How To Prepare Walls for Painting After Removing Wallpaper

You’ve finally got rid of that dated wallpaper that’s been around for years and you’re ready to add a fresh lick of paint to your walls. Preparing walls for painting after you have removed your old wallpaper is essential for a smooth finish and it’s worth taking the time to properly prepare your walls. After removing the wallpaper, the surface can be rough and bitty – not ideal for painting.

In order to get rid of any bits and residual paste to achieve a good final result, you will need to follow these steps for making good your wall after removing your wallpaper.

How To Prepare Walls for Painting After Removing Wallpaper

Step 1: Wash the walls down

Your wallpaper has been removed and you’re left with a messy, patchy wall. The first thing you will need to do is to wipe down the walls with a clean sponge, sugar soap, and warm water. This removes any bits or residue left from old wallpaper. Change the water when needed. Start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up.

In the event that wallpaper adhesive is not removed, it could result in cissing when you paint the wall. Cissing is when paint doesn’t form a continuous layer, leaving patches of wall unpainted and is a common issue when painting over dried wallpaper adhesive. To try and avoid this, wipe down the surface thoroughly and use a primer after step 6.

Step 2: Wait it out

Wait for your walls to dry. This is a good opportunity to clean up the floor or your work surface. Open doors and windows to speed up the drying process.

Step 3: Give the walls a rub down

Once the wall is completely dry, use a medium-grade abrasive or sandpaper to rub down the walls. When you’ve done this, dust off the surface to remove any chalky dust or bits. You can do this with a brush or cloth.

Step 4: Prepare your filler

Powder fillers are the most common type of fillers and require mixing with cold water. It is then workable for about 30-40 minutes and dries completely in about 2 hours. The great thing about filler is that once it’s completely dry, you can treat it exactly as you would a normal wall and it can be drilled and screwed into with no issues.

Mix your filler as per the manufacturer’s instructions. It is easiest to mix on a spot board. Remember to only mix as much as you need as the filler will start to set and become unusable. Once mixed, transfer your filler to a painters’ hawk and wash off the board you mixed the filler on.

Step 5: Apply filler

Using a filling knife, fill in any cracks or gouges in the walls. If the cracks are small, you may need to rake them out with a stripping knife. If you just fill them without raking out, it is possible that the filler won’t penetrate the crack and therefore it will be liable to opening up again. Make sure you use a stripping knife, not your filling knife as this will damage the blade. Smooth the filler out as much as possible when filling the wall.

Step 6: Rub the walls down again

Once the filler has dried, using the medium-grade abrasive, gently buff over the spots of filler to ensure a smooth and unnoticeable repair. Dust the surface off and check the wall. If it needs another coat of filler, start the process again.

Depending on the size and depth of the hole or crack, you will need to fill it in several layers. This is called back filling and prevents the filler from taking too long to dry and ensures a solid repair. Fill the hole in several stages, leaving it to dry completely before filling again.

Once it’s dry, if you find that your filler projects out further than the surface of the wall, sand the filler down until it is flush with the wall.

Do You Need To Prime A Wall After Removing Wallpaper?

Priming your walls is a good idea after you have removed wallpaper. The primer will help to smooth out any minor imperfections that may have been missed whilst making good the wall. Using a primer will also help to seal over any filler and to ensure that it’s not visible under your paint.

Best Primer To Use After Removing Wallpaper

Zinsser Gardz is a great primer to use on porous or problem walls. As we’ve said, gouges and damage can happen when removing wallpaper. After you have filled these with a filler, using a primer will help to smooth over any lumps or imperfections that would otherwise be visible under a layer of paint.

Zinsser Gardz is a hardworking primer and is especially good for use on walls after the wallpaper has been removed. If you’re worried you’ve missed a patch when making good the walls, this primer seals over old wallpaper adhesive, chalky surfaces, and dries to a hard-wearing, moisture-proof layer, leaving you with a smooth surface ready for painting.

Do You Need To Skim Coat Walls After Removing Wallpaper?

Unless your wall has been particularly damaged through the wallpapering and removal process, it is unlikely that you will need a skimcoat. Most minor imperfections like gouges or cracks can be covered with filler, primer, or a flat or matt emulsion paint topcoat.

If the damage can’t be fixed with filler, primer, or a matt topcoat, you may need to skim coat the walls. Applying a skim coat to your walls is a relatively easy and cheap way to achieve a smooth surface on damaged walls.

As the name implies, skim coat is designed to be applied in thin layers and you may find you need more than one coat to properly smooth your wall. This will depend on the degree of damage. Leave the coat to dry completely then assess whether your wall will need another coat.