Truestar MF review



Gone are the days when one brush did all, now there is so much diversity and not every brush suits every decorator so these are my personal findings.

I first became aware of Truestar as a company at the

National Paint and Decorating show in Coventry November 2013. Where I was actually given a free MF brush to try, being a big fan of another major brush brand Purdy, if I am honest I didn’t take this new pretender seriously.

Short description

Over the next few months the Truestar MF remained in my van, but gradually I found my existing brushes where not creating the desired finish in many water based trim products so I began to use a variety of brushes. I believed I had come to a solution with another new brush firm but still found their bristles a little course meaning more care was needed laying off.

Until one day I gave the MF a try, its bristles felt too soft and floppy although once they were actually in the paint the weight feels just right. Over next few weeks I flirted between both manufactures products until the latest Dulux formulation of water based trim came out. Here I found the MF far superior than any previous brush I had tried so it became my brush of choice for the next 6 months. I purchased more and began to use them every day pushing them to the limit.

Never during this time have any of my MF brushes shed a bristle. Most manufacturers recommend washing your brush out every two or three hours when using water based trim products to prevent clogging. Whilst I agree this is best practice on a couple of occasions I have worked eight hours without the MF clogging or needing a wash. Then at the end of each day, washed out lovely, combed and stored in its protective cover and it was ready for the next day. The MF is like most synthetic brushes used in water based, dependant how hard you treat them there lifespan will be between 6 – 12 months.

Even after this because the bristles still maintain their edge you could still use the brush for light duties for some time.

The MF is ergonomically designed slimmer than many major brush brands, but the natural handle sits nice in your hand and remains comfortable for long periods of work. With the design of the bristles being long and thin you will find you can cut in precisely with a wider brush than you normally could of some others.


Outstanding build quality

Comfortable design

Precision bristles

Excellent value for money


Not widely available

Sadly as with all synthetic brushes lifespan is shorter than traditional bristle.


This is one of those companies you should not judge for their interesting marketing because behind the glitzy promotion is a genuine professional product, which has been designed and manufactured to the most demanding standards.

After quite a lot of research the MF is my preferred choice of synthetic brushes in water based products. I would recommend lightly moisten the bristles before use and ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned after use before putting it in a protective sleeve to store ensuring maximum longevity.

Build quality 96/100

Design 90/100

Value for money 90/100

Foot note: This review was written in 2015 and its content is still relevant in the current market.

More thoughts

Once again in too short of a time frame I find more thoughts appearing in this little decorating blog. After last years sabbatical,  I had hoped for a year of recovering and getting gradually back to work properly from 2016’s events http://v-wilkinsonandson.co.uk/painters-have-feelings-too/

Things were going great I got the all clear from the bowel surgeon and was back full time working by February 2017, just steadily at first, but wasn’t finding any restrictions in my ability. Just when you think you have things sorted another surprise comes along.

It was late July 2017 I was working alone on a small motel, changing the colour of feature walls on the first floor, after carrying steps, sheets and decorating materials up there I noticed a shortness of breathe, forcing me to stand for a minute and recover. Once I had done so I felt fine and continued with my days work without further incident.

Carrying my things back to the van at the end of my day I had similar breathlessness but soon recovered so didnt think it was too serious. I arrived home and during our evening meal I mentioned it to my wife, saying perhaps an appointment with my GP might be in order.

Immediately she suggested we visit the local Primary Care center at hospital, so we got into the car and drove through. After chatting with the Doctor she suggested she’d like to run a couple of tests an ECG was first, having had many in the past at this point I wasn’t concerned at all as they connected the sticky pads and wires to me. Only when she ran the test and looked a little surprised at the result, showing it to her colleague before coming to inform me of the diagnosis.

Apparently I was in full heart block, no wonder I was a bit breathless when my heart wasn’t behaving its self properly, so I was told I was to be transferred to Carlisle Hospital, with likelyhood of getting a pacemaker fitted.

To say I was a little surprised is an understatement although having said that with my previous history it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me one way or another. http://v-wilkinsonandson.co.uk/knowing-history-makes-stronger/

So I was in Carlisle for several days, the procedure as they like to call them these days was initially scheduled for Thursday, but postponed due to my unusual body layout shall we say, the doctor just wanted to double check with another test and confirm his findings with cardiologists at Freeman’s hospital in Newcastle.

So Friday morning came and the Dr ensured me it would be later that morning once he had spoken to his colleagues over in the cardiac unit in Freeman’s again. Despite me saying for her not to my wife had got up at the crack of dawn and was already in the hospital as she believed I was first on list for that mornings procedures.

