Is it OK to Paint Over Dirty Walls?


Can you paint over walls that are dirty? Or does the primer need to be sanded off first?


You cannot properly prime a wall when it is dirty. You may take some steps towards priming, but if your painter’s work is not complete then do not begin painting until he or she has finished. You can get a second coat of paint on a surface after all of the previous coat has been removed to dust and dirt first, but again – only if this step was suggested by your painter. If you wish to go ahead with painting or adding wallpaper without cleaning the surface, you will end up with a sub-par job. Your results will be uneven and often blotchy looking once they come in. It is not the way a painter gets paid for his work.

“There are three rules of painting: 1) You can’t paint over dirt. 2) If you don’t cover it, they will. 3) You can always blame your brush.” – Dave Barry You also cannot strip paint and re-stain a wood floor without sanding…it’s just too much work and there is no practical reason to do so as long as you know how to properly prep the surface before staining (or even better, use an ‘oil based’ stain).

I was trying to repaint some kitchen cabinets that were painted with Krylon Early American Antique Mist and I hated the color. My cabinets are in a darker shade of maple stain but the Krylon was too orangish for my liking. I had to sand and strip the cabinets down to bare wood just to be able to get a good base coat of paint on them, followed by several coats.

I have some furniture that is painted with an oil based paint (primer). The primer has worn off in spots exposing the raw wood which now has mold growing on it…what do I need to do?

My mother-in-law bought new carpet and our painter put latex paint over the old Valspar that covered her hardwood floors. When he was done we noticed there were two different colors where there was latex paint and where there wasn’t. The wood floors were not sealed or sanded before painting so it wasn’t the color of the floor showing through. Any ideas on why this happened?

I think that is a surface issue, rather than an actual problem with painting over dirty walls. First you need to determine whether or not your painter was using primer every time he has painted for you. If he used it all the time, then paint him back on. If he didn’t use primer every time then you have one of two issues: either his work was substandard (and I’m talking about extremely substandard – mudlike slapdash) OR whatever is left on the wall now has nothing to bond to and should be cleaned. If it is standard house dirt, then a simple cleaning will do the trick. If it is some sort of grease or something else more intense, then you might want to use an enzyme cleaner such as Simple Green or B-Brite first and paint after that. Some professional painters who are used to working in homes where people don’t understand how important cleanliness really is may not have done this before, but I would say that every painter should at minimum be using a mildew resistant primer (like Kilz) which acts as a bonding agent and cover for sins when painting over dirty surfaces even if he doesn’t have much dirt on his surface. So strip down your walls until you get below the layer of messy grime – take off enough that you can get a good bond and clean the area well. Then prime, tape (if necessary) and paint away.

It is best to not over paint job cause sometimes when we do over paint it starts to peel. But sometimes it is ok if we feel that it might not come off the wall easily. But over painting can also cause other problems like when you paint a pattern and you go over that spot again putting another color on, It causes the original color to become dull looking like two different colored shades. Also when we over paint it can cause bubbling in your walls which is bad because then if your house has humidity this moisture will get trapped under your finish causing mold & mildew to grow on the inside of your walls making it unlivable and depending on how severe the problem may be it can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

If you’d like an expert opinion on your painting project give us a call at 604-505-2745 for a FREE quote. Or fill out our free estimate form here. Ethereal Painters was voted Best Painters in Vancouver, so you rest assured you are getting quality service!