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Painting over Stained Walls

Our family room has dark brown stain on all four walls. What is the best way to prepare the walls for painting? I want to paint them a much lighter color.


Re: Painting over Stained Walls

Wash the wall down well, then coat with oil based Kilz stain blocker.


Re: Painting over Stained Walls

Maynard Mama:

Were these wood walls simply stained, or were they stained and subsequently "varnished" with real varnish or polyurethane?

If they were stained ONLY, then you can treat that wood as bare wood. Simply prime it with a latex or oil based primer and paint.

If they were subsequently "varnished", then I'd try to clean the walls with TSP. TSP will dull the gloss of drying oil based coatings, including true varnishes. TSP won't dull the gloss of alkyd paints or alkyd based polyurethanes. If you see that the gloss level of the wood is reduced by cleaning with TSP, it is a true varnish over the wood, and your best bet is to clean the walls with TSP. You can then simply rinse the residual TSP off with clean water, allow time to dry, and prime over the dulled varnish.

If there is a cigarette smoke film residue on the walls, then I'd recommend washing them with a solution of bleach diluted with 10 parts water. Wear old clothes when doing this. The bleach solution will both wash away the nicotine (which is soluble in water) and both eliminate the colour and smell of the tar (which isn't).

If you can tell us whether the wood was "varnished" and whether TSP dulls the gloss of that "varnish", then that would help us help you in determining how best to proceed.

Re: Painting over Stained Walls

Whether the wood is merely stained or stained and varnished, there is absolutely no better primer/sealer than BIN, a pigmented shellac sealer by Zinsser. It will seal in nicotine and smoking odor, it will bond better than any primer of which I am aware to slick varnish, it is a terrific sealer of porous wood and it is very fast drying.

Bin can be rolled, but my favorite meathod of application was through the use of my HVLP sprayer. Over the years, I have done many 1970's dark paneled family rooms using two coats of BIN to rapidly blank out the dark wood, followed by a sprayed coat of oil enamel. The result was a factory like finish, all accomplished within a days time, followed by painting of the ceiling, minor touch-up and clean-up the following day.

The downside is the strong smell of BIN's alcohol solvent and, as of late, its $40 per gallon price.

Of course, it is always good to clean the surfaces first, especially if you suspect waxy cleaners were used over the years. If nicotine is down into bare wood, you will never get it out of grain, even more reason to go with BIN to seal it in. If water is beading on the surface, it is likely that most primers will bead too.

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