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How To Paint Tricky Surfaces

Ever wondered if you can paint over wallpaper or how to paint newly plastered walls? Dr Dulux is here to help – learn how to paint tricky surfaces with Dulux.


Tricky surfaces are no match for Dr Dulux. Here’s how to conquer them with paint.

Can you paint over wallpaper or stop stains seeping through brick walls? With expert tips from Dr Dulux, you most certainly can. From updating tired cabinets to giving your tiles a refreshing facelift, the trickiest of surfaces in your home are easily transformed with a lick of paint. Here’s a guide so you can brush up on your painting prep and get that perfect finish.


Interior brick walls


Brick walls add texture and character to a room, unless they’re dated or you don’t like the colour.  Painting interior brick walls is the solution and it all starts with important prep work for a professional finish. The bumps and cracks of bricks are excellent at hiding dust and dirt, so start by using a stiff brush to remove loose material. If you need to make small repairs, use Polycell Multi-Purpose Polyfilla.

For powdery and porous surfaces, apply a coat of Dulux Quick Dry Primer first. To stop stains bleeding through brick, as they commonly do on chimney breasts, apply Polycell One Coat Stain Stop over the problem areas and allow it to dry completely before the final steps. For the top coats, you can use any emulsion finish or even a Quick Dry Eggshell.


Exterior brick walls


As with painting interior brick walls, get that stiff brush out again to remove any accumulated debris. Then, patch up any repairs needed with Polycell Quick Set Cement Polyfill. If the wall looks a bit green around the bottom, buy a fungicidal wash and follow the instructions on the packet to treat the issue before you start painting.

A coat of Dulux Weathershield Stabilising Primer is all you need to combat porous or powdery surfaces. Plus, it’ll make the masonry paint so much easier to apply, while using less of it. Dulux Weathershield Masonry Paint comes in all your favourite colours, in both smooth and textured finishes. Apply it with a masonry roller and brush, and use an extension pole to get the job done faster. This paint is water-based, so when you’re done you can clean your equipment in a flash.


Pre-painted and varnished cabinets


The first steps towards reviving tired cabinets and cupboards are to remove knobs and handles, mask the hinges and lightly sand the furniture with fine surface sanding paper. Before you start decorating, clean away any dust with a vacuum or a clean brush. Then, the surface is ready for an undercoat of Dulux Quick Drying Primer.

Dust, pet hair and even pesky flies might get stuck on drying paint, so you’ll need to lightly sand the surface again once it’s dry. For the top coats, it pays to use a good quality synthetic brush, a small radiator roller for flat surfaces or an artist’s brush for fiddly bits. Apply a coat of Quick Dry Satinwood, Eggshell or Gloss finish and - remembering those flies - sand it back before painting the second coat.


High gloss and melamine cabinets


You’ll follow a similar process for high gloss cabinets, starting with removing knobs, handles, bits and bobs from cabinets and drawers. However, keep the doors on so you can paint the fronts and backs at the same time. Use masking tape to cover hinges or glass and lay down dust sheets to protect other surfaces from accidental splashes.

To remove grease and help the paint stick, give the cabinets a thorough wash with a strong detergent and wipe them clean. Now you’re ready to sand them back with fine paper and apply Dulux Primer for Difficult Surfaces or Dulux Melamine Primer. Once it’s dry, pop open your top coat in either Quick Dry Satinwood, Eggshell or Gloss and splash on the first layer. For flat doors and edges, consider using a small roller. Sanding it back when it’s completely dry gives you a smooth, professional finish, before slathering on the second coat.




Before we launch into how to paint tiles, consider only painting them in areas where they won’t get much wear and tear. Paint is never as tough as ceramic, so avoid showers and directly behind cooker hobs or kitchen sinks. Once you’ve decided on the surface, it’s time to deal with any mould stains on the grouting or sealant. Clean the tiles thoroughly and use a bathroom fungicidal spray to kill mould first.

Next, mask off the silicone sealant and the edges of the tiles. Apply a coat of Dulux Primer for Difficult Surfaces and let it dry completely. Now you can get back to the fun part of painting two coats of your favourite colour in Quick Drying Satinwood, Gloss or Eggshell.


Walls with old wallpaper


Back to that popular question of, “can you paint over wallpaper?” Yes, you can, providing it’s stuck down really well. However, you generally won’t know how well it’ll work until you start painting. For best results, remove old wallpaper with a wallpaper steamer or a stripper solution and scraper. Clean up the paste residue with warm water and a sponge. Now, take a breather, you deserve it!

Fill in holes or cracks with Polycell All-Purpose Filler and sand the surface smooth. Flexible Polycell Decorators Caulk fills gaps between walls and woodwork, or walls and the ceiling, if needed. Use a brush to cut in around the edges with any emulsion paint in your favourite colour and finish, and a roller to finish the job. If you find small imperfections after the first coat just fill them in, sand them back and carry on to the second coat.


Newly plastered walls


The number one thing to remember for how to paint newly plastered walls is to make sure they’re completely dry first. To get started, lay down dust sheets and mask off skirting boards, trim and fixtures. As fresh plaster acts like a sponge, it’s important to water down your first layer of emulsion, otherwise known as a ‘mist coat’, to seal the surface and use less paint. The two top coats don’t need to be watered down. Therefore, once it’s dry simply paint as you normally would with your favourite colour.

All done? Time to take yourself out for a treat as a decorating hero and conqueror of tricky surfaces!



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