Renovating a church door

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original church door

church door completed

church door during preparation



On the left you see the original Church door, it was in a bit of a sorry state as its many old coatings weren’t adhering correctly due to previous poor preparation!

Mark my right hand man set about the transformation task, there was only one real course of action to bring this old door back to life, he first removed all previous coatings manually, it was an arduous task using paint stripper, glass and sharp scraper blades. Using a blow torch wasn’t an option as our plan was to end up with a door we could stain, hence couldn’t risk scorch marks. After eight hours work the door had been fully stripped. abraded and cleaned as in the middle picture.

Finally to create the correct look we ended up hand mixing stains to get the right colour before finishing with wood oil and then highlighting the ironwork with black.

Now it looks like a Church door should do.


Why wont my water stain go, with Emulsion

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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


Basic decorating advice intro

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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.



Adding skills to your portfolio

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Although many of us as painters and decorators have a wide skill set, few master everything, this blog looks at adding skills to your portfolio relatively easily. Usually during our apprenticeships we are focused on honing preparation technique and perfecting our ability to paint to a reasonable standard.

As we become more proficient with painting we may delve into faux or fashionable paint effects. Perhaps begin to experiment with wallpapers, although often apprentices aren’t trusted with that at first.

Then there is wide choice of diversity to explore if you have the inclination to look beyond what the perception of a “painter” by many. You could specialise in areas such as furnisher or kitchen painting which demands attention to detail.

There are various specially made wall coverings that require particular techniques to hang them.

Despite being less demand in rural areas there would generally always be work in larger towns and cities for those who went down the sign writing, gilding route providing they studied these arts correctly.

This is all very well and good I hear you say, many of these advanced techniques may take years to master to make them profitable, and “what can we do now to add additional value to our work.” and as the topic suggests add skills to our portfolios.

As a professional decorator we are supposed to have creative flair and sometimes customers need a little inspiration. Some of us will be happy to discuss the use of colour with confidence, perhaps many won’t.

So what enhancement would we suggest to a customer’s home?

Personally when introduced to a plain room one of the things I recommend is a standard 5” plaster coving. This is usually a good feature if the corners between the ceiling and walls have started to show signs of cracking or unevenness, a coving will enhance any room.

Predominately to install a plaster cove it’s all about working methodically. I prefer to mark a line around my walls to the depth of the cove, don’t worry too much about the ceiling edge at the minute. As the old phrase says “measure twice, cut once” if you’re not sure check your measurements.

I prefer Gyproc Coving and purchase longest lengths I can to avoid excessive joins. Have a good mitre box, mine is custom designed and made by a local joiner although generic ones can do a good enough job. Cut your first internal mitre, measure length of wall from mitred end, if your wall is longer than your length of cove I cut a mitre on both ends as a diagonal join works better than a straight one.

If you wish to check offer the cut length up to your wall, then support it at a comfortable level to apply adhesive. I generally use the correct Gyproc power adhesive, mixing only a portion at a time enough for each length of cove. You can use tile adhesive, plaster and several other power fillers if desired.

Adhesive is “buttered” onto the back edges of the cove, then its offered to it position, using your pre mark line as a guide, ensure its pushed on securely, I like to screw a couple of plaster board screws in as additional support. Scrape of excess adhesive that’s squeezed out as you fix the cove; use it to fill any gaps in the top and bottom edges. I have a small brush and water bucket handy to lightly clean and smooth the filled edges and remove residue from the coving face.

Repeat the process with each subsequent lengths, measure from the mitre of the fixed one until the corner.  Cut mitres to correspond if joining on a flat wall an internal and external mitre works best in my opinion. Internal corners usually butt together but minor gaps, can occur if walls throw coving off, can be filled as can any screw holes or joins.

External corners are best done in pairs with both parts been placed up together, bearing in mind the amount of cove that needs to protrude past the corner edge to allow for creation of an external mitre. Hence the need for accurate measuring as these look best if the mitres are precise, it’s better to have slight gap in the internal mitre side, which is easier to fill, if it ensures the external mitres look correct.

On the whole a standard room should take no more than a morning, with a little ingenuity one man can fix even long lengths of cove, but it’s often easier to have an extra pair of hands to support you getting them fitted to the wall.

If you’re lucky you may even have chance for a little cake as my customer kindly provide on my last coving job.


Cost effective: Dust Free Sanders

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Decorators of my generation or older were probably  not as aware of some of the potential damage done to our bodies, what with the lead in paint or worse chemicals or solvents emitting toxic fumes. Then there were textured coatings and other substrates containing asbestos powder. All of which used to be abraded by hand atomizing a contaminated dust into the atmosphere we were working amongst. Dust free sanders can help combat these concerns.

Brief Description

I have mentioned before about me being a bit of a decorative dinosaur, in many aspects I still try to keep alive traditional skills where ever I can. This does not however mean I also do not embrace new techniques or ideas. For the last five years I have encouraged us to become totally water based on internal jobs and within the next couple of years I believe exterior jobs will evolve naturally along the same route.

