Useful and trusted people and products


The Painters' Pitstop is a useful forum for professional decorators. The members are are often looking for the best materials and techniques, and advising each other on particular problems. But be aware, there can be a 'bit of banter' on the site! The Forum has just started a new service where home or business owners needing a decorator can see whether there is a member of the Forum in their area - you can find details here.

Painting and Decorating Product Reviews is a relatively new website with a rapidly growing range of completely independent reviews of painting and decorating products. The reviews are all carried out by very experienced professional decorators who put each product through its paces and give a totally honest appraisal. It's useful not only for professional decorators, but also keen DIYers. 

Traditional Painter is home to a fantastic source of information on high-end decorating, as well as being a hub for some of the best kitchen painters in the country. 


Ron Taylor is the Traditional Painter for Warwickshire. I've worked with Ron several times and not only is he a top-rate decorator, he's a lovely chap. Although our taste in music and radio stations is somewhat dissimilar! For top rate kitchen and furniture painting in Warwickshire, he's your man. He can also give a spray finish if required. 

Martin Guest is the Traditional Painter for a large chunk of the West Midlands, from the Birmingham metropolis to the beautiful rolling hills of Shropshire. He's highly skilled in decorative effects as well as the installation and repair of relief papers such as Lincrusta. Another top notch kitchen painter, and a lovely guy. I've only worked with him once, but I've seen the quality of his work and it's top notch.

I've worked with a lot of scaffolders over the years, and the most trustworthy and pleasant to work with by a long way is Jamie Hamlin. I don't even bother getting quotes from other scaffolders for work in and around Warwickshire any more, as he's always competitive, conscientious and an all-round lovely chap. You can contact him on 07870514881 or click on his name for his website.

Holman Specialist Paints offer very high specification paints which can be 100% colour matched to any paint colour you choose. I have never had a 100% colour match from any DIY store or decorators' merchants - there is always a 5% (or more) colour variation. Holman's experts colour match by eye, and they are very, very good. The paint they sell, such as Tikkurila (see below) is some of the best for quality and durability in the world. 

Here are some of the most useful professionals in UK decorating on Twitter: (Even if you're not on twitter, you can click on the link to go to their twitter page, and most of them have contact/website details on that page.) 

Andy Crichton - specialist kitchen painter & master decorator - what he doesn't know would fit on the tip of a sash brush.

Simon Verrall - a lovely chap with high standards, worth getting a quote from if you live in Hertfordshire.

Russ Pike - very knowledgeable decorating lecturer, specialises in restoration, repair & fine finishes. Nottinghamshire folk, he's probably the best in your area.

The Painters Pitstop - the forum for decorators who care about what they do, and share their knowledge of products and techniques. 

Kim Teasdale goes under the moniker of 'Lady Painter and Decorator'. She is based in London and does capital work (see what I did there?)

Wayne de Wet from Norfolk is a hugely experienced decorator, is well known and respected by his peers, and very well known for his myriad of product reviews. 

Paul Cooper of Ware in Hertfordshire is a handyman with drive, conscientiousness and skill. I'd gladly have him renovate my whole house. 

Rob Shaw of Evesham covers areas of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. I've worked with Rob a lot, and he's conscientious and reliable, in fact he's my first port of call if I need help on a job. He uses a lot of the same products and processes that I do. Recommended. 


Repair Care resins and putty-replacement window sealants are the best timber repair and glazing compounds I've ever known. If I find rotten timber on exterior woodwork, it always gets repaired by timber splicing and Repair Care resins. The old-school technique of wood hardener and two part polyester fillers just doesn't handle moisture and temperature fluctuations and can fail within months - which is why I NEVER use such techniques now. I was one of the first 3 people in the UK to pass the Repair Care Advanced Contractor timber repair course. 

Little Greene: superb quality heritage paints and wallpapers for homeowners. Think Farrow and Ball, but with more pigment and body. They cover brilliantly and their eggshells are gorgeous for interior and exterior. Their Intelligent Matt is one of the best hard-wearing matt paints I've used, and covers brilliantly in every colour except Shirting (annoyingly). But they are my go-to paint range for interiors.

Tikkurila: I buy these high specification Finnish paints from Holman Specialilst Paints. Tikkurila Feelings is probably the best water-based paint for painted kitchens, and Otex oil-based primer is as good as my favourite primer Zinsser Coverstain - and it can be tinted to the topcoat colour! I'm now trying Tikkurila paints for exteriors, as they are extremely durable. The paint wallahs at Holman's and Tikkurila can accurately match any colour of any paint - they do it by eye and are MUCH more accurate than any of the paint matching services you get in DIY or decorators' centres. If I want a colour match, I don't bother going anywhere else now. 

