People ask me this at nearly every quote visit.
The short answer is that ‘most’ paints from Dulux or Taubmans are very good.
The long answer is that each brand has some real champions and a few ‘family members’ that let the side down a bit.
That’s why it’s a bit unfortunate that so many painting companies (usually the large ones) only use one brand of paint. Bulk discounts are all very well, but shouldn’t the very best kind of paint be chosen for the particular job?
The Tidy Painter (AKA Me) is locked into no such agreement and can pick and choose the best type of paint for every application.
With that in mind I’ve developed a best in class list of paints that I use for my clients.
Dulux Wash and Wear Low Sheen. The best known for a reason. In two coats it covers most existing wall colours. Marks and spills can be easily wiped off without leaving any marks. (Cheap paints will either leave a mark or rub off altogether!)
Taubmans Endure Low Sheen. Just as good as Dulux W&W. AND has an anti mould additive.
I’m happy to use either of these paints on your walls.
Personally I don’t like Dulux’s ceiling paint. I find it surprisingly thin, transparent and watery. I much prefer Taubmans Tradex Flat Ceiling paint. It is thick and opaque and two coats cover most problems.
Trim is the wooden stuff in your home – doors, windows, skirting and picture rails. When painting trim it’s very important to find out whether the existing surface has been painted in oil or acrylic based paint. Usually new oil goes over old oil and new acrylic goes over old acrylic.
Oil based paint (AKA Enamel) is the toughest option but can ‘yellow’ over time. It smells strongly! And it takes a long time to dry (16hours)
Water based trim paint (often confusingly called Enamel too) is softer, often needs more coats but does not ‘yellow’. It has a smell, but is a lot less strong. Its other disadvantage is that when painted directly over oil based surfaces without proper preparation, it peels right off!
(Also many water based enamels are really bad. They receive scathing reviews online.)
So … I use both oil and acrylic ‘Trim’ paint as needed. These are the ones I’ve found work best:
OIL BASED TRIM PAINT – Dulux Super Enamel
WATER BASED TRIM PAINT – Taubmans Ultimate Enamel Alkyd Based
(Don’t ask me what Alkyd is. All I know is that its water based and has many of the advantages of oil)
Undercoat is a colour blockout. Usually I’m going over previous paint work so undercoat is not needed. But sometimes a light top coat over a dark or strong existing colour needs a base of undercoat. Also undercoat is needed over new Gyproc plaster board, in renovations etc.
I use Taubmans Tradex Ultra Prep Undercoat
Primer is different to undercoat. While it too is a colour blockout, it’s primary functions are to GRIP and SEAL. Primer is painted over bare timber (to seal up the pores), over repairs and fillers again to seal, and before acrylic is painted over old oil based trim.
Here I use a product from an American Primer/Undercoat specialist manufacturer, called Zinsser. It’s a bit smelly but that evaporates within a few hours.
I use Zinsser CoverStain Primer Sealer Stain Killer
And finally, even though I hardly do any exterior painting at all, its good for you to know that there are specialist paints for outdoors. In Australia because of the extremes of weather and temperature, outdoor paints need to have quite different properties to indoor paints.
They need to be able to stretch and contract as the substrate (brick, concrete, timber) expands and contracts. As a result good outdoor paint is very ‘rubbery’ even when fully cured. The best I’ve found is Dulux Weathershield.
So now you can see why there is no ‘best brand’ of paint. In my professional opinion eight kinds of paint from 3 manufacturers will cover 99% of situations. Some are harder to apply than others, but whether you get me or another pro to apply them, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results.
Here's a system for choosing a wall colour that is radically different to the usual approach. It's especially useful when many rooms are to be painted and you don't want to stuff it up. And best of all you get a very accurate idea of how the colour will work. Read on ...
FORGET SMALL SAMPLES
When choosing a wall colour it’s standard practice to paint a patch ranging in size from an a4 page to a square metre.
