top of page

Frequently asked questions...
In this section i have put together a selection of questions I get asked frequently, I know the feeling I have when I am just about to pick the phone up to get a quote from a tradesman, a hundred different things whizz through my head ; will he/she turn up ?, will my house be treat with respect, are they qualified to do the job,will things get damaged , what if this and what if does this work , and so on. 
Taken from over 30 years of being in the decorating business, I hope the following can be of help..

Do you need to be registered to be a decorator, like a plumber or electrician ?
        In short no, but it would help to have had some training, a tradesman/woman without any won't last very long !
I have had over forty years painting & decorating,I learnt my trade through being indentured to a painting firm when I left school for a number of years to learn my trade as a decorator through time spent on the job and time spent at college/ night school. it was called an apprenticeship, you served your time, when the apprenticeship ended you were qualified to be a painter and decorator.In the mid eighties the NVQ system was adopted and you gained qualifications NVQ level 1 to level 3
So the person you are considering letting into your home should be either (old school) time served or ( a bit less old school) hold at least NVQ qualifications in their trade.

Why should i use you to carry out my decorating ?
         I have over forty years experience in the trade,thirty of those running my own successful painting & decorating business; there is not much i don't know about paint and wallpaper !When I first started my business my aim was to create a service that was approachable and friendly, to work to the highest quality to deliver work that would last and to deliver friendly, reliable customer service.i wanted customers for life.That was thirty years ago and I am still here,and so are a lot of my customers, I must be doing something right !
We are members of the PDA,(click here to learn about the PDA) Britains largest and longest established trade body dedicated solely to the painting & Decorating trade.The association offers you - the customer-the security and confidence of knowing that you are placing your most valued and treasured asset-your home-in the hands of an experienced professional.
I have also have another well respected decorator to call on when things get a bit too large for one man,my brother in law, (he taught me most of what i know now!) together we have a combined experience spanning almost a hundred years !

How much does it cost to have something decorated ?
        Depends on how long the piece of string is! All jobs are different and the only way to find out how much is by way of making a free appointment for me to come out and see you to discuss your needs. Most work is priced up on the basis of an estimated labour cost + materials at recommended retail price, i find this way works the best as the difference in between premium/good/downright rubbish materials is vast, and it also gives you, the customer the option to supply your own materials if you wish.   
Sometimes it may be beneficial to both the customer and I to complete work on what is called a 'day rate' basis, when a job is made up of lots of small, fiddly bits that it is difficult to give a cost on.In this case the day rate will be explained in detail before any work is done.
Their are no hidden extras, not unless the scope of the original job has altered, none of us mind doing a 'little bit' extra in the name of customer satisfaction but there has to be a cut off point set somewhere.!
No VAT is payable to our final invoice, if this changes in the future that will be

Do you give a guarantee for your work
        I will guarantee the paint i apply but i cannot give a guarantee for the surface it is applied upon, it is very, very rare for a paint film to fail on its own doing, it is almost always another factor that causes it to fail. Substrate movement ; (listen to your plastic gutters when the sun comes out as they crack and expand ), paint has a lot to cope with, dampness ; we live in a wet climate with high humidity, any moisture in the substrate will be drawn towards the surface and will break the paint film to escape.
As a rule, if anything goes wrong on external paint within a year due to paint failure i will rectify that at my expense.
I recently had a customer ,who supplied their  own expensive, premium quality exterior paint , the paint failed and peeled off the wood within 6 months of being done ! Before I started the work i put a moisture meter ( a device that reads the inherent moisture contained in the wood as all wood has a certain amount of it), into the timber and got some pretty high readings.To be ideal for painting purposes wood should hold no more than 10-12% moisture, these timber frames held 30-35% ,that water has got their either by a) not being seasoned for long enough,(green timber) or by b) water entering from outside. either way the paint was never going to stay on those frames as the customer was advised.And it did'nt.
Its a bit like sticking sticky tape on a wet surface, it wont stick. Paint is no different !
You can use the best paint in the world, but if the surface it is going on is not up to standard it will not stay on.

I want my room decorating, but i am worried about the mess and disruption it will cause ?
        As with having any form of work carried out in/on your property,their will always be a certain amount of disruption. We aim to cause the minimum amount of disruption while work is being carried out. All dry sanding is done with Mirka/Festool dust free equipment, the dust gets extracted into an extraction unit, all floor areas leading to the room we are working in will be covered with Packexe soft/ hard floor protection/or dustshets for protection , some rooms can be left covered and sheeted up if they are not in use but any room needed for living will be put back into a liveable , useable condition before we leave for the day.

