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Keeping the Main Line Colorful: Professional Secrets on How to Clean your Painted Walls

Our homes along the Main Line have a beautiful grace and nobility that can only come from being loved (and lived in) for generation after generation. But with those years of use comes the all too common companion, wear-and-tear. If your walls are starting to look their age don’t run to repaint just yet. You might not need a completely new paint job if you just rethink your cleaning routine and polish those walls back to their original splendor. So don’t stress next time the kids come home from playing outdoors and dirty up your hall walls, or your Golden Retriever is getting a little feisty running around the living room: Here’s everything you need to know to polish away scuffs in no time. With a little love, the homes that give the Main Line so much charm can stay in great shape for years to come.

A clean paint job is a gorgeous backdrop in this sitting room. Each element of the room, from the furniture to the drapery, looks its best against clean walls.

Keeping the Situation Under Control

If your walls are freshly painted, take caution and give the new paint at least 2 weeks for the finish to fully set. After that, a regular cleaning can work wonders, and a little preventive care can go a long way toward protecting you wall from smudging in the first place. Incorporating a little bit of paint maintenance into your usual house cleaning routine can save you some major hassle in the long run and keep your walls looking fresh.

Here’s a clever (and surprising!) tip for preventive cleaning: Take your vacuum cleaner, and break out that soft-brush attachment that you’ve probably never found occasion to use. It’s going to become your new favorite cleaning tool. Vacuum the walls gently with the brush to remove any major accumulations of dust. Next, wipe them down softly with a clean dusting rag to remove the finer particles. As you see fingerprints and smudges show up on your walls throughout the week, be sure to remove them right away by wiping them with a clean, slightly damp rag. However, if you’ve got an accumulated grime situation on your hands, it’s time to break out the big guns and do a full-on wall washing.

All you really need for a thorough wall-cleaning is a little soap and water, along with a gentle cleaning cloth.
Image: Flickr user Vivian Chen

Washing Painted Walls

Painted walls are actually very cleanable. Your best friend? Mr. Clean magic erasers. These are fantastic for “erasing” scuffs and smudges. You can also clean your painted walls with water, a mild dish detergent, and a non-abrasive pad such as a microfiber rag or a gentle sponge. This approach is especially effective for wiping away water spots in a bathroom. Be wary of any cleaners or moist cleaning wipes that contain bleach since this can be harmful to some paints and leave streaks. Bleach-free wipes are fine, but be sure to read your labels before using them on the wall.

Safety Precaution: Avoid washing areas near electrical connections with water! This includes outlets, appliances, etc.

Water smudges in a bathroom are easily wiped away with a clean cloth, leaving your walls crisp and colorful.
Image: Flickr user The Residences at Mandarin Oriental

Choosing an Easily Cleanable Paint

If you’ve got a high-traffic room that needs a new coat of paint, you can save yourself a lot of repairs and maintenance in the future by choosing a durable, easily cleanable paint. The higher grade of paint you invest in, the more durable and cleanable it’s going to be. Higher-sheen paints are generally less porous, making them more resistant to abrasion and chipping than matte paints, but if your walls were painted by Nolan, we actually use washable flat paints instead of standard flat paints. These washable flat finishes are great for walls in high traffic areas, kid’s bedrooms, and anywhere a washable paint would be desired.

Those textured plaster walls or troweled-on stucco-look walls are certainly stylish, but they may pose some unique cleaning challenges. It’s important to find a cleaning pad that will reach around the ridges and grooves without snagging on the surface and breaking it, or abrading the surface as you clean. Painted wood and wood-panelling have a little bit of a rougher surface as well, but can be treated the same as any other paint job – a magic eraser or mild detergent and a non-abrasive rag. However, if they’ve become excessively discolored or chipped, you may need a new coat of paint. Nolan also offers cabinet refinishing and special cabinet grade paint to give your cabinetry a highly durable, smooth finish; this can be a great option for well-used kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanities where you need the most stain-resistant, durable, and washable surface possible.

Practicing proper cleaning can help your paint job to last, but if your wall paint is starting to crack and peel off the wall, it’s time for a more serious solution.
Image: Flickr user: Mary Vican

When Your Walls are Beyond Cleaning

Keeping your walls clean over the years will leave your home looking its best and allow you to keep repainting, patching, and renovation to a minimum. However, if your walls have truly crossed the Rubicon of Grunge, there’s probably nothing you can do to return them to their original splendor. If your paint is showing excessive discoloration or chipping, it needs fresh paint. If your trim paint is yellowing or discolored, you’re likely seeing oxidization from oil based paint. If that’s the case, it’s also going to need some professional attention.

Nolan has been painting homes across the Main Line since 1979, so if your walls aren’t looking up to snuff lately, let us know and we can assess the potential they have to be cleaned or quote you for a new paint job. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

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