The main problem with painting over vinyl surfaces is that it is slick and shiny. You have the same potential problems that you would have painting over hard plastic, tile or glass. Paint doesn't bond well to shiny surfaces and easily scrapes or peels. Nevertheless, vinyl-covered drywall can be painted over with a little proper prep work.
No paint adheres well to dusty or greasy walls. This is particularly true for walls with the added issue of shiny or slick surfaces. When painting a vinyl-covered wall, the entire surface must first be cleaned well.
An alcohol- or vinegar-based cleaning solution, such as that found in many window cleaners, works well because it leaves little or no residue when dry. If you use a soap- or detergent-based cleaner, make sure the wall is completely rinsed and residue free.
Fix Problem Areas
Before painting, check all corners and edges for loose paper, which must be reglued or removed. Soft or damaged wallboard must be removed and patched with appropriate compounds, fillers or caulks. After drying, fillers and compounds must be sanded smooth to match the rest of the wall.
Use primer on the vinyl-covered walls to make the surface less glossy or slick, so the paint will adhere properly. Look for a high-adhesion primer, which is available in oil-based and acrylic versions. Either type will work fine if it is formulated for covering glossy surfaces. If you are uncertain which to buy, ask the paint professional at your local store.
Brushes and Rollers
Most high-adhesion primers need to be applied in thin coats. Many painters like to roll the primer onto a small section, then brush it out to eliminate drips and sags. The entire wall may be painted with a brush, but it will take longer.
After the primer is thoroughly dry, you may apply the topcoat around the ceiling, floors, doors and windows with a brush, then rolling the main part of the wall.
The Right Paint
Because the topcoat of paint is the most visible part of this whole process, it is worthwhile to buy a top quality one. Good quality wall paints come in several different types and formulations, such as alkyd-, latex- and acrylic-based.
If you use an oil-based primer, you might want to consider an oil-based or alkyd-based topcoat. Oil-based enamels tend to dry with a harder finish than either latex or acrylic. The harder finish is usually not needed on walls unless they are in high-traffic or high-use areas, such as hallways, kitchens or bathrooms.
If you use an acrylic-based primer, you can use a latex- or acrylic-based topcoat. The advantage of these is they clean up with soap and water. Top quality latex and acrylic paints should work fine in most rooms.
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