If you have recently moved into a new property, or are hoping to give an old room a new look, then applying a fresh lick of paint is a great place to start.
There are so many different types of wall paint available in a huge array of colors and finishes.
However, no wall paint will look as good as you would like unless it is applied to clean, well-prepped walls.
Knowing how to properly clean and prep your walls before painting will not only make the painting process easier and more successful, but it will also improve the look and quality of the finished paint job.
In this article, we go through some simple tips and tricks, so that you can make sure your walls are clean and ready when decorating day comes round!
Why Clean Your Walls Before Painting?
Cleaning your walls before painting may seem like an arduous, time-consuming, and unnecessary task, which is why so many people decide to skip this step when they come to decorate their own homes.
However, it is in fact a very crucial step in the painting process if you want to ensure that you get a professional-looking paint job at the end of it.
The negative impact of not cleaning your wall may not become apparent for a little while.
At first, you might think that you have been rather clever and saved some time. Indeed, sometimes the consequences won't become obvious for several years.
However, not cleaning your walls thoroughly before painting will cause them to crack, peel off, and flake away over time.
This can lead to unsightly marks on your walls and, even worse, damage to the plasterboard underneath.
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How To Prep The Wall For Painting: 7 Simple Steps
If you do not know what type of wall you have, then you should always check with a qualified painter or building contractor before starting any work.
They will be able to tell you whether your wall is suitable for painting, and if not, what needs to be done to prepare it.
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Step 1 - Prepare The Room
Protect your floors by laying a drop cloth down over them. This prevents sawdust, old paint, soapy water, and wet paint from marking and damaging them.
It is a good idea to remove as much furniture as possible from the room that you wish to paint, as this is the best way of avoiding damage to upholstery and woodwork.
However, any furniture pieces that are too big to be removed should also be covered with a drop cloth.
Step 2 - Remove Any Old Paint
If you have had previous coats of paint on your walls, then you need to remove all traces of the old paint before you begin preparing the surface.
Make sure you don't leave any scrapes behind, because these could mark the freshly painted surface.
Step 3 - Sand Down The Surface
Once all traces of the old coat of paint have been removed, you can sand down the wall using a fine grit sandpaper.
It's important to apply the sandpaper in a circular motion, otherwise, you run the risk of scratching the newly prepared surface too deeply.
The idea is to create very light blemishing, so your new coat of paint gets more traction on the wall.
Step 4 - Wipe Away Dust And Debris
Once the surface has been sanded, wipe away any dust and debris left by the sanding process.
You can use a damp cloth to help with this, or alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner.
Be careful not to scratch the freshly prepared surface during this part of the preparation process.
Step 5 - Wash Walls With Warm Water
Use warm water and a mild soap to wash away stubborn stains that might show through as dark patches beneath your fresh coat of paint.
To ensure you get your walls clean, make sure that you are using clean water, and that you refresh your water regularly.
This will prevent you from rubbing dirty water back onto your walls and simply spreading existing dirt around.
If you have any tough stains on dirty walls, you can try adding a little white vinegar into lukewarm water, and use a clean cloth to sponge them off.
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Step 6 - Leave To Dry
It is important that you leave your walls to dry completely before you begin painting, otherwise the water could form a barrier between the paint and the surface.
The drying process should not take long, as you won't have used an excessive amount of water when washing the walls down.
Step 7 - Masking Tape
Once the walls have been prepped and cleaned, you can then run masking tape around the parameters of the area you wish to paint.
Be sure to cover light switches with masking tape too to avoid them being splattered with wet paint during the painting process.
The masking tape can be removed after your paint has dried to create smooth, neat lines at the ceiling, borders, and corners.
How To Clean Kitchen Walls Before Painting
Kitchen walls need particular care and attention paid to them before painting, as they are likely to have gathered plenty of dust and grease over the years.
Grease can form a barrier between fresh paint and the wall, causing it to flake and peel over time.
To avoid this, you must ensure that kitchen walls are thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned.
A top tip is to mix some TCP into your cleaning water when tackling greasy walls. TCP will break down the grease particles and effectively lift them from the wall surface.
Use concentrated circling motions with the cloth, and you can even use a soft bristle brush to really loosen the grease and work it away.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Because it's such a mild cleaner, dish soap is an ideal first line of attack for dirty walls.
A mixture of 1 ounce of your favorite dish detergent per gallon of warm water removes general dirt from most surfaces as well as smudges from walls with a gloss or semi-gloss finish.
Mix ⅓ cup of bleach, one gallon of water and one teaspoon of Tide powdered laundry detergent.
It works amazingly well on walls, bathroom surfaces and pretty much everywhere else!
Yes, you can use Swiffer wet or dry cloths on walls.
They work great at getting dust and dirt off those high, hard to reach places.
Yes, but not on oil based paints. Skip the white vinegar for walls with oil-based paint.
The acid in vinegar can dull and damage oil-based finishes. For latex paint, mix ½ cup vinegar with a gallon of warm water.
We always recommend cleaning your walls before painting them, whether you are using a water-based paint, latex paint, oil-based paint, or other.
The only time you could possibly skip this step is if you have a room that is dust-free, grease-free, and does not have an open fireplace.
If you want to do a professional-looking painting job, then you must do the right painting prep and always clean your walls for painting.