Preparing your Walls for Paint
LESLIE: Mary in Ohio is needing some help with a painting project. What can we do for you?
MARY: I removed wallpaper off of my stairway going upstairs. Now I would like to know what to use to wash it real good because I took off the wallpaper with vinegar but I couldn’t get all of it off. So what would I use to prepare it for painting?
TOM: Do you still have some of the paste on there or is it pretty flat?
MARY: I think probably.
TOM: OK. Well, what I would do is I’d first wash it with trisodium phosphate – TSP; available at home centers, hardware stores, paint stores, that sort of thing.
MARY: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, I have some.
TOM: OK, good.
LESLIE: Oh, good.
TOM: So do a good job of washing that out. Make sure you rinse to get all of the old soap off and then it’s going to be really important, Mary, that you prime the walls.
MARY: Should I sand it first? I’m going to have to patch some of the holes.
TOM: Only – well, OK. Do all your patching and stuff and, yes, do all your sanding; but don’t sand too hard, now, because if you’ve got drywall there you’ll go right through the paper surface.
MARY: Oh, no. I have plaster, which is good.
TOM: Oh, yeah; plaster. Sanding it lightly is not a bad thing but it’s real important that you prime it. You can use – probably an oil-based primer would do the best job. When you have a somewhat unknown and inconsistent surface, you’re usually better off using an oil-based primer. But you can also use the alkyd primers, which dry very fast, but the only thing I don’t like about those, Leslie, is they tend to leave brush marks or roller marks because they do dry so quick.
LESLIE: Yeah, you get a lot of brush marks or roller marks.
Another thing, Mary, to keep in mind is since you’re dealing with possibly an uneven surface or you know areas where you might have some of that sticky stuff still there that might show, if you go with a flat finish on your paint, any sort of inconsistencies on that wall surface really won’t stand out. If you went with any sort of gloss or sheen, it would really make it obvious; so go flat to sort of hide those imperfections.
MARY: OK. So the best thing to do is to wash it with the TSP.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, then prime then paint.
MARY: Yes. OK. Thank you. I was going to do that, so I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.
TOM: Well, you’re absolutely on the right track, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.