Painting Awkward Areas

Redecorating can be made simpler, quicker and less frustrating if many of the 'obstacles' that impede progress are removed first. Painting around fixtures and fittings such as ceiling roses, wall switches and sockets, door furniture and pipework, can be time-consuming and this is often where drips and dribbles occur, which mar the finished room.

Where possible any obstacles should be removed: switch off power to electrical fittings before exposing connections; wedge open doors so you don't get locked in or out after door knobs have been removed; and, where possible, remove radiators so you can clean and paint behind them. If this all sounds too complicated, there are solutions: mask off sockets and switches with low-tack tape - but still turn off the power to them at the consumer unit; wrap door knobs in kitchen foil and pendant light fittings in polythene. Remember that awkward areas are also those that collect dirt, dust and grease. Before you apply a new finish, make sure they have been thoroughly cleaned.

Behind Radiators

If you don't want to take a radiator off the wall, let it cool down completely and get a long, thin feather duster and sweep behind it thoroughly to remove dust and cobwebs. Use a radiator or crevice brush to paint the wall behind. These have either a long wire or angled plastic handle, which allows you to reach behind panel radiators quite easily. Take care not to paint over any valves or fittings as you may end up sealing them tightly open or shut and you won't be able to operate them in the future.

Masking Off

Even professional decorators with years of skill and experience know that paint will find its way onto surfaces where it was never intended. Professionals don't take unnecessary risks and completely mask off areas to keep them safe. Low tack masking tape is ideal because it can easily be peeled off without removing the painted or papered surface below. For this reason, don't use ordinary clear PVC sticky tape. To protect exposed copper central heating pipes from drips and dribbles of paint, tape newspaper around them right along their length.

But masking tape can also be used to create interesting decorative effects - stripes around a room, the neat edge of a 'trompe I'oeil' dado, or areas painted in two or more different colours. There is even a three-sectioned striping tape - used for painting 'go-faster' stripes on cars. You apply it to the surface, peel away the middle strip, apply paint inside the masked area and, when touch dry, peel off the mask.

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