Many decorating jobs fail because of poor background preparation, which can be put down to either sub-standard workmanship or inferior products.

When jobs go wrong, tradespeople and merchants can be left out of pocket due to required remedial work or product refunds.

Before starting a job, many tradesmen will turn to their local builders’ merchants for information and advice to avoid a decorating disaster.

It is crucial therefore that merchants have the knowledge to recommend the right decorating products for the job in hand.

Varying surface conditions can make selecting the right products a complex task. With so many preparation products on the market, tradesmen may find it hard to know which way to turn.

It is essential for merchants to understand the features of the wall preparation products they stock.

Firstly tradesmen should be advised against opting for the cheap, quick fix solution, which could ultimately lead to unsightly wear and tear and unnecessary expenditure in repairs.

While multi-purpose products may be suitable for some projects, it may be that a specialist product is required to ensure a top quality finish.

For example while  Dunlop’s ready-mixed Lightweight Filler is suitable for repairing holes, dents and other surface damage up to 30mm, it would not be adequate for surfaces with more substantial damage. Here, a sturdy filler such as the  Deep Filling Compound with Hydroloc, which can repair damage up to 80mm and dries consistently in ultra-quick time, should be recommended.

For filling in chases or making good around pipework, a high quality, rapid repair mortar should be recommended, saving both money and hours of labour.

It’s also essential that merchants and their staff can differentiate between the different types of products on offer. For example while fillers and mortars can repair substantial cracks or areas of damage, they won’t create the super smooth finish required prior to the application of decorative finishes such as paint or wallpaper.

To remove minor imperfections across large areas, a specialist smoother, which does not crack or craze, is a must for all decorators.

While there may seem a lot to learn, having in-depth knowledge of the products you stock can save your customers time and money in the long run, ensuring repeat business and raising your market share.

Debi Boulton is brand manager at Dunlop Adhesives.