quality coated drop cloths, taped lining-paper or polythene dust sheets to protect floors and furniture – and a Henry hoover is always to hand.
Should I clear the room?
If a whole room is being redecorated the best option is to get the room cleared before the decorator arrives. Working round – as well as protecting – furnishings is a time-consuming business and so will add to the cost of the job, as well as making it harder to get the best possible paint finish.
Do I need to be at home while you are working?
Not at all. While I’m working for customers they often leave their keys with me in the knowledge that the security of their home is not an issue.
Are you insured?
Yes, I have Public Liability Insurance cover up to £1,000,000.