I have a 4-year-old boy, who loves to draw on the wall from time to time. He does it with his Washable Markers, which should be easy to clean with water. He left his marks for a while on the wall until we forgot about them.

Recently, we repainted our kitchen. The contractor painted the primer and paint over the mark. It looked OK at first. However, when the paint dried, the marks showed through. What should I do with minimal effort to remove these marks?

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Updated: The paint that the contractor uses in this project is Valspar Signature Semi-Gloss Latex Interior Paint and Primer in One (Actual Net Contents: 124-fl oz)

  • 1
    You need a better stain-blocking primer.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:04
  • 2
    There is no way this area got a full coat of primer and paint. If it did it was the worst primer and paint combo possible.
    – DMoore
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:46
  • KILZ and more paint
    – tahwos
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 22:49

5 Answers 5


Once it's been painted over, there's no way to remove a stain - you'd have to remove the paint to get at the stain, which is definitely not "minimal effort".

The simplest thing to do at this point would be to call back the contractor and have him actually paint the wall, rather than just slapping on some paint-like substance and calling it good. There is simply no way those marks would still be showing through if the contractor had done a proper job, with a stain-blocking primer and a good-quality paint.


It has been my experience that certain types of markers, particularly the permanent type that have an alcohol base, can telegraph through even 4 or 5 layers of even good quality paint. I had some doors once that had some artwork from previous owners done on them with markers. When I tried to paint them with blocking primer and paint it still came right through after some weeks or months. In the end I had to strip off the paint and sand off the marker and underlying original finish to clean wood before starting over.


Your notion that "washable markers SHOULD wash off walls" is totally unrealistic. House paint does not work that way.

Common house paint is actually pretty fragile and is designed not to be touched, and that is necessary to get the aesthetic that adults are interested in. Yes, whoever invented that did not have kids, or those kids didn't write on the walls twice after the sore bottom they got the first time. If you want high-durability paint that is resistant to kids, they do make such a thing, but it'll be way glossier than most people want in their home.

That paint job is just horrible. It might be print-through from really cheap paint... or paint that really needs a second coat... or it might be the paint repelling from the still-greasy spot they didn't bother to clean. Anyway, this contractor has to go - he just doesn't care about quality.

If this is the quality of contractors available in your market, you might just want to learn to DIY.


An ordinary primer won't do it. You need a real good stain blocking primer. I would wait until all your children are about 35 until you fix anything that breaks.


I have run across variations of this over the years and in almost every case there was only one solution to completely remove a marker from being visible. I had to physically remove the marker's mark from the wall.

At times, that meant cutting slightly into the drywall and peeling the paper layer from the middle layer of gypsum. Then covering cut out area with drywall mud, prime and paint.

Once, when the marker had not been able to completely penetrate the paint layer I was able to use a razor to remove the paint layer without going into the drywall itself.

I wish there were a better answer, but I have never seen a primer permanently block a marker. The color pulls itself through every layer.

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