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How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Help!! We are moving into a 1930s Tudor style home that has been neglected and beat up over the years. We would like to paint the entire interior before we move in but there is so much damage to walls, we don't even know how to begin the painting process.

The walls are sort of a smooth/orange peel finish. When we repair certain areas, I'm assuming we will be sanding that area to blend in with the wall...Should we go ahead and sand the entire wall to create a totally smooth surface since we will be repairing so many areas?

Some areas, specifically the window and door trims, have so many layers of paint, would it be better to strip the paint? Or should we just sand them down?

See attached pictures to get an idea of the damage. We would appreciate any advice!!
Thank you!

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

You need to be carefull about sanding or stripping the paint, with a house that old there is a good chance that some of the paint may have lead in it.

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

I am aware there is probably lead paint under the newer layers of paint. That is also a challenge, of which I would love some advice.

Thank you!

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

go to your local paint store and get information on dealing with lead paint. for the walls you could apply a knockdown texture to the walls with drywall mudd, you could buy paint with sand texture in it, there are several options it depends how much time and or money you are willing to spend.

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Thank you for the advice.

We want to try to do as much of this ourselves.

I really don't want to add the knockdown texture because I'd like to stay true to the original style of the home. Also, a lot of the sanding and repair work is needed on the window and door trims which, of course, we can't cover with texture.

I also hate the idea of adding more layers to the problem. I want to take care of this properly and restore it to it's original beauty rather than cover it up.

There has to be a way to treat/remove lead paint??

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Hi from Fargo, ND Katiejeane!

This can be a complex issue, because everyone has different "wallet-sizes" and DIY-work/time-thresholds!

Couple options for trim:
* Remove and replace. This is the quickest IMO...BUT the most $$$, depending on trims' complexity.
* Use of "safe-strippers". Slow, somewhat spendy, but effective & safe. On larger older restorations, it's the only choice usually.
>>> It's usually the classic "Time-vs.-money" issue!

Wall restoration:
>>> Since the possibility of Lead (at some layer) is high, have the whole paint-layer tested.

I would do this...
* Use a specialty primer, like Zinsser's Gardz, after you've washed walls with Dirtex POWDERED cleaner. Gardz will penetrate/stabilize older wall films.
* Now, since wall layers are "stabilized", DO ANY REPAIRS, & skim-coat the walls with good joint compound, like USG Plus3. This MAY be better hired-out. A practiced hand at this will minimize messy sanding, and leave a BEAUTIFUL smooth surface.
* I wouldn't apply further texure!!! Smooth walls are a thing of beauty, and can add resale to the home if done right!!!
* When walls are textured smooth, sanded, and wiped CLEAN of dust, apply 2 coats of a top-notch primer.
* AT LAST....you're ready for 2 FULL coats of your finish paint!

It's been quite a "Journey" hasn't it?!?!


Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Thank you, Faron! Your advice helps a lot!

The doors are peeling really badly, too so I think the best option is to replace the doors, frames and trims. I want to try to keep the window trims and use a paint stripper on them. Is it super labor intensive to strip paint? I've never tried it before (the fourth pic down is one of the window trim details).

Once the doors, frames and trims are down, we will have our "mud guy" follow your preparation steps and add a thin coat of smooth texture.

Why do you recommend a powdered cleaner? I've never heard of that...

Thanks so much for the information! The long journey has just begun but it'll be a rewarding one!

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

One more question, Faron?
You sound like you're really familiar with the process of restoration...
Do you have a recommended method of removing doors,frames and trims while minimizing damage to the walls?

We did a bunch of demo work on the second floor and used hammers, crowbars and reciprocating saws to take things down but we didn't have to worry about damaging any surrounding surfaces because everything came out.

Thanks so much!

Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

You're welcome Katiejeane!

Yes, It's often hard to know when to proceed with stripping vs. replacement!
* If you want a "wood" look afterwards, I'd replace doors/trims.
* Even if you strip, you STILL have to sand some, to get oldest paint out of the grain pits.
* THEN...there's still the matter of re-staining, followed by the Polyrethane, Varnish, or Tung-Oil topcoats!
* New doors can be sooooo worth it!

If PAINTED TRIM/DOORS are desired (maybe in some areas?!), stripping is still needed to encapsulate lead for removal.
* However...only a light smoothing sanding-job is necessary.
* Remove every molecule of dust....
* Then a good primer, followed by 2 coats of a shinier trim-paint.

This company has good safe strippers. Again, they're not the cheapest...but "Safe" and "cheap" are mutually exclusive here!

Powdered Dirtex is the best IMO, cuz it normally doesn't need rinsing! TSP's are good cleaners too, but most of them need 2 or 3 good rinses. Powdered cleaners don't need the additional chemicals to keep the surfactants in suspension. The powdered versions disappear instantly in water, and clean well.

* Make sure your Wall-person is good at skimming.
* Make sure He uses actual Zinsser Gardz....NOT regular primers!
* Repairs/fills/skimming are to be done ON TOP OF dried Gardz film.
* THEN the 2 full coats of a good primer. I'd use Zinsser's 123 Latex, or C2-One primer.
* IF you desire an absolutely PORCELAIN-SMOOTH wall...do the 2 prime-coats, wait 12 hours, and do a LIGHT pole-sanding, with a sanding-SCREEN. Damp-sponge-wipe ALL DUST from walls. Use a fine-dusts bag in your Shop-vac too (this is a separate purchased item).
* If you do this last step, your walls will be STUNNING, and resale will USUALLY increase! Assuming the wall is properly skimmed/sanded!
* It's all in the proper prep don'cha know!


Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Thanks, Faron!
You're a life saver!

So, I don't think we will have any "stained" wood trims or doors at the end of all this. I'd like to have nice, crisp-white, painted doors and trims. Currently, there are just so many layers of paint on the door trims and so much damage to the doors, I think it would be better to replace them all.

The window trims we will also paint white, once we have stripped the old paint.

I have a couple weeks off to work on all of this so I'm wondering...Should I apply the Zinsser Gardz and the 2 coats of primer myself? I am super detail oriented and a good painter...I'm just thinking of ways to save money.


Re: How do I prep old and damaged walls for paint?

Yes Katiejeane,

You can certainly Gardz and prime the walls yourself!
Just make sure to NOT push the Gardz or primer too thin.
Using a top-notch roller cover (I suggest Purdy White-Doves), apply your coats.
The Gardz will go on kinda like skim-milk. It's a little thinner.

Again, when the stabilizing Gardz dries, the patching/skimming/sanding-process can happen.

Don't push a loaded roller-sleeve any farther than 2'x3'!!



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