Preparing plasterboard for painting

Renovating can be stressful – until you come to the end of the process. There is nothing quite like the joy and satisfaction of looking at your newly renovated home and seeing your design scheme come together.

If you have done a lot of structural work, including removing or replacing walls, or perhaps repairing holes or cracks in the existing structure, it’s quite exciting to see brand-new, never-painted walls waiting for you to complete them with paint to allow them to take centre stage.

New Gyprock Plus walls are a pleasure to paint, but still need some preparation beforehand.

Here’s what you need to know:

What you need:

  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Mask
  • Sugar soap
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Painter’s tape
  • Dropsheet
  • Primer
  • Paint (enough for two coats)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Roller
  • Tray
Image: Wattyl Australia
Image: Wattyl Australia

Step 1: Initial preparation

A lack of preparation is one of the main mistakes that novice painters make. Check for bumps or cracks and make sure all holes are covered. Sand any patches to ensure a smooth surface. Do not sand uncoated Gyprock. Give the wall a good clean with sugar soap and a sponge. Even new plasterboard needs a good clean to remove any dust before you start painting – or the paint may not adhere to the wall properly. It’s also worth using painter’s tape on the edges of the trims, windows or doors to ensure that they don’t get any accidental paint splashes or splatters along the way.

Step 2: Primer

If it’s a newly plastered wall, you will need to prime it or seal it before you paint. There are a few different primers on the market, but consider using an all-purpose primer as they will adhere to most surfaces and are of better quality. The Wattyl team recommends Wattyl Aqua Prep Acrylic Sealer Undercoat Low VOC for Gyprock. Applying the sealer will help even out the porosity of the gyprock and promote the adhesion of the topcoat. If you are using a dark paint, consider tinting your primer as this will help to make the final colour more even. One coat of primer should be all that is needed. Don’t forget to place a dropsheet on the floor before you start to prevent any paint splatters.

Image: Wattyl Australia

Step 3: Preparing to paint

When choosing your paint, water-based paints (also known as acrylics) are suitable for most applications. Acrylics dry faster than oil-based paints, are easier to clean up and better for the environment, particularly in terms of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Buy the best quality paint you can afford as the coverage will be better and they will be easier to apply. Coverage rates of premium paints is usually about 15 sqm/litre of paint, but check the paint label to make sure. Most quality paints will only need two coats. Cheap paints are often a bad investment as coverage can be patchy and you may end up needing three coats.

Step 4: Cutting in

Start painting with the edges of the wall. Using a quality paintbrush (there are specialist cutting-in brushes available), paint above the skirting boards and below the cornices, as well as the corners of the room. Cutting-in is a skill and takes time, so don’t rush this step. It’s a good idea to load up the brush with a generous amount of paint, as it will cover better.

Step 5: Using the roller

After cutting in, it’s time to use the roller. Rollers are preferable on large areas because they tend to give a more even finish. Invest in a good quality roller as it will make a huge difference, especially if you are a novice. Make sure you get a good coverage of paint on your roller and fill in the centre of the wall evenly.

Step 6: The finishing touch

Repeat Steps 4 and 5, leaving a few hours to dry between coats. Check the paint tin for the exact time you need to allow. You may need to wait longer if it’s a cold or wet day. It’s also a good idea to remove the painters’ tape while the paint is still wet so any overbrushing doesn’t cause the paint to lift when the tape is removed. Now all you have to do is stand back and admire your handy work!


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