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46 Chestnut Ave
Swindon, SN2 1SQ
United Kingdom


I am a City and Guilds qualified painter and decorator with over 15 years of experience, an excellent reputation and a long list of satisfied clients. All work is completed to a high standard using the best quality tools and materials, with a particular attention to detail and clear communication with my customers. I have full public liability insurance and all work comes with a 1 year guarantee on workmanship.



What to look for in a decorator?

Craig Brooks

There seems to be an increasing number of poor quality jobs being done by so-called decorators lately. I’m repeatedly being called upon, either to correct the work or advise on how the homeowner can best rectify the situation.

I’m not sure what the cause is, but it's putting a bad name onto the construction industry.

I’m not talking about being overly fussy either. Examples include wall paint being all over the ceilings (which weren't being painted), paint on carpets, furniture and windows, peeling paint from recently finished woodwork, the list could go on. One guy even turned up on the bus!

The worst part is in every case the ‘decorator’ has been paid for the ‘work’ done - often up front. One had even asked to paid early only to not ever come back to finish the job. When I ask why they paid them the answer is always the same ‘I just wanted to get rid of them’.

If I'm too busy to fit a job in, the question usually follows - 'what should I look for when choosing a decorator' or 'who do I personally recommend, or not'. So I thought maybe I should make a small list of checkpoints for what to look out for when picking a decorator. It's worth noting your consumer rights as well. If you didn’t get what you expected from a job, you do not have to pay for it. However you do have to have given the person who did the job a fair chance to put right the problems with the work.


So here is my list (in no particular order):

  • Comes recommended either by someone you know, preferably that you have seen the work of, or at least has testimonials and customers you can speak too. Where this isn’t possible pictures and videos should be available. A decorator should be proud of their work.

  • Turns up on time,by appointment, to quote for the work.

  • Smartly dressed, in uniform, possibly logo’d (bare in mind they have probably just come from a job, so won’t be spotless)

  • How much experience do they have, what qualifications and in what area of decorating (domestic, commercial, exterior, interior etc)

  • Has a vast range of knowledge about the industry and can answer any of your questions clearly and with ease.

  • Has a prefered range of paints and products that they use and can supply sample books if needed (I have a top 3 paint brands for example)

  • Has the correct tools to complete the work (ladders for access, dust sheets, plastic sheeting, dust extractors/sanders etc)  

  • Has a waiting list of work more than a week or 2 (though cancellations do sometimes allow things to be slotted in last minute, they should have plenty of other work lined up)

  • The quote should arrive within a week, or at least within the agreed timeframe.

  • Get 3 quotes and don’t necessarily go for the cheapest. Look at why one is cheaper than the other. Does one have more detail about the kind of job you will be getting? For example - one just says ‘paint walls’ and another says ‘fill and sand walls using a dustless system before painting with 2 coats using brand x’

  • Is the quote clearly laid out using proper spelling, a logo, name and address.

  • Find out whether the person doing the quote is going to be carrying out the work themselves.

  • Is it a quote or an estimate? A quote is a fixed price, pending changes to specification or unforeseen circumstances. An estimate is a ballpark figure that could go up or down.

I'm a Daddy!

Craig Brooks

After a previous post regarding having a baby due I thought I should just update that we have a beautiful, happy baby. Not so new born now at 10 weeks, she is growing fast!

Her name is Ocean Runa Pearl and here she is in her first official workwear

Ocean Runa Pearl Brooks

Ocean Runa Pearl Brooks



Betsy paint mate

Craig Brooks

I was contacted recently by Steeve from the Betsy group limited. After having read my blog they wondered if I could try out their product - the Betsy paint mate. I had some initial concerns, like why so many paint tools have 'mate' in the title. I replied to Steeve saying 'I'd be happy to try it out. It does look a little cumbersome and a little DIY in the video, but it would be good to take a closer look.'

The video I refer to is this one:

Having received the Betsy Paint mate I took it to show some customers. Reactions were mostly along the lines of laughing and saying its not the sort of thing they expect a professional like myself to wear and it looks too cheap and like a DIY tool!

I decided to give it a go anyway and see how it was from a practical side. Whilst it frees up your hands for working at height, switching between high and low areas becomes an issue - as you can not bend or move far without spilling paint. I work quite quickly and so being restricted in this way is going to cost money. I found the pots to be on the small side and when you consider that you can only put a very small amount of paint in them, to avoid spillage, you spend a lot of time refilling the pots.

I'm not sold on this at all. Wearing it is cumbersome and they look cheap and unprofessional. Perhaps it would work fine for a DIYer who potentially works at a slower pace. Another concern is that this is held too close to my workwear. As a professional I like to keep my uniform looking as clean as possible and I don't think it would take long to have paint all over my worktop.

After posting a picture on social media of me wearing this I'm not convinced that many people would be willing to give this a go. Certainly, from the ridicule I received on Twitter from fellow decorators, I think they can forget the professional market completely! Comments were all long the lines of 'that's the most ridiculous invention I've seen!' and 'Please get that off before anyone else sees you...'

The comments on Facebook from customers and friends were 50/50 as to whether it was good. Comments varied from 'I assumed it was something from Mothercare!' to '👍 if it helps why not !!'

Many thanks to the Betsy group ltd for getting in touch and sending me the product for a review





It's the end of my working year....

Craig Brooks

I have a baby due in under a week! So with that I have taken the rest of the year off to be with my wife and at some point, baby.