As 11 am approached the nurse came and said I was to go down to have the pacemaker fitted. In Carlisle its an odd experience as you get pushed into theater  past the coffee shop and there was my wife. So I was prepared on the operating table, given a local anesthetic in my left shoulder and once it was numb, the Dr, who by now we had built up a bit of a rap-our over several chats we’ve had previously started. Yes it was uncomfortable at times, even a little unnerving but on the whole manageable and we even managed to chat a little as he carried out the procedure.

I was back on the ward by 2 pm, that first cup of tea and toast is always welcome after any procedure. Thank heavens I was no longer attached to a heart monitor, I was told need three tests, an ECG, and Pacemaker test was done on the ward, followed by a quick trip to X-Ray.

Then Amazingly I was good to be discharged and I was home by 7 pm that evening. I honestly cannot fault the Nurses or Doctors at Carlisle hospital, they all showed so much care. After leaving hospital I thought a few weeks recovery as I’d been instructed to take care using my left arm so as not to dislodge anything, then I should be back to normal.

Once again I believed, things will improve now, sadly fate had a hand in things again and my journey wasn’t over yet….





Mural installation

A short video made via stop frame pictures showing a small mural installation job recently carried out at our customers in West Cumbria.

The mural was Glasgow Skyline, supplied by http://www.photowall.co.uk as you will see it came in six panels. As we were installing it to appear above a desk and headboard in a bedroom after installing the panels I needed to trim the lower edge to suit the height we desired. The width was determined by the heigh we were working at so as not to distort the image we requested the original proportions when we ordered.

Why wont my water stain go, with Emulsion

If you have ever had a water leak on your ceiling leaving a brown mark, you’ll know how untidy it can look. Also if you’ve tried to redecorate just by covering it with several coats of Emulsion paint you’ll realize that is not an ideal solution to the problem.

Sadly there are very few water bourne products that will successfully trap and prevent a water mark bleeding through till finished coatings. Traditionally oil based undercoat would be used to seal the stain. There was also products such as Gulttonglass or Stipptick sealers which were faster drying, but unfortunately didnt work best with emulsions.

Nowadays there are various priority stain sealers in brush and spray applications which perform the task very well and enable you to successfully prevent the stains reappearing.

A word of warning ensure the source of the stain has been cured fully first as no stain blocker can actually hold back a persistent water leak

Painters have feelings too!

For the second time on my business website, I’ve let you see Painters have feelings too, while previously I’ve talked about my early beginnings, Knowing your history makes you stronger.  here we discuss more recent history and something that could happen to all of us out of the blue.

Generally I’m not a superstitious person, my mum is but something strange did happen 12 months ago today which did make me think.

Thursday 23rd of June 2016 around 5.45am, I was awoken by a loud tapping noise, unsure of where it was coming from I peered out of my duvet only to see a young Magpie sitting outside the bedroom window tapping the glass with its beak.

Thinking at the time it was unusual but I wasn’t the slightest bit flustered, I laid back down for half an hour before getting ready for work. Now this is where my mums train of thought enters the equation, (one for sorrow, two for joy and so on) during the days work I started to get pains in my stomach, I put it down to trapped wind, early start, quick breakfast, longer drive to job all those things where in my mind.

After work at home I mentioned to Michelle, (The wife) I’m going to lay on the bed as my tummy will ease its self *cough, tried to word that as delicately as I could. It was only the fact I decided to take a paracetamol which triggered her into action, “you never take tablets, so I there must be something wrong with you” she said.

By this time it was after 11.pm but we drove the 7 mile to the local access center to get checked, the duty doctor did examine me, and gave me two tablets saying trapped wind which would ease by morning. Sadly it didn’t and by 7.am Michelle was on the phone to our surgery. A locum doctor visited and immediately said I was to go to hospital 35 miles away, for tests, there would be a bed waiting, so once again off we went.

Arriving at hospital I was greeted by the registrar Martin, who tried to ease my mind that it would just be some simple procedure to “free” the pressure if that failed they intended to investigate with the camera the following morning. I did say to my wife after the procedure, that she could take me home that night rather than taking up a hospital bed unnecessarily, but she insisted I stayed.

So on the morning of the 24th June 2016 after a reasonably comfortable night on the ward, the registrar came to explain the next steps, quite simply it was just to investigate. I was gowned and taken to the procedure rooms, In my mind I knew Michelle would be waiting for me as soon as I got back on the ward, I thought I could do with a cuppa as I’d been nil by mouth since early morning.

