How to Treat Damp Walls Before Painting
October 1, 2019

Are you planning a painting project? Have your walls been showing signs of dampness? Then, you're in the right place! This guide covers the essentials steps on how to treat damp walls before painting for best results.

Paint is an inexpensive option for home improvements, making it a popular choice for anyone looking for an easy project. If you think it’s time for a change, you can make your mark on any room in your home with a fresh coat. 

You’ll need to be prepared for the project both in terms of the time and energy it takes. But don’t forget about getting your walls ready too! The surface needs to be prepared properly in order to see the best results. 

This is especially true if you are dealing with dampness in your walls. This is a common issue that can affect walls in nearly any room in your home, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you pick up your painting supplies.

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Why It’s Important to Treat Damp Walls First

Why Its Important to Treat Damp Walls First

Painting over walls that are damp can cause some major problems! Improperly prepared walls are actually a very common DIY mistake. Taking the time to deal with damp is essential and can reduce a lot of frustration. 

Painting over damp walls will develop bubbles and begin to peel shortly after the work is done, making an unsightly mess. Going over damp walls can also cause further damage as the underlying issues are not dealt with, and can even turn into mould. 

By treating the damp on your walls and fixing what’s causing it, you can apply a better coat of paint and enjoy your walls in the time ahead.  

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What Causes Dampness in Walls?

What causes dampness in walls

Dampness in walls can be caused by factors both inside and outside of your home. There are three main types that you may find you are dealing with: condensation, rising damp, or penetrating dampness. A professional may be needed to fully inspect your walls to determine the cause of your issue. 

Condensation is the most common type of damp on walls and can often lead to the appearance of mould. This typically happens in bathrooms and kitchens, but can also appear on exterior-facing walls where it tends to be colder. Dampness will be evident on the wall’s surface and it may be noticeable to the touch. 

Rising damp affects walls on the ground floor from water collecting around foundation walls. You may notice tide marks on your walls either inside or out from the rising damp. This can cause staining on your wall’s surface or show up as visible damp patches. 

Penetrating damp occurs when water build-up from the outside of your home saturates your wall and penetrates to the inside walls. Look for causes such as broken gutters or pipes that are the source of the water, or an issue with the plumbing. This kind of problem will show up as damp patches, watermarks or damage to your plaster. 

How to Treat Damp Walls Before Painting in 6 Steps

How to treat damp walls before painting

1. Determine The Cause

In order to properly treat the issue, you need to know the type of damp you are dealing with. A professional can properly diagnose it, but occasionally the cause is obvious. Blocked gutters, broken pipes or insufficient ventilation can all cause damp to appear on your walls. 

Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can move on to the next step and address the problem for good.

2. Treat The Cause

Fixing the problem is essential before any wall treatment is completed. Otherwise, the damage may worsen or return. The type of treatment required does vary based on the problem. Rising damp needs to be treated with a waterproofing course on the exterior to stop the damp from rising within your brick to affect the interior walls. 

Water causing dampness in walls

The buildup in gutters can be caused by sludge, leaves or even ice. When this occurs, rainwater can’t flow properly and can instead find its way into your home. Broken downspouts can cause damp as well. Cleaning and tending to your gutters is an easy way to stay on top of issues and should be a part of your regular routine moving forward. 

Depending on what’s causing condensation, you may need to do some additional work inside your home to install proper ventilation or insulation to eliminate the problem.

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3. Allow Your Walls to Dry Out

After treating the cause of the dampness, you will see the condition of your walls start to improve. Damp patches should begin to dry out. However, you may be left with bubbling, peeling or other unsightly damage. 

Before you tackle this issue, make sure that your walls are fully dry. This will be a good step to check on your fix to ensure it has fixed the cause of the problem.

4. Prep Your Interior Walls

Before you can apply paint, you’ll need to deal with any damage. Repair cracks and holes with a plaster patch, and make sure to sand it down until it is smooth.

Prep your interior walls

 Residue should be washed away and any peeling paint removed and scraped off. Make sure to allow time for your walls to dry out from this moisture too.


5. Apply Your Waterproofing if Desired

For added confidence, you may wish to add a waterproofing coat to your walls to help prevent dampness from seeping into your walls. This can be especially helpful for rooms like kitchens and bathrooms that are more likely to encounter water buildup. A primer designed for these spaces can add extra help with keeping the water out of your plaster. For the outside, some products provide a waterproof coating for exterior wall application to keep the water out.  

6. Paint!

After your waterproofing step has been completed and your walls are completely dry, you will be able to begin to paint. Having completed the earlier steps, you’ll be set up for success.

Painting interiors

Looking for more information on next steps for your painting project? Click here to read through our Painting and Decorating Price Guide for a comprehensive look at the factors which can influence the cost of your interior painting project.


Although dampness in your walls may be disheartening, it is a fixable problem thanks to these helpful steps! You may want to have a professional painter and decorator in to fully assess the extent of your issues to deal with the underlying cause. By taking the time to address the damp, you can paint your walls with confidence. Take heed of these key steps to treat your damp walls after the situation is fixed and you will be set to enjoy your home once again without fear of further issues.

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