This year I managed to complete a big range of projects: 31 Bedrooms, 21 Bathrooms, 3 Cloakrooms, 13 Kitchen, 4 Utility, 14 Lounge, 7 Dining room, 3 Studies, 17 Hall, stairs and landing, 1 snug, 1 Nursery, 1 Conservatory, 1 Therapy room, 1 Office, 1 Foyer, 1 Party room, 7 Exteriors, 1 piece of furniture

I have decided that for the foreseeable future I will not be taking on any exterior projects, this being partly down to the unreliable UK weather and also down to an injury to my shoulder, that reappears whenever I start lifting my ladders around. With a baby due I need to have a more reliable workload and as exteriors only make up a small percentage of what I do, its not going to make a huge difference to my workload.

I have currently stopped taking requests for quotes until the new year, as I am already booked till the end of June, which is incredible!

I hope you all have a good Christmas and get some time off. Thanks to all my customers new and old, I look forward to working on future projects for you all.



Californias Proposition 65 and cancer causing chemicals in paint

Craig Brooks

I was recently asked about a statement on a tin of Benjamin Moore paint that reads 'WARNING: Contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause Cancer and birth defects, or other reproductive harm'

The person who asked me was particularly concerned as they have a baby due soon and most of their house is now painted in Benjamin Moore paint (some by me and some by themselves).

I fully understand the concern as I had the same thoughts when I first heard of Proposition 65, so I thought I would do some research and try to clear things up a little. I first became aware of Proposition 65 on an Amazon listing for 3M masking tape, which you can read their response too on an earlier blog post.

So what is Proposition 65? In 1986, California voters approved an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. That initiative became the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known by its original name of Proposition 65. Proposition 65 requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987.

The link to the current full list is in the above paragraph. But what is it in Benjamin Moore's paint that requires it to be included on their tins? It isn't a legal requirement in the UK to have the warning and is only their tins because they are imported from the U.S. - but should we still be concerned?

I have done a bit of further research into what exactly is in BM's paint that is on the list of chemicals for prop 65 and came up with one thing - Titanium dioxide. This is listed as being known to cause cancer when airborne in unbound particles of respirable size. So as far as I can tell is of no concern when used in paint.

After doing a bit of a search around I found that it is also commonly used by UK manufacturers like Dulux and Crown, so whilst Benjamin Moore bought it to our attention, it is not solely them that include it in their manufacturing process. It replaced lead compounds as the primary white paint pigment shortly after WW II. But in fact, Titanium dioxide is used in the manufacture of a lot of products that we use all the time.

It accounts for 70% of the production volume of pigments worldwide and is found in paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light.

Most interesting of all is that it is added to skimmed milk to make it white instead of blue!

So whilst it is concerning to see that a paint contains a cancer causing chemical, its more concerning that we are consuming it daily and applying it to our skin. However in all these cases it would seem that it is harmless because its not being inhaled.

Update after some more research:

I have been doing a bit more research on titanium dioxide and discovered a few more listed ingredients in Benjamin Moore paint.

Titanium dioxide is only listed as possibly carcinogenic in humans. in studies high concentrations of dust have been shown to cause respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation. The same has also been seen in people working in dusty environments during titanium production, if there are insufficient dust control measures in place.

Silica -  is also on the list of carcinogenic chemicals used in paint manufacture. It is mostly obtained by mining quartz. 95% of Silica production is used in construction for Portland cement. It is also used to make glass products, micro chips, ceramics, fibre-optics and in food production.

ingested orally Silica is essentially nontoxic. However inhaling finely divided crystalline silica dust can lead to silicosis, bronchitis or cancer, as the dust becomes lodged in the lungs and continuously irritates them, reducing lung capacities.

Interestingly a study that followed subjects for 15 years found that higher levels of silica in water appeared to decrease the risk of dementia . The study found an association between an increase of 10 milligram-per-day of the intake of silica in drinking water with a decreased risk of dementia of 11%

Methylisothiazolinone - This is just a biocide and preservative. As well as paint it is used in cosmetics and some mouthwash. There has been an increase in the number of people with an allergy to it, so companies are now starting to remove it from their products.

Diatomaceous earth - consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled Protozo. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, cat litter, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.

In a study of workers, those exposed to natural D.E. for over 5 years had no significant lung changes, while 40% of those exposed to the calcined form had developed pneumoconiosis. Today's common D.E. formulations are safer to use as they are predominantly made up of amorphous silica and contain little or no crystalline silica.

Propylene glycol - Is produced on a large scale and is primarily used in the production of polymers but also sees use in food processing as the E-number E1520.

The acute oral toxicity of propylene glycol is very low, and large quantities are required to cause perceptible health damage in humans. Prolonged contact is essentially non-irritating to the skin. Undiluted propylene glycol is minimally irritating to the eye, producing slight transient conjunctivitis; the eye recovers after the exposure is removed.


So from all the chemicals that I can see, only 2 require the proposition 65 label. Interestingly I noticed that Benjamin Moores Natura range doesn't carry the prop 65 label. It stills contains both Titanium dioxide and Silica - both of which are know carcinogens, so I have no idea why the label is not required. I did notice that it contains half the amount of silica, so perhaps this puts it within the legal requirement? The Titanium dioxide is still present in the same quantity as the other paints.

From what I can find nobody in America takes notice of the warning and discussions are taking place to change it, as people largely ignore it, even on product that are potentially dangerous. In California it is found on everything including houses, swimming pools and mail boxes!

Shaw paints who import Benjamin Moore into the UK may one day change the labels to their own, so the warning would not be present. They currently add a sticker to the label that covers the info required for the strict UK and EU labeling requirements and full safety data sheets are also available, which list more chemicals than the American Technical data sheets do.

Aiden & Parker Paints challenge Benjamin Moore to become my go too paints...

Craig Brooks

This week I took a call from Randall Mallinson, the business development manager of Aiden & Parker paints. I'll be honest and admit that, up until that call, I hadn't heard of them.

