The more time you spend on surface preparation, the better your finish will be. Here’s a handy guide for preparing your walls for painting.
Before you get started
- Don’t pull out old nails, since you’ll risk damaging your plasterboard. Instead, tap these nails into the wall, then fill the holes with a filling compound.
- Crayon and ballpoint pen marks on walls will bleed through a fresh coat of paint. To remove them, rub with a dab of toothpaste on a damp cloth, then rinse with clean water. If some marks still remain, cover them with a stain sealer.
- Use a water-based acrylic sealant to fill cracks, scratches and seams in plaster and plasterboard before painting or papering. Apply it with a sealant gun or straight from the tube, and smooth it with a wet fingertip (while wearing protective surgical gloves).
- To remove mould before repainting, use a mildew remover or a solution of one part bleach to two parts water. Don’t use a household cleaner; the resulting oily patch may prevent fresh paint from adhering.
What you will need
- Masking tape
- Plastic drop sheets
- Rubber gloves
- Clean rags and sponges
- Dishwashing detergent and warm water
- Household bleach
- Mild, non-ammonia detergent
- Paint scraper
- Abrasive paper
- Filling compound
- Filling knife
- Dustpan brush
- Primer or sealer
- Dust mask, goggles and respirator
- Hammer and nail punch (if required)
- Deglosser (optional).
1. Wash it down
- Remove all door locks and other fittings.
- Cover and tape over light switches and fittings, thermostats and electrical outlets.
- Cover the floor with drop sheets.
- Wearing rubber gloves, wash all surfaces thoroughly with warm water and dishwashing detergent.
- Remove any mildew with a solution of water, bleach and mild non-ammonia detergent.
2. Level the surface
- Remove any loose or peeling paint with your scraper, and feather the edges with sandpaper.
- Patch large, uneven areas or deep gaps in the paint with a filling compound.
- Don’t try to remove nails; instead, tap them in with a nail punch and fill the holes.
- Level any areas you have filled and, once dry, sand them smooth.
3. Take the shine off
- Sand glossy surfaces with fine sandpaper, wearing a dust mask and goggles as you work.
- Alternatively, use a commercial deglosser according to the manufacturer’s directions on glossy surfaces.
- Make sure the room is well-ventilated.
4. Sweep it clean
- After sanding, brush away all the dust.
- Dusting will suffice for most ceilings, but kitchen and bathroom ceilings, which may be greasy or stained with mildew, need special attention.
- Spot-clean these surfaces.
- You can also buy primers and paints formulated with anti-mould agents in them.
5. Prime it up
- Seal or prime raw wood.
- Also spot-prime any newly patched areas on the wall(s) you’ll be painting.
- You may want to tint the primer to cut down on the number of finishing coats that will be necessary.
- You will want to track your progress as you paint so don’t make the primer exactly the same colour as the finishing coat.
- Position a hand-held bulb or bright torch so it shines across the surface you’re preparing to paint.
- The light will highlight flaws that aren’t as obvious in daylight.
- Take a pencil (not a pen or marker) and lightly circle the spots that need work.
- Always wash the walls and ceiling thoroughly before painting.
- A simple sugar soap solution will remove most grease and grime.
- Dampen your cloth, don’t saturate: that way you won’t have water trickling into electrical outlets.
- Rinse the surface and allow to dry before repainting.
Follow this handy guide and you’ll have prepared your surfaces well for a fine finish of paint.