How to ensure the perfect wall finish in a contemporary setting

on 22 August, 2014

Contemporary, light and clean open spaces are becoming increasingly popular, making it essential for merchants to have the knowledge to advise tradespeople on how to deliver a perfect finish prior to decorating.

Gone are the days when tradespeople are asked to create a rustic finish when preparing a wall for decorating in a modern setting, and with light and clean colour pallets now a prominent trend, there’s little wonder. Homeowners are increasingly looking to optimise space and light when redecorating - leaving little room for even minor surface damage.

When advising tradespeople on what type of product to use, it’s essential that merchants make the case for specialist products, to ensure absolute perfection is achieved and, although these products may be slightly more expensive, they’re well worth the investment. Recommending a standard product is a risky decision as, without the ability to guarantee a quality, lasting and smooth finish, tradespeople may have to revisit the job to correct damage – wasting their time and money. A specialist product, designed for the task in hand, provides peace of mind that it will be completed to a high standard.

I would suggest recommending a fine wall smoother for a high level finish. Take Dunlop’s Ultra Fine Wall Smoother for example; it’s brilliant white and designed to fill and smooth fine surface damage on walls and ceilings prior to the application of paint. Because the product has been designed for the task in hand, it offers the agility to smooth a range of surfaces to a high specification and fills scratches, small holes, and joints in no time at all.

The extra fine formulation can achieve a true featheredge, which makes it ideal for achieving that sought after smooth finish, and the product also features a tension free, non-shrink formulation, so once applied, the surface can be smoothed with a damp sponge and then re-trowelled once hardening commences – eliminating the need for sanding. What’s more, even at very thin bed depths, the product creates a hard, crack free surface, which is not affected by wallpaper adhesives, water or solvent based paints.

Now that the correct product has been selected, it is essential that merchants advise on how to prepare the wall appropriately. When looking to remove imperfections, I would always advise that the wall is dry, clean, dust and grease free. Loose or weakly adhered materials, as well as any other barriers to adhesion, should also be removed from the area. As a general rule of thumb, a quality fine wall smoother will adhere direct to absorbent construction boards, sound lime, cement or gypsum-based plasters and renders and, as a result, does not require priming.

It is essential that merchants’ knowledge is top-notch when advising on wall preparation, one key piece of advise is that the product should be mixed gradually - adding two parts by volume of powder to one part by volume of clean water while stirring. When the product is thoroughly mixed and lump-free, merchants should advise tradespeople to leave it to stand for approximately three minutes, to allow all of the high performance additives to fully dissolve and ‘wet out’, before remixing the product to a smooth and creamy consistency – resulting in a mixed product that’s easy to apply, with a working time of approximately 60 minutes.

Application is key here and merchants should ensure the budding tradesperson is comfortable with how to use the product. The tradesperson should also be advised to apply a thin layer using a trowel, blade or filling knife at temperatures above five degrees centigrade. It is vital that any imperfections are removed with a wet sponge prior to drying and to achieve an extra smooth finish a trowel can be used – avoiding the need to sand. If preferred, the product may be lightly sanded when hard or alternatively a subsequent coat may be applied. Decorative finishes, such as paint or wallpaper, can be applied once the surface is dry, which will vary according to the condition and bed depth; as a guide, at 20 degrees centigrade a 1mm depth would be dry in approximately two to three hours.

Hopefully this provides a little food for thought for merchants looking to ensure their customers achieve the perfect wall finish. The key points to consider are recommending the correct product, pushing quality over price, and educating tradespeople about the importance of preparing the surface ahead of application – to ensure a perfect finish. If merchants stick to these rules, those in the trade and their customers will be left 100% satisfied with their new, smooth and sleek contemporary walls.”

Debi Boulton is brand manager of Dunlop.

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