Preparation For Painting Work

First strip your room for action. Take down curtains and remove pictures from the walls. Group furniture in the centre of the room away from the walls. Remove shades from light fittings to ensure maximum illumination when you are working after dark. Cover the floor with plastic sheeting, old sheets or brown paper. Newspaper is not recommended, as paint can pass through and stain the floor. Using a soft-haired brush or vacuum cleaner attachments, remove as much dust as you can from the ceiling and walls.

Pre-painting preparation varies somewhat according to the composition of the surfaces to be painted. Any metal fastenings must be primed with the appropriate metal primer.

Plaster, cement and brick surfaces. If yours is a new house, note that a new building of “wet” construction takes some time to dry out and surfaces should not be painted until completely dry. It will be at least three months before you can apply emulsion paint and up to 12 months before you can apply an oil-based paint. During the drying-out process, water 40lubles crystallise on the surface in the form of a white powdery deposit known as efflorescence. Do not wash this off. Instead, wipe down with a piece of coarse sacking.

If your home is not newly built and you are re-decorating a room, thoroughly dust down the surfaces. Remove any loose material from cracks. Make these good. Emulsion paint can be applied direct. If the surfaces are highly porous, which makes brushing difficult, thin the paint with clean water. Before applying oil-based paints, apply one coat of an alkali-resisting primer, then two coats of undercoat before applying the top coat, lightly glass-papering and dusting off between coats to ensure a smooth surface.

Hardboards, plywood. Apply one or two coats of acrylic primer, thinned with water if necessary. Fill small cracks with proprietary filler, glasspaper to smoothness, dust off and leave to dry. Then apply two coats of emulsion paint or one coat of undercoat plus one coat of gloss or eggshell.

Polystyrene. Apply two coats of emulsion

paint. Do not use oil-based paints because of the fire risk.

Plasterboard, insulation board, asbestos wallboards. Make sure these surfaces are clean and dry. You can apply emulsion paint direct unless the wall is very porous: if it is, first apply a primer sealer. Before using an oil-based paint, apply an alkali-resisting primer.

Limewash and distemper. The lime-wash or distemper must be completely removed before re-painting. Use a stiff brush to clear any loose material. Remove the remainder by scrubbing with warm water. Then rinse thoroughly, allow to dry, and apply primer/sealer.

Previously painted surfaces must be thoroughly washed to remove dirt and grease, which may prevent the new paint from adhering. Use a solution of warm water and detergent. If the walls are very dirty, use sugar soap. Work from bottom to top to avoid streaky runs. Then rinse thoroughly with clean water, working this time from top to bottom. Glossy surfaces should be rubbed down with glasspaper. Flaking surfaces. These may be due to damp. If so, you must try to eliminate the source of the dampness and allow the surfaces to dry out completely, even if this means some months’ delay. If the wall is dry, scrape off all the flaking material, smoothing off edges with a proprietary filler. After glasspapering, apply a coat of primer/sealer, then two to three coats of emulsion or undercoat and gloss.

Painting over wallpaper or lining paper. One of the quickest ways of transforming a house you have just moved into is to paint over the wallpaper you have inherited. Remove all dirt and dust by dry brushing. Make sure the original wallpaper adheres firmly; restick any loose areas or edges. Strong colours in the wallpaper, such as bright red, may “bleed” through some paints and spoil the effect of your over-painting. Test a small patch. If “bleeding” occurs. You will need a special aluminium primer. Apply two to three coats of emulsion paint direct. Before using gloss, apply a coat of primer/sealer.

Preparing paint. New paint may have settled into heavy solids at the bottom of the can with thin liquid at top, very different from your chosen colour. Do not be alarmed. Stir the paint thoroughly. Use a wide flat piece of wood, palette knife or old kitchen knife. Use a lifting and stirring motion until the pigment is fully dispersed and the paint is of even consistency.

Partly used cans of paint may have a rubbery-looking skin on the surface due to air in the can. This skin must be completely removed. Cut round it with a sharp pointed knife and lift it away. Then strain the paint through an old nylon stocking or tights to remove any small remaining bits. To avoid mess, this is best done by placing the stocking over the tin and upturning the tin. After painting with gloss, put the lid on the can and bang gently all round the top with a hammer. Then turn the can upside down to reseal the paint and discourage skinning.

You can tie a piece of string across the paint tin to make a brush rest. If using large-size cans, decant the paint into a polythene paint kettle which has a useful handle.

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