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How to Prep Your Walls for Painting

Painting your walls is one of the easiest DIY projects, but it’s important to make sure your wall surface is smooth before you start slapping on paint. You don’t want a fresh coat of paint to magnify small dings or holes.

Prepping your walls correctly helps you avoid painter’s remorse later on. Follow this step-by-step guide to get your walls ready for paint!

Clean the Walls

Cleaning walls is a crucial part of preparing them for painting. Grime, cobwebs, dust, and stains can interfere with the adhesion of wall-repair materials and paint. A good washing will also remove any odors that can linger in damp areas.

Generally, a solution of warm water and mild detergent is sufficient for most wall surfaces. For kitchen walls, however, where grease has accumulated or for kids’ rooms where crayon marks persist, a stronger cleanser might be needed – such as trisodium phosphate (TSP). Always test any cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the surface before using it for the entire room.

Always wear protective gear when applying any cleaning solution, including gloves, face masks and eye protection. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation too, to avoid releasing harmful fumes into the room. Alternatively, try making your own gentle cleaner by mixing a small amount of baking soda with warm water. Test this on an inconspicuous area of the wall to ensure it doesn’t lift or damage the finish.

Remove Dirt and Dust

Walls absorb and collect a variety of contaminants, from grease splatters and smoke to mildew and insect droppings. They also gather dirt and smudges around doorknobs, light switches and furniture, and even the most pristine homes have dust that builds up and can make walls look dull. It’s important to regularly clean painted surfaces, especially those near windows or doors. Small smudges and marks should be cleaned weekly, and large splatters and scribblings immediately.

To wash your walls, use a sponge that is safe for your paint finish and a gentle cleaning solution. A diluted de-greasing cleaner works well for latex paint, while a mild detergent will work for oil-based paints.

Create a cleaning solution in a bucket of warm water and your cleaner, and have a second bucket for rinsing the sponge to avoid leaving behind water spots or tinted residue. Dip a sponge in your cleaner, wring it dry and wipe down the walls one section at a time, working from top to bottom.

Repair Cracks and Holes

Small cracks in drywall and holes from nails, screws or other wall hangings are easy to fix. Use a filler that’s suitable for the type of wall and follow the instructions on the packaging. It’s also worth removing any dust or dirt from the surface before you apply filler as this can affect how well it sticks and how smooth the final result is.

If you have wide cracks in the walls, you’ll need to repair them using specialist products that can deal with these types of issues. It’s best to have these fixed prior to painting so you can paint over them seamlessly and avoid having unsightly patches on your walls.

You can even use a filler like Selleys No More Gaps Coloured Caulk which is available in 10 different colours. This can be used on both plaster and masonry walls. It’s important to sand the area after applying this product, too, to help it blend in with the rest of the wall.

Seal Torn Paper

If you have torn paper on your walls, seal it with Zinsser Gardz before painting. If you don’t, the undamaged layers of drywall will absorb the moisture from touch-up paint and cause it to bubble and ripple. This isn’t something you can fix with sanding alone – the only way to get it smooth is to use the sealer, which will prevent this and help you save money by doing less coats of paint in the long run.

If possible, take out or cover furniture before beginning your project to protect it from paint splatter. Also, clear the floor of any furniture and roll up rugs or carpets to prevent damage. If you have a lot of clutter in the room, clear it out to give yourself ample space to work. Finally, put all your supplies in one place – this will save time searching for a brush or paint roller or running back and forth to the store to get more tarps.

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