Prepping your woodwork: my 5 top tips

Painting woodwork is the arsiest of all home décor tasks. There’s just so much of it…and it has all those little nooks and crannies and moulded bits…and you need to worry about paint spreading in multiple directions…down on to your flooring, up on to your walls, over onto your plug points and handles! What a headache.

However, it goes without saying that refreshing your woodwork is so worth it afterwards because what a difference it makes to the look and feel of a room.

When we moved in to our house in November we knew we would have so much woodwork to do…basically all of it. Our previous owners had not only not kept on top of their woodwork, they had also painted it gloss magnolia at some point in the distant past, magnolia which has stained even yellower over time. Gross.

So far, the only woodwork I have done has been in the utility room and in the new bedroom…which I am yet to reveal…however, just because you are special I will share with you now my top tips for managing your woodwork upgrade before I share the overall room with you.

  1. Use an electric sander

This is especially true if, like us, you have more than one door in your room. We had 4: entry, en suite, 2 x wardrobe doors. Or, if like us, you know that this is not the only room you’re going to tackle. You can pick these up fairly cheap and use with a medium grain sandpaper when removing top shine from glossed woodwork. It took us about 3 hours to do the whole room and all hovering etc afterwards using an electric sander. It doesn’t quite manage the most detailed and moulded of skirting boards, but those bits you can just go over manually.

Sanded Woodwork
I used an electric sander to take the sheen and grime off of the woodwork which was painted in gloss magnolia


2. Sand, but don’t worry about revealing the true wood underneath

If you are going to paint your wood again, this is true. However, obviously if you want natural wood skirting boards then ignore this tip. Most importantly you want to remove the top shine and grime from your woodwork so your new paint can stick to it. Do not underestimate the importance of sanding your woodwork. I forgot to sand one of the doors in the utility and paint just would not stick to it at all. I ended up having to give the door 4 coats!! The best way to know you’ve sanded enough is to use your fingers to touch the surface, if it feels slick then it needs a further wee rub, if it feels slightly rough or textured, then you’re good to go.

One coat of paint
Left door has had one coat of satinwood following sanding. Right door has just been sanded. There is already a massive difference.


3. Use polythene dust sheets in your wardrobes

That dust gets everywhere, and don’t assume otherwise! Our wardrobes are fitted and the doors are stiff and tight and nearly impossible to open, and yet that dust managed to seep through crevices and work its way all over the contents of the wardrobe. Damon bought a roll of polythene sheeting and I should have pulled off  a length and draped it over the clothing inside the wardrobe. Learn from my mistake people! Protect your threads!

4. Use Frog Tape

I pride myself on being a good ‘cutter inner’. I have an innate ability to draw straight lines and find it therapeutic to cut in and paint straight lines with clean white satinwood. However, because I am pregnant and was struggling on my hands and knees to get the woodwork done comfortably, I decided to use frog tape for the first time and ever. Oh holy moly. Why oh why have I never used this stuff before?! I know people go on about how good it is, but I honestly never thought that would apply to me and my OCD straight line painting. It does! No straight line is as crisp as a frog tape straight line. Get all over it people! And, it is soooooo much faster if you take the time to frog tape your carpet too because then you just whack the paint on willy nilly without needing to be cautious on either side of your skirting boards. Frog tape = time saving = more time for tea and cake when painting is done! 🙂

Frog Tape for woodwork
Frog Tape, even for a good ‘cutter inner’ like me, is an absolute saviour!!!

5. Daylight Bulbs

I cannot underplay this tip…it might come last on my list but only because I want to go out with a flash…of daylight! If, like me, you have a job, or children, then you find yourself using your precious evenings and nights to do these painting jobs in the house. Cue winter woes, when the light starts to fail at 3pm in the afternoon and you can’t even see what you are doing. I bought some daylight bulbs from Wilko’s, removed the lampshades from the lamps and hey presto, its like painting in the sunshine except without the overbearing heat. This is invaluable for ensuring you have a good even coverage on your first coat, because get that right and only 2 coats should be needed, saving you time and money on that oh so expensive paint. Would you believe that this photo was taken by the light of a daylight bulb and not natural daylight itself?

Fresh clean woodwork makes all the difference to a decorated room





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