Most people have a shortlist of colours (and sometimes a long list) on the wall. And they look at the patches then choose.
I’ve been doing it myself for years and guess what? It doesn’t work!
Too many clients who were happy with the small test patch HATE the finished room.
Because the effect of a finished painted room bears NO resemblance to a colour patch on a wall.
Here’s why …
1. The new colour patch floats in a sea of your old wall colour. It is dominated by your existing wall colour. Colours are highly influenced by the surrounding colour. So a wee patch of cool grey on a wall painted yellowy cream will look uber-cold … by comparison. And the old colour doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t be there influencing the new one. Thanks old colour, its been great but, sorry. Its time to scram.
2. A fully painted room is like swimming in that new colour. It surrounds you, so the effect is completely different to looking at a little a4 sized patch on the wall.
3. A newly painted room with brilliant, sharp, clean, white trim and ceiling FRAMES the new colour differently to your old, faded, chipped, existing, trim and ceiling.
4. Sunlight. That’s right, light behaves differently on different walls. So the wee patch in full sunlight will look different in a dark corner.
Whats to be done?
PAINT ONE ROOM
1. Collect a selection of those the tiny postage stamp sized colour samples from Bunnings or another paint supplier and gradually winnow them down to no more than 3 that are probably going to be OK.
2. Get sample pots and put an a4 patch on the wall.
Pardon? Didn’t you just say don’t do that?
Yes I did. But this is just a disaster check. The tiny weeny postage stamp chips look much stronger and darker when painted a bit bigger. This process is aimed at eliminating any crazy ones now.
3. Ok so maybe you are now down to two colours. Choose one. I’m guessing they will be so close your friends wont be able to tell the difference. So choose one.
4. Get your friendly, local, painter (who you have met, received a fixed written quote from and who you have awarded the job) to paint ONE ROOM in the chosen wall colour with the chosen trim colour (usually semi gloss white). A 4 litre can will usually do one bedroom in two coats.
5. This is how your chosen colour works in real life, on 4 walls, with sunlight. Stand in the room and decide … if it is the colour you expected …if it makes you feel the way you wanted it to make you feel … if you like it!
NOW IS THE TIME TO DECIDE.
Is this the colour you want through the whole house?
6. If you do like it, ask the painter to order what he needs and get cracking!
If you do not like it, ask yourself why. Is it a grey that looks too blue? Is it an off white that looks too bland? Is it a colour that is far darker than you pictured?
Find some little chips that are less blue/less bland/less dark and start the whole process again. The trim and ceiling have already been done so the painter only needs another 4 litre can of wall paint (and of course the extra labour – maybe an extra day?) And you don’t have 20 litres of the wrong paint sitting around.
Give it a try. I think you’ll find this system works better
How to fix cracks in walls and ceilings before they are painted.
Old builders say that you should only worry about cracks you can fit your hand into. But old PAINTERS have a different point of view. We HATE cracks. And a huge part of our job is filling them.
I see a lot of wall and ceiling cracks in the older Victorian and Federation homes so popular in Mosman and the Lower North Shore. But perhaps surprisingly I see a lot of cracks in quite modern homes too. Its very important to fix these cracks before you paint your home.
Ceilings - plaster and lath - Wet plaster was originally squeezed over and between thin timber slats creating a smooth but strong surface. Over time age or movement cracks the plaster.
Falling Chunks - If the damage is very bad and the plaster is unstable and falling off then a specialist trade plasterer will be needed. He will remove all unstable plaster and re apply new wet plaster. This is a complex, messy and expensive process but done properly will last another 100 years. Oh, and it will still need to be painted.
Stable but cracked – Usually plaster and lath ceilings hold on pretty well but over time begin to crack into separate but stable sections. These cracks should be repaired as they look bad and gradually get worse.
