What is the best way to clean walls before Painting?
The Painting guide by Painters in Austin
Cleaning walls is one of the hardest parts of prepping for a big paint job, and we, here at Painters in Austin are here to break down the process to its simplest form and walk you through it all. Keep reading to find out more!
- Moving the furniture: Before you begin applying paint to your walls, take the time to move all the furniture and other items in the room you’ll be painting. This includes any wall hangings, such as picture frames, mirrors, etc. It may be easiest to gather the furniture in the middle of the room, away from the walls, rather than moving it all out. After that, simply cover your furniture completely with plastic, wrapping it tightly with tape to keep the paint from dripping on it.
- Prep the house: Wash the walls, remove wallpaper, patch, spackle, seal stains, dry and sand before you attempt to paint. Now is also the time to apply painters’ tape for trimming, lay drop cloths, etc. Remove all outlet and light switch face plates, collecting screws in a zip-top bag.
- Cleaning the walls: As seen in our How to Prep Walls for Painting video, clean walls are key in preparing a room for painting. While there is no best way to clean walls before painting, most walls can be washed using a sponge and warm water. For surfaces that have exposure to oil or grime, like kitchen walls, wash with a solution of water and grease-cutting detergent and follow up with clean water to remove any residual cleaning agent. Finish by wiping the walls with a damp cloth.
- Removing mildew: No matter which room you’re preparing to paint, make sure you address any mildew first. Never paint over mildew—it will grow through new paint, which will make subsequent cleaning and maintenance even more difficult. You can clean mildew with a sponge and a solution that is three-to-four parts water to one part bleach. Apply the solution, allow it to set for a few minutes, scrub the affected surface with a soft brush, and rinse the area with clean water. Make sure you wear gloves and goggles and allow time to dry. The most important part of the process is to make sure you let everything dry thoroughly. Applying primer or paint to walls that are still damp can cause a host of issues, including blistering.
- Search for and fix flaws: Take the time to search for flaws in your walls, such as nail holes, dents and cracks. Depending on the size of the room, this step might take longer than you expect.
- Tools are a life saver: To get started, here are some of the most basic supplies you’ll need for prepping:
- Patch blades (6, 8 or 12 inches)
- Patch or caulk
- Sandpaper or an electric sander
- Protective eyewear
- Sanding: While sanding is not required for every paint project, rough spots on walls, whether they have been previously painted or not, need to be sanded before they are painted to ensure the paint goes on smoothly. Use sandpaper or a sanding block to dull any uneven surfaces, wipe away dust with a damp cloth and let dry thoroughly. Smoothing walls before painting is necessary for surfaces previously painted with a gloss or high-gloss paint. For previously painted water-based paint, sand with a fine-grit sandpaper. For oil-based paint, a medium-grit sandpaper (100- to 150-grit) should be used. Again, wipe away any debris and allow to dry completely.
- Priming: If paint and paint color make a home, then primer is that home’s foundation. Use a primer to get the most out of your paint, especially if your walls are porous or have surface stains that need covering up. Primers disguise imperfections, create a smooth surface for your paint to lock onto, and ensure a uniform finish no matter what you’re painting.
- Dark colors, stains, and previously unpainted surfaces (drywall, spackle, etc.) will need a primer coat, usually white. Most paint stores & home improvement centers will now tint primer to match fairly close to the color of the finished coat, that way two coats of primer need not be applied.
- Priming is compulsory if you’re painting over a darker color, or on a new drywall, but it’s a good idea to include this step before any paint job. A primer is necessary because it blocks any stains from bleeding through. It is also important because it prevents any blisters and paint-peeling by improving paint adhesion.
- Lastly, primer is a good idea as it allows complete single-coat coverage of the walls. If you want a better appearance, you can tint your primer with the final color you intend on using on the walls. Most paints today come with inbuilt primers, but an old school primer is still a better option. Before you start painting, remember to use painter’s tape to cover your door frames, windowsills, and any switches on the wall.