Photo by Mitchell Luo

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After children graciously paint a mural on their bedroom walls, or even after little more than a slip of the hand, it can feel impossible to erase the results. Even a single mark can mar the paint on your wall and reduce the beauty of a room, especially if it is in a location not easily hidden. No matter the cause of the accident, the dye used in the permanent markers will bleed through interior paint unless you follow a few simple rules.


It may seem pointless at first to wash the wall, especially since this will not fade or remove the marks, but it is a critical step for any painting job. Therefore, you should be sure to wash the wall around the marker stain with a mild detergent and water, and one option for the detergent could be a liquid dish soap. Once clean, rinse the soap off the wall and allow it to dry completely while you set up your supplies and work station for the paint.


Once completely dry, it is time to sand the area marked with a fine-grit sanding sponge, and be sure to extend the sanding approximately three inches beyond the marker stain in every direction. Do not sand too much, but rather try to sand only enough to slightly roughen the surface of the wall, and do not sand through the existing paint or attempt to remove the stain using this method. When finished, simply dust off the wall to remove any debris from the sanding.

Stain-Blocking Primer

There are latex stain-blocking paint primers available designed to stop marks and stains from bleeding through a new coat of paint, so you should be able to paint a coat of this over the prepared area. Apply a thin coat and ensure you extend the coat over the area sanded. Allow the primer to completely dry before moving onto your second coat. You might not need a second coat, depending on the primer, and you should look at the manufacturer’s instructions to determine this.

Sand Again

Just as you did before applying the primer, sand the dried primer just enough to roughen the surface. This step will allow the new paint to better adhere to the surface of your wall. When finished, brush off the dust as you did in the previous step and then get ready with your chosen paint color.


Apply a thin coat of your latex paint over the primed area, and be sure to use the same type of paint as used on the rest of the well. If the original paint is glossy, semi-gloss, or matte, be sure you match this type with the new paint so you do not end up with a patch of different looking paint. Allow the first coat to dry, and then apply a second. Repeat this step once more until you have up to three coats of paint to match the patch area to the surrounding wall, which should result in a beautiful wall with no stains or marks and no worries about it bleeding through later.

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