Interior Painting Step 1: Prepping a Room

How to Prepare a Wall for Paint

Three Methods:

Painting a wall is a great way to bring new life to a room when you want to revitalize an old paint job or completely change the look of the room with a bright new color. After choosing the new color for the room, preparation is the most important step to achieving great-looking final results. Prepare your walls properly for paint and the fun and rewarding part of actually painting them will be a breeze!


Clearing the Room and Cleaning the Walls

  1. Move furniture out of the room.Get someone to help you if any of the furniture is too heavy to lift on your own. Store any large items that you will not be removing in the center of the room, as far away from the walls as possible.
    • If you leave any furniture in the room cover everything with old sheets, plastic, or tarps to protect it.
  2. Clear the walls of all decorations, hardware, and fixtures.Take down all artwork and unscrew and remove any hardware or shelving attached to the walls. Remove all curtains and blinds and any light fixtures and store them out of the room.
    • It is a good idea to store loose screws and any hardware that you will reuse in plastic bags so that you don’t lose anything.
  3. Unscrew light switch plates and electrical outlet covers.Store all the cover plates with their corresponding screws in plastic bags to reattach after painting. Cover the remaining light switches and plug sockets with painter’s tape prior to painting.
  4. Wipe off dirt and dust with a clean dry cloth.Prepare the walls for cleaning by dusting them off with a dry cloth first.
  5. Wipe down walls with a clean sponge or cloth and a mild soap solution.Mix 2 gallons of water in a bucket with 1-2 cups of white vinegar and half a tablespoon of dish detergent. Dampen the sponge or cloth with the solution, wring it out well, and work from top to bottom of the wall.
    • A mild grease-fighting liquid dish detergent works best to remove dirt and stains.
    • It is a good idea to have a clean dry cloth handy as well to catch any drips and avoid streaks.
  6. Mask anything you do not want to get paint on with blue painter’s tape.Cover things like edges of windows and doors as well as all baseboards and trim that you will not be painting over.
    • Blue painter’s tape is different from regular masking tape because it is specifically designed to be easily removed from walls after painting.
    • You can run a clean putty knife over the tape to stick it down firmly.
    • You may want to cover windows completely with plastic or kraft paper to protect the glass from accidental paint spatter.
    • Try to remove tape as soon as possible after painting, while it is still drying, to avoid taking any dry paint off with it.
  7. Put down drop sheets on the floor.Lay out thick plastic, canvas or kraft paper drop sheets wherever you will be painting to cover the floor. Attach the edges of the drop sheets to the baseboards and floor using your painter’s tape.

Filling Cracks and Holes in the Walls

  1. Use a scraper or putty knife to scrape the area around holes or cracks.Before filling anything, remove any loose paint or plaster by gently scraping around holes and cracks so that you can see the whole damaged area.
    • If there are any extremely small cracks, make them a bit wider with the edge of your blade to allow the filler to enter more easily.
  2. Dampen the area around the damage with a small paintbrush.Wet a small paintbrush with water and dampen the edges of the hole or crack you are preparing to fill. This will prevent shrinkage of the filler by causing it to dry more slowly.
  3. Put filler in cracks and holes using a putty knife.Put an appropriate amount of filler onto a putty knife and apply it to the crack or hole by pressing the knife blade gently against the area.
    • Try to cover the surface as evenly as possible by only moving the blade in one direction.
    • Wipe away any excess putty to avoid an uneven surface when it dries.
  4. Wait for the filler to dry and smooth out the repaired areas with sandpaper.After the filling is completely dry, gently sand the area with 80-grit sandpaper to remove excess putty and smooth the surface.
  5. Prime over repaired areas with a tinted primer.Use a small paintbrush to add a coat of primer just on the areas where you filled and sanded down holes or cracks to cover up the dried filler.

Sanding the Walls

  1. Sand walls using 80-grit sandpaper and a sanding block.Gently sand all over the walls that you are going to paint using circular motions. Try to sand all areas as evenly as possible.
    • This will give the walls a rougher texture that will allow the paint to adhere better.
  2. Search for bumps or uneven textures.Use your hands to feel the walls as you work and determine if there are any uneven areas or bumps. Spend extra time on these areas to make sure they are even with the rest of the wall.
  3. Vacuum walls from ceiling to floor.When you are happy with the texture of the walls, clean up as much of the dust from sanding as possible with a vacuum.
    • You can use a hose attachment on your vacuum to easily and thoroughly go over the walls.
  4. Wipe down walls with a damp cloth.Wipe down the walls one last time with a clean damp cloth to remove any last remainders of dust clinging to the walls.

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