Health and safety is an integral part of any business no matter how big or small we happen to be, of course it used to be called common sense which sadly met its demise. Modern decorative apprentices are taught varying amounts of health and safety depending on what college they attend. In my personal experiences most of it suits site work or industrial scenarios more than the domestic market I tend to focus 85% of my business on.

Yes it’s important to learn how to lift correctly, but funny how lifting a ladder isn’t taught, also it’s not often a fire extinguisher and warning signs are located in most domestic households. Obviously courses have to cover all aspects but I think there are some areas many colleges miss out on.

Personal health is very important in this day and age, anything that could make your job more productive, improve the finish or most importantly produce longer term health benefits is definitely worth looking at. Having employed various apprentices I have seen some of the course work they need to complete. Some of it is very dated when it speaks of manual sanding or scraping of old lead based paints and recommends the use of a paper dust mask I think times have moved on.

Due to a rise in respiratory system diseases we need to reduce the amount of dust and debris ingested into our lungs and bodies as we carry out our work, one of the best ways to achieve this is to remove as much of the contaminates as possible through a dust extraction system.

Over the last few years there has been a rapid rise in the availability of dust free sanders with some very good systems being introduced from names such as Festool & Mirka. Both these manufacturers have top of the range sanders and dust extraction systems, although with the exception of the Mirka handy, a manual sander and hose for any vacuum cleaner predominantly their systems are fairly expensive.

I therefore set about seeing if I could organize a backup system for my own Mirka for a fraction of the cost. Alright I cheated as I already owned the extractor I was going to use on my budget system, good old faithful Henry.

But contrary to popular belief as despite contributing to a review site where you might expect I’m given things for free to receive favorable reviews, I researched and purchased the items without anyone’s knowledge of my purpose.

It did take several nights of reading various retailers review threads to decide which was going to be a suitable test subject. After a bit of deliberation I choose not one but two sanders from Screwfix for just under £50 which I thought was very reasonable.

Having owned and used these sanders for almost six weeks now I am pleasantly surprised by what you get for your money. Admittedly you need to fabricate a bit of an adapter to make the extraction work but there is a little short pipe that Henry comes with that serves this purpose, even if you wrap a bit of insulating tape around for added tightness.

Both sanders seem fairly powerful, the orbital one has five speed setting which can be useful. They are both a little heavier and probably noisier than their more well know rivals, but for occasional use it’s not to laborious. I have tried using both for various tasks many decorators will encounter to gain a broad spectrum of their capabilities.

Having initially used the orbital to abrade coatings of two oak tables for restoration and subsequently the detailed sander on the more intricate areas, they performed well on the first outing. Since then I have done various walls and woodwork areas.

As they both have the hook and loop fastening system a variety of abrasive papers can be used from standard Flexovit in the usual grades right through to Mirka Abranet which can be cut into shape for the detailed sander and purchased in the correct 125mm size for the orbital.


Very cheap entry machines for almost dust free sanding

Ability to attach various abrasive papers

Quite powerful considering cost

Variable speed on Orbital


Bit heavier or noisier than established brands

No dedicated Hoover attachment as standard


For the sixth of the price or either a Mirka or Festool “head unit” I managed to purchase both these useful sanders, if you can overlook their short comings of being a bit heavier to hold and manoeuvre and the additional noise, which isn’t to obtrusive theses are certainly worth a look as a step towards healthier sanding . I will continue to use mine perhaps a couple of times a week and test the longevity of both sanders but if they are connected up to a half decent hoover such as a Henry they are certainly better than nothing. Fifty pounds investment to the future of your lungs can’t be bad thing really.

Since writing this article the little Titan detailed sander eventually gave up the ghost, at first it was under guarantee and replaced with no quibble from Screwfix, on the second occasion I upgraded to this Erbauer.

Certainly powerful enough for many jobs and as before can use a variety of abrasives. Only minus point is there is not facility to attached it to a hoover, which makes it rather obsolete in this test, although I actually use it for externals and occasionally fine sanding internally to perhaps key a surface, where there isn’t going to be as much dust, just a quick run over with a hoover afterwards.

There are now many ways to achieve a “dust free” sanding set up, even on a budget, I focused intentionally on machines under £40 to see what they are capable of. Having done so I would not disregard any of the machines I have tried as good entry level tools.


Here is a little of our history

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Here is a little of our history, more to follow naturally. Time is progressing on once more and our little website has received another minor update so I am reviewing my blogs and updating them as we go, please excuse me if you’ve seen them before.

As this was my very first real blog on here I thought I would start by looking back a little, my apprenticeship started in 1983, my Dad had just bought the little Mini van in the picture. When he signed the van up it was just done as Vic Wilkinson I wasn’t even allowed a mention at that time. In the following years we progressed onto slightly bigger vans as you can see.

We are with you in all weathers for all your decorating requirements,

V. Wilkinson & Son are entering their 50th year in 2018, we shall look forward to working with our customers bringing their decorating ideas to reality.

#paintersanddecorators #wallpapering #kitchenpainting  #furnisherpainting #lincrusta #glitterpaint