how to renovate walls
  • #1. How to Renovate Walls

What to Consider Before Knocking Down a Wall in Your Home

Many home alterations or improvement entail the removal of a wall, but there are some things you should consider before you begin the demolition, especially if you live in a condo or apartment.

  • Firstly, it is your legal obligation to get permits, and you must pay any costs associated with this

This is not only to make sure the renovations comply with local rules and regulations, but because an apartment building is registered with a certain number of rooms and could have its licence revoked if this changes. The Building Department must give approval of your plans.

  • Renovations could impact on your neighbor’s apartment too, causing cracks in the walls or plumbing

If you are a shareholder in the building, then you must obtain personal liability and property damage insurance to cover this possibility. If you own a home on a block of land, it’s still a good idea to get insurance just in case of accidents.

Before you knock down that wall, it is imperative to find out if it is a load-bearing wall. If it is, you’ll need to substitute a special beam for what you take out.

You also need to know what exactly is inside that wall. Could there be electric wires? What about plumbing? Having to repair cracked or broken water pipes will blow out your budget.

  • What the wall is made of ?

Another thing to consider is what the wall is made of. If it is asbestos, then the appropriate authorities must be notified. The asbestos must be encapsulated for safety. You will need extra safety gear when handling it, too.

It is wise to consider exactly what it is you want to achieve by knocking out the wall. You might think that it will give more space, but don’t forget that along a wall is the usual place for furniture. If you reduce your wall space, then where will the furniture fit? This may not be a problem for you, but if you don’t work it out beforehand you won’t know until it’s too late.

  • Traffic flow

Traffic flow is another consideration. If there is no wall in that spot, will family members then use the space to walk through? If they do, will that interfere with your plans? If you don’t plan on having traffic come through that place, you may be able to impede its flow with a bamboo screen, or strategically placed chairs or low cupboards.

Once you have considered all these possibilities, then you can go ahead and knock down your wall with a clear conscience.

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  • #2. How to Renovate Walls

How To Fill Holes In The Wall Without Leaving Visible Marks

You’ve decided to repaint – but when you took all the pictures off the wall and moved that big cabinet, you were left with a surprise number of tiny holes, cracks and bumps.

You bought really top quality paint. You really don’t feel like wasting it by painting over these marks and blemishes – especially since you were planning to replace the big cabinet with a flat-screen TV, and change the location of all the pictures.

The truth is, the ten minutes you spend filling holes and repairing cracks will bring you hours of satisfaction as people compliment you on your beautiful, professional paint job. (Or at the very least, don’t say “Gee, I never noticed that crack before…”)

And if you do your repair like a professional, you’ll thank yourself forever afterwards for the results.

Apart from your planned painting supplies, you will need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Hand sanding block (to mount sandpaper on)
  • A small pot of filler appropriate to the surface being filled
  • 1” putty knife (plastic)
  • 4” drywall knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding dust mask
  • Tack cloth (for magically lifting dust from a freshly-sanded spot)

Depending on what you’re repairing, your sandpaper should be:

  • 120 grit for drywall compound
  • A variety of grits for glossy woodwork

But What About Stains?

Sometimes the blemish you want to cover is a stain. Permanent ink marker, for example, is notorious for bleeding through new paint – you can’t just paint over it!

When dealing with a stain that won’t come off easily, it’s always best to paint the area first with a sealant such as Kilz (found at Home Depot stores.)

*Always apply the Kilz after you repair and sand any cracks.

Kilz is also good for permanently eliminating cigarette smoke, when you’re taking over a room from a habitual smoker. If you just paint over it with latex paint alone, you’ll find the smell comes back after a few weeks – or days.

But do spend the extra bucks necessary for a can of Kilz, if you have one of the above problems. How heartbreaking would it be if that marker scribble bled through your beautiful faux suede Ralph Lauren paint – and you had to stare at that mark, day after day?

We’re Ready To Go – Almost

If your wall is really greasy or dirty – especially from smoke damage of any sort – one great precaution is to give it a wash with a solution of T.S.P. salts. Note that T.S.P works like a dream in lifting grease and prepping your wall for painting – but it is extremely corrosive on skin and banned in some States. (Ask your Home Improvement store professional for a substitute).

*It is ESSENTIAL that you wear HEAVY GLOVES when dealing with T.S.P., and avoid splashing yourself with it at all costs.

That being said, it is odorless and one of the least likely chemicals to cause any problem with inhalation.

Repairing That Crack

The most basic rule to remember: If the crack more than ¼” wide, you will need drywall tape for a successful repair.

The second rule: Drywall compound will shrink on drying. You will probably need at least 2 coats.

Make sure your piece of drywall tape is at least 2” longer than the crack itself. Spread a very thin layer of drywall compound over the crack Apply the tape and push in firmly (but not too hard, or you’ll squelch the drywall compound out from under the edges.) Use your fingers Smooth the tape flat with your drywall knife If the crack is very small, omit the drywall tape, and just fill

Use a special filler for wood, when filling cracks in woodwork you want to paint. If the surface was previously painted, sand first and wipe before filling. If the wood was varnished, and you’re painting over it, use a variety of grits (starting with the coarsest and working your way up to the finest) to sand off as much of the old glossy surface as you can. (This works on small areas, for example if you have decided to paint previously varnished wood trim or baseboard. For an entire paneled, varnished wall, consult your store professional, as this is a large undertaking.)

