Pro Tips For Preparing Your Surfaces Before Painting

A bad paint job can ruin a home project, but putting time into surface preparation prevents common mistakes that lead to a poor finish. This includes a lack of coverage, lumps and bumps, and mildew.

Wash surfaces to remove mildew and dirt and to eliminate excessive chalking. Then dry the surfaces to prevent moisture, which can inhibit adhesion.

1. Clean the Surface

A dirty surface can severely affect the quality of your paint job. Dust, grit and chemicals can stick to your new coat of paint and cause it to flake or peel away.

Luckily, cleaning surfaces isn’t difficult. Dry debris can be wiped off with a cloth, while wet residue can be scrubbed down with sugar soap or detergent. If the surface has been painted before, you may need to lightly sand it down or apply a deglosser.

Mould is another common problem that can be tackled with a mould removal spray. This fungus grows on damp surfaces and leaves a dark stain. Mould and efflorescence can also inhibit paint adhesion, promote blistering and cracking and result in a poor paint job. Taking the time to clean the surface before painting is well worth it in the long run.

2. Remove Any Debris

The surface that you want to paint may have accumulated dirt, dust, mildew and other contaminants over time. Failing to remove these can seriously inhibit paint adhesion.

If the wall is in good shape, a quick wipe down with a sponge and warm water should be enough to make it paint-ready. Surfaces that have been exposed to grease or oil, however, might need to be cleaned with a solution of water and a grease-cutting detergent.

Vacuum the walls with the bristle attachment or use a duster to get rid of cobwebs and dust, especially along trim and baseboards. A slightly damp sponge should be used to wipe the surfaces, including the corners and edges of the room. You should also be sure to remove any light switch and outlet covers before starting.

3. Sand the Surface

The final product of a paint job depends on the quality of surface prep. Skipping this step or rushing through it can result in an uneven finish that isn’t as durable as it could be.

Sanding smooths the material, creating a more even surface for painting and improving adhesion. It also helps remove any bumps or dents and reduces the need for multiple coats of paint.

The amount of sanding required depends on the condition of the surface and the type of paint you’re using. Cheaper paints may require a bit more sanding to prevent bubbles or brush marks, while high-gloss and polyurethane coatings typically don’t need any scuffing before they are applied.

4. Prime the Surface

Whether you’re painting over a dark color to light, painting a new piece of furniture or touching up old walls, it is important to prime the surface before you begin. Priming seals the surface and provides the perfect base for paint to adhere to.

You should always use primer on absorbent or porous surfaces like wood, new drywall, wallpaper, and fabric. Without the help of a primer, these materials will soak up the paint, leaving you with an uneven texture and requiring more coats to get the desired color.

Primer also helps to hide surface blemishes such as mildew, smoke damage and kid “art projects”. This can save you the time and money of having to repaint these areas later on. Primer is also a good choice for glossy or shiny surfaces that would otherwise be difficult to paint.

5. Apply the Paint

A proper surface preparation enhances paint adhesion, smooths imperfections, improves coverage and durability, and ultimately sets the stage for a flawless, professional-quality finish. Too often, however, this essential step is overlooked or rushed, leading to costly mistakes down the road.

Patch any nail holes and cracks, and sand the surfaces until they’re smooth. Remove any mildew, which is a living organism that usually shows up as a dark stain or powdery appearance. Wash the surface thoroughly with a mildew-removal product or bleach and water solution, then dry it completely.

Cover your furniture and any flooring with tarps, or use drop cloths if you’re painting indoors. This protects them from any accidental spills or splatters. You should also set aside a box or bin for all your tools to keep them organized and easy to find.

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