This post is not particularly pretty to look at so I shall insert a photo of a vase of lovely flowers that I had saved to my phone years ago here just to liven it up (I am sorry I do not know the source of the photo).
This post is about one of the more boring and tedious aspects of decorating, but will show you a useful and practical technique that we have used to great effect several times in our various, usually old, houses. Once it is done, it is quite exciting, trust me. It has been on my brain recently because I am having all the woodwork (doors, door frames, skirting boards, stairs and bannister) painted in my hallway. My problem is that my house was built in 1935 and the woodwork has been systematically repainted ever since (who knows how many layers of paint are on there). Also the walls have been plastered, artexed (textured thick plaster wall covering), stripped of artex and replastered over the years. The result is that where the wall meets wood work is no longer straight or tidy.
There is even evidence of old telephone or electric doorbell wiring running around the edge of doorways, now under layers and layers of old gloss paint.
I could go to the effort of stripping the many layers of paint off of the woodwork, but this is difficult, messy and time consuming and may not fix the problem. Also, there is the potential problem with old houses that when you strip things back, you might create/find bigger, messier problems. It may be the case that it is the layers of paint that is keeping the woodwork in good order. This is something that plagues all owners of old houses. But there is a way to tidy things up with paint and it is simple and incredibly effective. It involves painting a section on the wall, no bigger than a couple of centimetres (but can be less or if you want more of a feature, more), the same colour as all the woodwork. This effectively disguises where the wall meets the woodwork and any bobbly, wobbly, chipped, wonky, or rough bits disappear. This can be done by simply taping off a stripe with a low tack tape, but in the case of my hallway, I had another problem.
For some reason I am still trying to get to the bottom of, the wall paint has not adhered to the newly plastered walls particularly well. Yes, the plaster had completely dried and yes, we sealed them with a coat of watered down PVA as most painters would recommend. But the paint has still not keyed well and has on occasion come off with the use of low tack tape. So rather than risk possible damage using loads of tape, I came up with a stencil-like solution. This involved designing a few simple shape stencils that I could hold in place up against the edge of all the woodwork.
There is a straight bit
and two different corners for outward and inward corners.
None of these stencils are big so I can simply hold it in place with my spare hand negating the need for any tape or spraymount, butt the edge of the stencil up to the doorframe or skirting, and stencil small sections, slightly overlapping each repeat so that you keep straight. It means lots of repeating, but it is very, very quick. It took me about 2.5 hours to do the top floor and just a bit longer to do the bottom floor - although our hall is not big, it does have 9 doorways as well as the stairs, bannister and skirting board. I did most of this before the painter did the woodwork so that I didn't have to worry about being too neat and neither does he (hopefully it will save him quite a bit of time "cutting in" which is the skilled technique painters use to paint a clean crisp line along the edge of things), but the rest had to be done after he had painted. In truth, either was fine.
The woodwork is being painted in black oil based eggshell and I have stencilled my edge with acrylic paint. Acrylic has a slight sheen so should look the same, finish wise, as the wood paint. There may be a slight discrepancy in shade, but as my hallway is quite dark, hopefully you won't notice.
Here is the finished result (apologies for the quality of the photos. They were all taken on my phone and the hall does not have a great deal of natural light).
Much more tidy and streamlined.
It is quite amazing how crisp looking woodwork in a room makes the whole space look better.
The stencil in my hall is VN5 Shadows from our Vintage Stencil range.
Here are a few more examples in other schemes we have done over the years:
Under the ceiling coving (this is stencil MD35-L Chrysanthemums from our Modern Design range)
Around a door frame
Around a fireplace
Whilst the photos show darkly painted woodwork, it does work with any colour. Very effective and one of my favourite decorating tricks. If you want to do similar using some of our stencil tools, please contact us.