Decorating and Interior Design Tips and Tricks

Summary: On this page you will find a great deal of decorating and interior design tips and tricks including how to get a great gloss finish, sticky door issues, smelly paint, how to mask correctly, old paint brushes, cleaning ceramic tiles and much more.

Top Quality Gloss Finish

To get a gloss finish that looks really good, wait for the first coat to dry completely, then use 600 grade wet and dry paper with water over the surface. wipe off the excess with kitchen towel. The next coat will look almost like glass. Do this again for a third coat that will look like glass. (Tip supplied by InkspOt)

Sticky Door

If you have just painted a door and are worried about it sticking as they all do…..Wait for it to dry and rub the edges with a candle before closing.

Colour Match

If you are decorating and intend to re-vamp the room, touch the paint brush, with the various colours you are using, onto a piece of paper. You can then drop this into your wallet or purse and when you see an item of furniture you like, you can be sure it will fit in.

Keep it Cool

When painting the outside of your house, try and avoid dark colours. They absorb heat very easily and are much more prone to blistering as a result. Also try and paint the walls in this order. West facing in the morning, East in the afternoon and South & North when they are shaded the most. Painting in direct sunlight (unless you have managed to get every brush stroke exactly the same thickness !) allows the paint to dry in a patchy way and can give a poor finish.

Old Paint

If you have ½ a tin of paint that you need to keep, turn it upside down before storing it (make sure the lid is fixed frirmly!) . This will remove the need for cutting away a skin when you use it again. If you have not done this and are suffering from bits in your paint, strain it through an old pair of tights before you use it.

Smelly Paint

If the smell of fresh paint gets to you, cut an onion in half and leave it in the room. It will take away most of the smell. Please don’t ask how that works but we would be pleased to hear from anyone who knows !! Also a teaspoonful of vanilla essence stirred into the paint helps remove a lot of the odour without affecting the colour.

Covering Water Stains

If you have a watermark on the ceiling or wall (First check that the leak is fixed!) do not try and cover it with emulsion. Emulsion is a water based paint and the mark will just bleed through. Use some oil based undercoat or gloss first if you have some (they can be mixed if you have a little of each in the shed) or a proprietary stain covering spray or paint can be purchased from your local diy store.

Wall Lights

Cover wall lights with a plastic carrier bag when decorating. It will save you hours of cleaning time.

Easy Stripping

Go to the chemist if you have any wallpaper to strip, buy some alum. For every pint of warm water you have, add two teaspoons. Wet the paper thoroughly and allow it to dry in. It should then lift off the wall much more easily.

Easy Pasting

Pour your wallpaper paste into a paint tray and use a roller to apply. Twice as quick, ½ as messy.

Masking Alternative

Masking paper can be a pain to get off and can easily leave marks, which are worse than the paint would have been. Spend some time cutting newspaper into strips and damp each strip before using it as masking tape. The dampness will allow you to manoeuvre it into position and keep it stuck to the glass long enough for you to paint your frame. It falls off easily afterwards!

Faults in Painted Surfaces

Faults in painted surfaces are a nuisance and can sometimes be avoided. Here are some common faults.

Grey/white surface haze. Sometimes called "blooming" This is a result of the paint being affected by moisture during drying. The moisture can be from condensation in an unventilated room or water from another source such as rainfall.

Blistering: Almost always caused by moisture in the timber which has been painted over without being allowed to dry properly. The moisture tries to evaporate but cannot get through the paint. The paint will eventually crack and peel allowing more moisture in etc. etc. Window cills are very prone to these blisters sometimes because the end of the cills has not been prepared properly allowing the moisture in. This fault often occurs on metal surfaces as well. This is due to the surface not being properly prepared before painting, including rust removal and the use of a primer. The interaction between two different metal surfaces can cause "electrolytic corrosion" which may also lead to blistering.

Cracking: Sometimes called "checking" or "Aligatoring" This usually happens in regular cracking patterns on the surface of the paint. Applying the top coat of paint before the one beneath it is completely dry will cause this as both coats drying at a different rate will cause shrinkage.

Peeling: If areas of paint can be easily peeled off it is mostly due to a contaminated surface or the use of the wrong (or no) primer.

No shine to gloss:This will happen if the primer used is too thin or insufficient primer or undercoat has been used. The absorbent timber will soak the paint in too quickly and leave a poor finish.

Slow drying: Generally caused by moisture contamination, old paint whos drying agent has evaporated, or low temperatures.

Wrinkles: Too much paint applied in one go....Vertically, it just runs!!

Roll It Up

If you have finished with your emulsion roller and brush for the day, but intend to carry on tomorrow or in a few days, wrap them tightly in a carrier bag. They will stay soft and usable for up to a month if wrapped properly.

Gloss Over It

Like-wise with your gloss brush, but this time keep it in a jar full of water, or at least over the bristles and retaining band...Shake it out the next day and carry on.

Sticky Tin

When you have opened and stirred a new tin of paint, tie a piece of string tightly between the two rivets where the handle connects. This will enable you to wipe your brush and rest it without getting paint all over the tin and you.

Paint Thinners

Don't waste your thinners, cut the top from a plastic drinks bottle and use that for cleaning your brushes. The thinner the bottle the better.

Old Brushes

Hard brushes can be rejuvenated after a spell in hot vinegar, comb the bristles with a fork afterwards and keep in shape with an elastic band until dry.

Old Tins In The Shed

Keep track of the paint you have saved by sticking a piece of masking tape down one side of the tin. When you have finished painting mark a line on the tape to the top of the paint and it might be handy to write the date as well. No more wrestling the top off to find you haven't got enough.

Messy Roller Tray

Before you start, wrap your roller tray in cling-film and just roll it up and throw it away afterwards.

Painting Chairs

Stand your chair legs in saucers or something similar to avoid ground contact or balancing acts!

Messy Handles

Keep paint off the handles, hinges and locks by applying some vasaline on a piece of tissue to them before you start painting. The paint wont stick to that.

Putty Mess

If the putty you want to use is very oily and too soft, roll it around on a piece of news-paper first. this will soak up the excess oil and make it ready for use. Keep it soft by wrapping it in cling-film or silver foil.

Rejuvenating Masking Tape

  • Put the tape in the microwave oven with a glass of water. (The water safely loads the magnetron in the oven)
  • Set the oven on full for about 1 minute
  • Switch off and check the tape has become quite warm, (do not overheat)
  • The tape will now peel off just as it did when new
  • When the tape gets cold, just reactivate it

Many thanks to Arnie for this information

Keeping Ceramic Tiles Clean

(Thanks to Frazer for this tip)

Here’s my tip: When you have finished tiling and grouting, give the tiles a coat of car wax: water and soap residue does not stick. Saves time wiping tiles down when they are in use!

All article content written and produced by