Do i need to cover everything up in my room when you arrive to decorate ?
        In short, No. We will cover everything as we may need to re arrange any furniture you may have left in the room to give us best access.Any furniture left in the room will be covered to protect it during decoration, however , we do like it when you remove all small ornaments and breakables, remove all curtains and fittings if possible,and have any radiators removed so we can paper behind if neccasary , this will have been discussed prior to decoration

We are having new carpets fitted after decoration, do we need to take the old one up before you arrive ?
        If the old carpet is being scrapped, it may be easier to leave it down while we work,as you probably will have furniture on it. When we get round to doing the skirtings, we will cut an inch or so off the edge so all you have to do is cut the carpet into pieces and dispose of it when we are done,but if you have a use for the old carpet or you can no longer stand the sight of it, by all means get rid before we arrive.

Are you insured if our family heirloom was to get damaged ?        
        Of course ! We carry full Public Liability Insurance, as the unforeseen can and often does happen.We are happy to show you are certificate of insurance if requested. As with anything , prevention is better than cure so removing all valuables from the work area is an absolute must. A requirement of our membership with the PDA requires we carry insurance, but anyone running a business where the public/and their property are at risk should have cover as a matter of fact.

Are you able to supply references from previous customers ?
         Yes. If you request a reference from a previous customer/customers i will be only to happy to forward a name and contact number on to you from the many delighted and happy customers we have had over the past 31 years of being in business, alternatively, i can forward copies of written references for you to view

I have got several quotations for work from different firms, why is there such a difference in the prices?
         If we all worked to the same standard and supplied materials costing the same in an ideal world all your quotes would be very similar if not the same, but the truth is there are varying standards of workmanship across the trade and our trade is very labour intensive, the more time we spend on preparation etc, the longer we are in your home which equates to a larger price than the man/woman who does very little preparation etc.
I would say get a few estimates/quotes from different firms and ask them to provide a detailed specification of the work to be done and the type/brand of materials to be supplied, and state to the tradesman what you expect in terms of workmanship.That way it will narrow the playing field down a little, if you want a quality job expect to pay a quality price ! 

How often do i need to paint my home ?
          You can paint inside your home any time the mood takes you,( i wish people would have their room painted  more often then i could retire earlier and enjoy a life of luxury basking in a warm tropical climate ! ) 
External painting requires a bit more of an understanding as to why we apply paint, its not just to make our houses look good, it is to protect the wood/timber/masonry that  is  our house from the elements, the wind , the rain, the sunshine and so on. without any protection timber will absorb moisture and begin to rot, masonry will absorb moisture and water will find its way into our homes,which is what we do not want !
The one thing which causes most damage to your exterior paintwork is the same one that sends us running for the factor twenty at the first sign of hot weather. U.V radiation will break a paint film down rapidly, darker colours will absorb more heat and will be affected sooner than light colours.Think i am joking ?, next time you are in a car park on a hot sunny day, put your hand on the bonnet of a white car, then do likewise to a dark coloured car , but not for too long as the heat will take your fingerprints off ; it has the same effect on the paint on your external woodwork.
I would advise repainting before you notice any any paint flaking or cracking on exposed south/south west facing elevations, a rule of thumb is every three to four years if the paint film is still intact,sooner if is showing signs of cracking and splitting.
Wood that has been left open with no paint film covering it will need a lot more prep work than paint in good condition.Take the decorators advise , he or she will be able to devise a maintenance plan to keep your home, the biggest investment you will ever make in your life, in good condition.

Can i supply my own paint for you to use on my home
           Yes, of course you can, but i would ask you to supply a good quality trade paint from a reputable manufacturer,if you look on my about page at the trade logos lower down the page any product from these manufacturers will give good service.
It may be appealing to buy cheaper paint but you will use more in the long run as it will not have the same opacity and quality as a quality trade paint.
Remember ; buy cheap and pay twice, buy quality and pay once !

What brands of paint do you use ?
         We use paint and wallpaper from all the brands listed at the foot of our about page, admittedly we are moving more towards water based latex paints from the likes of North American producers Benjamin Moore   , high quality products that will last with low VOC ( Volatile Organic Compounds) levels,it is theses VOC's that are responsible for asthma, respiratory problems , eye problems etc, not to mention the impact VOC's are having on our world around us, I think this is the way to go as every little bit helps and we are only going to have one Earth so maybe the time has come to start looking after it. 

Can i supply my own wallpaper for you to use on my home?
        Of course you can, but please bear in mind that i can not be held liable for any wallpaper that is faulty or defective that is supplied by the customer. If you want to supply your own wallpaper i will measure up and tell you how many rolls you will need, please remember to make sure all rolls purchased have the same batch numbers,or if not make sure you have enough of each batch number to cover one full wall, it may be tempting but you will never get away with two different batches on the same wall, it will stick out like a sore thumb !

What types of paint are there for painting inside my house ?
         You can split paint into two flavours, solvent based and water based paints. solvent based paints are oil based and take a long time to dry, have high VOC contents but give a lovely smooth finish when dry, you clean your equipment out with white spirits.
Water based paint is as the name suggests, water based , you clean your equipment out with water, they dry faster than oil based paints,have lower VOC contents so they dont smell as strongly but are more prone to showing brush marks due to the rapid drying time, although paint technology is moving on and the best water based products are now on a par if not better than traditional oil based products.
You have your gloss paints, high sheen level, highly durable and washable for woodwork/metalwork , satin finish paints, not as much sheen has gloss, eggshell finish paints, a bit less sheen, matt finish, even less sheen, then flat finish with no sheen level at all, and all suitable for ceilings/walls/trim.
Emulsion paints, widely used on ceilings and walls can be split into vinyl silk,(quite a high sheen but not gloss) mid sheen,(a bit less sheen ), vinyl matt and flat finish.Vinyl silk will emphasise a surface, if you want to show off that heavily embossed blown vinyl use this one, the matt will disguise a poor surface so use matt over poor quality walls that are far from smooth.
Flat finishes can be used on low ceilings with surface imperfections as the flat finish will disguise a poor surface,allthough this finish is unsuitable for high traffic areas.
One thing to bear in mind is that a traditional white solvent based gloss will yellow over time when used internally, its not a fault of the paint , its due to the chemical make up of the paint.
since 2010, EU regulations have forced paint makers to cut the amount of VOC's in solvent based paints,and without going into the science of it all it has led to white paints that yellow with age, sometimes at an alarming rate, more so when no natural daylight reaches the paint film( that skirting behind the dresser has turned yellow!)
Water based paint will not turn yellow as there is no solvent content in it, so is a better bet if you want your internal woodwork to stay white.

What types of paint are there for painting outside my house ?
          As with internal paint, exterior paint comes in two flavours too , solvent and water based. Traditionally oil based was used on all exterior woodwork/metalwork and masonry paint on the walls. Masonry paint comes in two flavours as well, you have solvent based (pliolite) and water based, the former will dry fast in adverse conditions and low temperatures but is difficult to apply over rough surfaces.Do not confuse masonry paint with emulsion paint, it may look the same but emulsion paint is not formulated to withstand external exposure and will not protect the surface you are applying it to.It will fail.
On exterior woodwork i would go with the Dulux Weathershield System, it is a paint system i trust and gives good long lasting results over good sound timber.
Another paint system i recommend is the Sikkens Rubol/Satura system, available as is the Dulux system in as many colours as you can shake a stick at and is a superb, abrasion resistant coating that again, will give long lasting results,(as long as the EU leave it alone as its high VOC content).
As far as water based paint for external woodwork goes, i am afraid i am not sold on the idea, i have seen too many paint failures to be convinced it is as good as solvent based far external work, however, their is one water based external trim paint that is getting good reviews and that is Benjamin Moore paint,

Do i need special paint for the kitchen and bathroom ?
         There are specific products designed for areas subjected to excess amounts of steam and condensation, as standard emulsions will not be able to withstand the extremes in humidity. Look for kitchen and bathroom paint that is formulated to withstand these extremes, the downside is most of these paints will have a fair sheen level to them, like a mid sheen emulsion. There are products , however that have a flat finish and are designed for bathrooms and spa rooms, of which i can advise you upon.

Would it be possible to have my room done while we are away on holiday ?
         Certainly, I do this regularly with a majority of my customers , it is the best time to have areas done that would be otherwise difficult to decorate with people in the house, especially rooms like a kitchen or Hall Stairs Landing. Imagine the joy when you arrive back home to a freshly decorated room without having to put up with me under your feet for a fortnight ! We have even been known to look after the family pets, too!

How long will the paint take to dry in my room ?
         Depends on a number of factors, with proper heat and ventilation a room done with water based/latex paint can be brought back into operation the same day, with no lingering odour as water based = low VOC's, unlike oil based paint which will need overnight drying and will leave an odour for some time. In the old days when using oil based paint we would leave a bowl of sliced onions in milk/water in the room to mask the smell, there is no need to do that nowadays with the latest water/latex based products.

How and when do we pay you ?
         The terms for payment will be outlined in the estimate/quotation that we sent out to you.Our normal terms of payment are upon completion of work, however this may vary on some jobs that will be ongoing for longer periods and here we would request stage payments as the job proceeds.
We never normally ask for a deposit, not unless we have to outlay a large amount for materials at the start of a job, a deposit would cover the cost of these materials being purchased.

How do I look after my new paintwork ?
         On external work periodically give any accessible areas a wipe down with soapy water to remove any dirt/soot/bird droppings that have built up as these will eat into the paint film over time and discolour it. Be careful if you decide to attack the dirty paintwork with a pressure washer ; stand well back and don't use high pressure water jets very close to the paintwork, water will be forced into areas where it may not be desirable for water to go; ie ;under the eaves and fascia boards etc were it could get into the structure of the building.
On internal work a wipe with soapy water around area that are subject to being touched; around plug sockets etc to keep the areas clean, most emulsions except for dead flat/contract emulsions are washable to a degree ( contract emulsion is the cheap stuff you use on new plaster, it will allow new plaster to breath and dry out but has no washable qualities whatsoever, and ,except for ceilings, has no place on areas that are subject to traffic).Do not use heavy abrasive cleaners on doors and architraves, as they will be dulled, and please bear in mind, if you use wax/silicon polish on internal woodwork to keep it nice and fresh, this will have to be removed before you can paint over , as the polish will interfere with the adhesion of the new coating,and what you do put on over these substances will take a month to dry as old polish will retard the drying qualities of the new paint.
Wallpaper can be sponged if it gets marked, vinyl papers are more resilient than standard papers in this respect, but don't rub any paper too hard with cloth and water as you will bring the pattern off and rub dirt and dust into the joints and make them more conspicuous. Test on a inconspicuous area first were it cant be seen, behind a dresser or cupboard or the like.

Do you remove all the old wallpaper that gets stripped from our walls ?
        It is the homeowners responsibility to dispose of old wallpaper stripped from your walls, all old wallpaper will be neatly bagged for your disposal. We will remove all left over items that we supply, e.g., empty paint tins, wallpaper trimmings etc.

What finishes are available for my ceilings ?
        Put simply, paint or wallpaper. You can go with paint if the ceiling is in good condition, use either a silk (sheen) or a matt (almost flat) finish or a dead flat finish to hide any surface imperfections, as the more shine a paint has the more it will emphasise texture, and any flaws in the plaster.
Many people go for a slightly textured wallpaper to hide /disguise a poor ceiling and paint to finish off with. I would advise though that if you have a very low ceiling with downlighters go for the dead flat emulsions as they will not show the transition between brush and roller ( known as flashing) as much as other emulsions.

What finishes are available for my walls ?
         Again the choice is down to paint or wallpaper, most bathrooms and en suites are fully tiled now except for the ceilings.
The choice of paint is as for the ceilings, anything from a dead flat to full gloss depending on your taste and the amount of wear it will be subjected to.
The choice in wallpaper is huge, from textured papers you finish off with paint;  lining paper can be hung and painted, stippled, rag rolled etc. Finish papers can be divided roughly into two types; woven and non woven, this can be confusing, think of woven as paper(pulp) backed , these need soaking after pasting to allow the pulp to expand, and non woven are the paste the wall variety,they require no soaking as they are on a non pulp backing, you put these dry onto a pasted wall, although you can paste these like a normal paper, just paste and hang without soaking, good if you are going onto a very absorbent wall with these paper.
Choice is huge, you do not have to spend a fortune on papers,most GOOD quality papers will fall into the £25-50 price bracket, you have the vinyls in all the varying widths from 20.5 inch right up to the wide vinyls at 36 inch plus ranging from affordable to stuff you can only dream about,the metallic effect papers from the likes of Peter Jefferies, to the sold by the running meter papers from Brian Yates etc, stunning papers with natural mineral ( as in image below) and wood contained in them that will transform the look and feel of your room.


I have some tired old wooden furniture, can it be painted ?
          Certainly, its wood, so it's no different than refinishing a door or architrave,but a little more preparation will be needed to achieve anything like a decent finish. One problem is that most furniture has wax residue from polishing; this must be removed prior to starting work on a piece, even worse the furniture may be finished in wax; every single trace of this must be removed before starting work as any residue left in the wood will interfere with the adhesion of any coats of paint applied over it.
It is always sound practice to strip any old coatings before repainting as some french polishes can be very hard to get a decent key and bond to.
Meths will strip french polish, waxed finishes can be removed with any of the propriety strippers specially made for this task. After thorough prep the piece can be washed down and primed/ coated up with whatever you desire to use, but do use a paint that is designed for furniture refinishing and will dry to a tough finish, this can be sprayed or brush applied
Our own choice for furniture is Benjamin Moore Advance water based paint, or its newer, even more hardwearing brother, Scuff X ; it dries fast and cures to a hard tough finish and is available in matte, satin or gloss, if you want an eggshell finish go for the Scuff X , both are available in more colours than you can shake a stick at!




download (4).jpg
images (4).jpg
images (1).jpg

©steve harling decorating 2019 All rights reserved                                                                      privacy policy

bottom of page