Roger Bisby Decorator’s Round-Up

Roger Bisby Decorator’s Round-Up

Roger Bisby reviews some time-saving solutions on a South East refurb job

For our painting and decorating feature on site tests we dropped in on a new extension and full refurb being carried out by BuildPlus of Reigate, Surrey.

This building company prides itself on a quick turnaround, and the property they were working on was empty, which meant the customer was keen to get the job finished ASAP.

Judging by the number of vans parked in the road they were definitely mob-handed, which takes good organisation, but they seemed to have it down to a fine art.

When it comes to the decorating they tackle a room each, with the one who drew the short straw getting the hall, stairs and landing. Turning jobs around in double-quick time means they are always on the lookout for fast track products.

Johnstone’s CoverPlus Ecological

Johnstone’s Vinyl Emulsion has a good opacity, achieved by a high solids to water ratio, but still seems to go on really well.

As a water-based paint it is VOC free and almost without odour. If you can wean your customer off the ubiquitous Farrow & Ball you can save a fortune with this good honest trade paint.

It can be thinned with water as a mist coat and built up to provide a high quality finish. You can apply it by brush, roller or spray.

The guys at BuildPlus use it all the time because it goes on easily, and there is no ‘picture framing’. That is to say that even in harsh lighting around skylight wells you can’t see where the roller stops and the cutting in brush begins. That is not the case with all emulsions.

Speedskim ST

Last year I gave Speedskim with the plastic blade a try, and was very impressed at the way you can flatten Multi-Finish. A week or two later they sent in their SF stainless steel blade.

The manufacturers were not selling it as a finishing tool but I have found it is brilliant as a broad knife for applying filler and jointing compound.

If you are looking for a really quick way of taping and jointing give this a go, and if you just want to fill tiny blemishes prior to applying emulsion then a nice wet filler and a single wipe down and across with the Speedskim is all you need.

Having used it on a few jobs I wouldn’t be without one now.

Big Wipes

Build Plus proprietor Pao Wainwright says: “I always keep some Big Wipes on the van, I have a dispenser in the back for the hand wipes, which are the best for getting paint off but I also have some Heavy Duty ones for cleaning surfaces.

“They are great for cleaning off sealants and caulking as well as really horrible stuff like polyurethane foam and adhesive.”

Dunlop Acrylic Decorators Caulk

Some caulking is straight out of the dump bin, and really deserves to stay there, because it has low flexibility and tends to crack when it is stretched.

Dunlop Flexible Acrylic Caulk has good elasticity and can be used inside and out for sealing and filling. It can be overpainted within 60 minutes but, if you are using a solvent-based paint, I would leave it a little longer.

This caulk has been well received by the trade. Even though it isn’t the cheapest, professional decorators seem to appreciate that it lives up to its claim not to crack or shrink. They also seem to like the way it over paints.

Plastikote Stain Block Spray

Covering water stains, etc. can be done with traditional remedies such as Zinsser, but if you are in a hurry to get on with the emulsion then a spray can allows you to paint over almost straight away.

The great thing is that as the airborne paint falls to the floor it dries and turns to powder, so you can sweep or vacuum it up.

Bosch Oscillating Multi-tool

These days every decorator can find good use for a multi-tool. This high powered corded machine from Bosch is just one of a range that includes cordless.

The tools use the Starlock system, jointly developed by Bosch and Fein, to allow larger attachments to be used without fear of them shearing off or straining the motor or gearbox.

For a decorator this technology allows larger sanding heads to be used, as well as scrapers and cutters. If you have to cut out rotten sections from a timber window sill ready for a hardener and two pack filler then this tool, with its extra-long wood cutting blades, will make short work of it.

It also makes an excellent delta sander that can get into tight corners. The drawback of all these machines is the noise, so grab some ear defenders.


Dust is always an issue, but it has been getting more of an airing lately with so many cases of dust-related lung injuries.

If you are using paper disposable masks you might want to have a closer look at the packaging because in the small print those masks without a valve will often tell you that they are not personal protective equipment.

In other words they are fit for occasional DIY use and probably not even that. The danger is they are giving you a false sense of security.

The broader problem is that many masks don’t fit well and there is no way of testing whether they are effective. If you want to make sure your mask is doing the job it was designed to do then you need to carry out a fit test.

This Aviva mask from Scott Safety has a special mechanism that closes the filters to find out if any air is leaking from around the mask. Breathe out and if the mask fits properly the spent air will go through the valve and not around the seal. Another sign that a mask is not working effectively is if your safety glasses steam up when you breath out.

The outlet valve on this mask points downwards to stop your glasses steaming up. The rubber is pliable for a comfortable fit. My tip is not to over-tighten the straps. Adjust them until the mask stops leaking and that should be fine.

Once you have adjusted them for your face it should fit every time but still press the button to test.

There are different filters available for different jobs. If you are laying GRP for example you should select the re-useable ProFlex filter for fumes which will also give a high level of dust protection.

Related posts