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How to paint over vinyl silk

Updated April 17, 2017

Vinyl silk emulsion paints give a high sheen and long lasting finish. This type of paint is common in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas prone to dampness because it adheres well to surfaces and is easy to clean and maintain. Thorough preparation is an essential first step before painting over vinyl silk paintwork, especially in areas such as kitchens where grease and grime may have accumulated on the paintwork over time. Clean the vinyl silk surface with a grease-cutting cleaning solution and apply a matt finish primer before painting to achieve an excellent finish.

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  1. Pour TSP, trisodium phosphate, cleaning solution into a bucket. If necessary, add water to the TSP to dilute it. Carefully follow the manufacturer's dilution and usage instructions because these may vary between TSP brands. The TSP will effectively remove ingrained dirt and grease from the old paintwork. Wear non-porous or rubber protective gloves while handling and using the TSP cleaner.

  2. Clean the vinyl silk paintwork with a sponge or clean cloth dampened with the cleaning solution. Start at the top of the surface and work your way down, firmly wiping the surface. Use a step ladder to reach high surfaces safely. Wait for the surface to dry.

  3. Mask any nearby surfaces, such as wood trim, that you wish to protect from paint splatter with decorators' masking tape. Apply the tape carefully over these areas by unrolling it, positioning it and pressing it into place gently with your fingers. Cut off excess masking tape with a utility knife.

  4. Pour the matt finish primer into a clean paint container. Paint over the clean vinyl silk paintwork with a generous coat of primer. The primer will adhere well to the existing vinyl silk paintwork and help the new paint layers to stick to the surface. Apply the primer with a 12.5 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inch) paintbrush or a medium-nap paint roller for the main surface area and a small 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) paintbrush for the edges. Wait for the primer to dry. Drying times vary so check the manufacturer's instructions.

  5. Decant the new matt or vinyl emulsion paint into a clean paint container. Paint onto the surface with a clean 12.5 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inch) paintbrush or a medium-nap paint roller. Again, use a small 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) paintbrush for the edges. This helps achieve a neat finish. Wait for the first coat of paint to dry and then coat the surface with a second layer of paint using the same technique. A second coat ensures a consistent and durable finish.

  6. Tip

    Use matt or vinyl emulsion paints to redecorate over old vinyl silk paintwork.


    Read and carefully follow manufacturer's safety and usage instructions when using TSP cleaners.

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Things You'll Need

  • Protective gloves
  • Bucket
  • TSP cleaner
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Masking tape
  • Utility knife
  • Step ladder
  • Matt finish primer
  • Paint containers
  • 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) paintbrushes
  • 12.5 to 15 cm (5 to 6 inch) paintbrushes
  • Medium-nap paint roller
  • Matt or vinyl emulsion paint

About the Author

Adrian Grahams began writing professionally in 1989 after training as a newspaper reporter. His work has been published online and in various newspapers, including "The Cornish Times" and "The Sunday Independent." Grahams specializes in technology and communications. He holds a Bachelor of Science, postgraduate diplomas in journalism and website design and is studying for an MBA.

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