Do You Need to Clean Walls Before Painting?

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A lot of people wonder if they can bypass wall-cleaning, probably because cleaning walls can be the least-exciting part of an interior painting project. There’s no definite answer to this question – it depends on the condition of your walls.

If you can see grease stains, smudges, dirt and the like on a wall, it needs to be cleaned before painting. These substances will prevent paint from adhering properly to the surface and may bleed through the paint.

Interior painting in Framington CTIf you can’t see any obvious staining or dirt, take a clean white cloth and wipe the wall from one corner to the other. You might be surprised at the amount of dust and grime that can be unseen on a wall. If the cloth is clean, you’re ready to get started painting. If not, some cleaning is in order.

How to clean your walls prior to painting

Before tackling walls with excess dust or grime, there are a few other preparation tasks you should perform.

Peeling/chipped paint: Use a putty knife to lift off any paint that’s coming loose from the wall. Only worry about the flakes that come off easily – in other words, don’t gouge the walls. When you’re done, there will be some rough edges where peeling paint has been removed. Sand down these edges so they’re smooth to the touch.

Loose plaster/holes: If there are areas of loose plaster, scrape and sand them. Holes from nails or screws can be filled with spackle applied with a putty knife. Your goal is to make the wall as smooth and uniform from top to bottom as possible.

Dusty walls: Even if there are no signs of dirt or stains, it’s always a good idea to go over all wall surfaces with a dry dust mop to remove any dust and cobwebs that might be present. If dust is the only issue with the walls, this should be sufficient preparation.

Cleaning stains and smudges from your walls

General staining and smudging normally can be cleaned off with a soft sponge and a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent. Tougher stains, particularly if they’re oil-based, might need a stronger cleaner like Formula 409 applied with an abrasive scrub pad.

Interior painting prep in Canton CT

After treatment with the cleaner, rinse the walls (or areas of the walls you’ve worked on) with clean water to remove soap residue that could negatively affect the paint job. Dry as thoroughly as possible with clean towels, then let the surface air-dry overnight as an added precaution. For paint to adhere well and look its best, it’s critical to paint only completely dry surfaces.

By following these guidelines, you’ll get your walls into the best shape possible before adding paint. Paint added to properly prepared walls will maintain its original color and smoothness much longer than walls that were neglected prior to painting.

Franklin Painting of Farmington, CT, can bring outstanding results to all your interior and exterior painting projects. If you’d rather not do it yourself, turn the job over to professionals whose only objective is to exceed your expectations, every time. With questions or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (877) 646-7774.


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