Aiden & Parker are a UK based paint manufacturer supplying paint to 'architects and interior designers who specify for Royalty projects, 4 & 5 star hotels, Boutique hotels, pubs, clubs, Luxury home developments over £2 million'

The key points made to me over the phone and via email were:

Unbelievable opacity, awesome coverage, Amazingly durable and beautiful finishes, Desirable Pricing
If a chosen colour is outside our range of 120, we colour match to any colour card, ref. brand in your desired finish.
Manufactured in UK, Kent
Only the top quality materials are sourced to maintain our strategic position in the market
Minimum carbon footprint – every pot of paint is made to order (raw materials come from Europe and are transported in bulk, by road, not air)
Zero VOC’s
Only sell 100% Acrylic paint
Minimal or no odour
Quick drying
Non yellowing
All packing is recyclable
Highly Scuff and Stain resistant
Dependent of finish – wipe or scrubable
Use standard UK sizing
eliminates any existing surface colour in 2 coats

Randall explained to me how he had read my blog and was interested in me trying out some of their paints. They seem to have a keen interest in supplying high end clients with a quality product. He made one very bold claim, that I decided was worth me testing. He said that Aiden & Parker paints were at least as good as Benjamin Moore. That is a very high bar to aim for, which is exactly what I told him.

To make this test fair I needed to be able to run similar tests to that which I have done with Benjamin Moore, so when he asked which colour of 5L emulsion I would like to trial, I asked for several 1L tins instead. My suggestion was 1 in red, 1 in white and some eggshell for woodwork, with a primer.

Quick next day delivery by Randall of Aiden & Parker paints

The next day I received my pots:

1 red in the 'chalky matt' finish - Ultra flat matt that enhances both period and contemporary living spaces; for use on interior walls and ceilings - rrp £64 for 5L

1 white in the 'ultra durable' finish - Ultra Durable Emulsion providing an extra tough scrubbable surface; suitable for interior walls in high traffic areas. Reduced maintenance - rrp £71 for 5L

1 dark blue in the Kitchen & Bathroom finish - Steam resistant cleanable emulsion with a satin finish; ideally suited for walls and ceilings in kitchens and bathrooms - rrp £73 for 5L

1 white eggshell finish - Durable flat matt finish for interior wood and metal surfaces - rrp £87 for 5L

1 white in 'Mason's premium' finish - Superior masonry paint providing a smooth finish for all-year-round weather protection; suitable for all exterior masonry - rrp £72 for 5L

So on with the tests. First off the packaging of this 'premium brand' wasn't. Its cheap plastic pots. Now it may sound silly, but if I pay for a premium product, I want to know it. Anyone who has had a delivery from Benjamin Moore can attest to the quality of the boxes, invoices and the tins themselves - its all very impressive.

Aiden & Parkers paint was delivered in an unbranded box with 'paint' printed on the side. The pots were in amongst those annoying little polystyrene bits of packaging. I found the pots a bit tricky to open as well, but maybe that's just me?

But how does the paint apply, that's what we all want to know, right?

First off I applied some of their eggshell. Now in fairness the Technical data sheet does say that a primer is required, but so does Benjamin Moore's and I tested that without a primer, on old glosswork and previously unpainted radiators, so successfully, that I rarely even bother to use them with primers any more!

I applied the paint over a door panel that was previously painted in Bedec's 'aqua advanced' satin. I should note at at this point that over the phone Randall did not seem to have much confidence in their woodwork products, stating that they were more focused on the emulsion finishes. Perhaps this is why it applied like an emulsion? It went on OK, but in all honesty, there are much better finishes out there. I also found it dried too flat for my liking.

Left for a day I did the obligatory finger nail scratch test to see if it would come off and, despite them claiming to need a primer the paint held fast! But the thing is Benjamin Moore's advance has a much nicer, high end finish that levels better, is much nicer to work with and apply and has a cheaper retail price per litre.

Out of the pot the paint was very smooth, unlike some of the major UK brands, with no scum or bits in sight

Next up was the 'chalky matt' in a lovely red colour called 'letterbox'. I should note at this point that they do have some very nice colours, though 120 is a little limited when Benjamin Moore has 1000's. Aiden & Parker made a cheeky claim to me too. They 'are the only UK, Kent based luxury paint manufacturer able to colour match any designer brand, colour or reference card' - notice the word 'Kent' slipped in there, as they know they aren't the only UK company who colour match - everyone does!

Now, with all the emulsion I should note here that the recoat time is 4-6 hours, pretty standard for most paint, but I switched to Benjamin moore partly because my production time went up with the fast recoat times of 2 hours. I have even recoated in under an hour in some cases. This is a massive let down and would prevent me using Aiden & Parker in the future.



The red chalky matt was applied over a vinyl matt white emulsion. Out of the pot the paint was very smooth, unlike some of the major UK brands, with no scum or bits in sight. It applied nicely, without thinning required and almost covered in the 1st coat. I did find the paint went a bit 'bubbly' when applied to the wall, alot like Crowns Vinyl matt does. This doesn't leave the best finish.

My biggest gripe is that once dry it didn't have a 'flat matt' finish, it was rather shiny, not unlike many main brand wipeable paints


But my biggest gripe is that once dry it didn't have a 'flat matt' finish, it was rather shiny, not unlike many main brand wipeable paints, certainly shinier than a vinyl matt. On the phone Randall had compared it to Farrow & Balls estate emulsion, which meant I was expecting a rather flat finish.

As for wipeable? Left for 24 hours it took little effort to get colour rub off, with a big wipe and, with a bit of force, a lot of rub off. I thought maybe I'd heard wrong before, but Randall confirmed in an email today that 'The chalky matt is definitely wipeable'.

