How To Prepare And Paint Interior Woodwork

Window Frame

As with most painting jobs, thorough preparation is the key to a smart finish. Follow this easy step-by-step guide to painting interior woodwork like skirting boards and doors, and make the most of your next room makeover.

Electric sander and abrasive paper
Wood filler
Filling knife
Paintbrushes
Clean cloth
Masking tape
Dust sheets
Bucket
Sponge
Sugar soap or detergent
Knotting compound
Quick-drying, water-based wood primer
Satin or gloss finish paint

Budget

From £10 for 750ml paint, plus around £2 for 10 sheets of sandpaper

Time

About two hours to sand, fill and paint a small to medium window

Skill

Beginner

Prepare Cracks And Knots

Step One: Prepare Cracks And Knots

Repair cracks and holes in the wood with a wood filler. Brush knotting compound over any knots to seal in the resin on bare wood. Black knots in wood are dead and will fall out. Prise them out and fill the holes. If you’re repainting, it's also worth washing the old paintwork with soapy water or sugar soap to clean away any grease and dirt.

Remove Flaking Paint

Step Two: Remove Flaking Paint

Use a sander or filler knife to remove flaking paint and sand the whole area smooth with fine sandpaper to smooth off the filler and create a good surface for the new paint to cling to. Clean off the sanding dust with a cloth dipped in white spirit. Seal any bare wood with a quick-drying wood primer. Work the brush well into any mouldings and don't overload the brush or the paint will form drips on the surface. Leave to dry.

Painting

Step Three: Painting

Check the instructions on the can of your chosen topcoat and apply an undercoat if recommended. Try to use only the top third of the brush and start with smooth vertical stokes. Brush the paint out horizontally and finish off with light brush strokes in the direction of the grain. Allow to dry and then brush on the topcoat. If the new paint doesn’t hide the colour of the old, rather do two coats than apply the paint too thickly creating drips and brushmarks.

  • You'll do a better job if you work methodically, tackling one frame or panel at a time. Don’t take a break half way through painting a frame - you'll leave a line between the old and new paint.
  • For a panelled door, unscrew the hinges and lay the door flat on a bench or trestles to prevent drips. First, paint the mouldings around the panels using a small 25mm brush. Next paint the panels, followed by the central vertical section and the top and bottom cross rails. Complete by painting the long upright sides.
  • Leave your paint-filled brush in a jar of water rather than cleaning it at the end of a session. This stops the paint hardening overnight. Dry off the water and you're ready to start again.

Illustrations: Ed Roberts

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