The nurse and radiologist where talking to me and he began, next thing I knew my stomach ballooned and I was rushed into another room surrounded by about ten nurses and doctors all working on me as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I remember entering through some doors, I now know into theatre and a fairly tall man saying “Don’t worry we have got you” or words to that effect….

I didn’t know at the time I awoke how long I’d been under, a nurse was standing beside me and explained I was on a ward, my wife came, my daughter was with her, my son had caught the first train from Glasgow as he had been to celebrate his girlfriends birthday, Mum and Dad had came through too.

I was extremely grateful to see my family, my wife had rushed through as soon as the hospital phoned I was going into theatre, my sons girlfriend wouldn’t let him travel alone and despite her due to go out for her birthday, she had told him “family was more important” as all he just wanted to “be there for his best friend”, my daughter was the bravest showing no sadness in front of me, my little hero.

After an emotional reunion I must have drifted back to sleep, dozing on and off till morning. That morning I learned that I had to have two thirds of my colon removed due to it being four times the size it should have been and a restricting growth around it, the surgeon Mr.Avalapati had discussed this at length with Michelle following my surgery. He reassured her the operation had been successful and that I currently had a storma bag, which my wife replied “he wont really like that” then Mr Avalapati had mentioned if I had got my way and gone home that night and the colon had burst, that would have been it….I would not have made it out of Workington let alone 35 miles to hospital, so having a bag is a small sacrifice, although it had been done in such a way to be reversed at some point in the future. Obviously I’m very grateful to my wife for being so stubborn and loving.

Coming around the following morning I too discovered I had been fitted with a colostomy bag, this did concern me at the time, I was an active 49 year old and I wasn’t sure what this meant. After a few days on the ward and several discussions with nurses including the Storma nurse who’ s role is to assist, teach and support those with the variety of bags fitted during surgery, my mind was a little more at ease. A new gentleman was brought into the ward, just having had his Storma removed a few days previous. Roy’s advice to me was “You’ll cope no bother with it, just get it inside your head and its not a problem” those words stuck in my mind and Roy and I became friends who still speak to this day. Thank you mate.

Over the coming weeks I made a slow recovery, after a week in hospital I was allowed home, unaware how much this operation had taken out of my body, the first four weeks at home needed lots of help, even washing myself was so tiring I needed help. again Michelle was my rock…naturally my family rallied around, if Michelle was at work my parents came to sit with me, I can’t thank them enough.

Also Michelle had put basic information on social media, to inform friends and family further a field I wasn’t well. I was overwhelmed by the support we received and messages. Everything from offers of help from decorators all over the country, who would have assisted getting through jobs to keep my business going, to friends offering to collect shopping or run errands to save Michelle, one special friend offered financial assistance, should I needed it I am so grateful to everyone who kept in contact with us, your kind words, and acts of generosity will never be forgotten.

Regarding the business Mark who has been with me for 14 years now, was in constant contact with Michelle during my hospital stay, the first day I was home he visited and basically said my first priority was to get well, he would manage the jobs, all I had to do is send them to him. Over those first six weeks when I was mainly house bound that’s what we did. I could text and email jobs out, or Mark would pop in. He would manage each job sending me progress reports and pictures as he went. I couldn’t have asked for a better work college and friend.

Over the last year finances have been tight but we muddled through, I have always known health and family are far more important that money. Yes you do get basic assistance from the government if you fight for it, perhaps more on that another time.

Please if your self employed look after your health naturally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you might be pleasantly surprised who will jump to your aid. You can of course insure yourself for these events, which is everyone’s personal choice, many don’t as they think it will never happen.

The biggest thing for me is the amount of kindness shown, in person and via all forms of social media, not just from friends and family but from the wider painting and decorating community. In total I had about 9 months away from the brushes, two operations, various tests, was house bound, relied on family taking me to see jobs at first until gradually I could drive myself and do the estimating side. The important thing is I got though it, and should you be unfortunate enough to have similar circumstances you will too. Oh final thought, remember to say “good morning Mr Magpie” just in case….




Basic decorating advice intro

I’m going to do a basic series of common misconceptions and decorating advice posts to assist a home owner who may be attempting to under take painting and decorating themselves, hopefully it may assist them, or at the very least minimize the decorating faux-pas our trade has to correct on a daily basis from well meaning DIY’ers

In one respect its my way of putting a little back from the trade I have worked hard in for over thirty years, even I’m still learning new things every day. From the current increase in water-based products, to changes in fashion from wall paper borders to bright coloured feature walls, the ever growing list of new paints manufacturers invent to fill niche markets,  to the advances in dust free sanding systems there is generally something new happening

Another aspect is perhaps it might encourage an interest within the trade, sadly there will be a shortage of proper time served trades people in the future, not just in painting and decorating but in all trades and with our elderly population slowly increasing, they will need reputable trades people to undertake work in the future. Yes its a shock to the system actually coming to work for the first time after a school enviroment, but providing they are willing to learn, skills taught hands on will stay with them for the rest of their lives and possibly provide them with a rewarding way to earn a living in the future.

