A fresh coat of wall paint can transform a room from dreary to dazzling in a matter of hours. But before you can apply a fresh coat of emulsion, you’ll need to prepare the surface. This will help ensure a beautiful, professional finish.
Preparing walls for painting is about creating a clean, smooth and even surface. This means filling in holes, sanding away lumps and bumps and washing the wall thoroughly. Some walls may also require a coat of primer to help the paint job adhere.
If you’re not sure where to start, read on. In this guide, we’ll explain how to prep a wall for painting in 5 simple steps.
Why Do You Need to Prep Walls Before Painting?
Budding DIYers often wonder whether preparing a wall for painting is always necessary. Unless your interior walls are in fantastic condition, the answer is yes. Older walls and surfaces in high-traffic areas will usually require the most work.
Failing to adequately prep walls for painting can result in issues such as:
- Blisters or bubbles in the paintwork
- Peeling paint
- Lumps and bumps
- A streaky, patchy or uneven finish
- Visible marks or stains showing through the paint
It may be tempting to simply paint over any imperfections. However, spending a little extra time to prepare the surface will make an enormous difference to the end result. It will also help the paint job to last longer, meaning you won’t have to redecorate as often.
How to Prepare Walls for Painting
To prep old walls for painting, you will need the following supplies:
- Wall cleaner and a soft cloth or sponge
- Masking tape
- Dust sheets
- A dust mask
- Fine grit sandpaper or a sanding block
- A scraper or putty knife
- Wall primer, paint brush, roller and tray (if required)
If you’re dealing with wallpapered walls, you’ll also need a wide stripping tool and spray bottle. Particularly stubborn areas may also require a steamer or wallpaper stripping solution.
Step 1. Remove Anything on the Wall
Before you start, move all furniture away from the walls. Put on your dust mask and lay down a dust sheet to protect your flooring and belongings.
The first step to prepping walls for paint is to remove anything affixed to the wall. This may include wall decals, sticky tack, hooks, nails and screws. Use a scraper to gently remove old paint that is blistered, flaking or peeling.
You will also need to remove any wallpaper with a stripping knife. Warm water should help to loosen it. If not, you may need use steam or a chemical wallpaper stripper.
Step 2: Fill Holes and Cracks with Filler
The second stage of wall prep for painting, after removing wallpaper, is to fill in all cracks, chips and screw holes. For a flawless finish, it’s crucial that the wall is even and free from imperfections.
Start by preparing a small amount of wall filler according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply it evenly using a filling knife or scraper, smoothing out the surface as you go.
Ideally, work in bright natural light, taking your time to ensure you don’t miss any small holes or scratches. Wait for the filler to dry completely before continuing.
Step 3: Sand and Clean the Wall
Next, gently sand down any filled areas and other rough patches using fine grit sandpaper. This is an essential step in wall preparation before painting – if you skip it, your paintwork may end up bumpy or uneven.
Once it’s completely smooth, it’s important to rid the surface of grease and dirt. Here’s how to clean walls before painting:
- Dilute a small amount of wall cleaner in warm water according to dosage instructions
- Dampen a soft sponge or lint-free cloth in the soapy water solution
- Gently scrub the whole wall, focusing on any marks, stains and scuffs
- Rinse the wall with clean water to remove residual detergent
Cleaning walls before painting will help the paint to adhere properly, preventing peeling and blistering.
Step 4: Apply Masking Tape
When your freshly washed wall has finished drying, you’re almost ready to paint. But first, use masking tape (or painter’s tape) protect any areas that shouldn’t be painted – such as window and door frames, skirting boards, switches and sockets. This type of tape is designed to be easily removable, so it won’t leave residue or damage the plaster underneath.
Apply the masking tape neatly and evenly, pressing it firmly against the edges of the areas you’d like to keep free of paint. This will help you achieve clean, sharp lines when painting your wall – so take your time to do it correctly.
Step 5: Apply Primer (Optional)
It’s not always essential to apply a coat of primer before painting. However, it can help to cover imperfections and create better adhesion between the paint and the surface. You might consider using a primer if:
- You need to cover up stains, marks or patches of filler
- You plan to paint over a dark surface with a lighter emulsion colour (e.g. white)
- You’re painting bare plaster (a primer will help to seal the wall, preventing patchiness and creating a more durable finish)
Opt for a high-quality water-based primer such as Auro 505 Grip Coat or Auro 301 Plaster Primer. You can also create your own ‘mist coat’ by diluting emulsion with 10-20% water. Whichever option you choose, allow it to dry completely before painting.
Where Can I Buy Natural, Eco-Friendly Wall Paint?
At Greenshop Paints, we specialise in natural, sustainable paints and finishes. We are the chosen main UK stockist for Auro Paints and work with many other great brands such as Treatex, Earthborn and Osmo.
Our online store offers a fantastic selection of eco-friendly emulsions, exterior wall paint, wood finishes and more. We also carry a variety of environmentally friendly painting and decorating supplies, from wall fillers to paint rollers.
Explore our range of natural paints: