Professional Builder’s Lee Jones looks at some of the highly decorated work of Steve Dove, one of the original members of the Dulux Select Decorator Scheme.
If you were to compile a list of the nation’s most recognisable brands then Dulux would be hard to beat, not just in the building industry but in Britain at large. For a decorator, being associated with a company of such renown will clearly confer a certain kudos, but it has other benefits besides. Steve Dove was one of the original members of the Dulux Select Decorators scheme, and is now on the national panel, a Fellow of the initiative, and an independent assessor. Not only that, but with a lifetime of experience of property refurbishment, when the paint manufacturer has a new formulation that it wants to assess, Steve is one of the decorators that gets the call.
“For a tradesman, the halo effect of being endorsed by a company like Dulux can’t be underestimated,” explains the 54-year-old, “but it also keeps you up-to-date with all the latest developments. Over the years I’ve been asked to provide the manufacturer with my opinion on a number of new products, and it is a role that I consider myself quite privileged to fulfil.”
The Dulux Heritage range of colours are already a popular and established part of a professional decorator’s repertoire, and are designed to reflect British interior design traditions, whilst appealing to a modern consumer demand for period touches. It has now seen a transformation, in the shape of the launch of dedicated Heritage paints, an emulsion for walls and ceilings with a Velvet Matt finish, and a water-based Eggshell for trim. Steve recently made use of both in his own home and was full of praise for these premium solutions. “The new Velvet Matt exhibits a really low sheen level, is easy to apply and cut in with. The new Eggshell is also a joy to use as it flows out well leaving no brush marks but, as with all of these kind of formulations, you have to keep an eye on tear-dropping edges. On broader areas, such as T&G Paneling, I applied it with a 5mm nap roller but it can also be spray applied with either HVLP or airless methods really well. I painted some of my furniture in the eggshell using my HVLP machine with excellent results. It feels and looks like a traditional oil eggshell finish.
In addition, matt emulsion is often quite a dry feeling finish – but, thanks to the addition of a special blend of clays, the Heritage product stands out by being very smooth to the touch, and the coverage was superb.”
One of the most noticeable advances in paint technology in recent years has been with water-based products. With fast drying times, and low odour they score points for the client in that rooms can be re-occupied more quickly, but they are now far more durable than previous incarnations. “I was an early adopter of water-based paints, and the improvements over the last ten years have been exponential,” declares Steve. “That’s reflected in the Heritage Eggshell in the resistance to marking that it demonstrates, whilst it will also help the tradesman to get the job done and onto the next.”
It is the Dulux team of colour experts that have developed the expanded colour options available and Steve is impressed with how they reflect the design brief in a relatively concise range. “With some paint collections, you can find that customers can become overwhelmed with the amount of choice,” he explains. “What I like about the Heritage colour card is that it’s much more focused, and it will be easier to work through with the homeowner what it is they’re looking for.”
Clearly a Heritage range will find a place in listed buildings and period properties, but there is an increased demand for a historical sheen to a décor and this is a product that Dulux believe can grace any domestic space. Steve Dove & Co is a company that is itself well-versed in undertaking a hugely diverse breadth of interior repair, maintenance and improvement projects in the Hampshire area, and has been involved with the paint manufacturer’s approved decorator group since its launch in 1996.
Steve details the value of the Dulux Select Decorator scheme: “If Dulux is telling the general public that we’ve seen this person’s work and we believe in them then that’s clearly a useful marketing tool. How a member chooses to make use of that brand association is largely up to them, and just having the logo displayed on a sign written van, for instance, as well as business mailing, and a website will communicate a level of competence, but there’s also a wealth of useful tools available, including guidance on invoicing and estimates. Perhaps most importantly, the scheme is a genuine community of decorators from around the country who are helpful and supportive of each other.”
In his role as an assessor, Steve is also helping others take advantage. “It’s a pretty rigorous process, and tradespeople are required to adhere to certain obligations,” he enthuses. “I’ll visit them on site and will be looking out for technical knowledge, skill and quality of work, as well as communication with clients, and, if possible, we’ll talk to the customer as well. If we deem that they need more support and encouragement before they’re ready to join that’s something we can also help them with.”
Long serving members of the Dulux Select Decorators Scheme, like Steve, are eligible to become Fellows after 10 years, conferring a further level of status on its recipients. “When you’re a fellow it becomes more of a reciprocal relationship, because you have a certain responsibility to help newer entrants, and to promote the initiative as a whole. Not only that, but as a panel member for the South West, I’m part of a body that gives members a representative voice, where we can air views and influence its direction. I’ll talk to all the members in my area, for example, and then provide that as feedback to the panel. That’s really the guiding principle; The Dulux Select Decorators scheme is a vehicle through which quality tradespeople can assist each other, and maintain a support network.”
For further information on the Dulux Heritage range visit https://www.duluxheritage.co.uk/
For further information on the Dulux Select Decorators Scheme visit https://www.duluxtradepaintexpert.co.uk/en/services/dulux-select-decorator
For further information on Steve Dove & Co visit https://www.duluxselectdecorators.co.uk/decorator-listing/2613/