Exterior decorating

How we paint a front door: no.2

The second in our series of detailed posts on preparing and painting a front door to a high standard — read them for inspiration and guidance, or to gain an insight into our working methods.



In the first post, we covered prepping, filling, sanding, cleaning and priming. Let’s continue with the work…


Step 4

With the door prepped, filled and primed it is now time to spot-fill the primed surface, filling any small dings which were missed in the initial preparation.



Step 5

With the door spot-filled, we’re now ready to apply the first coat of Gras a Lacquer.

What is Gras a Lacquer? As its French name betrays, this product — an oil-based high gloss surfacer — is made on the other side of the English Channel by Toupret.

The job Gras a Lacquer performs so effectively is to act as a micro-level filler, levelling the timber to a perfectly glass-like smoothness. It has a wonderfully rich, smooth texture — a pleasure to work with.

We applied a thin coat, waited a couple of hours, sanded with 320 grit Abranet then sanded with 1,000 grit Abranet.



We then applied a second coat, and this too was sanded with 1,000 grit.


We pause to consider the result of the work so far: the flush surfaces of the door are perfectly, wonderfully smooth.


Step 6

The time for gloss has finally arrived: Sikkens Rubbol XD Gloss, tinted to Basalt by Little Greene. by Holman Paints.

To ensure the optimum performance and finish we added 15% Owatrol oil to the paint.

We weighed the paint and the Owatrol — in a traditional metal kettle — on digital scales to ensure an accurate mix.



After ensuring the Owatrol was fully mixed into the gloss, David applied the first coat…



Step 7 

When the gloss had dried, we sanded it with 1,000 grit Abranet and applied the second coat of gloss … this was repeated, then the third coat was applied.

[Lesson: next time, we will tint or stain the Gras a Lacquer with some of the gloss — as we were applying a dark colour on top of it, we needed three coats of gloss .. this could be cut down.]


The result

We were delighted.

The client was delighted.

Do contact us if you’d like the Trim finish on your front door…



Paint buffing and polishing techniques

David recently began exploring the rather extensive range of techniques and products available for polishing paintwork. We’ve been surprised at just how far you can go with this stuff…


Put simply, you start with a standard gloss finish — we’re thinking of a front door, here — then set about working your way up through the grades with specialist, super-high-grit abrasives. Polishing fluids are used next.

We’re going to be making these high-end techniques a big part of a competition we’ll be running for certain south Londoners in February 2016.

We’ll be posting more news soon…

How to decorate, no.4: use 2-part filler

2-part filler — usually simply called “2-part” or 2-pack”, depending on your preference — will set you apart from the herd as your pursue a professional finish. 

Generally: use plaster-based fillers for wall and ceiling repairs; use 2-part for woodwork.

A solvent-based product, you’ll work with a golf ball-sized amount of the filler, and mix it well with a pea-sized amount of hardener. The sets off a chemical reaction and, from the moment it has begun, the mix will start to harden: you don’t have long — maybe 5 minutes before it starts to become gritty and unworkable. 

Bonda Decor Fill -- a two part filler for professional painters and decorators


Use it to repair dings and surface damage to doors and skirtings indoors, and see how it really comes into its own for challenging exterior repairs where wet rot has been a problem. 

In terms of manufacturers: historically, the gold standard for professional painters and decorators has been Decor Fill by Bonda.

A more recently launched alternative is made by Ronseal — the big benefits of this are that it is much easier to sand, is easier to feather-in to the surrounding surface, and that it is available in white. 

How to decorate, no.3: Don't use putty, use Dry Seal

Linseed oil putty seems to be the embodiment of the very best traditional methods and craftsmanship: it has been around, probably little-changed, for a long time; it is easy to work with; and it smells wonderful, like the naturally derived product it is. 

But as a method for sealing glass into traditional timber-framed windows it is prone to failure — indeed, ask 100 experienced decorators to tell you the curing time for putty, and you will probably receive almost as many different answers. 

In 2014, we bade farewell to our last tub of putty, and switched to Dry Seal, made by Repair Care. It is a considerably more expensive synthetic product, but it is truly superior to putty. Dry Seal remains permanently elastic and, perhaps best of all, can be painted — no arguments — within 30 minutes.

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