A guide to house building in South Africa

A guide to house building in South Africa

Finishes: Paint and sealer

A finicky process right at the end of a build. It’s tempting to rush this bit, but take great care. Many paints/sealers can actually ruin a surface and cannot be undone.

Areas of consideration

When budgeting for painting, remember to consider more than just the wall.

Include budgets for the following:

  • Ceilings (paint)
  • Any natural floor or wall tiles (sealer)
  • Internal doors and frames (sealer or paint)
  • Garage door – if timber or steel (sealer or paint)
  • Windows – if timber or steel (sealer or paint)
  • Raw bricks walls (sealer)
  • Skirting (paint)
  • Facia boards (paint)
  • Waterproofing on roof
  • Built in cupboards or kitchen cupboards (paint/duco)
  • Steel gates, ballustrades or fencing (always galvanise first, then paint).



There are many paint manufacturers out there, but it’s generally a good idea to use a tried and tested product. A raw plaster wall will require a primer before you apply the paint. If you don’t apply one, the paint will simply peel within a short amount of time. Solvent based primers are best for outdoors, while the waterbased version can be used inside.

Do not settle on a final colour until you’ve painted a few, large swatches on a wall. You simply cannot make a decision based on a tiny paper swatch, as the final colour will look entirely different over a vast expanse. Many hardware’s supply smaller bottles for this very reason.

Apply two coats to see what the final shade will be and let it dry fully. Also, keep checking the samples during different lighting conditions (sun light, electric light etc.)

Tips: For white interiors, you cannot beat hard wearing Plascon ‘Wall and All’ or Dulux ‘Luxurious Silk’. It’s not chalky and therefore a lot easier to clean.

For charcoal interiors, Plascon and Dulux have a surprisingly small range. Jack’s Paint has a fantastic charcoal roof paint, Grace’s Gray, that works very well on walls (and is much cheaper).

If you are looking for a great all-in-one design solution (paint, wallpaper and fabric) try incdecor for a coordinated range.

Grace’s Gray.

Internal joinery and cupboards

For any internal doors and cupboards you want painted, best to use an enamel paint (e.g. Velvaglo) applied with a sponge roller. This is a stronger, smoother product and allows for easy cleaning. However, a wood primer is still required before any paint goes on.

Velvaglo paint on cupboards, applied with a foam roller.

For a very high end, smooth finish consider Duco. A professional will be required as items need to be sprayed in a booth with a compressor and spray gun machine.


There is a vast variety of water and oil-based sealers out there. Water based sealers are much easier to apply, dry quicker and are better for the environment. Any oil/solvent based sealer will colour with age. If you don’t want your timber or tiles to darken or yellow, stick with water based.


Avoid unknown brands (and there are many) – just because they’re expensive, does not necessarily mean they’re good.

Tip: For internal flooring or high traffic timber (i.e. kitchen cupboards), Woodoc has a fantastic water-based sealer, Woodoc Water Borne Sealer Flooring. It leaves a clear finish (no yellowing) and is exceptionally hard wearing.

Woodoc Waterborne Sealer

Also, the higher the shine, the easier to see marks. Satin finish is a good middle ground.

External timber is always advised to be sealed. However, if you have a good quality hard wood (for example teak), oiling can also extend life span while saving yearly resanding and sealing (it simply penetrates). If left untreated, all external timber will grey very quickly, but sometimes this look can be fitting for contemporary architecture, as long as the wood is high quality.

Unsealed hardwood timber shutters and decks.

Raw plaster, walls and tiles

  • If you want to preserve a Rhinolight or Cretestone wall, get a good sealer to prevent future stains and dust. Again, if you don’t want the shade to change too much, avoid oil-based sealers.
  • Bonding liquid or brick sealer can be used for raw cement or brick walls.
  • A variety of sealers are available for stone tiles and terrazzo. The supplier will likely recommend one for the tile type. As tiles can stain during laying, it’s crucial to apply one coat to the tiles before they are laid, and a second after.


If you are sealing a screed or concrete floor you have to get expert advise. The best products for this are usually not widely available. Avoid an oil based sealer as this will eventually start cracking in high foot traffic areas and crumble off.

Concrete polishing can leave a natural sheen if you polish to a very high quality (level 7). A lower grade polish must be sealed with a lithium densifier that binds with the concrete itself.

Matt water based sealer on bricks, shiny oil based sealer on ceiling.

Bitumen based waterproofing

The best advise with this product is to make sure the surface is fully dry before application and that enough time is left between coats for the product – not only to dry, but actually cure. (Any waterproofing has to be done with at least a 5-day dry period.) If the product does not fully cure before rain, it loses its strength. In this case it’s all about the correct application, not the product.

Note: Paint-on bitumen products are not recommended for flat roofs or underground retaining walls . This will have to be sealed by a torch-on rubber membrane called Derbigum, applied by contractors. Check warranties as these products are often only guaranteed with yearly inspections and maintenance.

For more about flat roofs, click here.


Anyone will tell you that it’s best to get a complete contract price up front from a professional team before work begins. This is certainly the case in most instances, but painting does seem to cost less if you’re willing to do it over a few weeks with one or two painters that are paid a daily rate (with you supplying all paint, brushes/rollers and ladders).

For more information on Kitchens, Flooring and Bathrooms, read the more under the Design heading, or click here.

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