I discovered the walls going down to the basement were only primed and never painted. Looks like one coat also, I doubt if it was more as several parts have been torn and it looks too thin of a layer. Down the railing is a lot of oily residue from lotions and other things on peoples hands and lots other marks and debris.

How can we save this drywall? What's the cheapest way around this issue without putting up new drywall? I worry that the oil residue especially will not adhere to the paint.

EDIT: This is not related to the "duplicate question" of preparing walls for repainting because these walls have never been painted in the first place, they were only primed years and years ago and thus have been completely ruined. This is a question about restoring the old primed walls not repainting.

  • "Ruined" is subjective. In absence of more information such as photos, it is still a duplicate. Priming is part painting it. And they should be repainted. Jan 11 at 20:42
  • Although I am not a professional, I do know that primer is highly porous. The question your are referring to does not state anywhere how to wash porous primed drywall without a single layer of paint on it, it only refers to painted surfaces and matching colors. If it was a finished painted wall I would not post here. The answers given on their question, while similar in that TSP was mentioned, do not tell me how to treat and finish the surface appropriately especially considering oil is involved and that it had never been sealed with a paint and thus the drywall could in fact be "ruined". Jan 12 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Try to gently clean the oily areas with TSP and water solution. Use a sponge, don't scrub, but gently wipe to prevent damaging the area. This should neutralize the oily spots.

Where the drywall facing (paper) has been torn, I have had good results applying a thin coat of latex caulk spread and smoothed out with a drywall knife.

Then prime with a sealer primer. and you are ready to paint.

  • 1
    A lightweight spackle would be better than caulking as it won't flash as bad and is less likely to shrink. TSP is the way to go for cleaning for sure. +1
    – matt.
    Jan 11 at 0:35
  • 1
    @Matt, I hear ya about the spackle. i used to use it. I just found a quick drying latex caulk that would cover the paper tears and seal them rather than be absorbed in. Layed on very thin. If the damage is anything more than a paper scar, I'm with you on the spackle.
    – RMDman
    Jan 11 at 12:36
  • Thanks guys! There are also some parts that clearly don't have enough mud, I can see the seams and tape, should I just leave those alone and see them forever or should I mud on top of these areas? Jan 11 at 14:11

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