How to prepare a wall for painting

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Project overview

In order to get the best paint finish, you need to put in some work doing the prep first. Depending on the state of your wall, this can be an easy job or a little bit more challenging. In this article we’ll show you how to prep a wall for painting, how to clean it, how to strip paint and how to remove horrible stains too.

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How to get paint off walls

It’s a common DIY occurrence. You’re painting and the brush slips and you get paint somewhere you’d rather not. Or maybe a child gets in the tin and you come back to find tiny hand prints all over your walls.

Removing paint from walls isn’t too difficult but it does mean you’ll probably have to touch up the affected area anyway. There are a few ways you can get rid of paint mishaps.

  1. Scrape

If the paint didn’t quite take and once dry is flaking, you should be able to just scrape it off with a flat scraper.

Work the scraper underneath the paint and firmly move back and forth until it comes loose.

  1. Sandpaper

You may be able to sand the paint away however this will require a lot of elbow grease or an electric sander.

Instead, sand the paint and then cover it over with the right colour instead – just like you would do if you prepping for a basecoat.

  1. Paint stripper

If the paint is somewhere you’d rather it wasn’t (like a kitchen cupboard for instance) and it’s dried, a paint stripper will take care of the problem.

You can use this on a wall but remember that you may end up stripping off more paint than you’d like. For extra precision, try applying it with a small paintbrush.

  1. A cloth

Because of changes in legislation, a lot of paints are now water-based so if you’re lucky enough to spot the problem before the paint dries, you should be able to easily wipe it up with a cloth.

Be careful not to spread the paint through, try and keep it to as small an area as possible.


How to remove oil stains from walls

Oily and greasy streaks can sometimes happen with you knowing it. Luckily you don’t have to repaint the wall and there are some common every day household essentials that can help you remove any stubborn oil or grease marks.

  1. Washing up liquid

Washing up liquid is specially formulated to remove grease from your dishes, so why wouldn’t it work on walls too?

All you need to do is dip a sponge in warm water and washing up liquid and gently dab at the affected area. For tougher marks, you might need to rub a little bit until you notice the stain moving.

  1. White or distilled vinegar

White vinegar (available in most supermarkets or chip shops) contains acetic acid which breaks down grease and oil so is a useful household cleaner that’s free from harsh chemicals.

As with washing up liquid, cover a cloth or sponge in white vinegar and dab or rub at the stain.


How to clean walls

As part of prepping walls for painting, you need to clean them first. This gives you a blemish-free surface ready for painting. After all, you don’t want to forever ingrain dirt into your walls by painting over it.

  1. Dust first

First things first, dust the wall with a cloth or vacuum cleaner and remove as much as you can.

  1. Remove marks or stains

Follow our steps above to remove marks and stains.

  1. Wipe down the wall

Use warm soapy water, a general purpose household cleaner or sugar soap solution and move in upwards motions along the wall.

Once your wall is cleaned, you can move on to the next step of the prep.


How to prep walls for painting

Once you’ve cleaned your wall and removed stubborn marks and stains, you need to prep the wall to enable to paint to stick better.

  1. Fix issues

After cleaning the wall, you need to turn your attention towards rectifying any imperfections

If there are any holes in the wall, fill them and sand down the surface before painting.

All and you absolutely should not paint over it. This will only mask the problem and could, in some instances, spread the mould spores further.

Stains can be blocked to prevent them from ruining your future paint job.

  1. Sand the wall

The next step after cleaning is to sand the wall. This helps smooth out the surface, works out any really ingrained dirt and may even remove some flaky paint. If you’ve filled any holes, focus on smoothing down the raised filler.

When you’ve finished sanding, vacuum up the remaining dust.

  1. Final prep

Cover light switches, door frames, and the edges of skirting with masking tape. Put down a dust sheet, cover furniture and have one final vacuum to remove dirt and dust.

Now you can apply a primer or basecoat to ensure the final top coat sticks well and you have a perfect finish.



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