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Your one-stop guide to painting any surface

As the weekend rolls around you may feel the urge to get busy around the home, finally finish that DIY paint job you’ve been putting off. To finish the job off nicely you need to be absolutely sure that you’ve prepped the surface correctly.

Thanks to those in the know at Builder’s we’ve got you covered, here’s all you need to know about preparing any surface for painting.

Raw woodRaw wood and paint.resize

These are the steps to ensure that paint bonds to the wood you are painting.

Note: This preparation should not be used if you want to varnish the wood or paint a clear coat, use it when you want to paint the wood a pretty colour.

#1 Make sure the surface is clean, remove dust and any other dirt that could affect the paint job.

#2 When painting a piece of furniture there will most likely be nail holes and screws. Use wood filler to fill and cover the nail holes. Smooth or coat exposed screws with metal primer. This crucial step prevents rusty spots or discolouring.

#3 Unevenness in the wood can be smoothed over with wood filler. After the wood filler is applied use 100-grit sandpaper and an orbital or multi sander to finish off.

Top tip: Sand the wood in the direction of the grain – ie. Run the sander along the lines in the wood. The surface will be much easier to paint due to the smooth finish this technique will provide. Remember to dust the surface off after sanding and to seal all knots in the raw wood with a primer.

#4 Apply one coat of wood primer (or two coats if you are going to be using the item outdoors in severe weather conditions) using a brush or roller and leave to dry between each coat. An oil-based primer is best for outdoor use while a water-based primer is great for indoors and cleans easily.

#5 After the primer has dried you should give the surface another light sanding to remove hairy bits.

#6 Finish the job with paint colour and coating of your choice

Previously painted woodOld painted wood

You should not just paint over the painted wood, you will need to do some prepping first.

#1 Remove old paint or varnish with a paintstripper, alternatively scrape off peeling paint and sand the surface with sandpaper.

#2 Use wood filler to repair any holes in the wood.

#3 The filled areas will need to be sanded to remove any unevenness. Again, make sure all dust is removed before applying primer.

Top tip: Filling and then sanding the newly exposed wood will also eliminate irregularities of colour such as water stains.

#4 It is recommended that you apply one coat of oil-based universal undercoat. This will improve adhesion.

#5 Once the undercoat has dried, lightly sand the surface with finegrit paper, this removes any hairy bits.

#6 Finish off with the colour and coating of your choice.

Raw brickPainted brick wall

#1 Use a firm sponge and sugar soap mixed in warm water to clean the bricks thoroughly. For deeper insets and in the case of loose mortar you can use a stiff brush.

#2 In the case of larger walls consider using a pressure washer.

#3 Mildew will probably be a problem in the case of exterior walls. Use a diluted bleach solution to treat the problems. Soak the affected area in one part bleach and three parts water for about an hour, finish by scrubbing the mildew with a firm brush.

#4 Rinse the wall with fresh water.

#5 Once cleaned you should leave the brick to dry for a day, in cooler climates you will have to wait longer, probably more like 48 hours, before painting.

Raw concreteConcrete floor

#1 Remove any dust or dirt by brushing the surface with a stiff-bristled brush or broom.

#2 Clean the surface with a scrub brush and concrete cleaning solution. After cleaning, allow the surface to dry completely.

#3 You need to test the walls or floors for excessive moisture, the surface must be completely dry for at least 30 days before applying a plaster primer and painting. Test by taping a piece of plastic (such as a black bag) to the wall for at least 24 hours.

#4 Check the outside of the plastic facing away from the wall. At this point moisture here indicates that the humidity level in the room is too high. If there is moisture on the side against the wall then the surface is either not dry yet or absorbing a heavy amount of moisture from the ground beneath it.

#5 Only once you have successfully treated the cause of the moisture can you paint.

PlasterPlastered wall

#1 Do not attempt to paint a freshly plastered wall, plaster is only ready to paint once it is completely dry. Plaster is usually ready to paint over within two to three days. It is, however, dependant on the weather, temperature and even the surface it was applied over.

#2 First apply a mist coat when painting fresh plaster. This will clearly show any blemishes or unevenness in the plaster. Imperfections can be filled in and sanded at this point.

How to: The mist coat is typically the cheapest white PVA paint you can find. Dilute with water an apply with a normal roller. The plaster soaks up the paint and dries super quickly.

#3 The mist coat gets drawn into the wall and seals the wall.

#4 Apply one to two coats of plaster primer.

Top tip: Oil-based primer is best for outdoors while water-based is sufficient for indoors. Remember that all mouldings and ceiling roses need to be primed with oil-based primer before you paint.

TilesTiled kitchen bakground

#1 Start off by cleaning the tiles thoroughly using a sponge and tile cleaner or sugar soap. This removes any soap scum, grease or dirt.

#2 Rinse the surface with fresh water and leave to dry completely.

#3 Use painter’s tape to mask off all areas that you do not want to paint.

#4 Apply a single coat of tile primer to tiles and grout, make sure all areas are evenly covered. Let dry completely before painting.

Top tip: You will need to allow for longer recoating times in cool and wet weather conditions.


#1 Fill any holes and other defects in the melamine surface with crack filler, allow to dry thoroughly.

#2 Wipe down and clean using sugar soap and a sponge.

#3 Clean the surface of the sugar soap, allow to dry and sand the surface with 150-grit sandpaper. Dust off and apply the paint of your choice.

There you have it, happy DIY-ing! Look for your nearest Builders here if you need some help with the equipment and products you need to buy.


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