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Q: We want to spruce up our laundry room/second bathroom. We noticed some of the paint flakes off—and it doesn't look like there is any primer underneath. Can we still paint? Or scrape and prime first?

Tamara says....
First, test to see if the paint that was used is oil or latex. Dab some acetone nail polish remover on the wall using a cloth. If the paint comes off, it’s latex. If it stays put, it’s oil. If it’s latex paint, scrape clean the areas that are flaking and give a general scraping to the rest to see if the paint is loose in any other areas. Sand and properly fill any areas that aren’t level (where paint has been scraped off) with wall plaster, and repeat until you get an even surface. Then prime those areas with a mildew-resistant latex primer. This gives the new paint something to stick to and seals the filler. Finally, paint the entire wall with a mildew-resistant latex paint. However, if the paint is oil based, follow the directions above and use an oil-based primer and paint, or prime the whole room with an oil primer and use a latex paint. It’s less stinky and better for the environment.

Tamara Chiarello's interior design company, In Vision, does both residential and commercial work. Send her your decorating questions here.