When each layer of drywall compound is completely dry, sand. Using the hand sanding block is your best bet, when sanding a flat surface. If you use sandpaper alone, you are liable to accidentally make a concave depression, when spot-sanding.

Wipe with a tack cloth, and repeat your fill, if necessary. Don’t stop until your surface is absolutely smooth and flat.

And now you are ready to paint!

  • #3. How to Renovate Walls

How to Paint Your Walls

Painting is the one job that the home handyperson is more likely to tackle than any other job around the home. It’s the one where the least amount of things can go wrong, right? But there are some things that can go wrong and you won’t know it until a few months have passed.

Imagine your shock and horror when those layers of paint come flaking off, just a few months after all that hard work. How could this be? It’s simple, you didn’t wash the wall down properly first.

There is mostly a layer of grease or scum that builds up on walls, particularly kitchen and bathroom, so paint will not adhere properly to the wall unless it is removed.

Washing down with the proper ingredients may seem unnecessary, especially if the walls look clean, but it is one of the most important tasks.

Only when everything is properly prepared can you start to paint

But wait! First you must buy the proper paint. External paint for all outside painting including the covered-in veranda or deck and windowsills that get lots of sunlight, special paint for wet/steamy areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

Ceiling paint for ceilings – it’s thicker and doesn’t splatter as much. Keep away from cheap paints. This is hard work and you want it to last as long as possible.

So scrub, then rinse if necessary. Allow to dry, and then fill any cracks or holes with putty. Sand the putty smooth when it is dry. Also sand back anywhere there is loose paint. If there are patches where there is no paint, daub those spots with a sealer/undercoat combo along with the putty spots.

Place masking tape along edges where the paint is to finish and along light switches and window/door frames. If this takes all day, don’t sweat it, just do it. Many people prefer to remove the light fixtures and doorknobs completely.

Only when everything is properly prepared can you start to paint. Make sure there is plenty of air in the room; leave the doors and window open. Set the can of paint and the tray on layers of newspaper. Of course, you will have removed all the adornments such as pictures before you started.

Cover all furniture that cannot be removed from the room with plastic or cotton sheets. Cover the flooring with plastic sheets. Bring in the ladder if you need it.

Use a roller for large areas and a brush for the edges. Buy a good quality brush or you’ll end up with hairs throughout your paint. Leave the first coat to dry. If you are using a water-based paint this will only be a couple of hours, but an oil-based paint requires longer drying time.

If the original paint was in fairly good condition, you may only need one or two coats of paint, depending on the color. If you are changing the color scheme from dark to light, you may need more.

Allow the paint to dry before removing the tape and replacing furniture and bric-a-brac.

If you’ve used the ladder for outside jobs, the feet may have a build-up of dried mud or dirt. Clean it off before you take it inside.

  • #4. How to Renovate Walls

How to Apply Wallpaper

Wallpaper application is not that hard, but it requires some specific preparation just like painting does. The job is made harder if you have to remove old wallpaper.

  • How to remove old wallpaper

Before you start, switch off the electricity and unscrew electrical plates. Tape over anything else. Buy a good quality wallpaper removal product and apply it with a sponge or garden-sprayer.

Some wallpaper may be waterproof and so the substance won’t be able to penetrate, so go over the surface lightly with a perforating tool. The paste softener should work in about 15 minutes, and then you can start scraping.

If the wallpaper is in good condition and firmly attached to the wall, you may not need to remove it. In this case, paint over the surface. Use paint that is about the same shade as the background of the new wallpaper.

All cracks and bumps need to be patched and sanded before you start. So – clean, patch, sand and prime using wallpaper primer which prevents paste and waste from being absorbed by the wall.

Or if you are moving the original wallpaper, spray or sponge on two coats of remover and then pull off strips of paper in small or large sections, using a plastic – not metal – putty knife as an aid. Then wash, putty, sand and prime the wall with special primer. It should be oil-based, since water will be used for the wallpaper paste.

  • Measure the room

Of course you will have measured the room so you know how much wallpaper you need. Now remove any head or base boards and cut the wallpaper into appropriate strips. Using a level and a pencil, mark the position of each strip lightly. Make sure you cut it so that the pattern matches up.

  • Types of wallpaper

There are two types of wallpaper. One you must wet with water to activate the paste, the other you just pull a backing strip off gradually. For both sorts, start at the top of the wall, making sure you get it level. When doing subsequent strips, match, but don’t overlap the edges. For the wet one, lay each strip on the floor after wetting with the paste side up and wait for the paper to expand before hanging it.

Once each strip is up, smooth it gently with a damp sponge to get out any air-bubbles. A razor knife will come in handy to trim the edges. Some wallpaper must have the glue mixed and applied separately. It should be laid as above; making sure that the glue is spread as evenly as possible and has set slightly before you lift it up. Two people working together is helpful.