Wall resurfacing over oil-based paint

herring_mavenNovember 11, 2010

This question probably has been asked and answered a thousand times, but I cannot find previous topics that deal with it using the Search function.

We are redoing a powder room -- for the second time, actually. The first time we did it, in 1990, the walls had been painted (by a previous owner) in a high-gloss oil-based paint. We thoroughly washed the walls down with TSP, and rolled on some latex/acrylic paint over the underlying paint. Although that coat of paint lasted nearly 20 years, it was very fragile; one could peel the latex paint off the wall with a thumbnail.

Now we are doing a makeover, and we will be using wallpaper this time. We have stripped the latex paint off the walls. But when we applied paint remover, advertised to strip oil paint as well as latex paint, only the latex paint was stripped, or even affected. Paint stripper did not make the slightest impression on the oil-based paint underneath. I am beginning to suspect that dynamite would not make a dent in the base level oil-based paint on these walls.

We have once again thoroughly cleansed the walls, this time with Red Devil TSP/90 (a TSP substitute that is not TSP). Now what?

We had thought that we would apply a layer of latex primer/sealer before applying the wallpaper. However, the ease with which the previous latex paint came off and the resulting glossy, almost ice-rink-like, painted surface remaining, makes us wary that the primer and the wallpaper adhered to it would come off sooner rather than later.

What suggestions would you make to hang wallpaper on these shiny walls from hell?

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* Get out your favorite palm-sander, use 100-grit paper, and buzz the walls to an evenly dulled finish.
* Wipe/wash every molecule of dust off!

NOW your wall will have some "tooth" (profile from sanding!) to it!
* Apply a FULL coat of Zinsser's Shieldz wallpaper-primer.
* Your wall is now perfectly prepped for paper, which will now strip easily at some point...because you used a great primer for that purpose!
* Future owners will sing your praises too....;-)


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 12:19AM
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faron79, Thank you for pointing me to Shieldz; we have some Zinsser paint primer on hand here (left over from a porch-painting project) that we had planned to use for this project before I decided to ask for advice here; I had not realized that Zinsser also makes a specialized wallpaper primer.

As to sanding, I have attempted to rough up the surface with an electric orbital sander with no result: the sander slides right across the surface like a bowling ball on an ice rink. The underlying old paint in this powder room has a surface as smooth as porcelain tile, and -- apparently -- almost as hard. That is what has me tearing my hair.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 6:20AM
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What grit paper were ya using?

NO painted wall (Oil or no...) can stand up to an 80-grit sheet! You may have to drop to 80 from the 100-grit I normally recommend...


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 11:04AM
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faron79, I was using a 50-(1) grit aluminum oxide paper; that is the one that cannot begin to bite into the paint. Are you telling me that a finer grit might succeed where the coarse grit failed, or am I using the wrong compound?

I looked at the primer that we have on hand. My memory had been that it was one of the Zinsser flavors, but now I see that it is Pittsburgh Paint Sealgrip 100% Acrylic, and it purports to be a Universal primer/sealer. I take it that you think we would be penny-wise and pound foolish to use the stuff on-hand rather than Zinsser Shieldz, is that correct?

Here is a link that might be useful: Description of Sealgrip

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 12:36PM
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Use silicon carbide abrasive sheets. Used by auto body shops. Cuts through car paint. Used for honing soapstone countertop slabs, too.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 6:46PM
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sombreuil_mongrel, Thank you (and thank you to faron79) for taking the time to share your expertise.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 8:13PM
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