Your #lockdown decorating questions answered part I

29th April 2020


Ordinarily we are happiest when our decorating team are working hard inside people’s homes sprucing up rooms and reinvigorate home interiors with fresh – and in our case – eco-paint. Then lockdown was sprung on us and we all found ourselves in our own homes twiddling our thumbs with time we would otherwise be losing to commuting and socialising.

For many however – lockdown has presented an opportunity to do all those jobs in the home that we have in the past all too readily found excuses not to do. Self-isolation frustration found a new outlet. Do it yourself. DIY decorating and home improvements found their way back onto people’s priority to do lists. So, wanting to contribute to our communities – we knew one way in which Paint the Town Green were absolutely qualified to help.

Our paint store closed in line with Government guidelines. We realised early on people want paint for this enforced time at home. Many hardware stores are closed and even for those who remain open, it is taking longer to get paint orders through. As an independent small business, we aren’t reliant on third parties. Our showroom is well stocked and we mix to order so can fulfil paint orders no problem. And to help people stay safe at home, we introduced a free ‘knock and drop’ delivery service for local orders. Which has been fun – we are enjoying our gloved drop offs on door steps, standing back 2 metres and waving happily as new and old customers open their front doors to take their paint inside, overalls and rollers at the ready. 

Paint the Town Green is not just a paint shop. It is a quality decorating company with exacting standards and offers a personal level of service. We do offer colour consultancy of course but we also offer our customers all sorts of advice on decorating too. We always have done whether customers choose to use our decorating services or not. So we opened up our email to the masses and encouraged people to come to us with all their decorating queries. With over ten years under our belt and having worked on everything from heritage buildings to a modern two bed flat – inside and outside, there is not a lot we don’t know about decorating.

We also made a batch of self-isolation decoration online tutorials which addressed the common questions people face when decorating at home. From ‘what is caulk‘ to ‘how to sand a re-seal a wooden worktop‘. These can be found here or on our IGTV (@paint_thetown_green). With its rather catchy theme tune (composed and performed no less by PTTG founder and keyboardist Phil Robinson), they have been really well received. We’re not bigging ourselves up – it’s all small stuff in the great scheme of things but we are pleased to help and to put a bit of effort into helping. We always like to go the extra mile.

So, this blog post is about sharing some of the questions that have been sent in along with our advice. Where possible we have also included before and after pictures. It has been fascinating to see what projects people are taking on – really impressive and we hope our advice helpful and has given people that added confidence to help their project go all the more smoothly. Enjoy!

Mirror mirror on the wall

Dear Paint the Town Green,

Can you help? This is a mirror I picked up from a flea market. I love things that are a bit beaten and vintage. I’ve not touched it before now but now the paint has yellowed so I want to give it a refresh. I have two questions:

How should I treat the cracks and dents. See close up. How hard should I try to fix, mend, cover up or will I make it worse? I would never try and make it look new again but if I’m going to paint it – I’m wondering if I should try to improve it slightly. And if so, with what products?

At the moment the brushstrokes are fairly haphazard adding to the overall vintage effect. What is the technique here for brush strokes? Should they be seen or not?

Hi, Good question! What I would suggest with those cracks is rather than trying to make them perfect, and in doing so losing the “shabby chic” look you’ve got going on there, use a flexible filler, or caulk as we call it. You can squeeze it along the cracks and then push it in with your finger to get rid of the black line that is currently caused by the deep crack. Then use a cloth to wipe off the excess. You will still have an undulation there where the crack is but you’ll be able to paint over the caulk so you’ll have the suggestion of the crack without a black shadow line. Hope that makes sense! If you’re not happy with it you can still go over the crack with a two part wood filler and sand it back to create a flat surface.

Painting-wise, it’s always tricky to know what to do with brush strokes when there are elaborate details on a piece of furniture. I would suggest firstly protecting the mirror itself with some low-tack tape. You’ll need to use lots of little pieces as obviously the tape is straight and the mirror is round. If you can, try to tuck the edge of the tape between the surface of the mirror and the frame, if you’re lucky there will be a tiny gap there. This will not only mean you’re protecting the glass really thoroughly, it will also mean you ca use slightly longer pieces of tape!

Where you’ve got a patterned detail on those corners you just have the move the brush every which way to get the paint into all the nooks and crannies. However, once you’ve done this and the paint is still wet, try to work your brush strokes parallel with the edge of the mirror on each side wherever possible. You won’t be able to do this on the detailed areas but you can on the flat sections. You’ll have to move quickly as once the paint starts to dry it will drag. Likewise on the external beading. You definitely want the brush strokes to run along that so the paint dries nice and smoothly on there.

