A Day In The Life At The Dulux Academy – With James Leonard
Prior to moving into painting and decorating, James Leonard of JD Leonard Contracting worked for 20-years as a self-employed landscaper. Here, James discusses his experiences attending the Dulux Academy Painting & Decorating Level One course and how he’ll take the lessons learnt forward into his career.
Walking into the Dulux Academy for the first time is something that will always stick with me. Having done a huge amount of research before booking the course, I was well aware of the high-standard of the facilities based in Slough, but what really impressed me was the friendly, relaxing atmosphere of the Dulux Academy.
On arrival, I was given the chance to mix with the other attendees over breakfast and coffee, and it soon became clear that although we all came from different backgrounds and were at varying levels of our career, we all had one thing in common – we came to increase our knowledge and improve at our craft.
At this point we were introduced to our trainer for the day, Tony Pearson-Young. Immediately likable, Tony demonstrated a confidence and passion for his trade, with a wide range of experience in the industry having worked both independently and for a contractor.
After the initial introductions we were led to one of the classrooms to take us through the basics of health and safety for the day and to explain the course structure. Featuring both theory and practical sessions, the course has been designed to give attendees a broad understanding of the techniques and tools that all professional painters and decorators should be incorporating into their work.
The first section of the morning delved into the theory behind paint, including the key components of paint, the different finishes available to professionals as well as substrate preparation for a variety of surfaces and the various tools painters and decorators use.
Before this session, I knew very little about the composition of paint, but it soon became clear that there is a lot of research that goes into the development of products to achieve different finishes. Since the course, this has been very useful for me in dealing with clients as I am able to trust my judgement in making considered recommendations for finishes.
On completion of the morning theory section, we all move into the larger of the two practical rooms. Containing 12-bays, The Application Arena allows attendees to put what they have learned in theory into practice.
Prior to applying any paint, we were shown the correct techniques of painting, such as how to correctly use a paint brush, including loading, laying off and cutting in. As I had been self-taught up until this point, I had never realised the importance of dampening your brush to ensure that paint is evenly distributed on the bristles or how to cut in like a professional. For me, these tips highlighted the importance of correct technique and they have really enabled me to take my trade to the next level – saving me time and producing better results for clients.
Having broken for lunch, we then all filtered back into The Application Arena for further practical demonstrations, including how to avoid brush marks or picture framing around light switches and the appropriate preparation techniques – including an understanding of the grade or grit size of sandpaper and how it should be used for different applications. After this, we were then tasked with completing the painting of our bay areas. Admiring our completed work, it was very clear that the lessons that I – and all the rest of the attendees – learnt throughout the day made a real impact on how we all approached painting a surface.
Finally, before the day came to a close, we wrapped up with an open Q&A session and a final segment on the tools to assist surface preparation. There’s an old adage that “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”, and this is definitely true of painting and decorating with the final result hugely reliant on preparation.
The day was a fantastic introduction to best practice application, full of hands-on tips that I have been able to immediately employ in my day-to-day working life. I’ve been able to gain a huge amount of confidence from the course, knowing that I have Dulux behind me.
My biggest takeaway from the day – apart from the bacon bap – was being able to refine my technique under the guidance of a hugely-experienced course leader and knowing that I made the correct decision, not just in switching career, but in choosing the Dulux Academy to further my skills. For me, this has given me the confidence to take the next step in my career and I have since applied to take the City & Guilds Painting & Decorating Level 3 diploma. The Dulux Academy hasn’t seen the last of me.