The Good Paint Care Guide

As with most things in life, it’s the little ways you look after paint now that can make a big difference in the future. Here are a few handy tips to keep everything tip-top.


Irrespective of the substrate type and the paint product you’ll find that a good annual clean can work wonders for prolonging your exterior. All kinds of contaminants settle on paint throughout the year, which can cause a breakdown of the coating surface. Be sure to check areas that are not covered in rain regularly – this is where dirt can accumulate quickly.


a) First, get a bucket of warm water with an (environmentally friendly) detergent.

b) For mould and mildew use a 1 part bleach, 4 parts water solution, and rinse thoroughly while the surface is wet. Always wear the right safety equipment when cleaning the building exterior too.

c) Use either a soft-bristle brush or broom or, for tougher stains, a nonabrasive nylon scrub pad. Start at the top of the building and work your way down. Regularly use a hose to rinse each section before it dries.

d) If you are using a power washer always use it at the lowest pressure setting. Use the wide spread fan tip and never place the tip close to the surface. We cannot emphasize this enough – incorrectly used power washers cause considerable damage to walls.


Timber will always move depending on the temperature. This can cause cracking in certain types of wood, and timely maintenance is important to ensure moisture doesn’t get in to cause subsequent blistering, mould and, eventually, rotting. Steel requires that rust be first removed with the right equipment before spot-priming and a top coat can be applied.

Repeat and repeat and repeat

Just liking maintaining your car paintwork, you will need to keep up the maintenance of your property paint work too. Our maintenance plans provide peace of mind you’ll get the best return on your investment with as little input as possible. With an expert property audit we can assess where your problem areas might appear, and then put a plan in place to prevent damage and increase the paint’s lifespan. To find out how use the contact form below:


Meet the team: Praveena Ranathilaka

With some big changes around the office, a consistently busy schedule and a huge variety of work throughout the country our new Project Delivery Manager could be forgiven for taking some time to get up to speed. But Praveena has quickly found her feet, stepped up and paced ahead.

1) What does your daily work involve? Looking after the projects in progress, keeping the team motivated, managing meetings and general problem solving. My ultimate focus is on making sure each and every project runs smoothly.

2) What attracted you to working at National Decorators? To start with, it was the organized and effective processes the company had in place. I could also clearly see that it was a family business, that they cared for each other, and that they welcomed me to the team like I was one of the family. Of course, the role itself was also a big reason. I’m passionate about this type of work and, being a people person, love the interaction each day.

3) What are the main challenges of the work? This is my first experience in the painting industry, so getting to know all the technical details was definitely a challenge to begin with. But I pride myself on being a quick learner – so I’m getting through this!

4) Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work? My most favourite pastime is to spend the time with my little son Anuran. He’s a super cute child and my favourite person in the world. Outside of work I’m focused on enjoying all the time I can with him and my husband.

5) If there were one thing in this world you could paint, what would it be? I would like to do an interior, perhaps a living room with lots of green in it. I love the different shades of green, and enjoy the summer colours of the local countryside.


Borer tips

Get it right before they burrow

In the hotter months between October and February borer in New Zealand schools often becomes apparent. Here are some short tips on what to look for – and how to avoid finding it in the first place.

1) Borer is clearly apparent with the small holes made by these common beetles. In schools borer infestation is generally hidden from sight however, in the walls and ceiling cavities.

2) First make certain the overall conditions are as unappealing to borer as possible. Keep moisture under control and ensure sub-floor and ceiling spaces are dry and well ventilated.

3) To help ensure 2) is right, check your roof for any potential areas that may leak in the near future.

4) You can control borer with different spray and oil treatment measures, however most of these are ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ approaches. It is far more cost-effective to maintain the building correctly and consistently.

As part of a regular maintenance programme we check building materials at risk from borer and provide a clear, comprehensive plan for preventing any future outbreaks. This is the best way of dealing with a building pest that can cause all kinds of headaches if given the chance to burrow and breed.

If you’d like to know more, or request a borer building check, fill out the form below.

Up to the mark?

4 ways to combat graffiti

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote could have easily included a third absolute: “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes… and graffiti in schools.”

It is a reality that the overall problem of graffiti in New Zealand schools is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean individual cases can’t be planned for, removed quickly and prevented from reoccurring.

We’re not a company that provides 24-7 graffiti cleaning emergency services – we like to avoid the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ approach. Instead our service covers both initial scoping and recommendations along with ongoing maintenance coverage to ensure no obvious graffiti can gain a foothold.

Our service covers both initial scoping and recommendations along with ongoing maintenance coverage to ensure no obvious graffiti can gain a foothold.

1) Don’t provide the perfect blank canvas. Elevated spaces that are highly visible, areas that are hidden (like bathrooms) and blank smooth walls are all tempting to the would-be tagger. There are many different techniques for lessening the attractiveness of these areas to taggers. We assess location visibility, paint type, access issues and other factors when creating a plan.

