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How to Prepare Walls for Painting (page 2 of 3)

The key to a successful paint job is in the prep. Learn how to remove wallpaper, strip wood and patch walls to get them ready for a new coat of paint.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Stripping Wallpaper

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Steam strippers work most efficiently when top layers of paper have been removed, exposing the more absorbent backing paper. The impermeable surface layer of vinyl papers often peels dry, relatively easily. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Wear protective gloves, if the tool's manual recommends them, and goggles. Steam and drips may burn, so take all possible precautions to protect yourself. Never use a steam stripper to remove paper from a ceiling. Instead, simply soak the paper with warm water and then scrape the paper off the ceiling surface, an option that can also be used on a wall if you prefer.

You'll need: drop cloths, steam stripper, warm water, garbage bags

Lay drop cloths over the room (Image 1), and remove as much loose paper from the wall by hand as you can.

Fill the stripper with warm water before plugging it in. When it starts to steam, place it flush on the wall (Image 2).

Hold the pad completely flush on the wall surface. After 15–30 seconds, move it along and scrape paper off the wall in the steamed area (Image 1). The thicker the layer(s) of paper, the longer you will need to hold the pad in place. But do not hold it still for too long or the wall surface itself may crumble.

Work your way across the wall, steaming areas and removing paper (Image 2).

Continue removing paper (Image 3). Put it in a garbage bag as you remove it, so that it does not stick to the drop cloth or other surfaces.

Washing Down a Wall and Filling Holes

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After a wall has been stripped, wash the surface thoroughly to remove all traces of adhesive. Use soapy hot water to sponge the wall. Then rinse with clean water. You can now repaper the wall. If you wish to paint the wall, apply an oil-based undercoat before a water-based latex paint. However well the wall has been cleaned, traces of adhesive may bleed through a water-based paint; oil-based undercoat prevents this. It is needed on a previously painted wall only if the wall is in poor condition.

You'll need: TSP, hot water, sponge, oil-based undercoat (optional), brush, spackle, 2-inch knife, sandpaper

Clean out the hole with a dry brush. Apply filler by pressing it in place with a 2-inch knife (Image 1). (Deeper holes may need filling twice because spackle contracts as it dries.)

Once the spackle has dried, sand it back to create a smooth surface flush with the surrounding area (Image 2).

Filling Cracks

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Cracks are best filled using caulk. It is supplied in a tube and is applied along cracks or joints with a caulk gun. It cannot be sanded, and must therefore be smoothed by hand before it dries. Some caulks may be overpainted when dry. Choose a latex caulk if you think you may paint. Others need an oil-based undercoat to prepare them for water-based paints, which may crack if there is no undercoat. A ceiling–wall junction is shown here.

You'll need: caulk, caulk gun, sponge, brush, oil-based undercoat

Clean out the joint. Prepare the sealant and gun. Apply even pressure to the trigger, moving the gun along the joint (Image 1).

Gently smooth the sealant with a wet finger (Image 2). You may also use a damp sponge to smooth the caulk.

New Wall and Ceiling Surfaces

Plaster in a good condition can be directly overpainted with full-strength paint. Alternatively, first apply a mist coat of diluted latex paint (1 part water to 10 parts paint), which provides a base for further coats. Drywall ceilings must be coated with a special sealer before paint is applied, otherwise paint may dry differently on the board than on the jointing compound.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009