So look out for posts #askapainter hashtag or if there is anything decorating related I may be able to answer, feel free to ask a question below, I will try my best to answer within a couple of days.The video that accompanies this post is a bit of light heart fun, mainly jobs that are in progress so you can at least view the variety of work we do.


#askapainter Can I just strip the top of the existing wallpaper and re-paper over it

Before feature wall

After feature walls

In theory most older vinyl wall coverings were actually designed to be able to do this, dry strip of the surface paper, leaving a backing ‘lining’. Personally I was never a huge fan for several reasons.

Every time you removed the top of the wall covering it always manged to loosen a little of the ‘lining’ usually around the edges so you had remedial work to attend to right away.

I was never convinced once you started to the wet the lining again with the fresh paste of the new wall paper it wouldn’t be as solid hence blister up causing problems later.

Usually you start papering a room from the optimum place, working out lengths so you rarely get any silly little edges. Having to additionally work to stagger across the previous ‘lining’ joints just makes life harder than it actually needs to be.


Broken Colour effects

Last few week’s projects were straight forward enough first one for a repeat customer, Prepare and apply Emulsion paint to their Staircase, office and Bedroom, little bit of Satin paint on some of the woodwork, door casings and skirting’s mainly as predominantly the rest of the house was natural wood befitting its barn conversion heritage.

The bedroom in question was for the customer’s daughter and they wanted a slightly different feature wall. We discussed just a plain contrasting colour which didn’t seem to appeal. Neither did the idea of wallpaper.

So I suggested we tried paint from Decorazione https://twitter.com/decorazione_uk . After showing sample boards and colour catalogues to the family they decided on a purple shade from the Metalux range.

All the other walls had been prepared and Emulsion applied using Dulux Trade Natural Hessian Vinyl Matt, the feature wall masked up using my favourite Tesa precision sensitive pink tape, and was then coated with two coats of the appropriate primer. Allowing the primer to fully dry over night I began the effect the next morning.

First of all I added additional silver flecks into the Metalux and then gradually applied it in sections to the feature wall using a fandom fan brush pattern.

Second one was for a family friend and new customer just setting up her new house and wanting something new and modern as a feature wall in the master bedroom.

Here after chatting with them we decided on Diadema Silver with additional silver flecks and applied in a straight dragged grained pattern.

Unusually I didn’t actually see the wall before beginning, I knew the house and its proportions I was aware it wasn’t needing much preparation so I just asked the customer to pop a post it note on the correct wall to ensure I did the right one as she was out when I arrived.

As you will see from my pictures I was amused by the marker used on this occasion.

Both customers were very pleased with the end results. For more details on the products please contact Decorazione, if anyone in Cumbria would like similar decorative effects I’m happy to discuss your requirements, having studied these techniques over 30 years and visited Scilly on two occasions to learn more about application I feel sure there would be something with our portfolio I could assist you with.




Progression of our Trade

Doors completed on job

Doors completed on job

Another door glossed

Another door glossed

Being in my part of the Country can make you a little insular, I used to firmly see myself as a traditionalist, it’s how I learned my trade and for many years afterwards the way I continued working had not altered. Gradually as I became involved in more things I became better connected and seen there was a myriad of diversity available to us.

From that moment on I began to open my eyes, I would explore new decorating products and equipment. Not all where successful but at least I had the opportunity to make that judgement myself. Sometimes new things would be incorporated into the way we work, other times dismissed as a gimmick.

Around 2007 I heard the news about the upcoming changes due in paint formulations because of VOC changes http://www.duluxtradepaintexpert.co.uk/editorial/vocs-and-you  .Following this information I made a conscious decision to move my business more towards water based paints.

In those early days it was not easy, many customers still wanted a high gloss finish, which simply wasn’t available in any water based finishes at the time, so we continued using traditional undercoat and gloss where it was requested.

Even the Satin or Eggshell finishes of the day had serious issues; a major problem was getting them to adhere to a traditionally finished surface. No matter how well you abraded the substrate early water based finishes had problems “sticking” to a previously oil based painted area.