Next up I tried the Kitchen & Bathroom paint in the colour 'Rainford's jacket'. This is a lovely blue, I assume sent to me to compare to a blue Benjamin Moore colour on my previous blog? I didn't have a big enough area to test this one at the time, so I had to just brush some out on the wall. This had the same issue of being 'bubbly' that the chalky matt did. In fact after the second coat you can see little white dots where the bubbles were, so not a great finish.

That aside the paint applied nicely and again was very smooth, with excellent coverage, covering white in one go by brush. The finish is satin, so OK if you want that, but would be nice to have a matt finish available too, as not everyone wants shiny walls. This paint survived a gentle wipe test, with a big wipe, but again had some colour rub off after a more heavy scrubbing.

Finally I tried out the 'ultra durable' finish in the colour 'Arosa white'. This Randall had compared to Farrow & Balls 'modern emulsion'. Application was similar to the others, but without the 'bubbling'. The paint dried to a matt finish, more matt, in fact, than the 'chalky matt' paint! I'd say it is a flatter finish than F & B's modern emulsion, which I always thought was too shiny anyway.

Coverage was as expected from any normal emulsion and having applied 2, a third is still required, despite being told that it 'eliminates any existing surface colour in 2 coats'.

When pressing firmly the paint did rub off

When it came to wiping the paint was ok being wiped gently with a 'big wipe', but again when pressing firmly the paint did rub off. In my email to Randall earlier he said 'The chalky matt is definitely wipeable. The Ultra durable - is even more so - a friend has informed that they tried a foam backed scourer lightly and was extremely impressed that no colour came away. That's a little extreme and I have yet to try on my walls yet'.

I'm a little confused as to how Randall is selling a product he hasn't tested for himself yet, probably as I'm used to seeing tests performed by Benjamin Moore on a pretty regular basis. Benjamin Moore remains the only paint that I have come across that has no colour rub off when wiping.

Overall whilst the paint is OK, it is probably marketed and priced in the wrong area. Its as good as some of the main stream brands, but pricing for being a premium product. The biggest mistake was to compare themselves to Benjamin Moore, meaning I tested them as a direct comparison. I warned Randall on the phone that the bar was very high and unfortunately their paint was not up to the challenge.

Many thanks to Randall and Aiden & Parker for supplying me with the samples for me to do these tests. I now need to repaint my spare room ready for the arrival of our first baby! :-)


Update 31/07/2016

After feedback and a few question I thought it best I do a little update, so here it is.

I was asked if they bubbles were caused by me using a long pile roller. Firstly I should say that up until recently I have always used a long pile (including in my Benjamin Moore initial test - which was picked up on then too), I recently switched to using Picasso sleeves though, which are a lot shorter. Secondly the bubbles only happened on the areas done with a brush (cutting in of the red and the patch of Kitchen paint). I still put it down to the paint, as I have known this with certain paints before and it does ruin the finish once dry.

Next point was the fairness of wiping and scrubbing the paint after just 24 hours and using a Big Wipe. Ok so this was a harsh test, but as I have said I always do things like this to test a new product. I did this same test to Benjamin Moore's Aura on the first occasion I tried it and got no colour rub off. I initially wanted BM to fail after all the hype and companies making big claims that turn out not to be true. But BM have proved themselves worthy of such praise.

Now that said, when I mentioned this to my wife, she wanted me to prove it. I re did the scrub test in my Kitchen and have to admit that I did get some colour rub off onto the big wipe. However in my Bedroom I had no such issues. Both have been painted for some time, so perhaps it is colour dependent?

So I retested the Aiden & Parker durable and the Kitchen paint using first a wet cloth (no colour rub off on Kitchen, a little on the Durable) and then a Big Wipe (no colour rub off on Kitchen, a little more than the cloth on the Durable). Perhaps then the paint needed longer to dry before testing this. I'll admit and apologise now for the test being a bit rushed as I am mid way through redecorating our nursery and had to use this as my testing ground.

But I had checked the TDS's for the Durable and the chalky matt, both state 24 hrs drying time with no mention of waiting to wipe (Benjamin Moore state 2 weeks is needed before washing). Of course the one I didn't check was the Kitchen & Bathroom, as I wrongly assumed it would be the same, but this states 7 days before wiping. Perhaps this is just a case of needing to update the TDS's to contain the correct information and maybe include the info on the pots too? The TDS's for the 'chalky matt' make no mention of being wipeable that I can see, I got this info, as mentioned before, from Randall. So either porkies are being told or he doesn't know his products - both are bad imo

Does this mean I'll run out and buy Aiden & Parkers paint? Well no. My other points in the original blog post still stand. When using Benjamin Moore you are instantly impressed, which is what you expect from a premium brand. I didn't get this impression from Aiden & Parker.

Asides from the wipability my main concerns are:

Flatness of the eggshell
Non coverage in 2 coats of white over red, as was told and is on their website too
The bubbles issue
Chalky matt is rather shiney - not a matt at all
Kitchen and bathroom only available in shiny satin finish
Not mould resistant
Long re-coat times
Pots and packaging

Dunlop Pro decor range

Craig Brooks

I have been meaning to do a blog on Dunlop's range of filling products for quite some time, but have only just found enough time to do it. (Apologies Dunlop - I have been promising for some time now).

Launched in 2013, Pro Décor is Dunlop’s revolutionary range of preparation products for decorating, designed to provide professional decorators, tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts alike with the perfect surface prior to painting or wallpapering.

Pro Décor is formulated with Hydroloc™ technology – a pioneering system which means the product dries through chemical reaction rather than water evaporation. Drying times are reduced and finishes dry uniformly throughout – whatever the thickness.

These products are not only fantastic at what they do, they also dry quickly, allowing you to get on with the job and speed up completion times.

