February 08, 2021

A Guide to Surface Preparation for Painting Wood, Metal & uPVC

A Guide to Surface Preparation for Painting Wood, Metal & uPVC

A Guide to Surface Preparation for Painting Wood, Metal & uPVC

Painting sounds like the easiest DIY job around. However, anyone who has ever attempted it will know that the final product doesn’t always look how you want it to. This is why surface preparation for painting wood, metal* and uPVC is essential. In short, if you neglect this stage, you’ll end up with a below-par finish.

The good news is that the preparation is pretty much the same across the board, regardless of the material. Therefore, the following tips are universal when it comes to how to prepare surfaces for painting.

The steps in a nutshell

The steps take two forms. They are:

  • Cleaning down with soap and warm water
  • Sanding the item to smooth out the surface and help the paint adhere

Yes, that’s it! These two techniques will remove all the dirt and grease – we recommend Frenchic Sugar Soap – and any bumps and rough edges. When you’re done, your surface preparation for painting is all taken care of and you can begin to paint.

Surface preparation for painting

Cleaning down

It’s tempting to assume that cleaning down is a walk in the park. You’ve done it before, so why shouldn’t you be able to deal with aluminium surface preparation for painting? The answer is simple – you need the correct tools.

We use Sugar Soap because it’s designed to remove dirt and grime from materials. For furniture, soap and water might be enough. However, the same can’t be said for garden items and household features that are subjected to grease and oil, such as kitchen surfaces.

By mixing one-part Sugar Soap with ten-parts warm, soapy water, there’s no need to worry about any leftover build-up of bacteria. Just ensure you cover your sponge in the diluted liquid and give it a good scrub!

Sand the area down

Once the item is bone dry, it’s ready to start sanding. Sandpaper, or a fine sanding sponge, is the most common tool for the job, but you can use an industrial sander if you have the equipment and know-how to use it properly.

There’s no need to press too hard because the roughness of the sponge or paper will do the heavy lifting. Instead, watch for the colour change and feel the item to check how smooth it is, to figure out when the job is finished.

A top tip – use a mask while sanding. It’s difficult to tell whether a piece of metal or wooden furniture has a varnish or is galvanised, and you don’t want the particles to get into your body. A cotton mask should act as a barrier against the majority of dust.

Speaking of dust, make sure you clear it off the surface before you begin painting. Otherwise, it won’t take to the material.

What about chips and cracks?

Craig Phillips, Frenchic’s brand ambassador, outlines two options. The first is to use a courser sander to remove them completely. The second is to leave them as they are because it’s these features that add character and personality. The decision is yours.


* Always treat/remedy rust if present. If you are painting bare ferrous (iron) metal, it is good practice to apply a suitable metal primer after prep and before applying a water based paint. Non-ferrous metal (eg copper, aluminium) do not require a primer.

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