Condition of the Walls and Removing 3M Command Strips

I try to bring you real tales from my DIY Life: from my home and my clients’.  I can honestly say…

“I can’t make this stuff up”

I visit homes and teach on the spot – I show tips and tricks, suggest design ideas and have even been to known to grab a tool from the car and fix stuff on the spot. I can’t help myself.  I like problem solving and problem preventing too!!

A new client inspired this newsletter because she is the ideal HIP Chick. She’s eager to learn, ready to listen and ballsy enough to try Doing It Herself.  And she is from Britain, so I could listen to her all day!

We meet few weeks back for a design consult. She wanted to update her kid’s bathroom but keep it on a budget. The goals – change the vanity, medicine cabinet, lights, re-caulk the tub and paint the room. She had gotten estimates over $2000. Crazy. So much of this she could do herself, with a little instruction and hands on help!

First step was the painting.

I went to her home and reviewed how to prep, what wall patch products to use, and which primers and paints were ideal for bathrooms. We talked about colors and finishes. I gave her a shopping list. She was in charge of the painting and I would return to tackle the next step. We corresponded over phone and email to select the right cabinet, vanity and fixtures to work from both design and install perspectives.

Two weeks later, I went back as we ripped out the old bathroom plumbing and light fixtures. I showed her how to set up a drain line, explained how I was hooking up the lights and had her cutting 2×4’s to reinforce the stud line in the wall for the medicine cabinet. She has major tool envy and since emailed me about which tool kit she should ask for as her birthday present.  THIS IS WHY I do this. She learned, we had fun and she wants to DIY!  I am a happy mother hen.

Condition of the Walls

One of the things we talked a lot about was the condition of walls and how to prepare walls for painting. Here are a few issues to consider:

  • Remove all nails, screws, anchors and sticky adhesives. If you have any 3M Command strips, please watch this #365DaysofDIY video on how to remove them properly. I want you to have less patching to do!
  • How long ago were they painted? If it has been a very long time, you should prime before painting. If going for a darker wall color, ask paint store to tint the primer for better coverage and less color bleed through.
  • Do you have soot, cigarette smoke or others odors in the walls? Lightly wash walls with vinegar/water solution. Allow to dry and then prime with an odor/stain blocking primer. Try this one from Kilz.
  • What kind of damage do you have? Small nail holes can be filled and sanded. Use a decent Spackle product. Let dry and give it 2 or 3 coats before it’s really ready. DON’T rush wall repair, if you do, it will look like you did.
  • For bigger holes, use a drywall plug. I love this Drywall Plug product but I prefer to use joint compound not Spackle with it.

Fixing walls and painting is not rocket science. It just takes time, that’s why it costs a lot. Labor is expensive. Take your time and practice these skills to improve your outcome.

  • Use a warm hairdryer to speed spackle dry time.
  • Make sure patch products are fully dry before sanding or painting over.
  • Sand in a smooth fluid motion to create flat surface. Use a pad sander.

Painting is one of those DIY projects that are very doable. You can fix those imperfections with ease. If you are really scared to make a mess with spackle, try making repairs in the closet first or buy a 2 ft x 2 ft chunk of drywall and practice before you hit the real wall! I showed my HIP Chick how to pop this plug into the wall and finish it like a pro.


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