wikiHow to Prepare a Room for Painting

Preparing a room for painting is the single most important step when painting a room. Incomplete or improper preparation is the only way to fail before you even start. Proper preparation will save your time, money, and sanity in the long run.


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    Clear the room of all furnishings, decorations, light and outlet covers. The more you can get out of the room, the easier you'll be able to move around...and the less you'll have to worry about ruining with paint.
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    Move anything that can't be removed to the center of the room and cover it in plastic to protect against splatters of paint. Make sure it is covered completely, because paint has a habit of getting into places you don't expect it.
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    Give the room a thorough cleaning. Vacuum or mop floors. Wipe down any woodwork with a damp cloth. Remove cobwebs and dust.
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    Put paper all around the edges of the room. A disposable roll of paper can be bought at Home Depot. You can also put some big pieces of plastic over big areas. You can get that at Walmart, if you cannot find it at the 99 cent store.
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    Fill in any nail holes, small dents, hairline cracks, etc, with a lightweight spackle. Allow to dry per manufacturer's instructions (usually 2-4 hours) then sand flush. Apply a second coat and sand if necessary.
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    Clean the walls/surfaces to be painted. This is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms, where different residues are commonly built up on the walls. A simple solution of dish-soap and water works wonderfully. I have found that a sponge headed mop is the easiest tool for scrubbing walls. Finish the walls with a quick rinse of plain water to remove any soap residue.
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    Priming is another important step in preparing walls for paint. If your walls are already covered in a low gloss, water-based paint, such as "builder's white", you can simply paint over the old paint. If you are painting over oil-based paint or a gloss or semi-gloss surface, you should prime. Also, whether you choose to prime your entire walls or not, you should always spot prime any areas which you spackled, else they will show up as "shiny" areas in your finished paint job.
    • There are also primer/paints that only require one coat and it does not need priming.
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    Cut in about an inch from the ceiling and baseboard with matching color (typically white). This keeps the old color from showing through if your tape line doesn't exactly match the old line.
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    Finally, tape off all adjacent walls, woodwork, light switches, etc, with painter's tape to protect adjacent surfaces. A good quality tape in important here. You will also need do burnish - lightly rub down the edge - the edge of the tape that will be painted.
    • Electrical plug covers and switches are easier to remove and put on afterwards. Door knobs also can be removed easily.


  • Use plastic for covering remaining furnishings, not old sheets or fabric. Paint will seep through fabric.
  • The clearer the room, the better.
  • Using aluminum foil to wrap around objects like doorknobs, to protect them from paint, wherever tape won't do the job.
  • Use only "Painter's Tape" for taping off surfaces. This is blue and can be found at nearly any paint, home improvement, or hardware store.
  • Unless you have knowledge with concrete and taping drywall, do not attempt to tackle major drywall repairs (anything other than minor holes, nicks, or cracks) yourself. Seek a professional.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning Cloths
  • Sponge-headed Mop
  • Spackling
  • Sandpaper (medium to fine grit)
  • Painter's Tape
  • Scraper (for any poster glue, adhesive on surfaces)

Article Info

Categories: Painting and Other Finishes