Preparing surfaces for decoration: Tools that you will need
There is a huge variety of tools available in DIY stores, and new ones are being introduced all the time. Choosing the right tools can make a job both faster and easier.
Have a variety of abrasive papers to hand for smoothing filler or any roughness on stripped walls or woodwork. Wet-and-dry paper can be used dry or damped with water. A flexible sanding block has an abrasive coating on four sides.
Rinse and squeeze out before using to rub down a painted surface before repainting. This destroys the glaze while removing dirt. Powered sanding tools clean stripped surfaces quickly.
But don't try to strip paint with a sander as the abrasive will become clogged.
Scrapers and strippers
Scrapers or stripping knives have a flat, slightly sprung blade, which may be broad or narrow.
Broad scrapers are used for stripping wallpaper. Other scrapers are used to remove softened paint from flat surfaces.
Shave hooks, with triangular or curved blades set at right angles to the handle, are used to strip paint from moulded woodwork such as window or door frames and banisters.
You can now buy a super-efficient scraper with a long handle for leverage and strong, sharp replaceable blades.
This is the most efficient tool for stripping wallpaper or papered surfaces that have been painted.
It consists of a water reservoir and a hose, which is connected to a steam plate. When the water heats up, steam is forced up the hose and out through the plate.
This penetrates the wall covering and softens the adhesive underneath (painted paper must first be scored). It's worth buying a steam stripper if you plan to strip more than one room. They can also be hired.
Used to remove loose or flaking material, they are available as a hand tool or as a fitting for an electric drill.
A filling knife is like a scraper with a more flexible blade. Use it to press filler into holes and cracks and to level it flush with the surface.
Hot-air guns have largely superseded blowtorches to soften paint before stripping. They work like a superheated hair dryer and are much safer than blowtorches as there is no naked flame.
Each year thousands of injuries are caused by falls from chairs or insecure ladders, rust particles or tile chips flying into eyes or burns from paint stripping chemicals.