Here's a run down of the main ones that I use on almost on every job (where necessary). There are still a fair few others that I am yet to try, but if they are as good as the ones I use now they will be worth trying!

Fine surface Filler - This stuff is great for smoothing out imperfections and small knicks in woodwork. It dries in less than an hour in most cases and adheres extremely well. It can be quite hard to sand and I find its best to leave it as smooth as possible to minimise this. I used to use 2 pac filler for this purpose but this is much easier to use and alot less smelly! My only complaint would be that it is for interiors only, Dunlop need to make an exterior version.

Lightweight filler - This is a bit like other tub fillers (red devil etc). I find adding a little moisture useful to make it nice and workable. I use this mainly in between coats for small wall and ceiling imperfections that may have been missed first time round and for topping up the rapid repair filler.

Rapid repair - This is a massive time saver. This gets used all the time, as its dry in only 90 minutes, its great for filling old screw holes and other plaster repairs around switches etc. It does need a light fill over the top to make it nice and smooth, though waiting 20 minutes and wiping with a wet sponge does help! There is also a rapid repair mortar for external jobs that I have also used, in a pinch, internally. To be honest I can't really tell what the difference is, other than the pack sizes.

Flexible Acrylic filler (caulk) - This is the answer to all the problems with 'crazing' that happens over normal cheap caulk. Its over-paintable in just 1 hour, though I prefer to leave it overnight. It smooths out easily with a wet finger, is a nice consistancy and doesn't block up the nozzle half way through, like I have found with many others.

My only complaint would be lack of availability, there are no local shops that sell it, so I always stock up online at Mypaintbrush.

Peterson's Predator synthetic brushes

Craig Brooks

I had a little surprise delivery last weekend of Some paint brushes, a football, travel mug and notepad. There was a letter accompanying the package that said I had been selected by their social media team to review the Peterson's synthetic paint brush 3 pack.


I have not heard of this company before and so did a bit of research on their website. They say that:

''Petersons is a brand from Decor Ireland Ltd. Petersons has long been established in the painting and decorating market, offering a concise range of decorating tools and equipment that meets all the basic requirements for a paint project, under one brand. Petersons’ aim is to offer quality, well packaged products at attractive. Along with this, Petersons constantly innovate and develop new products which ensures that they maintain their position at the cutting edge of the market.

Peterson's have 5 ranges, with the Predator range being the second highest quality in the range - so a good mid range brush. They are quite cheaply priced at £8.50 for a pack of 3 - a 1'', 1.5'' and 2'' brush.

The specification on their website states that they are:

• 100% synthetic SRT filament filling to provide a smooth finish
• Long length out gives extra workability
• Untreated wooden handle absorbs excess moisture from hands when in use
• Stainless steel square-edge ferrule resists rusting and provides sharper cutting-in
• Use with water and oil-based coatings
• Packaged in a re-usable cardboard packaging to help keep its shape
• Available in 3 pack (1 x 1”, 1 x 1.5”, 1 x 2”)

I notice they are in plastic packaging and not reusable cardboard packaging as described above. This appears to be an error in the marketing on the website, as the picture on the website is also in a plastic package.

Upon removing from the package I noticed a few curled, stray hairs on the 2''. This could be a one off, though its hard to say without seeing more of the brushes.

I have used the 2'' brush on a couple of jobs this week, unfortunately I haven't had any woodwork to trial them on yet, so this is reviewing them in Benjamin Moore Aura emulsion only.

They hold a good amount of emulsion and spread it quite well, though I find them a little too 'springy' for my liking. Throughout my 2 jobs I only had 1 hair loss (asides from the few I cut off initially).

Whilst I was able to cut in a good sharp line to the ceiling, it was more effort than it should have been to control the shape. The bristles do not hold their shape well and spread out in clumps.

Washing out was easy and cleaned out very well.

Overall I'd say that whilst they aren't fantastic, they are a good budget brush and you can do far worse than to buy these. I will continue to trial them and update if/when necessary.

Thanks to Peterson's for letting me try out their brushes. You can purchase them from Peterson's website here

Hand painted Kitchen in Alton Barnes, Wiltshire

Craig Brooks

For the last few weeks I have been working on a complete Kitchen redecoration in Alton Barnes. I thought it would be nice to talk through the process and products that I used.

The most important part of this job was protecting the stone floor, so I used some corrugated plastic sheets from Wickes. These are easily cut to size with a sharp knife and give good impact resistance, while being easy to keep clean, so as to avoid dust that could contaminate the surfaces that were to be painted.

I started off with cleaning down and de-greasing all the surfaces. For this I used a product called Fluxaf, mixed as per the instructions and put into a spray bottle for easy application. All surfaces that were to be painted got sprayed and were left to soak for a few minutes before being rinsed with clean water.

Next up I removed everything possible - doors, hinges, handles, magnetic catches etc, which were all stored away safely. The last thing that is needed on completion is to find you are missing parts!

The next task was to mask up the inside of the cupboards and the glass. I find this necessary not just for quick clean painted lines, but also to give protection from scratches while sanding. For this I used a mixture of Tesa yellow and Fox green tape.

All surfaces were then sanded. For large flat areas I used my Mirka sander and Festool extractor and finished up the smaller details with Mirka goldflex sanding pads - great for getting into awkward places and shapes, but without leaving little black beads everywhere, like with normal pads. Everything then got hoovered to remove the bulk of any dust made and wiped down with Axus tack clothes to remove the finer dust particles.

I applied a coat of Otex primer, which I'd had tinted, by Holmans specialist paints in Swindon, to match the final colour that was going to be used. I thinned this slightly with white spirit to ease application. This coating adheres really well and once dry sands down really well to give a good base for the final coatings.