Wall Cracks – The internal walls of old Sydney homes are nearly always masonry (brick, concrete, stone, rubble!) covered in a cement render, which is in turn covered in wet plaster. Wall cracks occur when your home moves slightly on its foundations. Sometimes the soil under your home shrinks and expands with natural water and weather. Sometimes there is a problem that needs to be fixed such as a broken pipe. Cracks also often appear after renovations, jack hammering, and adjacent tile removal.
Ceiling and Wall cracks – The ceiling AND walls of modern homes are nearly all lined in drywall or Gyproc sheeting. This material is very smooth, cheap and fast to install. It is used in the cheapest and most expensive homes. Almost anyone can attach the sheets but ‘setting’ or plastering the joins is a specialised trade.
The cracks that appear in drywall are usually above doors and anywhere where small sections are butt joined together. Foundation movement can also create cracks.
For old and new homes and ceiling and wall repair, the crack repair process is the same. It takes a few days but is very effective.
1. First any loose plaster in the crack should be scraped out.
2. Then all loose paint must be removed. Often a small peel or crack will give way to huge sheets of old paint that easily peel of.
3. Usually after the loose paint is removed a layer of fine dust remains. This must be vacuumed or washed off.
4. Once done I like to paint the damaged area with a sealer such as Peel Stop. This sealer binds any remaining dust, seeps under the sound paint edge, and also seeps into the crack to start the repair.
5. Next if the crack is wider than 1mm it should be filled with No More Gaps, which acts as a filler and additional adhesive.
6. Then a strip of Drywall Tape and plaster compound is applied. There are 3 kinds of tape – paper, fibreglass mesh and fibreglass mat (I prefer fibreglass mat). These tapes are designed to join and smooth modern Gyproc or Drywall sheets but make perfect ‘bandages’ for crack repair. The Tape + Compound patch must be left 24 hours to completely dry and cure.
7/8. The Tape will still be visible so 2 more coats of compound have to be applied, again waiting 12 hours between each coat. If the crack is part of a ‘crater’ left by removing old paint this crater should be skimmed and smoothed with compound at the same time.
9. Getting a perfect smooth finish can be quite hard. The best way is to gradually build up 3 thin layers waiting 12 hours each time. When the final layer is cured it can be smoothed by a. a quick scrape of flat edged tool, b. sanding, or c. wiping with a slightly dampened cloth.
10. The whole smooth repair is painted with another coat of Peel Bond. It is very important to seal the plaster. If regular paint is applied over raw plaster compound the paint will fail within a few months.
11/12/13. At least two coats of good quality paint should be applied over the repair. Sometimes a third coat is necessary because repair shows through.
Cornice is the plaster moulding that covers and decorates where the wall joins the ceiling. With the movements discussed above, the join can often crack.
Cornice cracks are nearly always between cornice and ceiling or between cornice and wall and are therefore concave or internal, rather than the flat surfaces of walls or ceilings.
Concave repairs are best done with a product called No More Gaps. No More Gaps (or its equivalent made by other manufacturers) is squeezed out of a tube or caulking gun, a bit like toothpaste. It is then smoothed with a wet rag. It has the benefits of being fast drying, flexible, paintable and a pretty decent adhesive. BUT it shrinks! So its fine for concave repairs but on any smooth surface it sinks as it dries.
So that’s how you repair a cracked ceiling or wall. Just remember that a small crack or paint peel may reveal a much larger crack under the loose paint.
With the right materials, process and patience, an ugly crack can be banished for many years to come.
THE AD – The Tidy Painter is and expert at crack repair and the following paint work. If you have cracked ceilings or walls, and live in Mosman or The Lower North Shore of Sydney and need them repaired, lets talk about a quote. - CLICK HERE
How long does it take to paint a unit or house interior?
Have you ever had a go at painting a house or even just a room? Takes forever doesn’t it? Even we professionals (with all the tools, materials and experience) take a long time to paint home interiors.
I measure that time in ‘man-days’ (even though most of my assistants are women!) So me painting for 5 days is 5 man-days. Me PLUS one assistant painting for 5 days is 10 man days.
