Colour Republic is one of the south coast’s foremost property refurbishment companies. Based in Brighton they offer full design, supply and installation services in both the residential and commercial sectors – a genuine one-stop shop for all your building, fitting, and decorating requirements.
What makes Colour Republic stand out from the crowd is that they can cater for all building and renovation needs at whatever level. They’re just as proficient at simple property maintenance as they are with more specialist services, such as building bespoke bedroom furniture, or even providing some unique wall art.
I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of Colour Republic owner Rob, prise him away from his busy schedule, and grill him for his opinions and advice on a number of DIY topics. So sit back and enjoy some top tips from a top pro!
1. Are you finding that there are any particular decorating trends at the moment?
50 Shades of Grey! Creams are out and shades of grey are in. But these aren’t your cold greys of the 80’s but warm greys that have undertones of purples, browns and greens. It’s surprising just how warm and neutral these greys can be.
2. Have you any top tips for a DIY enthusiast who wants to fit their own kitchen?
Plan, plan, plan… And then plan again! Many of the failed kitchens we see are down to poor planning whereby people have gone in head first and try and make it up as they go along. This often shows in the finish with compromises they have had to make in the latter stages. Have a good idea of all the finishes before you start, items such as flooring can have an impact on the height you install your kitchen worktops for instance. A Lino floor can be just a few millimetres thick where as a tiled floor can be as much as 30mm. It’s no good getting to the flooring stage and then finding your choices limited because your appliances no longer fit due to increased floor height.
It is a good idea to draw your complete kitchen out on the walls before you start to make sure everything will fit.
In addition, really think about how you are going to use your kitchen when it’s finished, and what function each area will have. Don’t just put in as many units as you can but envisage what each unit will have stored in it.
3. For me, tiling has changed a great deal in recent years with the popularity of larger heavier tiles, wet rooms, and underfloor heating. What advice would you give to a DIY enthusiast who fancies following one or more of these trends?
You’re right there has been a big step forward with the huge range of products and styles now easily available. This has also brought a much more challenging side to tiling which can now be very technical indeed. It’s no longer simply a case of sticking tiles to a wall or floor, there can be extensive prep work involved to ensure your tiling lasts and is safe.
Different tiles require different handling, different prep work and different adhesives, but don’t despair, help is on hand as there is a huge amount of info available on the internet to research your project before you start.
It’s sad to say but don’t always trust the advice you receive off retailers as it is often lacking; seek advice from professional tilers who are often willing to share information via internet forums. Lastly with regards to wetrooms, there are no short cuts as the consequences can be devastating.
4. Taking into account size, bristle type, and affordability, if you had to recommend three paint brushes to the keen home decorator, what would they be?
Easy! Whilst we use a huge range of brushes of all shapes and sizes for various tasks, you still can’t beat a multi pack box of Purdy Monarch Elites as a good ‘all rounder’ set to get you started. They are easily available, well priced and come with the sizes you need. They are synthetic blend bristles and will work in oils, water-based and hybrid paints. On the subject of brush sizes it’s always worth mentioning that it’s easier to paint a straight line with a large brush as opposed to a small one. It’s often a misconception that a smaller brush gives you greater control but in most cases the opposite is true.
5. In answering questions for both amateurs and pros on the Ultimate Handyman Forum, it’s very clear that you keep bang up to date with new products and tools on the market. Is there one particular ‘new’ product that stands out as a must for DIY?
That’s a tough one. Many of the tools I would suggest are just too expensive for occasional DIY use to warrant the outlay. Product wise I highly recommend the Krud Kutter range of products – although not that new as they have been in the UK market for a few years now – I’m constantly finding new uses for their products, which just ‘work’.
6. I often want to tap people on the shoulder in a DIY store, and suggest that the item they have in their hands would in my opinion hinder, rather than help the DIY project they are about to embark on. In your opinion, are there any such products that have you imagining the worst when you peer into someone’s basket at the checkout?
Those ‘easy’ skim fillers or crack filling paint which are supposed to make your walls super flat and do away with plastering. They don’t!! A horrible horrible product. You would never catch a tradesman using such products and there is good reason for that. They cause more problems than they solve. Don’t even contemplate buying that rubbish. Did I mention how much I hate them?
7. Assuming a reasonable level of DIY/building knowledge, do you think a homeowner can project manage their own large refurbishment project, in which they themselves want to carry out a proportion of the work?
It’s very possible. The key to this, assuming you have hired good tradesmen, is seeking and listening to their advice especially at the planning stage before the works start. They are the professionals and even when you might not understand why things are done in a certain way or which may seem odd to you, there is often a very good reason for it. Work with your tradesmen not against them. You’ll also find they are willing to help you with the areas you intend to tackle yourself, we often spec. and supply materials to our clients for this reason and in some cases lend them the tools to carry out the works.
8. Many of the DIY ‘time-saving tips’ I read about in books, magazines, or on the web are…..let’s face it…..bodges! Do you have a genuine DIY time-saving tip that would help my readers?
This might not be the answer you are expecting but any task can be reduced in time simply by clearing your work area and getting organised. Might be a bit of a boring answer but it’s true. You’ll get it done in half the time if you give yourself room to work.
9. Money is tight for many people at the moment. If a new bathroom is simply not an option for someone, have you any suggestions for a ‘makeover’ instead?
Accessorise. Just buying some nice matching towels, pictures and bathroom organisers can breathe new life in to a tired bathroom. A fresh lick of paint (colour matched to your new towels of course) and tidying up discoloured grout helps massively too. You don’t even have to regrout (a very time consuming job) as you can use professional grout colorants such as Mapei fuga fresca or Aqua Mix grout colorant (not to be confused with DIY grout pens).
10…and finally a ‘Quick fire 5’ – only one answer allowed Rob!
Makita or DeWalt? Makita.
Paint or wallpaper? I can’t answer that. That’s like asking which of your children you love most! Oh all right, wallpaper. Just don’t tell paint I said that.
Engineered wood floors or real wood floors? Engineered.
Mapei or Bal tile adhesives and grout. Mapei (Although Tilemaster are turning a few heads in the tiling industry right now).
Kitchens or bathrooms? Kitchens.
A massive thanks to Rob for sharing his knowledge – there’s plenty in there to help out in any number of DIY projects.
However, if you live in the South East, and you’re not in the DIY mood with an upcoming renovation project, I’d suggest it would be well worth your while contacting Colour Republic.
As well as being the boss, Rob is very ‘hands on’ with all the work, so you can be confident that right from the planning stage, and all the way through to completion, your project is being well looked after!