All the doors were painted and stacked on an erecta-rack, a great, easy to use, system that allows stacking of multiple doors in a small area, which can then be left until the doors are dry.

Most of the cupboards were in pretty good shape, but for the odd small dent or split I used Dunlop's fine surface filler. This is great for smoothing small imperfections and dries in 60 minutes, but leave it as flat as possible as it dries really hard and is not too easy to sand!

The client had chosen colours from the Little Greene range of paints, which I had matched into Tikkurila feelings furniture paint in a semi matt finish. This gives a really long lasting, tough finish for furniture and is ideal for Kitchen cupboards. I applied 2 coats of this using a mini roller, to achieve even coverage and layed this off with a 2" silver Fox brush from Mypaintbrush and Staalmeester sash, also from MPB.

Once dry, the doors were rehung onto the cupboards and all handles and catches replaced. The insides of all cupboards were then cleaned to remove any last traces of dust. Below you can see a time-lapse recording of one section of the Kitchen. If you look very closely at the beginning there is some cheeky product placement at the start - my new syslite from Festool. How I managed without I'll never know, and I have only had it 2 weeks. It shows up so much and is a great addition to my kit, which will improve the finish achieved on all my work.

Bentley triangular trim brush

Craig Brooks

I was sent this by the Painters pitstop forum to try out and review for them. I have been giving it a go all week. My first impression is it looks cheaply made, so wasn't expecting much.


First trial was making some pastry. It got into the corners of the pie really well whilst applying an even coat of egg white.

Next up was some Tikkurila emulsion. At first I was finding an excuse to use it. I used it to cut in small areas between the window sills and splashbacks and between the cooker hood and splashbacks. It cut in very easily and sharply.







I then came across an area I couldn't quite fit a normal brush into very well, due to the angle, so out it came again and did the job perfectly well.

I actually liked using it and ended up putting it in Otex to prime the smaller framework areas of some Kitchen cupboards and again can't fault it. Sharp cutting in and lays off well.

I never had a single bristle loss during use either.

Its definitely a good brush to have in the collection and I will continue to use it, not just for the odd difficult job either! You can buy them from Mypaintbrush. They have more in the range too and I would definitely like to try the others, though I already have too many brushes so will have to wait to try them out.

Fox masking tape

Craig Brooks

I have been trying out some masking tape from the Fox range from Mypaintbrush recently

Along side the standard Scotch blue the Fox blue outperformed it. It has similar level of tack, but I find it comes off the roll cleaner. As you can see from the pic the 3M tears as it comes off the roll. I find this very annoying as it wastes time, especially when attached to the handmasker, as you have to remove it and then reset up the masker.

Another plus is how cheap it is. Including vat for 1.5" its only £3.04 vs £7.99 for Scotch blue.

Fox blue is a 14 day UV resistant interior/exterior tape.

I used it under a sill on fresh painted walls recently, with no bleed and it came off clean without pulling the emulsion off. This is not the recommended tape for no bleed, they have the green tape for clean sharp edges. With further use I have found that the blue tape gets a small amount of bleed, the edge is not as sharp as it could be, but sticks OK to recently painted surfaces without pulling off the paint. I find its good for my hand-masker on kitchen cupboards, windows, bathrooms etc where bleed resistance isn't needed.


So on to the Green. The green is also interior/exterior use, but is used for sharp, clean lines. I have been using it this week on a Kitchen, taping the inside edges of the oak cupboards to protect from the painting of the exteriors. This has pulled off easily and cleanly with no bleed through. I have also used this round fixings and fittings with no bleed. This costs £2.54 for a roll of 1", compared to my usual cost of £3.08 for Tesa yellow

As a little test I did try it on a wall to see if it worked before I risked it on a real job, here's the result - nice sharp lines.







I also did a test on some glass, as I'd read someone saying it didn't work. As far as I can tell this was user error and was not correctly applied. I have yet to see any bleeding on any surfaces I have used it on.



I have since done a test on a few brands of tape on a piece of plasterboard. In the picture below you can see they mostly performed OK, apart from the Tesa yellow, which is a surprise, as I use this a lot. The Scotch and the frog left the 'fattest' edges, but then they are the thickest tapes and are not as easy to work with to get into position.

From top to bottom the tapes are (the blue/grey colour being where the tape was placed):

Prodec advance
Purple Axus
Yellow Tessa
Green Fox
Green frog
Scotch blue with edge lock

I have just purchased some of the Fox general tape which so far I am not so impressed with, but will continue to use what I have to give it a fair trial. Also due to the result of the above test I have been sent some more Tesa, yellow and pink to retry the test. As soon as I have the results I will post them here.

Repaircare International training

Craig Brooks

Yesterday we attended a course run by Dutch company Repair care International. Repair care allows for repairs to be made to windows, doors, fascias...well pretty much any exterior joinery and woodwork, as well as bricks, slate and even cast iron!

Using a router to remove wood rot

It can be used as a preventative to rot by closing up ends of timber and is a much better alternative to splicing in new wood or traditional powdered and two pack filler repairs.

Although quite an expensive system to use, it makes more permanent repairs and is a lot cheaper than window replacement, with less upheaval (most repairs can be made in situe). Companies such as the national trust use the system to maintain their properties and preserve the original joinery of their buildings.

So what does the course cover? Lots of examples of use are shown and discussed, along with pictures and videos of real case studies. The causes and preventative measures of rot and other failures such as paint breakdown are shown and discussed. They teach you how to use the product itself, as well as how to remove the old rotten wood and what the differences are between the various types and even let you try out some of the repair methods for yourself.

A trial repair made using the Repair care system

The course also covers aspects such as costing the material and how to make a full inspection and assessment of a job.

It was well worth attending the course and trying out the product for yourself, they can even guarantee work completed after the course has been attended. The course lasts around 6 hours and even includes lunch and refreshments!

