You know when you go to the hardware store and you're faced with seven hundred and fifty options for each product? And the kid that works there (when you finally find them, after scouring the aisles for fifteen minutes and practically drag them to the products in question) clearly knows even less than you do about it? That. Hopefully this basic guide will help overcome at least a little bit of that frustration and fear of product overload, and you won't go home with the wrong kind of no brand filler and rubbish paintbrushes.
This post came about because when I was in the midst of the kitchen re-fit last September, to amuse myself when I was sanding, filling and painting late at night, I started talking through what I was doing and the products I was using on my Instagram stories. I've never had so many replies, and questions! You guys LOVE a bit of late night DIY chat and advice it would seem, so I thought I'd outline the products I'm never without when redecorating.
FillerYou know all those holes in the walls that you make for gallery walls, hanging mirrors, shelves or other things and then change your mind or decide to redecorate? Yes, me too, and those holes need filling. I've used many fillers over the years, but the best one in my opinion is by a company called Toupret. Their classic Interior Filler (the powdered one, not the pre-mixed version), is BRILLIANT.
You mix the powder with water to form a thick paste as you need it, the box goes a long way, and keeps for ages. It dries quickly and can then be sanded and painted over. This stuff saved me from getting the plasterer in when we pulled an entire wall of tiles off in the kitchen, where fuse switches above worktop height were removed, and plaster was chiseled out for electrical cabling for the wall lights. I swear by it.
AdhesiveMega-bond does what it says on the tin. Or cylinder in this instance. This stuff is STRONG. Grabs instantly but leaves time for adjusting, and doesn't sag. Within reason. I hate to think how hard it would be to remove however, so think about what you're up to before using it! This saved me from having to use any pins at all when doing the decorative moulding in the TV Room. Yes, that's right, all that trim is stuck to the walls with this stuff alone, and believe me, it's not going anywhere soon.
However I will add, that when doing the much larger moulding in Edie's bedroom, and on super wonky old walls (as opposed to the new straight walls in the loft), this did not cut the mustard, and we needed to use small nails too. That said, it did a superb job of the cornice in the kitchen which is made from some kind of super compact polystyrene I believe. It's great stuff to have around, and if you don't have to use nails, you save yourself a load of filling and sanding work too.
I am weirdly obsessed with the Purdy Jumbo Mini Roller. Yes, it's a mini roller, which is a little absurd when painting big walls, but I MUCH prefer this to a standard big roller. Wait! Hear me out! The great thing about this mini roller is the jumbo bit. You can get sleeves for it that are longer than the standard mini ones, so 6.5 inches rather than 4.5 inches, and you'd be surprised at how much coverage you can get from a small roller. It's lighter weight, smooth and easy to control. Perfect for control freaks like me. And they also do standard mini, and normal sized rollers too. Most importantly though is that they don't shed like cheap rollers do, which saves much frustration, and it's 100% worth spending a bit extra on.
Rollers & Roller Sleeves
Zinsser primers are the best. Fact. If you want to paint melamine, look no further than Zinsser B-I-N. If you can't be bothered to sand, look no further than Zinsser 1-2-3. They're similar but not the same, and if you can have these on hand, so many dreaded DIY jobs will be easier, and more successful. There were some nasty oil stains deep in the plaster in the kitchen where the old extractor fan met the tiles. It was totally gross, but other than cutting the plaster away, which I didn't want to do, my only option was to stop it from coming through the paint. Zinsser 1-2-3 to the rescue. Yes, I had to do many coats, but it gets there in the end and I swear by it. I'll also be using the 1-2-3 as a primer for the front door when I finally get around to painting it when it warms up a bit. A little goes a long way.
Primer for problem spots and surfaces
BrushesI've been using Hamilton brushes for a few years. I must admit I'm a bit rubbish at keeping brushes in good condition, because I'm always trying to do a million things at once, so quite often I pop my paint trays and brushes (trays in a plastic bag, brushes wrapped in cling film) into the fridge so they don't dry out, with intentions to commence painting again later, or the next day. Often this doesn't actually happen and they sit in there, sometimes for weeks. You'd be surprised at what you can get away with, but I do go through more paintbrushes than I should because of this. Anyway, I love Hamilton brushes, and I like an angled brush for cutting in and painting window frames. Although it has to be said, that my least favourite thing to paint is window frames. The worst.
I've heard that Wooster brushes are really great too, so I might try hunting some of them down for my next project. I know, such a geek. Whatever you choose, make sure you buy good quality brushes that won't leave bristles throughout your fresh paint job.
LeathermanThis multi-use tool is quite possibly the most used item in our entire house. The words 'do you know where the Leatherman is?' are uttered on a very regular basis, and my husband has had his for longer than I've known him. I'd quite like one of my own.
A few other products that I always have to hand when decorating...
Caulk. Unlike silicone which you use in wet areas, this can be painted over. Use this for filling the gap between the skirting and the wall, around door and window frames etc. Also to fill the corner joins and sides of decorative moulding, smoothing it down with a clean wet finger. Makes such a huge difference to your finish, so don't skip it!
Sandpaper, and Sanding Block. I like the Mirka brand that my local DIY shop sell by the metre on a roll. A cork sanding block is also a must.
Filler knives. A set of these are very handy too. Although to be honest I often us an old rounded butter knife for filling small holes. Much to my husbands annoyance.
Paint Scraper. I wouldn't be without one of these in my kit. They're great for the obvious scraping paint off windows when you didn't bother to tape like I usually don't with my old windows. I think because they're old and have so many layers of paint on them, that tape doesn't actually do the trick and I find I get a better result without the tape, and just scrape the paint off after the paint has dried properly. This was also an invaluable tool for removing bits of old paint from plaster after we removed all the tiles from the walls last year in the kitchen. The tile removal process pulled most of the paint off, but didn't really damage the plaster much, so I used one of these to remove the bit of paint left behind to create a smooth surface to repaint. Worked a treat!
Drop Sheets. Don't be a painter risk-taker like me. Always use a drop sheet!
And obviously you'll need your paint!I get asked ALL the time about what type of paint to use. The simple answer is use water-based paint always. I HATE oil-based paints and due to environmental legislation changes they're less common than they used to be (yay), and eventually will go away completely. They stink, are unpleasant to work with, impossible to clean up, and take an age to dry. Water-based paint is the only way to go. You know it's water-based if the product says that clean-up is with water. If you have to use white spirit to clean-up, it's oil-based and I don't recommend using it. All those chemicals. Ew.
For walls you can use a variety of finishes, generally you would just use a matt emulsion, though you can also use an eggshell finish or even full gloss if you're brave. The higher the gloss, the less forgiving. Not all paints are suitable for the kitchen and bathroom, so make sure you check first.
And for woodwork, I always use an eggshell, but you can also use gloss if you want a higher sheen. It's really that simple.
Prep is as boring as hell but a necessary evil, and it will make a difference to your finish and the durability too. No, I don't always follow this rule, and yes, sometimes I regret it.
A final word on prep...
You should always prime woodwork if you want your paint to stick, and most brands have their own primers. You don't have to use their primers, but it's the safer bet. That said Zinsser 1-2-3 is what I'll be using over an oil based paint on our front door when I finally get around to painting it the new colour (which I hope I still like as I bought it in November last year!), which is a water based eggshell.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll try to answer them. I may occasionally update this post with new to me products.