AGE OF YOUR HOME
As I bang on about all over this website, age of home, and therefore detail of home is the HUGE differentiator, as is surface condition.
Older homes (both units and houses) are usually much more detailed. Think, panel doors, wooden windows, detailed skirting boards, picture rails, higher and moulded ceilings, and sometimes moulded plaster arches in the hallway.
This extra detail takes extra time and costs extra money.
Everything is planer and flatter and therefore easier and faster to prep and paint.
Interestingly, ALL ages of home have about the same amount of general damage that must be properly repaired before painting starts. The problems are different but both old and new units and houses have just as many problems.
So depending on age and condition:
A 4 Bedroom, 2 bathroom home should take between 30 and 40 man-days (or 6 to 8 weeks alone – less with a helper).
A 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom unit should take between 10 and 15 man-days (or 2 to 3 weeks alone - less with a helper).
TIMING - RULE OF THUMB
A good rule of thumb is for every $5000 quoted you SHOULD get about 10 man-days (after materials and GST is taken out).
This helps when comparing quotes too. A $10,000 quote will mean one painter will work on your home for 20 days, while it’s competitive quote of $8000 will mean one painter will work for only 16 days. (Hmmm. I wonder what he will leave out?)
To find out what interior painting COSTS CLICK HERE.
1. State your budget before the quote
Hardly anyone does this (although everyone decides after getting the quote if its above or below their budget!). But, hey, you never know. The timing, length of job, location, whatever, might be just right for your painter. They might have a slow period that your lower priced job could slot into.
2. Negotiate after the quote.
And hardly anyone does this either!
The important thing is not to ask for the same work for less money.
If the quote is higher than you can afford, just ask what would need to change to make it cheaper.
You might be surprised. Maybe leaving out a small but fiddly part could save the painter time and you money. I know only painting the walls and not the trim will save a lot of money.
3. Break it up.
Painting every room inside can be expensive and take ages. A lot of my clients have me in to do say 3 or 4 rooms one time then come back a few months/years later.
- Go away.
I mean on a holiday. It saves time and money to leave the bedroom fully covered in dropsheets over the 3 to 4 days needed to paint a bedroom. Being absent also gives opportunity for we painters to work on the weekends.
4. Empty the house.
Not usually practical, but if you’re planning to refinish your timber floors or are just about to move into a new house, emptiness is next to Godliness. BUT plan ahead!!! I’ve had to turn down far too many people who want me to paint their 4 bedroom home next week (and only take a week).
5. Be flexible on timing.
Either wait for the good people to be free (they are usually booked up months in advance) or if you have a smallish job, wait for a gap in bigger bookings. I had one nice man wait months for me to have a gap to do a 3 day job.
6. Keep the colour scheme simple.
White ceilings, white trim and one wall colour is a standard palette. Lots of different coloured room looks great but will cost more.
Also going from an old dark wall colour to a new light wall colour will require either a third coat or an additional undercoat. That’s more money.
7. Don’t choose the cheapest quote.
What? Who? How does that save money I hear you ask. Simples. The cheapest quote will almost certainly have the worst (or non existent preparation) and as such will fail much faster and need to redone much sooner.
True story: I have spent the last 3 days scraping and sanding a bad Acrylic paint job over Oil – a front door and 2 windows. There was no sanding, no primer, no nothing, so the Acryic paint didn’t grip. You could peel the paint off with your fingernails!!!! So now the client pays me say $1500 to fix up a $100 ‘el-cheapo’ job. That’s $1600 by going cheap instead of $500 to do it properly in the first place.
I believe they call that a false economy.
What does NOT save you money?
8. Buying your own paint.
Paint (and tape, brushes, everything) makes up about 10% of the total quote. Most painters get a small discount and either mark back up to retail or pass the saving on to you. Sooooo you buying at retail price is just a damned nuisance for you and doesn’t save a penny. Don’t bother.
Seriously a lot of guys will walk if you offer to help them.
