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    Decorating materials

    Sugar soap

    This powdered soap is mixed with water to provide a liquid used for cleaning down any surfaces, which are to be painted on. The surfaces should always be allowed to dry before decorating.

    Paint stripper

    Chemical paint stripper will completely remove paint from wood and is ideal if you are looking to varnish or stain doors or window frames. Care must be taken when using chemical paint strippers. Always work in a well-ventilated room and wear safety goggles and rubber gloves.

    White spirit

    White spirit is a clear, liquid solvent, distilled from petroleum and mainly used as a thinner for paints. It is also useful for cleaning paintbrushes and removing grease, tar and adhesives.


    Originally filler was supplied as a powder that was mixed with water to create a creamy paste, and then used to fill holes and cracks in plaster, masonry and wood. When filler hardens it is sanded down to a smooth finish in preparation for painting or wallpapering. Today it is more likely that you will use ready-mix filler supplied in a tub or tube. Interior or weatherproof exterior filler is available, so ensure you purchase the right product for the job you are undertaking.

    Masking tape

    This low-tack tape is used for protecting surfaces when painting. Masking tape is also used for creating straight lines where areas with different finishes meet.


    Sandpaper is a generic term for abrasive paper covered with a type of grit (no longer grains of sand) available in sheets, rolls, blocks, and disc attachments for power tools. 'Liquid sander' can also be painted over a surface to provide a key for the finish. Sandpaper is either fully covered with grit (closed coat) or partially covered (open coat) and grit size varies from coarse to fine.

    Wet-and-dry paper

    As its name suggest this abrasive paper can be used on wet or dry surfaces. It is suitable for use on hardwood and plywood, soft metals like brass and aluminium, plastic, and smoothing the edges of panes of glass.

    Aluminium oxide paper

    Aluminium oxide paper is also suitable for sanding metal or timber. Cuts faster than sandpaper and is less brittle than wet-and-dry paper when used on metal.

    Garnet paper

    Made from crushed natural rock bonded to a paper or cloth backing and is easily recognized by its bright green colour. Garnet paper lasts about twice as long as sandpaper and is particularly useful for smoothing hardwoods and for fine finishing work.

    Steel wool

    Steel wool is used when a much finer abrasive effect is required than can be achieved with sandpaper. It can be used on timber and metal. An excellent abrasive material to get into difficult and awkward areas.

    Emery cloth

    An abrasive cloth used for cleaning or polishing hard materials such as metal. Emery paper is also available and is used for the same purpose.

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