for Wall Painting Techniques

A paintjob stands or falls with preparations - but formost wall painting techniques, that job can be minimilized. In most cases, you can do with filling a hole here and there - sanding won't be necessary when painting over flat or semigloss wallpaint.

Checking the surface

For deciding what paint you need, you need to know what the old paint layer is made of. Test it with a cloth over your finger, with some denatured alcohol on it. Rub it over the paint (in some lower corner). If paint comes off somehow, it's latex or acrylic paint - if not, it's oilbased and you'll need a good primer to make new acrylic or latex paint hold.

If paint does come off, and it's very matte, it's probably a cheaper kind of latex (with a vinyl, pva or polyvinyl binder). You can paint it over with a vinyl latex primer. If the old paint is semi- or high-gloss, you need a better quality acrylic latex paint (or -primer)

  • On soft, matte latex layers or wallpaper, you can use a vinyl latex primer, or acrylic latex paint.
  • Semi-gloss acrylic layers are better painted over with a good quality acrylic latex paint (with 100% acrylic resin)
  • Oil based paint layers need priming before you can paint on it with acrylic paint.

Latex painted walls can be painted over right away, unless they became really greasy or are stained (with ink, water damage etc). Degreasing is best done with diluted ammonia, and for for blocking stains, check this page on primer paints. If you paint over with a very different color, it's best to use a colored primer - most paints don't hide in one layer, and primers have a better hiding capacity. Brandnew walls (of drywall) need a drywall-primer, before putting wallpaint on them. After that, they’re suiteble for all wall painting techniques. Further down, there's some more tips on preparing bad walls for painting. Bad walls need good preparations. When you put some time in it, your walls will look great again.

painting over wallpaper

Over wallpaper, you can use latex wallpaint - no matter if the wallpaper’s material is actual paper, or more like that foamy vinyl structure wallpaper. Cheaper latex paints are usually also a liquid viny. More important is, that it's firmly stuck. If not: take off the wallpaper and see what’s underneath (old wallpaper can be very interesting!). The texture of the wallpaper will remain visible, if you put a normal coat of wallpaint over it. Matte paint will hide it a little, and wall painting techniques like blending, glazing or faux finishing, will make the structure extra visible. Click here for more on painting over wallpaper.

Old paint layers

If the wall was painted with latex, put latex over it again. On top of the page, there's a tip on checking the kind of paint (denatured alcohol - if no paint comes off, it's oilbased). Also important: check if the old layers don’t come off. If they do: use a metal brush and scrub off as much as you can.

When your wall was painted with an oil-based paint: check if that old layer is firmly stuck. If it isn’t: take off as much as you can with a metal brush, or a shavehook (don’t press it, you’ll make stripes!). Do that untill you have a surface that ‘s firm enough to paint on. If the old paint layer is firmly stuck: sand it well (you can use sanding sponges, to protect your fingers). Clean it, and put a primer on it. After that, you can use acrylic paint, for any wall painting technique you want.

Slightly damaged walls

Holes (by nails or screws) can be filled with a wall filler. But perfectionism is murder. Little scratches are almost as good as a regular structure. It gives the wall a lively look-and-feel. A fresh color on it will look fine. However, if scratches or an uneven surface annoys you:

Tricks to make old walls look new again

  • Put glassfiber wallpaper over the whole wall. Let it dry, and paint over it. Eventually use one with a simple sructure. Click here for more on painting over wallpaper.
  • Think of structured paint, or add a texture additive. This will turn normal paint into structure paint. Little irregularites will disappear like magic.
  • If the wall is made of real old plaster, plamour it with plaster putty, with a broad knife. For an overall wall treatment, use the broadest blade you can get. Try to work as neatly as you can - little protruding bits can be removed by sanding, after the wall has dried.

Badly damaged walls

If the wall is really damaged, orientate on reparing the walls first. Little holes (nails and screws) are easy to fill by knifing putty on into them, bigger holes need filling with putty plaster, maybe in two sessions. If the wall is really bad, also consider the option of mounting new drywall to it - it might be the most economic solution.


All stains, even leaking and moisture stains, can be blocked with a special primer. Zins BIN sealer (order here)is a transparent laquer that blocks stains as well as odors, and it can be painted over with latex.
Do try to find out about the cause of the staining - if there’s a leak, it needs repairing. Or maybe you need to fix the roof or the roof gutter. Painting over stains only needs thorough cleaning, preferrably with an agressive (citric) solvent, ammonia, or pure alcohol.

Related Pages:

Oil Painting Techniques

Acrylic Painting

Watercolor painting

Color Schemes

Interior Painting techniques

Interior Painting Ideas


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