E & P Contractors Limited is a Wirral based business with a 120-strong workforce that has been painting, decorating and protecting all types of commercial, industrial and residential buildings for over 35 years.
A particular source of pride for the proprietor and MD Arthur Ellis is the strong reputation his company has built in the heritage sector by completing restoration and decorative work on many landmark buildings across the UK. One such project involved the Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas in Liverpool, where E & P worked closely with the sales, specification and colour advice teams at Crown Paints to deliver a fresh new look for the historic building and deliver a very high standard of finish that would stand the test of time.
“I remember carrying out the last redecoration works back in the late ‘80s,” said Arthur, “and we must have made a long lasting impression because we were the first company the church contacted when the place needed an overhaul over two decades later.”
The Church of St Nicholas is built in a traditional Byzantine style and when it came to selecting an appropriate new colour scheme for the interiors, E & P’s client, Greek Orthodox priest Father Iacovos Kasinos was keen to benefit from expert advice and inspiration offered by the Crown Paints Colour Service. “We arranged for one of the company’s colour consultants to visit the site,” said Arthur, “and she then prepared various different colour schemes which drew on tradition and had very definite Mediterranean influences.”
When it came to specifying the paint, E & P and Crown’s Specification Team recommended that the church be redecorated using the most durable coatings in the Crown Trade range , putting forward Grip Extreme Primer, Universal Metal Primer, Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt emulsion and the Full Gloss and Undercoat system.
E & P Site Manager Alan Hargreaves explains: “It’s a massive job to redecorate a building like this and it obviously puts a huge strain on the church’s coffers. And however hard you try to minimise disruption it’s very inconvenient for the congregation to have a massive scaffolding arrangement in their church for weeks on end. Needless to say, no-one wants to have to call us back in again for a very long time! That’s why we recommended using high performance coatings that will keep their finish and bright colours, and retain that ‘just decorated’ look for many years to come. We also wanted to ensure that walls and surfaces could withstand a few knocks and could be wiped and scrubbed clean, time and time again without spoiling the paintwork”.
The redecoration work followed closely behind a grant funded programme of external works. The church roof had been repaired, but not before substantial water damage had been incurred. This meant that a team of plasterers had to be brought in to work on the ceilings while the decorators got to work in other areas. A large scaffold was erected to enable all the work to be carried out safely.
“Our first task was to prepare and prime all the walls and ceilings, lock in any remaining stains and water marks, and give ourselves a really sound and consistent foundation to paint on,” said Site Foreman Tom Carus who supervised the entire job from start to finish. “For a thorough ‘belt and braces’ job we applied two coats of Crown Trade’s new Grip Extreme Primer which has fantastic adhesion over all sorts of substrates including fresh plaster and previously painted surfaces. Being waterborne it dries really quickly and it’s more pleasant to work with than many other primers.”
“We also had to prime the new iron frames installed when the glazier restored the stained glass windows,” said Tom. “We used Crown Trade Universal Metal Primer here to give the best possible protection against future corrosion, followed by Crown Trade Undercoat and Full Gloss.”
Then the decorating team applied two coats of Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt to all walls and ceilings. The paint was tinted and mixed to the exact colour recipes required by the Liverpool Crown Decorating Centre which supplied all the coatings needed for the project.
“We really rate this new emulsion from Crown,” said Tom. “We use it a lot now, especially in leisure facilities where the paintwork has to put up with a lot of punishment, because it’s so tough and durable and easy to scrub clean.
“Although it’s based on modern technology it has the traditional chalky matt finish required by the church”, he adds, “The key focal points in the building are the important icons and religious imagery on the walls and the last thing you want is for the decor to shine or detract from them in any way.”
Whilst there were many large expanses of broadwall to be painted there were also intricate details to be picked out in lots of areas, including the Sanctuary with its attractive domed ceiling, which was stencilled to represent a starry sky. “That part of the building is deemed to be so sacred that everyone had to receive a blessing from Father Iacovos before they could start work in there,” said Tom. “That was a ‘first’ for all of us!”
The redecorating work extended out from the main church into the foyer and adjacent rooms where Crown Trade Full Gloss in a fresh cream shade was used to brighten up woodwork and doors. Wooden rails and panelled areas requiring a translucent finish were spruced up with Sadolin Quick Drying varnish. Progress had to be swift as E & P had only six weeks to get all the work completed and access was limited to weekday, daytime hours in order to allow services to continue as normally as possible throughout the whole period.
Now that all the work has been completed, the decorating team have packed away all their gear and the scaffold has finally been taken down, Father Iacovus, his committee and his congregation are delighted with the results.
The priest commented: ”Once again E & P have done a fantastic job for us, just as they did the first time round. We’re also very grateful to Crown Paints for all their support and also for their assistance with our beautiful new colour schemes. We’ve put our faith in the Crown Trade coatings that were recommended to us and, God willing, we shouldn’t need to spend money on any more decorating work for another twenty years!”