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Project of the Month – July 2018

Traditional construction methods meet modern materials

When Steve Trebilcook of Refresh Property Services was contracted to prepare and paint all walls, ceilings and woodwork to three bedrooms in a Circa 1904 home in Surrey in the London borders, he wasn’t anticipating it would be a straight forward redecoration.

Days of painstaking preparation work was required to renovate the house to bring it up to the standards of a modern home. Prior to redecoration, all the walls in the house were papered in an old Sanderson paper from the late 60’s which had been overpainted on several occasions. One ceiling was also covered in the same Sanderson wallpaper, another with standard lining paper and the third was finished with polystyrene tiles. As the house was built in 1904 using traditional methods of construction, as expected, all internal walls were of “lath & plaster” construction with lime being used in the finish plaster as well as the coving.

As expected with a house of this age and condition, several problems were encountered throughout the project. Unexpected problems uncovered an asbestos cement board ceiling hidden underneath polystyrene tiles. After discussions with the client, this was resolved by over boarding of the existing ceiling using plasterboard and skimming with finishing plaster.

The original traditional lime coving had been manufactured in situ from lime plaster and previously painted in emulsion. Paint had delaminated from coving and required removal. Removal showed that the original coving was shorter and that at some stage new coving had been added to blend the curve into the wall. The old lime plaster coving had severe paint failure. This was resolved by removing most of the emulsion from the coving by hand, using picks to lift it. Severe cracks and further failure of the coving substrate were rebuilt using Toupret tx110 and sealed once completed, using two coats of Zinsser Gardz. The ceilings and coving were then painted using Tikkurila Anti-Reflex ceiling paint in white.

The woodwork was degreased using dilute Tikkurila Maalipesu, however, Steve anticipated there would be an issue with gloss on gloss on the woodwork which was resolved by sanding it back to the original primer using Mirka gold flex pads 120 grit and Mirka Deos 120 Grit Abranet discs. Fortunately, the woodwork only required minor repairs which were filled using Toupret tx110. Other openings in the door frames, corners and skirting edges were filled using gap sealant expanding foam to produce a perfect finish.

Whilst anticipated, removal of the 50-year-old wallpaper unearthed plaster failure which was far worse than expected. Steve resolved this using Thistle hardwall plaster for bonding deep holes and fine skimmed it with joint cement for speed.

After removal of the paper, the walls were washed and sanded to achieve a smoother more manageable substrate, using a Mirka Deos with 120 grit abranet prior to filling and 180 grit after filling was completed. The walls were then bonded using Hardwall plaster and skimmed using British Gypsum Gyproc Joint Cement, where needed. All walls were sized using diluted Wallrock Power Adhesive and walls and ceilings were lined using Wallrock Fibreliner.

Once all the preparation work was completed, the walls were painted using Tikkurila Optiva 3 and with help from Steve, the clients chose a colour scheme from the Dulux Heritage range. Pale Walnut was used for the walls and Roman White provided a stunning contrast for the woodwork in the two front bedrooms and Dulux Heritage Pebble Grey was chosen for the back bedroom. The ceilings and walls required two coats for a solid finish whilst the coving required 3 coats for a finish to match the ceiling.

Steve said “I chose this particular project because these types of jobs never really look stunning, just cleaner, crisper and fresher. The effort to achieve this look however, is never considered and always overlooked”.

Refresh Property Services was born in June 2013. At that time Steve was working carrying out external repairs and painting works whilst contracted to Southwark Council.

Steve said “It came as a pleasant surprise to have unknown tenants requested me personally to paint their homes. They had all seen the difference in my work compared to those I was working alongside”.

As a result, Steve set up RPS providing decorative services for commercial and domestic clients around Essex, Kent and London areas. RPS undertake large and small projects offering a high and medium end finish.

Steve is an active member of the Dulux Select Decorator Scheme and the Painting & Decorating Association and has been involved in the trade since 1988.

See more of Steve’s work by visiting and following him on Facebook or Instagram


If you would like to submit a project to be considered for August’s Project of the Month submit your project using the button below by the 18th August, when we will make our selection.

If you have any problems submitting your project please email your project details to us including your name and company name to: [email protected]


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