Many thanks to Repair care international for providing the course and to Swindon's Colour centre for hosting the event.

A visit to Benjamin Moore in slough

Craig Brooks

Today I made a visit to Benjamin Moore's UK base in Slough with fellow decorator Curtis Fry.

Craig and his team, his wife Helen and Ian, were very accommodating, with a bacon roll and tea shortly after arrival! They were more than happy to answer all our questions and to let us try out any paints and finishes we chose too. They even let us try out the rollers and brushes from Benjamin Moore's own range, one of which is currently not available to buy in the UK.

Here's a little of what we got up to. We really pushed things to the limit, probably giving BM a bit of a hard time!

We started out by trying the advanced primer over a couple of old woodstained doors, application was great, though there were signs of a couple of more stuborn 'stains' bleeding through. We left these to dry with a heater on them for around an hour before trying a scratch test, which you can see below. This is way below the recommended re-coat time and as with all water based products would usually need a few days to harden off. As you can see though, its already pretty tough after just a short period.

Next the Aura scrub test. On 2 patches previously painted by the Benjamin Moore team we scrubbed very firmly but no colour came off onto the cloth at all! This is definitely a plus, however once dried there was still signs of smears where it had been wiped.

Next we tried out some coverage tests. We tried various combinations of colours and finishes, 2 of which you can see videos of below. The coverage is on another level to anything else and covers extremely well in 1 coat, so I would see no issue in applying just 2 coats of any colour, even with pale colours over dark ones.

1 coat of 'revere pewter' over 'Malard'

1 coat of 'revere pewter' over 'Malard'

1 coat of 'super white' over 'cobalt'

2 coats of 'super white' over red

Overall it was a great visit allowing us to try the whole range and discuss the finishes and benefits of each. Well worth a visit if you get the chance, just allow plenty of time. We were there for around 4 hours! They have an extremely good knowledge of the whole range of products and were able to answer anything we threw at them.

Many thanks to Craig and co. for extending the invite to us and for taking time out of their busy schedules to accommodate us. We even came away with a few gifts, which will come in handy!

Benjamin Moore Aura Matte emulsion

Craig Brooks

Benjamin Moore make some pretty big claims about their Aura matte paint. They are wipe-able, mould resistant, have a recoat time of just 1 hour and cover in no more than 2 coats, no matter what the colour!

I have to say that I owe Craig Shaw, of Shaw paints, the UK distributor of Benjamin Moore paints, an apology. I didn't believe him. These are big claims and speaking direct he does have the knowledge of the products to back it up.

I think my problem is that so many manufacturers make big claims, but in practice the products don't live up to the hype.

So in order to find out for sure, I ordered some Aura Matte to trial at home and here's what I found.

The test was over yellow emulsion. The colour of choice was called Normandy, a lovely blue/grey colour. Blue on yellow and vice versa are a known problem for coverage - along with reds.

I applied the paint using the fox paint brush from Mypaintbrush and a hamilton long pile roller sleeve. I couldn't believe my eyes, cutting in and rolling. Below is a video of rolling out a wall. I have to admit, I applied the paint a little too heavily on this first section, I later on spread the paint much further. Covering a wall 6.88 sq metres in 1 dip of the roller! As you can see from the video the coverage excels all expectations - you could potentially get away with just one coat!

I can't obviously comment on the mould resistance or long term durability of the paint, but can say that although a 1 hour re coat is claimed, the paint is still wet in the corners 2 hours later. Another thing I notice is that the paint did run in a couple of places, so perhaps I had applied the paint too heavily, though it was applied how I would normally apply any emulsion, perhaps due to coverage this needs to be spread further?

The filler didn't flash, I got a nice even finish, without too much shine, ,which is associated with many wipe-able finishes. After the first coat there is no boxing around the cutting in areas, just a nice even finish.

On the first coat I managed to cover around 26.58 sq metres total area in around a quarter of a tin. The paint cost me £57.60 for a U.S. gallon (3.78L). Although at the upper end of paint prices I'd say this is good value for money. It goes a very long way and for the time saved on recoating is well worth it.

This paint is potentially everything that it is hyped up to be, putting me in mind, yet again of how paint in the UK used to be. This paint is a joy to apply and I can't praise it enough. Its a very exciting time to be in the decorating industry at the moment and I can only thank Craig Shaw and his team for bringing these excellent paints to our shores.





Edit 31/01/16

Having now applied my second coat I just wanted to add a few comments.

The paint does seem to separate very quickly. Here are some pictures of it when I opened the tin to second coat and then shortly after using it in my scuttle (click images to enlarge). This doesn't seem to effect the finish, but does mean it needs a regular mix up.

I tried spotting in between coats, but must admit you could see where I'd done it, so not 100% sure that future touch up would be a great option (though it rarely is.)

The finish is outstanding after the second coat. Its very even, with no boxing around the cutting in areas, like you would get with a lot of other brands. It is also quite a matt finish for a wipeable paint. It has a lovely feel to it it once dry and is really nice to work with.


The room was approx 2.8 by 2.6 with 1 door and one window. I have used approx 2/3rds of the tin which as mentioned was 3.78L (a U.S. gallon).

Through coverage alone and time saved on extra coats with certain colours I don't think this would work out any more expensive than other wipeable finishes and in some cases may even be cheaper. The paint also benefits from mould resistance.



Where to make your own website?

Craig Brooks

I have had a few sites over the years which I will list with my reasons for moving so you can make an informed decision on your site build

I know nothing of code so this may be useful to you, but have learnt a little about SEO (via lots of Google searching), which means I appear quite prominently on Google.

