Saturday, 25 February 2017

Some painting tips

Just a reminder - lots of stuff I yabber about in the blog also has 'supporting' videos.  The link is over in the left hand column labelled:  My U-Tube Videos - just click the link below.  There are currently twenty-seven from Dalton House and twelve from a previous project.  They are very far from professional but sometimes it is easier to understand something when you see it being done rather than written about.


As I am still busily painting the trims for the dining room I thought I might take a break and show you how I am going about it in case there is anything of help to someone.

love it

Like many people in this hobby I have worked my way around a ton of different paints and all I would say as a recommendation is just find something you like..... bit obvious....but you do get people insisting this or that is absolutely the only way to go.  

Personally I want easy soap and water clean up so I only use water based everything - paint, stain, varnish, whatever.  The photo above shows my current paint of choice: three reasons - (1) you can choose from 2,000 colours or even have bespoke made for you.  (2) The tester pots are very generous unlike other manufacturers and only cost £2 (something?) (3) you can have the sample made up in satin or mat finish.....Oh, I also like the lovely plastic pots which are easy to keep clean round the top so you can actually open them in a month's time.

For the wood trim in this project I have chosen 'Tidy White' with a satin finish.  I wouldn't use modern 'brilliant white' anywhere on any project - too bright for me.

jam jars

When your paint gets down to just a bit left put it in one of those little jam jars you get in gift packs and with your hotel breakfast.  You can actually buy the small jars of jam.  I got a life time supply of them in one go just by asking a hotel one morning if I could have the empties!  Do not forget to put the name of the manufacturer as well as the colour name on the label.  You never know, you just might want to buy some more.

coffee stirrer

Any coffee stirrers you collect in life - wood, plastic whatever - have clearly been made to double as mini paint pot paint stirrers.  Do stir all paint really, really well each time you open it.  I don't recommend shaking, it just makes a mess inside the lid and on the top of the container.  It is worth spending a few minutes on this to get the colour evenly spread and the right consistency throughout.  If the (water based) paint has thickened over time just add a dab of water and again stir very well.

be tidy
Put paper down to paint on - keeps your work area nice and importantly it makes sure you aren't picking up any bits of debris you may have on your surfaces.

paper two
Move the painted piece to another clean sheet to dry and safely away from your hands, elbows, clothes while you are working!  Smudging all that careful work is a no-no.

first coat
This is a close up of the first coat to show you that you definitely need more than one.  The wood is nibbed, there are little spaces, it is patchy.  You can even see here how two different woods show through one coat differently. The three skirting boards (on the right) are a peachier tone than the coving.  Incidentally there is an argument for painting the coving with the paint you used on the ceiling.  I have chosen not to as I like them to link to the rest of white painted wood trim in the room.  If the doors and skirtings and dado rail were going to be anything other than white then I would paint the coving to blend into the ceiling more.

strike one

I put some sort of pencil mark on the unpainted side each time I do a coat of paint then, if life gets in the way for some reason, when I get back to the twenty pieces of half painted stuff I can see easily which has one, two or three coats on it and I can pick up where I left off.

naked wood

Be sure to leave any areas that are to be glued free from paint.  This seems like stating the really obvious but it is astounding how many times I have been happily listening to the radio, picked up a piece of trim and carefully painted the nice smooth top only to remember that will be glued to the ceiling eventually.  Again, if you discover you are ditsy about these things, before you begin painting, just mark up those planes in some way to remind you to leave them alone.

Brushes - no advice whatsoever, I flit from brush to brush as the fancy takes me.  Generally I do use flat ones and not round but size and quality will vary enormously and I might work through several on a job trying to find the 'perfect' one.  I have a couple I favour but they are sometimes too big.

When my pet decorator was painting the banisters in the real house recently I noticed he used his fingers now and then for intricate bits and so I discovered the very best 'brush' for not leaving brushstrokes and for getting into nooks and crannies without globbing.

All the thin top and bottom edges of the trims are finger painted.  Put a few blobs of paint along the edge using a brush and very quickly smooth it along the edge.  Speed is the key.  If you fiddle faddle around you will start to drag the surface skin that forms as the paint dries.  I am making it sound difficult - it isn't - just be confident and get in there.  You'll get a lovely finish.  I have also done some of the ridges this way too.  The brush is fine for the larger flatter areas.  That said I did a couple of table tops with fingers and they look fabulous.

You need to sand/buff between each coat.  I hesitate to say sand because the action is gentler than that word implies.  The item will need a little rub down with the finest grade sander you can get hold of - must be above 400 grit.  Ideally a painters sponge (top two items here) are best as they are very, very fine (made for the job) and are spongy (hence the name) so they also follow the contours to some extent.  The mesh piece is also nice I think it is a plasterers material for smoothing plaster.  Under it all is a piece of 400 grit sandpaper.  I find this a bit too much and it is easy to end up taking off too much paint.  You are only trying to get rid of the nibs in the wood that the paint has raised.

This is my one inch all purpose dusting brush used for just about everything to do with dust.  So, after rubbing down the piece of trim I give it a flick over with this, then inspect closely using fingers and eyes to be sure all the debris has gone - you can use a slightly damp cloth to be sure but I don't - not fond of damp and wood!

current favourite

On a different note I have another current favourite in the 'painting area' - Americana's Dura Clear Gloss Varnish.  Any one who reads my mini stuff will know by now I am not a fan of glossy/shiny in a dolls house.  I really do think everything should be scaled down to 1/12th - including bright colours and especially shiny, glossy things.......  BUT just now and then I want something a bit shiny because they would have been!  One coat of this gloss is very thin and clear and has just enough shine for me to make the two demi-lunes look as though someone has been polishing them for four hundred years - or at least a quick wax and elbow grease last Sunday.

gloss applied with fingers

I dropped a couple of tiny drops from the bottle on to the surface and very rapidly smoothed it across the top of table with my fingers! and hey presto - no brush marks and a bit of a shine.



  1. Good Painting tips and techniques Marilyn. It is nice to see that someone else likes to employ their fingers as substitute brushes too! :D

    1. Honestly, it had never occurred to until recently. Used fingers for glue for years but 'think paint, think brushes'..... never got beyond that. As we both now know, it works like a charm for small areas. M

  2. Hello Marilyn,
    There is absolutely nothing I can add or disagree with in this post. Once again I wish I had read this years ago. The only pain I have ever had problems with are the ones from dollar stores. They are very watered down. and too much water seems to be a miniaturists biggest enemy when it comes to paint.
    Big hug

    1. See, you did have something to add and useful it is too in two ways.....avoid wet as much as possible and sometimes beware of what seems like a bargain. As in real life it is hard to judge if something is worth paying more for. In large scale I once bought the cheapest paint possible as it was white and for ceilings and it would be fine..... after three coats and a very grumpy decorator I decided reasonable quality paint was the way to go.... and worked out cheaper in the end! M