Hope that’s useful. Happy painting!

“Very happy with how it looks now. Still vintage but just lovelier. Would never have thought to use caulk – it has made a real difference. Thank you”

Happy on the Outside

Dear Paint the Town Green,  As the expert in the field, I wanted to drop you a line.  I started looking at my front window sills today and discovered wet rot in parts which is pretty bad.  I have taken out the worst of the rot down to the dry wood – for better or worse. I’m not really in the DIY mode to chop out the timber and replace the sills.   What is the best approach with regard to wood filler/wet rot wood hardener etc? I will send on a couple of pics so you can get an idea of the issue!

Hi, Thanks for getting in touch. It’s hard to get an accurate idea of exact scale from your pics but from what I can see you can probably rescue that in the short term but ultimately that sill could do with replacing. The hole looks a bit deep for two part wood filler so what I would suggest using if you’re not going to replace the timber is a resin repair kit, something like ‘Repair Care Dry Flex 4’. You need to first apply a wood harder/ primer product that will sure up the edges you are filling to. The resin suppliers often do their own harder, otherwise you can use something like ‘Ronseal Wet Rot Wood Hardener’.

The resin repair kit is a two part system that you mould as it dries. Make sure you don’t use too much as its not something you want to be sanding back! If you can’t get it to mould to the exact shape you want you’re better off doing it slightly shy of where you want it to finish and then skim over the top with a two wood filler that can then be sanded. Ronseal High Performance Wood Filler is one example. You get a small tube of hardener with it. Approximate ratio is a golf ball of filler to a pea of harder (very technical!).

The area of the window itself you should be ok using a two part wood filler but again, I would recommend using a wood harder first on the surrounding area to make sure it’s sound. I recommend an 80 grit sand paper to sand the two part filler with as it’s slightly more coarse and wood filler can be stubborn to sand back. Once that’s done you can prime as necessary, undercoat and gloss. Make sure all the paints you use and suitable for exterior work. This repair won’t last for ever but if done correctly should give you a few more years before you have to replace the timber. Hope that’s helpful.

“A lot smarter I think you’ll agree. I might not have done quite as good a job as the professionals but it looks vastly better and I’m confident that from following your instructions, it will last. I am quite pleased actually.”

Upcycling furniture

Hi Phil, Thank you first of all for your isolation decoration tips. I especially found the caulking one very helpful! I was wondering whether you might be able to give any tips on upcycling furniture and specific paint to use. Especially on awful veneer surfaces and whether sanding the veneer off is better than getting a paint that will stick. Any handy tips would be very much appreciated.

Hi, Thanks for getting in touch, really glad you’re finding the video’s useful. That’s a really good question and to be honest it all depends on what sort of veneer you’re dealing with. Some surfaces won’t allow you to sand them (such as melamine) and will simply tear if you try to sand them. So I would first try in a discrete spot with some fine sane paper (120 or even 180) to see if you can sand enough to create a key (this is when you rough up the surface so the paint sticks better). Either way there are primers you can get that will ensure better adhesion. We have one that we sell and our painters like to use called Grepp but you don’t have to use this one – there are others out there.

One thing you do need to be cautious about is if there’s anything on the existing surface that might over time bleed through the paint and discolour it. Certain varnishes, oils and waxes can be particularly bad for this. Sanding will often remove a lot of this but to be sure of blocking it you can go for a super robust primer, something like this. Although I should add that this version in the red tin is shellac based (rather than water based) so gives off a lot of fumes and requires methylated spirits to clean brushes with. Make sure your work area is well ventilated it you decide to prime with this. 

Once you’ve got a primer on you’re good to go with your paint of choice. I’d recommend at least two coats and an eggshell finish is what would usually be used on furniture. I would always go with water based as it drys more quickly and is easier to clean up brushes afterwards. All our colours are available in eggshell in either 1 litre or 2.5 litre tins. Ideally a very light rub down with fine sandpaper between coats for the best finish. Do let me know how you get on!


Paint the Town Green offer an in-house colour consultancy. Our eco-friendly paints have the lowest possible levels of VOCs making them a better choice for you and the environment. All water based, they are odourless, quick drying and come in three finishes: matt, wipeable or eggshell.

For more information about our paints or for a decorating quote, please visit our showroom at 39a&b Allfarthing Lane or call us on 020 8871 0531.


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