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Painting techniques: Primer, undercoat and finish


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

Painting techniques: Primer, undercoat and finish

Are your walls and surfaces primed and ready? Follow these handy tips to achieve a professional finish that will last far beyond the final coat. 

Stick to separate coats

Primers are designed to seal surfaces, undercoats to obliterate underlying colour and provide a strong key for the protective top coat.

Using a combined primer/undercoat may save time and money, but you will generally not get results as good as those achieved with separate coats.


painting walls


Primer choice

A primer specially formulated for a particular surface—plaster, wood or metal—will last longer and produce a better finish than a universal primer.

Copper pipe needs no primer, but an undercoat may be necessary to hide the colour of the metal.


Pick healthier paints

Water-based paints and varnishes have a lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content than solvent-based ones. This means they do less environmental damage and pose less of a health risk to people using them regularly.

Use products with a low VOC rating if solvent-based paints give you nausea or headaches. Information about VOCs is now often given on the container.


Obliterate stains

Wax crayon and felt-tip pen marks, tar from cigarettes and water stains from plumbing leaks will all eventually show through layers of conventional paint.

Smother them permanently with an aluminium primer-sealer or with a proprietary stain-block. The latter is sold in aerosol form, ideal for small areas.


deciding what paint to use


Hide the imperfections

Gloss paint shows up every blemish in a surface. If your woodwork isn’t perfect or you don’t want to spend long hours on preparation, use a more forgiving matt or eggshell finish instead.


White won’t yellow

White paint on radiators and central heating and hot-water pipes won’t yellow if you use a proprietary radiator enamel. This gives off strong fumes as it dries, so open the windows wide.

painting the kitchen


Keep mould at bay

Steamy kitchens and bathrooms can be ideal breeding grounds for mould, because of the condensation that forms on wall and ceiling surfaces. Decorate them with special kitchen and bathroom paint containing a fungicide.


Volatile combination

Polystyrene ceiling tiles and solvent-based paints make a highly combustible combination.

Always paint these tiles with a water-based paint.

Find out more useful painting tips with Home Painting Tips: A Step By Step Guide To Painting Your House.

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