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Surface finish - preparation is everything!

We've all done a bit of painting n' decorating! How professional a finish can you get? Manufacturer's are forever claiming their latest 'one coat' paint treatments and easy sponge or spray applicators can you save you time and money and still give you a great finish with the minimum of effort. Of course, we would like this to be true but we know there is really no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and being prepared for painstaking, patient and careful work!

AbleSkills offer decorating courses to cover everyone's needs, level of experience and ability! Whether you fancy a weekend primer, a basic decorating Diploma to a 10 day or 6 week City & Guilds NVQ. If you're fed up with just bare painted walls and want to cover up with the latest funky pattern, AbleSkills even offer a dedicated wallpapering course too!Remember - preparation and patience is everything if you want to achieving the best possible finish!

Here are a few troubleshooting basics to give you an idea of how you should approach preparation to a decorating project:

Filler : Apply too much - it makes your job harder! After applying filler, smooth with a damp sponge or wet brush to remove the stark edges. Some powder fillers (e.g. polyfilla) and most ready-mixed fillers dry very hard so apply as smoothly as possible.If there are deep holes, filler will most likely sink below the surface. It may be necessary to fill two or three times allowing the filler to dry in between. Different fillers sink to various degrees depending on the depth to be filled. Many fillers claim on the packet that they do not shrink or crack; you should always work on the assumption that they will! AbleSkills run a patch plastering course just to help you become aware of these various problems and how to successfully deal with them.

Ceiling stained by cigarette smoke : This will show through normal emulsion/latex so the ceiling has to be sealed before painting. The stain, if very heavy, should be washed off with soap and water and then dried before a sealer is applied. Remember that the nicotine in the stain is toxic so wear protective gloves and goggles to protect your eyes.

Greasy kitchen ceiling and walls : Will need to be washed down thoroughly with sugar-soap and rinsed off and left to dry before applying any coatings. Sugar-soap is caustic so proper protective clothing must be worn to protect hands and eyes.Efflorescence: A powdery residue coming out of stonework onto the painted surface. Encrusted soluble salts, commonly white, are deposited on the surface of coatings, stone, brick, plaster, or mortar. Usually caused by salts bleaching through from mortar or adjacent concrete as moisture moves through it. Scrape off all the loose material and before you do any filling, seal the affected area completely with an alkali-resisting primer.