DIY Home Painting by PAINTFORME®

Chapter 5. Preparation for Painting

The last items to be added to the shopping list are all the things needed to prepare rooms for painting.


Properties that are older than 30 years tend to require more attention, and this depends on a couple of factors with the main three being: “how many times has it been decorated since being built” and “who did the painting and decorating” and “did they use professional materials and was the work completed in a professional manner”.


Preparation for painting may seem simple, but the devil is in the detail and this should be considered as being one of the most important parts of the process without cutting any corners. It is the quality of the work that counts. The price charged by painting and decorating businesses, for example, is always related to the quality of work provided, and as in life, you get what you pay for. So, next time you plan to ask painters and decorators for a quote, think of all the tasks you want them to do and then ask for a detailed written quote, listing all the materials they plan to use. This will give peace of mind to you and your property


To begin with, there are certain issues to look for such as, nail and plug holes, paint runs, stains, grease, mould and cracks, including hairline cracks, dried caulk cracks and structural cracks, which I will now explain in more detail.


Hairline cracks are the most common and can measure up to 2mm in width, but they are also the easiest to resolve. They are usually caused by aged plaster or paint, probably due to the use of low-quality materials leading to cracks over time, so make sure you use good-quality materials for any work you do. However, it does not necessarily have to be aged plaster that is the problem. If paint is applied to dusty surfaces that have not been previously dusted down before painting, mud cracking might occur. This is where tiny splits or cracks appear on the surface resembling dried mud. This can also occur if Matt finish is painted onto existing Eggshell, without adequate preparation. While paint dries it shrinks, so if it has been applied to a dusty or slippery surface, such as Eggshell, this can lead to cracking and possible paint peeling.


Best practice when preparing rooms is to begin by opening any cracks, as well as removing any nails, screws and plugs. Once this has been done, dust off and remove any debris from the area and get ready to start applying the filler. There are different types of filler available for both plaster and wood surfaces, and I recommend that you follow suit and use the appropriate type. The tip is to fill the crack or hole in flatly; as the filler will shrink as it dries, so this step might have to be repeated 2-3 times as necessary. Any larger holes should be filled using a two-part filler, bonding plaster or a piece of plasterboard. Apply joint tape to cracks that are over 2mm in width and up to the size of a finger hole.


When everything has dried, you can start sanding and I recommend that you use a universal P120 coarse type sand-paper or sanding sheet. However, this depends on the condition of the surfaces you’re going to paint, the age of the property and the tasks you are going to perform.


Caulk cracks mostly depend on the age of the original caulk, as the substance shrinks over time and usually lasts around 8-10 years. Once again, it is the quality of the material being used that matters! One important technique to remember when applying caulk is that the thicker the coat, the bigger any future cracks or gaps will be. However, most cracks can be filled in again and again as time and redecorating goes by. As with fillers, apply 2-3 flat coats if necessary. Excellent results can be achieved by wiping down the new caulk with a smooth damp sponge, but don’t sponge over fresh silicone! Once dry, touch up with a water-based Undercoat before the finishing coat is applied.


There could be many reasons for structural cracks, with the most common being related to the construction of the building. New builds can take anything up to 5 years to settle.


But there are also other causes, including the Underground, road bumps and holes, which cause vehicles to bounce creating ground vibrations that can influence the structure of a property causing a sort of chain reaction. Natural factors can also be involved, such as ground subsidence, which could be caused by rainwater, and wind.

I could also mention nearby construction work and the influence this can have on the pressure on the ground in the surrounding area. Paintforme Consultants are ready and available to look into this for you and can help organise a thorough investigation, if necessary.


The least you could do to help with most structural cracks is to make sure that they are only filled with appropriate material, before applying a joint tape onto them and skim filler the surrounding area. A radius of 15-30cm is ideal, depending on the thickness and width of the tape. This will hide any potential bumps. Remember, the thicker and wider the tape is, the stronger it will be. Also, bear in mind that other more invasive bonding techniques are available, if necessary.


Did you know that both the room protection phase and basic preparation can take a professional decorator as much time as the painting? But this can easily triple or quadruple when it comes to older properties, such as Victorian and Edwardian houses, where a lot of work is usually required.


The most common stains are caused by smoking, water, damp, wine and food. Stain Cover or Stain Block should be applied directly, except over smoking or urine stains, which should be washed down with adequate cleaning materials first. Kitchen and dining areas often require a good wash due to grease and oil residues and stains.

Mould should be washed down by using sugar soap or a chemical solution. Make sure you wear adequate PPE for all cleaning tasks and allow the areas to dry properly before painting.


Finally, all wooden surfaces should be rubbed down and fully undercoated before painting with finish coats. It is up to you whether you wish to sand walls and ceilings for smoothness, but a word of warning - this can be a hell of a job! Check where filler has been applied for smoothness. I strongly recommended that walls previously painted with Eggshell paint are fully sanded and wiped down before painting. The general sequence of sanding is: First the woodwork, then the walls and finally the ceiling. But when it comes to the final dust off, it’s the opposite.


Newly plastered walls need a mist coat and there is a specifically designed paint for this purpose, called Contract Matt. However, if you’re certain you have enough paint, you can use your finish paint for this purpose, by diluting it 50/50 with water.


Now that all preparation work has been completed, dust off everything before painting. Prepare brushes, rollers, paint kettles and scuttles, stir the paint and off you go.


And remember, if you have any questions or doubts feel free to contact me to discuss.

Now, let’s get on with painting and decorating your home!


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