Get those jobs done with a little help from DIY guru Julia Gray. This week: how to paint skirting boards.
Top tips for... painting skirting boards
:: When decorating a room, work from the ceiling down to stop splashes of paint ruining what you've already done. This means that the skirting boards should be the last thing you tackle, apart from the floor.
:: It's essential to sand thoroughly before painting - use an electric sander on the flat part of the skirting boards, and then sandpaper where the sander can't reach. Even if the existing paint is in reasonable condition, you still need to sand to help the new paint adhere better, especially if the old paint is gloss.
:: If the skirting boards are in poor condition, scrape and sand off any chipped or cracked paint and fill with flexible wood filler. Sand them smooth when the filler is dry, and wipe clean.
:: If you're painting over bare wood, first apply a couple of coats of knot-sealing solution. This will seal any knots and stop the resin ruining your paintwork. Remember to apply primer and undercoat before the topcoat, or a combined product.
:: Use masking tape to protect the walls and floor when painting the skirting boards, but don't leave it on too long because it can form a seal with the dry paint - which it will when removed. Brush in towards the board when painting over the masking tape to help prevent the paint bleeding underneath the tape. After you've removed the tape, you may need to touch up your paintwork for a neat finish.
DIY news bulletin
:: If you're thinking of painting the exterior of your home, go blue - people living in blue houses are the most successful, according to a recent survey by masonry paint manufacturer Sandtex.
The poll, of 3,000 homeowners, revealed that 23% of people living in blue houses have worked their way up to director level at work and 31% are at managerial level. On average, these professionals earn £38,000 a year and take 27 days' annual leave.
In contrast, the survey shows that people living in green houses earn an average of only £13,100 a year, with 63% admitting that they are nowhere near the top of their game career-wise. They are likely to work in retail or wholesale, and enjoy just 20 days of holiday a year.
So, it seems, the message is clear - the next time you're in the masonry-paint aisle, you know which colour to avoid and which to pick up.
:: Because the weather has been unseasonably nice, you probably haven't given much thought to insulating your home for winter, but it makes sense to do this before the big chill sets in.
Homebase is offering 'buy one, get one free' on loft insulation and 20% off other forms of home insulation, including cylinder jackets and draught-excluder tape. Continuing the energy-saving theme, selected eco-lightbulbs are half-price, with Philips Genie ones three for £1.
Find out more at www.homebase.co.uk, where there's a buyer's guide to energy-saving lighting and a guide to insulating your home.
Ask the expert
Q: How do I protect my carpet when painting my skirting boards?
A: Make sure you cover the carpet with plastic dustsheets and secure with masking tape. At the edges of the room, push the masking tape down into the groove between the skirting board and carpet for extra protection. Use water-based wood paint, because it's straightforward to remove if you do get it on the carpet.
The weather's been lovely, so take the opportunity to spruce up your front door. Preparation is, of course, vital if you want all your hard work to last.
A good choice is Dulux Weathershield Exterior Undercoat, which is water-based and therefore quick drying. This undercoat guarantees six-year weathering durability when used with Weathershield Exterior Gloss (and primer, if required). Weathershield Exterior Satin is self-undercoating. Both satin and gloss come in a range of classic colours.
If you want something more unusual - duck-egg blues and greens seem to be popular for front doors at the moment - you can search for a particular tone from colour charts on Dulux's website (www.dulux.co.uk) and also see what products are available.
I like Winter Teal 4 (and the other five Winter Teal shades) from the Dulux in-store mixing machine. It's priced around £28.99 for 2.5 litres, which should be enough be to do all your exterior woodwork (you'll only need 750ml or 1 litre for your door alone).
For durability, it's advisable to use exterior gloss for your front door, unless the paint you're using is a special exterior range. You may prefer a more matt finish, which also seems to be popular at the moment.