Time spent in preparation is never wasted. All your effort can count for very little if the surface does not provide a sound base on which the paint can adhere. Professionals find that preparation can take up to half the total job time, especially if it's been a long time since the last paint job. To avoid lengthy preparation, freshen up your paintwork before the surface deteriorates!
The following simple steps may seem fairly unexciting, but they are the way to make sure you'll be happy with the results for years to come.
Look for signs of any problems with old paint - peeling, flaking, cracking, chalking or blistering. These suggest repair work is necessary. Loose or faulty surfaces should be removed to create a sound, smooth, clean and dry base for painting.
If your surface is sound, with no flaking or peeling, the next step is cleaning. Wash it down well with sugar soap, remembering to follow the directions on the pack. This will remove grease, smoke stains and dirt to give you a good, clean surface to paint. On walls, wash from the bottom up, to prevent runs from marking the existing paintwork.
To remove mould, use a hypochlorite (household bleach) solution instead of sugar soap. Dilute 1 part hypochlorite with 3 parts of clean water to make the solution. Wear gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes. Apply the solution with a thick scouring pad to lightly abrade the surface and ensure physical removal of stubborn areas of mould growth . Leave the solution on the surface for 15 minutes, then wash down thoroughly with clean water. You may have to repeat the process in severe cases.
The one-step or new generation paint strippers usually give the best results. Scoring the surface will help the stripper penetrate layers of paint. Brush on a liberal coat of stripper and let it stand until the wood begins to blister. Do not let it dry out or it will harden and become difficult to remove. Remove the softened paint with a scraper. Depending on how many layers of existing paint there are and the type, you may have to repeat the process several times. Finally, neutralise if necessary according to pack instructions and sand smooth.
Using a Heat Gun
Today these are reasonably economical to buy and simple to use. Never use a heat gun after using chemical stripper in the same area, as the chemical residue may vaporise or ignite.
To use, flow the hot air from the nozzle over the wood until the paint just begins to bubble freely - overheating can make the paint sticky and scorch the wood. Gently remove the softened paint with a scraper.
Repeat the process if you need to, then sand any residual paint back to bare wood or a firm base. Be careful using a heat gun near flammable materials. When using it close to glass, use a shield attachment or hold in a piece of metal to protect the glass from the very hot air flow.
Removing wall coverings can be tedious, but there's nothing quite as rewarding as the result of a totally transformed room. Depending on the type and amount of wall covering you wish to remove, you may choose to do it entirely by hand using a remover solution, or rent a steaming machine.
Newer vinyl wall coverings can often be peeled off dry by hand. They may leave a backing paper residue which can be readily removed by sponging on warm water and peeling it off or scraping it with a broad bladed scraper.
Other vinyl and traditional wallpapers may be less co-operative. It's up to you whether you use a remover, which contains wetting agents to help soften the adhesive, or warm water. Try the warm water first!
Cover the floor with a cloth and prepare your solution according to pack
directions. If the surface of the wall paper is non porous or heavily embossed, scratching it with very coarse sandpaper may help the water or solution to penetrate.
Apply the solution liberally with a large sponge until the adhesive is softened. This may take several applications.
Carefully scrape off the paper and as much adhesive as you can, using a wide bladed scraper. If the paper was hung over unsealed plaster or wallboard it may be difficult to remove without damaging the plaster. Persevere carefully, remembering every nick is another spot to fill later on.
Scrub the walls to remove the adhesive residue. Finally, rinse with clean
warm water and let the walls dry completely.
If you have a very large area to do, or if the process looks like taking a long
time, you should consider hiring a wallpaper 'steamer'. These are available from most hire centres and many larger hardware and paint stores. Instructions are provided with the machine, but essentially you follow the steps outlined above to prepare the wall for stripping, then hold the 'steam plate' against a section of the wallpaper until it is soft enough to scrape off with the scraper.