How to Prep a Room for Interior Painting

How to Prep a Room for Interior Painting

Now that you’ve picked out your perfect interior color, there’s a few key things to do before you pop open the paint can! First things first,

Clear the room

Move all large items and furniture out of the room so they’re not in your way of painting or at risk for any mishaps. Remove anything valuable or items you don’t want to get paint on. It is easy to spill or splatter paint without even realizing it. It’s better to have things in a safe place than wish you moved them. And depending on what type of paint you’ve chosen to use, it may be difficult to remove or not at all. If you don’t have enough space to move everything out of the room, pull what has to stay into the center of the room. Cover it with a drop cloth, plastic sheet or old blanket you can stand to get paint on.

Smooth out any imperfections

Examine the wall(s) for any gaps or holes, loose plaster, cracking or flaking paint, exposed nails, and rough surfaces. Mark these problem areas with tape so there easy to come back too. Scrape off any loose plaster and peeling paint with a putty knife or wire brush. Paint flaking and cracking can be a result of many different causes. Poor surface preparation, paint was applied to bare wood with no primer or a-top of already cracking/flaking paint, using a low-quality paint, age – paint becomes brittle over time and can no longer adapt to temperature changes.

Once the loose plaster and flaking paint are removed, go over the area with sandpaper to smooth out the edges and prime. To avoid cracking and flaking paint in the future, always wait for the paint to be completely dry before applying another coat, and always thoroughly prep the area/surfaces before painting.

Remove any exposed nails with a pry bar and putty knife. Keep the putty knife underneath the pry bar to protect the drywall when you remove the nail. For holes and indents less than 1/8 inch deep, use a spackling compound. If the hole is larger than 1/8 inch, use a joint compound. Use a putty knife to spread the compound thinly into the hole/wall. Allow the compound to dry completely, the directions should give an estimate of dry time and repeat this process two more times. Use sandpaper to remove any excess in between coats of the compound.

Once the final coat is applied and dry, use a fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. For any gaps where the wall and molding meet, use caulk with even pressure to fill in the gaps. Use a fine-grit sandpaper for any other rough patches and uneven areas on the wall.

Once you’re finished sanding, wipe all the areas down with a damp cloth to remove dust. You want the wall to be as smooth as possible before you begin painting. Keep your sandpaper handy throughout the painting process for in-between coats.


Be sure your beginning with a clean canvas!

Clean everything, from the ceilings to baseboards. This step is extremely important. Without it, you’ll essentially be smearing dirt and dust around the walls and mixing it into your fresh can of paint. Who wants that? And even more importantly, paint does not stick well to dirt and dust. It’s best to start with the ceilings first and work your way down to the walls and baseboards. This way you are not throwing dust and dirt over the areas you have already cleaned. Even if your ceilings appear to be clean to the eye, clean them anyway. It is easy to overlook dust and cobwebs. Take a broom and go over the ceiling and corners, knocking all the dust and cobwebs off. Then grab a broom or vacuum and clean up all the dirt you just knocked off the ceiling and any other hiding dust bunnies on the floor.

Next, grab a bucket with soap and water. Wipe down all the walls and baseboards with a sponge or rag. Carefully look for any stains, marker, or grease spots on the wall. These are important to remove because they could seep into the new paint. Grease will spread the paint out and prevent it from an even and secure hold on the wall. Once all spots are removed, go over everything once again with plain water. Let it dry overnight or for at least 12 hours.


Cover the floor

Cover the floors to protect it from any inevitable splatters and spills! Plastic, drop cloths, or old sheets will do the trick. You can purchase plastic and drop cloths at your local hardware or home improvement store. Plastic is a cheap and easy alternative but be aware it can be slippery.


Painters tape is your friend!

Now that the painting area is clean and the floors are protected, grab a roll of painter’s tape. Use the painter's tape to section off parts of the wall/room you don’t want paint on. Such as window casings, crown, and base moldings, light switches, and trim. Seal the tape with your hand or a tool so that it’s tightly against the wall. This ensures paint doesn’t drip through the tape.

Remove the outlet covers and light switch cases from the wall with a screwdriver. Tape the screws to the cases and put them in a safe place. This keeps the cases paint free and creates a cleaner look. Tape the exposed outlets and switches on the wall to protect them from paint.

If your uncomfortable removing these from the wall, just tightly tape the coverings!

Last but not least,



If the paint color is the house, primer is the foundation holding the house up. If you’re painting over a color on the opposite side of the color wheel, or it's much darker than your new color, you should probably prime before painting. In any case, you cannot go wrong with priming before painting your new color on the wall.

Primer creates the perfect blank canvas for your chosen color. It covers all those small imperfections on the wall and prevents the previous color underneath from bleeding through to the new paint color. Without primer, the original color of the wall can completely warp the shade of the new paint. Or bring out the wrong undertones in the new color. It basically acts as a seal between the wall and the new color, so it’s true color tone can show. It also prevents the paint color from being absorbed by over porous surfaces. Primer is often less expensive than paint, making it a budget-friendly option as well.

If you patched any holes or gaps in the wall, be sure to at least prime those areas. Once the primer is dry, sand the entire area. This cuts down paint buildup and ensures a smooth finish.

After all these steps, your wall should be in perfect shape to put your new color on! Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time between prep, painting, and dry times. Each layer of paint, from primer to finish should have plenty of time to dry. Dry times will vary depending on climate and ventilation, keep the air circulating as much as possible to ensure paint can dry all the way through and keep fumes at bay. Once you’re certain the paint is dry, remove the painters' tape and uncover or replace all the light switch and outlet covers. Wait at least 24 hours to move all the furniture back into the room. A new coat of paint does wonders for a home! With these tips, you’ll have the best-looking walls on the block and a few new tricks up your sleeve.

Let us know if you have any tips that you use when painting your interior walls! 


Happy painting!

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