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Smoke Damage on interior walls? Q & A

Q. We had a fire in a sitting room which left a lot of smoke damage on one of the walls, I tried painting over it but the stain keeps oozing back out, any solution? 

A. Smoke or fire damage can leave very hard to block out stains on the wall. There is a product I’ve come across called Seal Lock which works quite well on this type of nagging problem. All you do is paint on the seal lock, and after about half an hour, apply your next coat. Do bear in mind that this product is very fast drying.

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Can I repaint the ceramic wall tiles in my kitchen? Q & A

Q. Can I repaint the ceramic wall tiles in my kitchen, as I would like to change the color to match some new cabinets. S Greene.

A: Yes you can. All you have to do is get yourself a one litre tin of a preparation product ESP which you’ve probably seen lauded on numerous home TV DIY shows, about 2.1/2 litres of each good quality oil based undercoat and gloss and a decent paint brush or small smooth roller from any DIY or paint store, and you are half way there. For an extra special, smooth finish, pick up a litre tin of Owatrol oil as used by most of the professional decorators, (in the old days people used white spirits to thin the paint which was very detrimental to the paint quality and ruined hiding power) as this will help the paint flow out beautifully without ugly brush marks or streaks. It also helps the paint adhesion, hiding power and gloss retention.

Add about 20% Owatrol to the undercoat and about 10% to your top coat. About £60 or so should cover all the paint materials, which gives you an extremely cost effective color change! Start the job by cleaning the surface properly with warm water & sugar soap. Wipe on the ESP to the tile surfaces thoroughly with a clean lint free cloth. Leave it 10 minutes or so at normal room temperature, and then wipe off gently with another clean lint free cloth taking care to turn the cloth repeatedly as a certain amount of dirt will come off in the cloth. (Follow instructions carefully – there is a new water based version of ESP out now which has slightly different instructions to previous solvent based version which I’ve noticed here & there)

Usually you can do one wall at a time, wipe on and then the wipe off. After 90 minutes at normal room temperature, apply your undercoat with the 20% Owatrol oil added. Next day when it has dried, apply your gloss top coat, this time with about 10% Owatrol oil and leave it for about 24 hours at least to dry. Take note, oil based paint can take a week or more to cure properly so don’t start poking at it with your fingernails (if you have that strange tendency!) for at least 10 days. Also try to avoid giving that area a hard time for as long as possible. In fact the longer the better.

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Rusty Edwardian Gutters? Q & A

Q. I have old Edwardian cast iron gutters and down pipes that are quite rusty but otherwise intact, is there any way I can protect them from further deterioration? 

A. Yes, remove all debris and clean them as best you can. A power washer would be ideal to shift the old ground in dirt. If you don’t own a power washer, you can rent one in your local hire shop for a few quid a day. After the gutters have dried fully, get your hands on some that old ever-useful Owatrol oil and a can of exterior quality oil based gloss paint, whichever color you choose. Mix them up half owatrol and half paint, and apply directly to the rusted gutters with an appropriate paintbrush. For your information this mixture will do two things at the same time, i.e. it will penetrate deeply into the rusty steel, getting into all the small nooks and crannies, pushing out any remaining moisture and air while giving it color at the same time. This idea also makes a solid color oil based stain that works great on wood, concrete etc.

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How to avoid streaks in paintwork Q & A

Q. The articles are great. A few weeks ago you wrote about how to avoid streaks in paint and you recommended two brands of mixture. As I’ve mislaid the article could you please let me know the names and where they can be purchased? 

A Thanks for your kind comments. We’ve had many requests like this so here’s a tip regarding same. If you find these articles useful, or any other similar articles for that matter, just cut them out as soon as possible and pop them into a folder marked DIY or Home Improvement Tips etc. Keep the folder in a safe place, like your garden shed hanging up on a nail and it will always be there when you need it. Great also for essential home maintenance phone numbers, web sites etc. The products I mentioned a few weeks ago were called Owatrol Oil and Floetrol. Here’s just a brief reminder again of what they do.

Any time you are using oil based paint such as household gloss, undercoat, satinwood, varnish, eggshell etc, when the paint gets a bit tight and the brush starts to drag a lot add a few teaspoonfuls of the Owatrol oil. Just enough to make it flow easily. It will give you an enviable finish every time. You will also find that you can even paint in very low temperatures using this method, and still get a great finish, that is assuming you don’t mind the cold! Any time you are using emulsions, either indoor or outdoor and the paint starts to dry too quickly etc, add about 10% of Floetrol and stir in. This will result in a much easier application and a streak-free finish. It is especially useful in deep colors and low hide colors like yellows and reds etc. Great also for rag rolling, color washing, sponging etc.

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Leaking attic tank caused bad water stains. Q & A

Q. I have a very badly stained ceiling, the result of a water leak from the attic tank. I would appreciate if you could advise me how to treat the problem as the stain is still coming through. 

A. This is a fairly easy problem to fix. All you need is to apply an appropriate stain blocker with a brush and finish off with a coat or two of paint. These stain blockers come in various types, generally water based, oil based or alcohol based. The best type for water stains is the alcohol type, and next best would be the oil based. Note that a water based stain blocker is no good on water borne stains but would work well on oily stains. Its almost like opposites work best. There are a few types of stain blockers on the market and one of the better ones I’ve come across is a product called Seal Lock. (Tip: Seal Lock dries extremely fast and you might not be able to wash out the brush afterwards unless you have a supply of mentholated spirits)

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Making paint Stick to bedroom walls? Q & A

Q. Is there any way I can make sure emulsion stick on the wall of my daughters bedroom as she is always changing and pulling off posters etc and the sellotape pulls the paint off at the same time. 

