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Prepping woodwork for painting isn't difficult, but wood trim and other
details can have lots of little hills and valleys. You'll need to clean, patch
and sand the woodwork before you can paint it, so a little patience is needed
to make sure the job comes out looking great. Liquid deglossers work well for
prepping glossy surfaces such as enamel paints, but pay attention to the
manufacturer's instructions - the deglosser can't be left on too long.
To renew varnished wood, clean it with mineral spirits, patch any holes, then apply new coats of varnish.
Prepping all the trim in a single room could take three or four hours.
To start, wash the woodwork with TSP solution or a phosphate-free substitute, and then rinse it thoroughly. Be sure to wear protective gloves and safety gear when using harsh cleaners and chemicals. Scrape away any peeling or loose paint. If your woodwork is badly chipped, it's probably best to remove the old finish entirely by sanding it or stripping it.
Use a putty knife to press some latex wood patch or spackling compound into any nail holes, dents or other scratches. Colored wood patch material also can be used. Let the putty dry thoroughly.
Sand the surfaces with 150-grit sandpaper until they are smooth to the touch. Wipe the woodwork with a tack cloth before priming and painting.
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