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Preparation & Wall Repair

Preparation & Wall Repair


Approximately 90% of painting failures result from insufficient surface preparation. The time and effort you put into preparing a surface for painting will pay off in the long run resulting in a beautiful finish and lasting satisfaction. Although preparation will vary depending on the type of project a few basic rules apply to virtually every job. Use drop cloths to cover floors, woodwork and countertops. Outside, drop cloths prevent spattering onto shrubs, grass or hardscapes.

Repair any cracks or holes in the drywall. For small denser gouges you’ll need a retractable razor knife, 220 grit sandpaper, spackle or joint compound putty knife and a clean cloth. Start by cutting away any loose drywall face paper Then lightly sand the area so no rough paper edges remain. Wipe it clean with a slightly dampened cloth. If the area is less than one eighth inch in diameter, use spackling compound to make the repair.

For larger denser scrapes, joint compound is a better choice. Either way, load your putty knife and draw it across the damaged area at a 90 degree angle. Repeat once or twice to fill the dent and feather off excess compound. Allow the compound to dry completely. Because the compound typically shrinks, a second or third coat is needed to create a level surface. Sand lightly between each coat and before you paint, sand the surface smooth with very fine grit sandpaper and wipe it clean. Because joint compound is porous you should prime the repaired area before painting. Otherwise the sheen and shade of the touch-up paint may not match the rest of the wall.

Cracks are also common. As a building settles, cracks may appear below windows or above doors. To repair a crack, you’ll need a retractable razor knife, joint compound, putty knife, fine grit sandpaper and mesh tape. It’s not enough to just smear joint compound along the crack because the crack will just come back. Instead cut a thin v-shaped groove along both sides of the crack, fill it with joint compound, let the compound dry and sand it smooth. Next, place mesh tape over the crack and apply joint compound, feathering it onto the wall. Two or three coats may be needed, each time feathering the material eight to ten inches on either side of the crack.

When the compound is dry and sanded smooth, you’re ready to prime and paint. Pop nails or screws are another common problem. To fix a pop nail, you’ll need a hammer or electric drill, spackle compound, 1 to 2 drywall nails or screws and fine grit sandpaper. Don’t just pound them back in and fill the dent. Instead, press the panel firmly against the stud, and drive a new nail or drywall screw an inch or so above the old one. If possible, pull out the pop nail. Fill both dimples with spackling compound using the techniques you’ve seen, adding coats, letting them dry and sanding between coats. Drywall corners are particularly vulnerable to damage. To repair drywall corners, you’ll need a 5-in-1 tool hacksaw, new length of corner bead cordless drill, metal file, joint compound, putty knife and a drywall sander.

If the metal corner bead is only slightly dented you can use a five in one tool to scrape away any loose drywall material. Gently tap the damaged metal section so it’s level and slightly below the surface of the drywall. If necessary re-secure it with drywall screws or nails. Then apply joint compound building up layers to cover the corner completely. On the other hand, if the metal bead is beyond repair you’ll have to cut out the damaged section with a hacksaw. Then cut a new length of metal bead to replace the section you removed and secure it with for drywall screws, two on each end. File off any rough edges. apply two to three layers of joint compound to conceal the bead. When dry use a drywall sander to restore a perfect 90-degree angle. Once repairs are complete, make sure all surfaces are clean, sound, dull and dry before priming and painting.

Outside pressure washing is the best way to achieve a clean surface, but be careful to aim your hose away from windows, they can break from the pressure. Always allow the surface to dry completely before painting. Paint will simply fail to stick to a wet surface. Surfaces that are glossy such as metal railings or surfaces previously painted with a high gloss enamel will inhibit good adhesion. Clean the surface first, then scuff sand. This may be needed to increase the profile of the substrate for better adhesion of the top coat. When you’re done, wipe off dust or loose particles before continuing. Remove any light fixtures or wall plates. It saves cutting in and results in a more professional finished appearance. Make cutting and easier with painters’ tape. Mask around trim work, cabinets, wall sconces and so forth. Use a high-quality tape that can be peeled off without damaging the underlying surface or leaving a sticky residue.

Using the right primer is critical to any paint project. Not only will it ensure the best adhesion and optimize the performance of the topcoat, it can minimize surface prep by binding drywall fibers and creating a smooth surface for the topcoat. It also promotes a consistent sheen across the entire wall. Don’t let stains slow you down. Quick dry stain blocking primer is a general-purpose commercial primer that dries in just an hour so you can turn units faster. Good stain blocking properties make it an effective choice to prime and seal new or previously painted surfaces and with fewer than 50 grams per liter VOCs quick dry stain blocking primer is compliant nationwide. Odor doesn’t have to be a problem.

With Harmony’s odor eliminating technology it reduces ambient room odors from pets, cooking, smoking and mildew, making it ideal for any multifamily property. And with its formaldehyde reducing technology, harmony promotes better indoor air quality by neutralizing hazardous VOCs already present in a room. It also meets the most stringent VOC regulations and has achieved Greenguard Gold Certification. Plus, antimicrobial agents resist the growth of mold or mildew on the paint film extending the life of the coating. New untreated wood requires a primer to prevent tannin bleed and to achieve a uniform finish. And some primers are formulated to promote good adhesion when conditions make it difficult to achieve thorough surface prep. So what’s the bottom line? The right primer can make all the difference between a job that stands the test of time and one that fails prematurely.

Good preparation also involves caulking to seal joints and cracks. It may be required to seal gaps around trim work or window frames, where tubs or countertops meet drywall or between vertical seams and siding. First make sure the old caulk is removed and the area is dry and clear of debris. If the surrounding surface will be primed, it’s best to caulk after priming, because the caulk will adhere better to a painted surface. Squeeze a smooth bead along the joint, using enough material to fill the gap entirely but avoiding excess that can look messy or pull away over time. Typically, a paintable silicone or acrylic caulk is best for caulking around windows and doors.

In addition to being paintable, these products are easy to clean and long-lasting. If you’re caulking a joint between different types of surface materials make sure the caulk is suitable for both materials. Outdoors you’ll need one that has the flexibility to withstand temperature fluctuations. And remember, never caulk the horizontal seams of exterior siding, because moisture can get trapped under the siding and cause problems in the future. It’s no surprise that a good paint job depends on good preparation.

Understanding the unique requirements of your situation and preparing the surface properly will save you time in the long run and turn units faster. For more information, visit your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store or

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