A. The only way I know is to apply an emulsion which has a very strong bonding agent like E-B (Emulsa-Bond) mixed in to it. You need to stir in about 25% E-B into your first coat of emulsion, (it does not matter whether it is matt, vinyl or whatever) Then apply the paint with a roller or whatever and I would be fairly certain based on my experience that you will not pull that paint off, even with repeated pulls of tape etc. This is a great idea for anybody that wants to paint a wall that may be used for sticking up posters etc.

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Can I change the color of my PVC windows? Q & A

Q. I was hoping to change the color of my PVC windows and doors, but don’t know how to go about it. 

A. You can paint those PVC windows and doors any color you like thanks to a clever product called ESP (short for easy surface prep) now readily available in practically any hardware, or paint store. I would suggest you choose an oil-based satin or gloss paint to do the job for maximum durability. Wash the areas to be painted with warm water and sugar soap and allow to dry. Now, to do the job all you have to do is get some clean lint free cloths, soak with ESP and wipe it all over the surfaces you wish to paint. Do one window at a time. Read the instructions carefully.

Leave that to cure for at least 90 minutes at normal room temperature and after that you are ready to apply your gloss or whatever. In case you are unsure if the paint will stick, you will know as soon as you start to apply the paint, i.e. if the paint starts to crawl or run away from the brush you have not applied the ESP properly. If this happens, just wipe / wash off the paint in that area and re treat that area with ESP. On the other hand, if the paint goes on in the normal way, everything should be ok. When you are finished applying the ESP, dispose of the cloth properly as per instructions on the tin. Another tip to ensure you get a lovely smooth, brush-free finish is to add some Owatrol oil to the paint if it feels draggy or heavy. This will also help with paint adhesion.

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Paint spill on roof tiles? Q & A

Q. Emulsion paint got split on to the roof tiles of my front porch, I’ve done everything and I cannot remove the paint from the tiles, as it seems to have soaked in. Do I have to replace the roof tiles? 

A. If you wanted the paint to stick it probably wouldn’t, but there you go. My suggestion is to re-paint the porch roof tiles. Simple as that. Choose a superior quality exterior masonry paint that matches all the rest of the roof and mix in a product called E-B (Emulsa-Bond) 50:50 into the paint. E-B acts like a stir-in glue that makes paint stick to otherwise questionable surfaces. Pick a reasonably good day and apply one good coat directly to all the tiles. When that dries, if the ‘bad tiles’ are adequately covered you are finished. (Usually one good coat does the job) If you can still see some of the offending paint looking through, apply another coat of the exterior emulsion, but this time without the E-B. (only use E-B in your first coat). You should end up with a fresh looking new porch roof. Lots of people actually repaint their faded and tired looking old roof tiles using this method. (Please bear in mind, working on roofs can be very dangerous, so don’t even think about it if you are not very capable and have all the proper access equipment, ladders etc)

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Sea facing walls shedding paint? Q & A

Q. I live right on the seafront and am fed up to the teeth with paint peeling off most of the sea facing exterior walls. We’ve had several different painters do re-paints over the years, and despite each one criticize the work done by their predecessor, and assurances of a successful job this time, it still returned to the same old peeling paintwork.

A. Yes, we’ve heard it all before.. “you can be sure we will get it right ma’am” etc. Problem is, to make money, the painter must be able to get in and get out of the job as quickly as possible. Sometimes when there is a bad wall needing what used to be a serious amount of time consuming and back breaking preparation… corners will be cut, i.e. get some color up there on the wall and hit the road. There have been huge strides in paint adhesion technology over the years and nowadays there is no excuse for peeling paint in your kind of situation.

There is a way to paint your walls properly with no more peeling paint. First, all the old remaining paintwork must be properly removed, usually a power washer is best and quickest, but if at all possible, wash at a 30 to 40 degree angle to the surface to avoid too much water penetration while achieving maximum old paint removal. Leave it for a few weeks of good drying weather, and then you are ready for a paint job. Choose a high quality exterior (water based) paint and mix in about 30% of a very strong gripper like E-B (also known as Emulsa-Bond and available in most good paint outlets) into the first coat only and apply. Apply your second coat without E-B.

This process will ensure your paint will stick because the E-B will soak deep into the wall providing serious grip and it should not peel off. I’ve seen what can only be described as desperate situations totally cured using this process. The wall must also be checked for mold, mildew etc and if present kill same with 50:50 bleach and water mix. (There is also a useful mold preventative paint additive now available called VC 175 Mold Stop which is quite useful in preventing the return of the mold etc)

A very high percentage of the smarter painters now use this method because it is reliable, and from their time point of view, very fast and easy also. If you would like to help the finish coat you could add 10% of a very useful emulsion paint conditioner like Floetrol. So, next time you are having your wall re-painted let the contractor know what you want done, (whether he likes it or not) and this bit of useful info will make him take great care to do it right this time! If possible ask around among your friends or neighbors for names of some reliable painters rather than just take a chance.

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