2) Cover it up quick. By creating a sense of a run-down or unsafe environment tagging and other graffiti can quickly gain a foothold. Yes, nothing encourages graffiti like other graffiti. However equally, on a more positive note, positivity is infectious. Keep the school visually attractive and maintained and respect and pride will be easier to sustain.

3) Fight fire with fire. New Zealand’s schools can’t afford a ‘tag along’ mentality when it comes to graffiti – they must lead the pack. That’s why aiming restless minds and artistic hands towards the right target is crucial. School artworks can make a huge difference; reducing the ‘blank canvas’ problem and ensuring pupils have a creative outlet and a sense of ownership.

4) Plan realistically. It doesn’t matter how much pride a school can have – it only takes a few thoughtless moments for graffiti to make its mark. To ensure 2) can be achieved talk closely with your school building maintenance provider. You should expect a painting and re-touching plan with expert analysis and ongoing support.

We can’t wave a magic wand (or paint brush?) and somehow prevent graffiti appearing. But we can use years of experience to ensure the most cost-effective approach to the problem in the first place.

If you’d like to organise for a graffiti site inspection and maintenance plan fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Paint by numbers?

When you can ignore brand standards while painting commercial property.  And why.

Building painting is often one of the larger costs for commercial rebranding projects in New Zealand building.

That’s why we set up this helpful Q&A column to assist the behind the scenes thinking before you begin planning and painting.

When do things go wrong with brand standards?

Some (brand standards) are huge documents covering a massive range of applications. You can’t design for every future use of a brand however, and many building portfolios contain a mix of varying designs. These standards can fall apart when those involved with production don’t have a reliable reference point. And companies need to use their initiative to make everything look right.

Are there any colours that should be avoided when painting large commercial buildings?

For the most part we’re dealing with steadfast brand colours – you can’t change anything major. So instead of ‘what colour’ it’s generally more a case of ‘how much’. There are examples in New Zealand where proposed colour saturation of large buildings has resulted in a lot of negative feedback from local communities. Clearly a balance is required.

Can a company be ‘too brand consistent’?

Short answer? Yes, occasionally. Most of it is simple common sense however. Take the example provided here. Most people will tell you green means ‘go’ and red means ‘stop’.

This ‘exit’ sign has in all likelihood been created using a rigid set of brand standards. And the result is potentially dangerous.

How important is the timing of commercial painting when rebranding?

Very. When faced with physical stores and buildings that look different from town to town consumers can lose confidence with brands extremely quickly. Coordinating your rebranding project is vital to get right. Clear communication with comprehensive regular updates for all stakeholders cannot be emphasised enough.

Just how big should the logo be?

There’s a cliché that the client always wants the logo or sign to be bigger and the designer always wants it to be another way. But, generally, this isn’t the case at all.

Most companies know their sign doesn’t need to be seen from the moon. Likewise, a good designer knows each communication tool needs to do its job properly.

So it pays to be aware of all the other spatial elements at play. You need to create an aesthetic tone that is appropriate and then back it with the highest calibre of production delivery.

Are there any other considerations when scoping and planning new painting?

Correct time-lining of the project can make a world of difference. Large scale work is best undertaken during quiet periods of use, and favourable times for customers. Good weather helps too!

Talk of the town, pride of the school

How building artwork changes lives

Our everyday work focuses on the improvement of buildings, which is why news of urban renewal and community art projects is always interesting to us. While we take clearly different approaches for our work and the mural painter the objective is still the same – protect and beautify.

Internationally studies have now shown that public art protects the buildings by changing attitudes to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Like the painted cityscape image here from Lyon, France, a sense of pride is instilled by the building, which results in less smaller crimes such as littering and vandalism.


Public mural in Lyon


In the United States, Philadelphia founded the Mural Arts Program in 1986. The city now employs more than 300 artists each year, 100 of whom are previously prosecuted graffiti vandals.


Street mural in Philadelphia, Donald Gensler


Closer to home the Dunedin Street Art initiative has transformed the previously downbeat warehouse district. In Christchurch the dramatic reshaping of the city centre created a number of highly visible ‘blank canvases’ for new artworks to appear on. In Auckland and Wellington too there are bold statements and hidden gems to be found.


“Riding Dreams” by Pixel Pancho, Dunedin


Mural by Dan Mills, Auckland
Street mural by Wongi Wilson in Christchurch
Wongi Wilson mural, Christchurch


In schools murals can also make a big difference, provided they are correctly scoped, expertly created and properly maintained. These spaces are helpful for installing student pride while ensuring art classes have authentic learning experiences within a curriculum project.

There are many ways to improve the appearance of commercial, educational and industrial buildings. While we certainly work in a less artistic manner (generally) we still appreciate and champion the colour and charisma these artworks bring to our cities and our schools.  

Roof check: 4 things to look for

Catch out failing roofs, don’t get out of pocket, save them for a rainy day.