This often meant an additional coat of an adhesion promoting primer was required to bridge the gap. There were also several of those emerging in a big way so it was a matter of trial and error learning which one worked best in a particular situation. Zinsser http://www.zinsseruk.com had produced several primers that were ideal BIN acted as a stain block and adhesion primer on most surfaces. While 1-2-3 was ideal if you just wanted to go over old gloss and remain with water based finish.

Most manufacturers also came up with variations, as I mainly lean towards Dulux I found Super Grip or on some occasions Ultra Grip to be worthwhile products to keep in the van.

Once again don’t be tempted to cut corners using these primers, good as they are you still need a full system to go with them, they are not in lieu of an undercoat as the primer would be detrimental to the top coats finish. Also proper preparation is essential everything needs a good abrade down, degreased if required and dust kept at a minimum.

Before the 2010 dead line I was experimenting with more water based trim products, the Satin finishes were easier to convince as the look was similar, just not the touch. I could produce fair results using Dulux Ecosure Undercoat and Gloss on certain surfaces it worked great.

It was almost as good as oil on the compressed paneled doors that were popular and most skirting and architraves didn’t look bad in it.

What I discovered in those early days is the need to rethink how we do things, old oil paints needed a good bristle brush and you worked from the stock, laying of once your area was covered. As oil paints developed you could use longer brushes but still usually a natural bristle one was preferred.

Water based finished require a softer synthetic bristle and lighter touch; you mainly work using the points of the brush. Along with being methodical as overlaps are not very forgiving on water based finishes. I have made it no secret that Truestar MF and Master piece brushes are my preferred weapons in water-based systems.

Over the last few years I have tried to perfect the system we use. I personally have found I prefer quite a soft synthetic bristle, but again it’s down to personal preference and what you can make work. The best solution is to try various brushes until you find the ones you prefer.

Likewise with the products you choose, don’t expect you’ll achieve perfect results first time, or even every time, at first it takes trial and error to educate yourself. You learn some surfaces will need perhaps another quick undercoat or a second top coat. Although I encourage you to stick with a product for a little while, don’t dismiss it at its first outing then you have more chance of learning its characteristics, every manufacturer does things slightly differently.

Never stop learning and progressing, water based paints are improving all the time and we will get to the point when oil paints will just stop being viable or available

Knowing your history makes you stronger.

rear of card GOSH card1

Despite the website being a painters and decorators one, we are not a faceless company, we still are a small family business, with that in mind, This blog isn’t necessarily decorating related, but it may give you a brief insight into who I am . When I was born, all those years ago I was signed out of the local hospital as an A1 baby. It was only once my mum got me home she began to notice that I had difficulty with some things.


Despite various discussions with health visitors and doctors they could not find anything obviously ailing me. It was only through my mum’s perseverance and a particular nurse who noticed a new mothers concern that I was eventually referred to see a paediatric specialist in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

It was here I was looked at by a Dr Falmer and Dr Bonham-Carter where they discovered my complaint, those two doctors probably saved my life and I am very grateful to them, as it was their recommendation that I should be referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for sick children in London.

Over the coming years I had many trips to GOSH in London for tests, checkups and operations. I suppose some things were not pleasant, I know I still have a phobia towards needles to this day. Although apparently I must have had some determination and stubbornness to fight through any adversity the world threw at me.

This must have been the beginning of building my character trait; rumour has it that I have patience and perseverance. Perhaps that helped me to learn my trade, as time progresses you can get stuck in a rut and do not want to move forward with improvement and new developments both your work and personal life

Hopefully in my future I will continue on my journey learning about new techniques, products and tools within my trade, as well as keeping some traditional skills alive, that I can share with my customers and the next generation of decorators. Our core values have always been quality over quantity.

From my fortunate beginnings I have always maintained reasonable health, naturally I suffer bugs and viruses like anyone will but have been lucky to able to carry out a job I enjoy which although being fairly physical, helps maintain my health without holding me back. I also try and maintain a positive attitude towards things in general.

Firstly I must apologise now that I choose not to work 365 days a year any more, as I also value the time spent with my family. I am always happy to advise and estimate new works at any time mutually convenient, with the understanding I will get to you, please remember once you’re in my book, I won’t forget you.

However I make no excuses for asking for your support if I am trying to raise funds to assist Great Ormond Street Hospital in their future as it’s truly a place close to my heart. 2016 marks 40 years since my final operation in this marvellous place, my parents have just returned from visiting the 140th anniversary of the hospital chapel St. Christopher’s

The final request in this blog is for anyone reading to look at the pictures, of a card I have had for 40 years, if you see your name or someone you know please feel free to share or comment.


#worktolive #enjoylife #gosh #paintinganddecorating


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