Zinsser: Many years ago, a customer of mine insisted I use Zinsser primers for the woodwork on her house. I'd never heard of them, but since then they've become my primer of choice for problem areas. They have a range of products which are are almost unbeatable for stain-blocking, sticking-power, sealing in wallpaper paste, or getting a good white, smooth base on which to paint. The white staircase in my Gallery was stained dark and varnished - my customer wanted it white. Normally it would take a good sanding down, one or two coats of primer, and two top coats; I did very little sanding, applied one coat of Zinsser 1.2.3 and two coats of Dulux Satinwood and the stairs were done.

Dust Reduction Sanding: For some time I've been using a virtually dust-free sanding system from Mirka, more recently supplemented with Festool equipment. When choosing sanders I watch a lot of videos... and love the millitary delivery of the videos of Peter Parfitt most of all! Almost all sanding dust is sucked away as I sand, so it's better for my health, my customers' health, there's less mess and sanding is a lot quicker! 

Olfa blades: Stanley knives are all very well, but do get blunt. I've been using snap-off knives for preference for years, and the sharpest and strongest there is are made by Olfa in Japan. If I'm wallpapering, they're the only blade I'll trust, and their knives are strong and brilliantly designed. I use one with a 'shark's fin' end on the handle - which I've used to open paint tins, crease wallpaper, as a screwdriver, a tiny filler knife, a masking-tape poker.... anyone have any more uses for it?

Brushes: I used to use Purdy synthetic brushes for many years, but I've moved on to Proform Picassos, Proform Blaze and various Fox brushes (I like the fitches and sash brushes particularly) brushes from MyPaintBrush for very accurate and fast cutting in of emulsions. I also use Axus synthetic sash brushes for detailed work. See my blog for brush reviews. I keep testing new brushes: Coronas are all very good, although pricey.  I like the fitches and sash brushes particularly. 

Rollers: For rollers, I have moved almost completely over to the Arroworthy rollers. I also use 3/8" nap (depth of the roller pile) for emulsions on 4.5" and 6.5" Wooster rollers for smaller areas. I also use the same rollers for applying water-based primers, satins and glosses to large areas, such as door panels, these are then brushed out with Picassos or laying off brushes (the Hamilton laying off brush is a current fave). For masonry I use a variety of cheaper long-pile rollers, as masonry tends to wreck rollers, so there's not too much point I think in using expensive, high quality ones. For pebble dash I always use the cleverly designed Axus Captain Chunk. For oil-based paints I use Axus Lime Green rollers, brushed out with Fox brushes.

Fillers: Toupret fillers are amongst the best. They have a wide range for both interior and exterior use, and it's difficult to beat them. I tend to use TX110 and Le Reboucher for normal interior work, TX120 or TX130 for skimming (although the new Planeo system may change that), Elafib (sometimes using the gossamer-thin scrim netting that Toupret make) and then TX110 for ceiling cracks, Toupret Redlite for a quick fill of small dings, especially after applying the first coat of paint, if I see some I've missed. For exteriors I mainly use Touprelith F, sometimes Murex if I need a very, very tough finish, and for large cracks which still may have movement in them, I use Fibacryl. I've recently used Prestonnet fillers too - very similar to Toupret and I'd happily use their range. Dunlop do a useful range, particularly deep hole fillers, but not yet widely available (at least not in my area!)

Caulk: I've now moved over to Graft IPT, Graft MS Sealant, Wurth Acrylic Sealant, Den Braven Acrylic Sealant and often Repair Care Dryseal for the ultimate in performance. Many paints (especially Dulux) crack over caulk - although it helps to use a very small bead, or to prime if you're using a larger bead. 

Suppliers: The most trusted decorating supplier I know, Trade Decorating Supplies, has now, unfortunately, been taken over by one of the big boys: Brewers. So I now use a wide variety of suppliers from my local Brewers in Stratford upon Avon to many of the online stores. It's a pain to have to google products all the time to get the best prices, but with the loss of TDS, it's something that just has to be done. My favoured supplier of brushes and several other products is MyPaintBrush

Who to ask fo advice? 

Be wary of the advice you get in DIY stores and even trade decorating stores - not all of the staff know their posterior parts from their elbow. I was recently told by a long-serving staff member in a (to remain unnamed) trade decorating store that one of the best interior water-based satin paints on the market was 'only available for exterior paint, it's too soft for interior use'. I checked up on his advice. He was 100% wrong. If you're on twitter, you can ask ANY of the people I've mentioned above for advice, they all know a lot (most of them know more than me) - and they'll tell you when they don't know something. If you're not on twitter, and you want some advice, then email me, and I'll do my best to find out. Whether it's what's best to block a stain, to what paint to use in a bathroom, or a baby's nursery - please ask, and I'll answer as soon as I can, or I'll find out if I don't know the answer. I'm continually testing products I've never tried before, and I'll always use the best products I can for a job and tell anyone what I think the best products are. So please feel free to: Contact Me