I started with a vistaprint one, but quickly found it lacked editability when you get to know a few things and some of the things it lacked made it difficult for search engine 'bots' to rank your page.

So I moved to 1&1 which was great. Can't fault it as a site builder really, except one thing. Occasionally my site would be down for no reason and wouldn't get much out of them other than we are working on it and should be back tomorrow.

I moved from there to Google sites because I had made a site for a local canoe club and found it did what I needed but was FREE! Google sites isn't bad for a freebie. Occasional glitches but nothing major. I'd happily build a site on there again.

That was great until everyone started viewing more on mobile devices. Google sites can be set to automatically adjust to a mobile viewing, but its not great at it.

So that leads to the one I have now which is built on Squarespace. I listen to a lot of podcasts and anyone else that does I'm sure will have heard of Squarespace, as they sponsor a lot. There are often discount codes available via these podcasts.

Very easy drop and drag system. Not too expensive and most importantly automatically adjusts for mobile viewing. They are actually used by quite a few major brands now. Can't think who off the top of my head but I know Scroobius Pip does, so check his site out as an example.

They don't have a massive selection of templates, but what they have is very good. They also have 24/7 help.

I think the main thing to remember wherever you build is to keep it simple and always use black text on a white, or pale background. This makes it easy to read. coloured text and background may look good but is hard for some people to read.

Benjamin Moore advanced gloss and satin finishes

Craig Brooks

If you haven't heard of the name Benjamin Moore yet I'm sure the name will soon become familiar to you.

There is a lot of fuss being made as more and more UK decorators switch to Benjamin Moore, it seems to be all my Twitter feed is full of lately, its becoming more like a Benjamin Moore forum!

Benjamin Moore may have only recently been launched in the UK, by Craig Shaw, but are a well trusted and established name in America and Canada. I have already switched to their ceiling paint for most of my work as it has an unrivaled finish for ceilings. Its like UK paints used to be before they started messing with formulas. No flashing or lap marks just a beautiful flat finish.

I recently got sent a tin of each of the advanced satin and the advanced gloss for free for winning a Twitter competition and thought it would make a great opportunity to test these products for myself.

I have heard people saying that its like oil based paint used to be before 2010, when the EU regulation changed and all paint took a sever downturn. But I have to disagree with this statement. It is nothing like oil based used to be, its far, far superior! Its a dream to apply and levels beautifully. It doesn't have the horrid odour or drying time that oil based has either, nor will it go yellow several months down the line.

Another advantage is in some circumstances it doesn't even need an undercoat and will cover even the most yellow woodwork in 2 coats!

My first trial was on an off cut of oak veneer. It adhered well even after just one day, which can be an issue with some water-based finishes. My main surprise was the sheen to the gloss. Very often water-based gloss' are not as shiny as the traditional oil finishes and it becomes a compromise over using oils that will yellow. This is not the case with this stuff. You can see in the image below that held next to a window sill finished in a traditional oil gloss there doesn't appear any difference to the sheen. The bottom sample is the Benjamin Moore finish and even makes the top gloss look yellow (which is only 5 months old and wasn't painted by me).

I have since been using it at home on some woodwork and it is just phenomenal! I can't praise it enough. It will definitely be my go-to finish for woodwork from now on. This yet again is showing the lack of quality when it comes to UK brands, which most decorators have lost faith in the reliability of. No brand even comes close to this. I can see BM becoming a very big UK brand before long.

To read more about Benjamin Moore paints you can head over to their website:

Why do all the best decorating products come from America

Craig Brooks

This question was put to me last week. Whilst there are some good UK products, it is true that a large amount come from the U.S.

I realise its a general statement and there are some good UK and Europe products out there. But I'd say a lot are very recent and we are still catching up with the U.S.

Its taken me a while, but I think I've worked it out. I'm thinking of paint here. When it comes to tools the U.S made products just seem to be superior :-) Although with recent brands in the UK, like Axis and the fox brushes, there is competition out there.

In the UK paint manufacturers are constantly adapting products and re-releasing them as 'new improved formulas'. This was really noticeable after the the 2010 EU regulation changes. Ever since then the paint has gone downhill; I'm sure lots of people will be aware of the yellowing gloss problem.

Its been a constant battle for decorators, trying new products and ' improved formulas' and getting over various difficulties that have arisen.

The main difference in the U.S. is that their paints are made from scratch, made for a purpose and are not just re-adapted versions of old products like they are here in the UK. whereas a lot of UK brands are just new versions of old formulas to either 'improve it' or to have met the EU regulations, rather than bringing out a good product and sticking with it.

The U.S are leading the way with water based, environmentally friendly, paints. With brands like Mythic and Benjamin Moore, the competition is very high.

UK manufacturers need to open their eyes and pay attention, especially to the trade, who are often ignored by big companies like Dulux and Crown who pass the blame of a problem onto the way the decorator did the job rather than addressing the issues with their products. I have seen this happen time and time again with myself and other decorators.

I have heard recently that Dulux have a fantastic water based exterior satin in New Zealand, but not here. I have also heard that the reason for not releasing these great products here is because they are still making a profit from the sale of older oil based paints. If that's the case then the problem lies with decorators not keeping up with advances and sticking with 'what they know'.

One of the most important things I have found in my career is that you need to change and adapt as newer, better methods become available to you. Much of what I do now is nothing like the work I was doing as an apprentice - and this is for the better!

Who doesn't want less dust and a higher quality, longer lasting finish?



Creating a faux oak beam effect

Craig Brooks

A few years back I was given the task of making some dark brown, almost black, beams look a lot lighter, to fit in with the rest of the woodwork, which was oak.

The customer went away while the job was done expecting me to just paint them an oak type brown colour, but I went a step further. I wasn't happy just painting them brown. Here's how I did it. Its really very simple to do: