Preparing Walls and Ceilings for Painting

Summary: Find out how to prepare your ceilings and walls for painting, what tools and items you will need to complete the job and also how you can repair any damage before you start

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If you’re planning to redecorate by repainting a wall, there are a few things which can make the job look really professional.

Before You Start

Get the room ready by removing as much furniture as possible from the room. Any that you can’t remove, move to the centre of the room and cover with dustsheets.

Next you need to protect the floor – put down dustsheets. You can buy disposable dustsheets made from thin plastic if you don’t have any old material you can use.

Remove any lampshades from walls or ceilings you’re planning on painting. If possible, remove the lamp fittings too. If you want to be really thorough, you could take radiators off the wall too. See our Removing a Radiator Project for help with this. If removing radiators is too big a job for you, you can use a small roller to get down behind the radiator when you’re painting.

Preparing for Painting

If the walls and ceiling are in a good state and you just want to change the colour or freshen it up, you can just wash them down with a sugar soap and water solution. This will remove any dust and grease, and help the new coat of paint to adhere to the wall. Make sure the walls and ceiling dry out completely before you start painting.

If there are any cracks in the walls, these should be filled. Cracks often appear over time in corners and around windows, and sometimes between the wall and the skirting, so be sure to check over the whole room carefully. See our Filling Cracks Project for help with this.

Get some masking tape or decorators tape, and tape all the way around the skirting so that you don’t splash any paint on it. You can also mask around window and door frames. Light switches and plug sockets can be masked, or just cleaned off with a sponge once you’ve finished painting.

If there are any imperfections, lumps or bumps on the wall or ceiling, you will need to sand it down. If you don’t sand the walls before you start, you will only enhance any imperfections and make it look worse. If there are lots of rough areas, a mouse sander will make the job much easier and quicker for you. Make sure you finish with a fine grade paper to create a smooth wall ready for painting. Brush down the wall well after sanding to remove any dust, and rub down with a damp cloth for an even better finish.

To sand ceilings, you can use a piece of sandpaper attached to a pad on a long handle, or get up close using a step-ladder.

If the walls are currently papered, unless it’s a plain, smooth paper in good condition, you’ll need to strip it off before you start. See our Wallpaper Stripping Project for help with this.

If you have any problems with mould, damp or condensation in the room you are painting, see our Damp and Mould Project for help.

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