Firstly there are insurance issues. Secondly painting may look easy-peasy but its not. Thirdly your helping will slow the process and therefore cost more.
The only help that might actually help is for you to do the prep. BEFORE the painters arrive. Sanding and scrubbing with sugar soap is grubby and time consuming. So if you are prepared to do that part you could save a lot!!!
Ok. Hope that helps.
Now, if you want to know what it costs to paint a unit or house interior CLICK HERE.
We’d all like to live in a world where ALL tradesmen (and tradeswomen) were super-professional and keen to earn our dollar. But sadly this is often not the case.
Some tradies (just like any other occupation) are just duds. They hate their job and should have left years ago. You definitely don’t want them.
Some are good at the craft/skill/trade, but are hopeless at calendars, deadlines, time management, and communication. You probably don’t want them either.
And some are intelligent, skilled, organised, polite, professional people. Those are the ones you want, right? But heres the rub. The good ones are rare and in high demand.
So it should come as no surprise that to catch a good tradie you may have to dig a bit more, pay a bit more and wait a bit longer. But I can almost guarantee you wont end up sobbing on A Current Affair.
(Here, I’m mostly talking about home improvement guys - builders, painters, landscapers, bathroom and kitchen renovators and the like) rather than emergency guys - plumbers, electricians etc.)
- Do get references, from Google, Websites, Friends, or Facebook community groups. Try to only call a tradie when you have at least one reference.
- Do check out the tradie’s website. Look through it and get an idea of what they do and who their customers are.
- Don’t look for generalists. You need a specialist. Wrong - “I need a painter.” Right – “I need a painter who specialises in strata work and has done buildings similar to my unit block.”
The initial phone call
- Do leave a phone message. A drag I know, but good tradies have their hands full but will call you back. The ones that don’t call back are either far too busy or are disorganised. Either way, you’ve avoided exactly who you want to avoid!
- Do try to be clear about what you want. Leaving a message that says “Can you call me about some painting” will never get the response of “We need walls, ceilings, and trim painted for 4 bedrooms, a hall, and a bathroom.”
- Don’t say your job is small or won’t take long. All that tells us is you don’t plan to spend much money - whether the job is indeed small or is actually more complicated than it looks.
- Do ask if what you need is what the tradie can help you with, and when he would be free to start.
- Do get your story straight with your husband/wife/partner. Being the bystander in a domestic dispute is awkward and tells me this job could collapse at any time.
- Do take your time showing the tradie what needs to be done. Then leave him alone to measure up and get a good understanding of your home.
- Do follow your gut – ladies I’m talking to you. How does he look? Is he on time? Does he listen? Does he have ideas? If you have ANY uncomfortable feelings cross that tradie off your list.
- Do ask when you can expect the quote, how long the job will take and when is the tradie is free to start.
- Do get 2 quotes but make sure they are for exactly the same work and materials.
- Do read every part of the quote when it arrives. You need to be very clear about what you are getting. Some quotes have tiny extras sections that could add thousand to the final price. Some seem nice and cheap but have left out essential preparation or other tasks.
- Don’t just think about the price. Within reason, choose the tradie that you think will give you the best job and the best experience while he’s doing it. Is he keen? Is he polite? Will his process be disruptive?
- Do contact some past clients and see what they say. Seriously hardly anyone does this!
- Do respond to the quote. Yes – call and agree a start time. No – email thanks but no thanks. Maybe – call or email asking how a saving could be made.
And that’s it!
If you follow these do’s and don’ts you have a very good chance of success -not guaranteed, but very good. Good Luck!
Another small hardware store on my circuit has closed – Pyrmont this time.
While the big guy – Bunnings (RIP Masters) is very good at what it does, a good, local hardware deserves to be supported.
Need a few nails or a small can of paint? Try Ewens Hardware in Mosman.
(They are part of Thrifty Link group)
Visiting Ewens is like stepping back in time. Small items are hung on every available surface. The guys are very helpful too. AND they can mix paint with the best of them – using a space about as big as a phone booth.
Have a look and remember to support Ewens here:
Colours are personal. Some you like. Some you hate. And some … you’re just not quite sure about.
I’ve found nearly all of my clients in the last camp. Just not sure.
So here’s some simple ideas to make the whole process of colour selection a bit easier.
1. If you’re in a hurry just do this.
Paint your walls with Dulux ‘Antique White USA’. (Also paint trim Semi Gloss White and ceiling, Flat white.)
I’m not trying to be funny. This combo works for almost any décor (or lack of).
Antique White USA is a super-colour. It works in old and new homes, dark or light. The reason I think is that it’s a pretty near perfect mix of tint colours.
It is mostly white then a bit of ochre to make it creamy. Then a tiny bit of red to make it warm. Then an even tinier bit of black to calm it all down and stop it from going ‘buttery’. The end result is a neutral that is very … neutral. It’s not as severe as plain white but not as intense as many creams and beiges.
Also It hides dirt so is good for rentals or kids.
Antique White USA is very popular and is even premixed at the paint store.
But, if you want something a little less common …
2. Steal. Or rather be inspired by other people. One client liked a bathroom in the Dulux catalogue and had the whole thing copied: lights, enamelware, tiles and paint. Worked a treat, because a clever designer had already designed it for Dulux.
Another way to steal is find inspiration in magazines and the interweb. Rip our magazine pages you like or save images on the computer. If you go to paint manufacturers/retailers sites like these ones you can get heaps of ideas AND he exact name of the colour you like.
3. Go grey! Grey is the very popular NOW colour for walls. Everything from ‘almost black’ to ‘hardly grey at all’. The key with getting a good grey is to make sure it is a bit warm rather than too cool. Too cool a grey often looks light blue when its up. A warmer toned grey (sometimes called Greige. Haha) usually sits better with your furnishings. Some folks like to go very dark which I like . But most are happy with quite a light grey, which is still noticeably ‘not white’. There will be some examples in the links above.
4a. DIY colour selection. Grab some colour chips from the paint store and take home. Hold each one against the BIGGEST coloured thing in each room. In the lounge it’s usually the couches. In the bedrooms it’s your favourite doona cover.
Now each of these large items will have an –ish to them. By that I mean your neutral sand coloured couch may be a bit green-ish. Or your grey bedspread may be blue-ish. The trick is to find a wall colour that is similarly green-ish or blue-ish. I don’t mean the walls should be the same colour but should be in the same family. Yuck combinations arise when the –ish is ignored.
4b. DIY colour selection. Start with a favourite Persian rug or big painting or whatever else will be in the room. Take one of the colours in the rug/painting/whatever and duplicate that colour for your walls. Usually it’s a neutral colour but it doesn’t have to be.
5. Go Pro. Hire a professional colourist. They start at about $400 for an hour consultation and follow up boards to try around the house. Well worth it if you want something a bit different from the ideas above, or different to what you would do on your own. Also colour professionals will be able to work with your existing furnishings, natural light, personality, and architecture.
Mrs Jones asks 2 different painters to submit a quote to paint the interior of her home. When both quotes arrive she is shocked to see that Joe’s quote is nearly twice as high as Sam’s quote. What a rip off! That Joe is charging Mosman prices, the dirty rat-bag!
What Mrs Jones doesn’t realise is that Joe is taking his time to provide a paint job will look great and last a long time. Also Joe's paint will only go where it's meant to.
By contrast Sam will rush through in half the time, providing a top coat (and very little else), and a general mess.
So the cheap job, will be badly done AND cost more on an hourly basis.
I’ve made a table that shows the parts of the paint job that Joe will do compared with what Sam will do. Or put another way, what SHOULD BE DONE verses what CAN BE GOTTEN AWAY WITH.
You are welcome to use my blog posts - in their entirety or as "quotes".