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Q&A with Handy Mac: Interior re-decoration

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David needs a guiding hand

David asks: Q: Now that the weather is changing I am keen to try interior re-decoration. Being recently retired, I thought I would have a go myself instead of employing a contractor. Have you any tips for an inexperienced, but keen, novice?

A: Here are some tips: Before you tackle interior work, ensure all surfaces are thoroughly dry – it is becoming wetter outside and as you turn up the heating, moisture which might have been sitting in the walls, will be drawn inside.

The most important element of painting is preparation; you will need to remove loose or flaking paint and ensure surfaces are smooth and free of contamination. You will require sandpaper, which comes in different grit sizes – the higher the number the smaller the size of grit.

Use a 40 or 60 for rough work, cleaning off old paint etc and 100 for finer work and sanding between coats. Next, get a flat-bladed tool for scraping down or smoothing filling material used to seal cracks. Always buy the top of the range in brushes and rollers.

There is nothing worse than trying to pick loose hairs or pieces of roller out of wet paint. If you want to create textured finish use a sponge roller – the best you can afford. Paint stores are full of gimmick applicators – special pads for corners and the like.

You will seldom find them in a professional painter’s toolbox. They do work to a point, but the cost versus the usage doesn’t make it worth the money. You seldom see a painter using a paint tray; old cans are stock-intrade items, but I suggest you use a tray until you are used to different paint viscosities, to avoid drips.

Without proper preparation you will waste money buying expensive paint, so read as much as you can on the subject. Follow the application advice on the tin closely and begin on a small out-of-sight wall. Please protect the environment. Never pour paint or cleaning fluids, such as turpentine, down a drain. Dispose of them in a responsible way at a proper site.

Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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