Do I Need To Remove Drywall Dust Before Priming?


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Primer is the first coat of paint applied to a surface. It seals the surface it’s applied to, gives the paint a good surface to stick to, and helps prevent moisture from penetrating.

When you’re working on your remodeling project it’s common that drywall dust can get everywhere. It gets on everything. It sticks to everything. And it makes everything look dirty. But how bad is it really? Should you even bother cleaning it off before applying primer?

Yes, you do need to remove drywall dust before you begin priming. Drywall should be properly cleaned and prepared before primer can be applied. Cleaning the surface by first sanding, then vacuuming, and wiping down the wall with a cloth removes dust and ensures that the primer and paint will adhere to the surface properly.

In addition, dust will show through if you fail to properly clean and prep the surface and it will affect the overall end result for paint job. Dust can ruin a paint job faster than you can put it all together.

This way, you can help ensure a professional quality, long-lasting finish and prevent any issues that may arise from the dust interfering with the adhesion of the paint (like peeling and flaking).

The good thing is that there is an easy way to remove drywall dust. This guide will show you how to get it done before the main event. It can be a challenge, but you can get the job done.

We’ll take a look now at how you can clean drywall dust so it’s ready to go for priming and eventually painting it with one or more coats of paint.

By the way – before we get too far along here, if you want to connect with other homeowners and builders and get more great ideas for your home to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Remodel Reality here.

How to remove drywall dust before priming

First, you will need to use a vacuum. It’s important that you use the brush attachment so you don’t scratch the wall itself. To begin, you’ll want to start from the top and work your way down the bottom.

Move the vacuum brush from left to right as you are going farther down in a slow and steady movement. Make sure you get every part of the wall. Even if you don’t see any dust, there is bound to be some.

After vacuuming, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth starting from top to bottom. Again, don’t skip any spots. Once that’s wiped down, it’s time to wash it.

Mix of mild dish soap and cool water followed by another separate bucket with just cool water. Wash the ways in a 3 foot by 3 foot section using the soapy water mix. Then rinse with the cool water in the separate bucket.

Continue washing the entire wall and change out the water if you notice it getting dirty. You want the water to be clean at all times. Dirtying the walls will defeat the entire purpose.

Last step will be to let the wall dry. Once dry, you’ll want to rub an old t-shirt or a black rag on the wall. You’ll want to see if there are any leftover traces of drywall dust. If there is still any present, you’ll want to repeat the process until there is no amounts of drywall dust left.

How do you prep a wall for priming?

First, you’ll want to clean the wall you want to prime. You can use a sponge and warm water. If the wall itself has any grime or oil, you can use a mixture of water and mild soap designed to cut the grease. Once that’s washed, you can wipe the wall down with a damp cloth.

It is important that you make sure the wall is dry before you apply your first coat of paint. Otherwise, it will be a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention, you’ll also be dealing with some blistering as well.

Aside from washing it down, here are some other tasks that you can do:

Remove any mildew

Mildew should be cleaned off before any paint is applied. In fact, you should never paint over mildew at all. This will continue to cause damage to your walls even if you do apply a new coat.

You want to mix three to four parts water with one part bleach. Apply it to the mildewed areas and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, use a soft brush to wipe it off and rinse the area.

Make sure you are wearing safety goggles and gloves before so you can get the job done safely without doing harm to your skin and eyes.

Sand the surface

Sanding the surface will be key. You can use a pole sander you can’t reach parts of the wall due to its height. While it may not be a required thing to do, it’s always a good idea to work with a smooth surface.

It’s better to paint that way as opposed to dealing with uneven surfaces. If the wall was previously painted with gloss or high-gloss paint, smoothing the surface should be the best option. As for the kind of sandpaper you need to use, it will depend on the paint that was used in the previous coat.

For example, if the previous paint was water-based, fine-grit sandpaper (or 80-grit sandpaper) will be the best option. If the paint is oil-based, find a medium-grit sandpaper like 150-grit sandpaper. After it’s sanded, make sure you wipe off any debris and make sure the wall is completely dry.

Prime the wall

Next, you can prime the wall using a good quality primer such as one from the Sherwin WIlliams brand. When applying paint, make sure you are using good quality painting tools such as a paint roller.

Paint like normal

Adding primer before painting will yield the best results. At this point, after you primed the surface, that’s when you can apply the paint itself.

Make sure you install any painter’s tape so it doesn’t paint over the edges or moldings that are installed on the wall itself. Add coats of your favorite quality paint using a 9-inch paint roller and you should be getting the best results possible.

It may take more than one paint layers to get the job done. But as long as you are painting on a clean, dry surface you should be good to go from start to finish. It’s better than neglecting the dust and debris on the wall and have it turn out to be shoddy.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to paint a wall, it would be best to prime the surface. However, drywall dust may be a problem. So it may be a good idea to consider cleaning it all off before you get started.

You may have a DIY project in mind that requires priming and painting. When you have a smooth, clean surface it makes things a lot easier. As always, make sure you have the right paint and supplies so it turns out the way you want it to turn out.

Next Steps

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Rob Orr

Me and my family have lived through a nightmare of a remodeling project gone wrong, making countless mistakes including placing trust in the wrong hands. Despite these setbacks, we took matters into our own hands for many aspects of the remodel, ensuring quality workmanship guided by expert advice. Through my personal experiences, I've created My mission is not only to share the pitfalls we encountered but also the successes we achieved by combining our efforts with trusted professionals. By sharing both the highs and lows of our journey, I aim to help others navigate their own remodeling projects with greater confidence, ensuring they benefit from our lessons learned.

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