Regular roof inspections are a common sense way to look after your key asset. Yet it is easy to sometimes miss when ‘up above’ isn’t ‘up to standard’.

Flat roofs aren’t always visible and the danger of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude can lead to temporary neglect, lasting damage and costly repair bills. Sometimes property managers only realise there’s an issue after strong winter rain.

There are a few things to look for before that happens.

1. Flaking or fading paint.

Wear to the integrity of the surface protection can quickly lead to larger issues before you know it. With a sound maintenance plan paint conditions can be regularly checked and assessed.

2. Missing nail heads.

Tiny holes in roofing can result in big headaches. Missing nail heads are one sign that there may be problems below – with small leaks from these areas causing mould and rot below.

3. White or red rust appearance.

Rust is the most obvious sign that maintenance needs to take place. A ‘dusting’ of red rust may be prevented from getting worse with a careful paint – any more and you’ll be looking at replacement costs. White rust is also common on commercial buildings in New Zealand – particularly in coastal areas (it’s caused by salt deposits in areas where rain wash doesn’t reach). White rust is often harder to spot than its red cousin, but just as damaging.

4. Moss growth.

Things grow where water collects. Moss is the most obvious visible sign here. By holding moisture moss speeds the wear of the surface, particularly in our freezing temperatures when frost damages the coating.

How do you avoid these issues? Regular washing is a great way to save long-term costs, there’s a reason why it’s recommended by roofing manufacturers. It’s also a good idea to get your roof properly assessed by experienced experts. Only with the right equipment, correct processes and attention to detail can you get a cost-effective result.

Sometimes commercial roof repair and repainting can be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty too. If you’re unsure about whether your roof may be eligible for this assistance we’re happy to help here. We can also put your roof on a yearly plan for the best ongoing peace of mind.

Get in touch for a roof inspection and maintenance plan.

Work of art: 7 clever water blasting results

Yes, it’s sometimes tempting to try some art of our own while cleaning New Zealand’s commercial buildings. However it’s best for everyone if we stick to what we’re good at!

1. Cold hard cash

2. This really is a work of art…

3. A different type of promotional material

4. A long time ago, on a path far, far away…

5. Big is beautiful

6. No speech bubbles here

7. The famous British artist ‘Moose’ at work

How much will it cost to paint my roof?

We’ve got the low down on your up above

After many years of commercial roof painting in New Zealand, it’s safe to say we’ve covered a lot of buildings. One of the first questions we’re asked is also one of the most obvious – how much is it going to cost?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about New Zealand commercial building painting, it’s that no project is ever exactly the same. The cost of painting a roof can vary significantly depending on many factors including, but here are some questions we’ll ask before providing a quote:

1. What access is required?

The first priority for any commercial painting project must always be to keep the contractors and public safe. The use of scaffolding, abseil systems, lifts or other forms of roof access will depend on the building shape, size and access points and can affect the cost.

2. What size is the roof?

It may seem obvious but it’s surprising how often ‘guesstimates’ based on differently sized properties can lead building owners astray. Larger roof areas can create efficiencies in the painting process but this should not be taken for granted.

3. Where is the roof location?

Travel considerations must be taken into account. While metropolitan areas are straightforward, more isolated locations can create travel and accommodation costs. This should be factored into any estimates.

4. What is the current condition of the roof?

Some roofs will require additional preparation and priming prior to applying the coatings so it’s important to closely inspect roof’s current condition when seeking an estimate. On previous projects we’ve used double water-blasting, alkyd (stain-blocking) primers and hand preparation to get a roof ready to paint. Ensuring the roof is in the best condition possible before applying paint is key to a long-lasting paint job. For more information, read our Roof Checklist: four things to look for.

5. What is the angle of the roof?

Steeply angled roofs increase the overall surface area and must be factored in when measuring your roof. Yes, it’s time to put all that trigonometry theory from school into practice! Severe angles can increase the difficulty and access requirements, which can impact the overall price. There are also other factors to consider for costing and time-lining any roof painting project. In New Zealand, that’s everything from the type of roof construction and the time of year, to the privacy and noise requirements of the building’s occupants. Here, the small details can make a big difference in the final cost.
It’s why we always recommend a comprehensive site visit and consultation period. A quick ‘drive-by quote’ or seeing photos of the roof is not good enough to provide a realistic estimate. It’s also why, with the equipment available nowadays, there’s no excuse not to get these small details right.

“No structure is
ever exactly the

We’re happy to use drone technology if necessary to correctly scope a project – the client’s peace of mind can only be achieved with our total clarity.
You shouldn’t just take our word for it either. Get a quote. Get three or four if you need to. Ensuring a quality finish that performs as promised is vital (as is getting it done as cost-effectively as possible). After all, you don’t want to be going over this list again in another year or two...

Watch how we painted a particularly tricky church roof.

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