The Perfect Paint Job, It's All in the Prep

The Perfect Paint Job, It’s All in the Prep


You have time on your hands and you just might be getting bored.  This is the perfect time to work on the house and give it a face lift with a fresh coat of paint.  If you want the best, most professional looking job possible, you have to understand one thing. The prep is at least half , if not more, of the job.   Take your time with the following steps and you’ll be so happy with your end results.

It’s All in The Prep

The interior space needs to be properly prepped to ensure the paint goes only on the walls and stays there. Otherwise, the paint could end up on the furniture and other unsightly areas — and fail to adhere properly in the long run. By performing the prep work, the painting process goes much faster as well and allows you to achieve your desired results.

Protect the Room

In each room that needs paint, move all the furniture into the middle of the room and cover with plastic drop cloths. Then, cover the flooring with canvas drop cloths held down with a bit of double-sided tape.

Mask Off the Room

Once that is done, focus on preparing the walls for paint. Using the painter’s tape, mask off around the trim to protect it from receiving a coat of the wrong type or color of paint. Only press the top third of the adhesive edge to the trim, leaving the rest hanging free for easy removal after painting.

Scotch Blue Tape will give a professional finished look.  Click here for applications tips.

Protect the floor

Paper or place a dropcloth on your floors.  It will protect your floors and keep you mess in one, removable place.

Remove or Protect Fixtures

Either remove light fixtures from the ceiling or mask around the base using painter’s plastic and tape to create a barrier. Also, remove the outlet and light switch covers and mask off around those areas.

Trimaco Easy Mask – Heavyweight Red Rosin Paper

Repair the Walls

A new coat of paint will only serve to highlight holes, dents, and other imperfections in the walls, making them stand out more than ever before. Thankfully, all it takes is a bit of repair work and the walls will be as good as new. The work put in during this step will ensure the new paint can provide a super smooth finish that is pleasing to the eye.

3M Patch plus Primer is perfect for small holes in your walls

Before repairing the walls, it is important to mark all imperfections with a tiny bit of tape. Find the flaws by shining a bright flashlight along the wall, then mark just above the blemishes with an inch of tape. During this process, remove any nails or other unneeded hardware or replace ones starting to pop out of the wall surface. Check the corners of each wall for dents in the metal corner bead and gently pound them straight with a hammer.

With this done, go back and repair all the small holes and dents with spackling paste. To do so:

  • Take a putty knife and scoop up a small amount of the spackling paste on the edge
  • Start a bit above the hole or dent and firmly wipe the paste across the surface
  • Allow the paste to dry for several hours before coming back to refill the area once again
  • The spackling paste will shrink as it dries, so this process may need to be repeated a third time to fill.
  • Once the blemish is filled all the way, use the palm sander and 120-grit sandpaper to smooth out the paste and make it flush with the wall.

If the problem area is bigger than one and a half inches in diameter, the wall may need to be patched with new drywall instead. If there are multiple problem areas in that spot, then replacement of the drywall may be a better choice.

Remove Mildew

A combination of high moisture levels, poor ventilation, and warm temperatures allow mold and mildew to grow inside the home. In addition to being unsightly, the presence of these substances can cause health problems to arise.

Three parts water to One part bleach goes a long way in getting rid of mildew

Just painting over the problem areas does nothing to fix the issue either, as mold and mildew will penetrate that layer within a short time. Instead, homeowners must actively seek out the underlying problem and fix it, eliminating the chance of those substances growing back in the future.

Once this is handled, addressing the damaged drywall is the next step before painting. Depending on the severity of the mold and mildew growth, the affected drywall may need to be removed and replaced with new boards. For minimal damage, however, cleaning and priming the surface will work to keep the mold and mildew sealed in for good.

To clean the surface:

  • Create a mixture of three parts water to one part bleach
  • Spray the bleach mixture on the surface fungus and let it sit for a few minutes
  • Wipe the bleach-treated walls dry with clean paper towels
  • Once the surface looks clean, allow the area to dry, and then spray it all down with undiluted white vinegar.

The vinegar will help kill the mold spores, keeping them from growing back as soon as conditions are favorable. The strong smell of vinegar will slowly disappear as the drywall dries up, but if it is bothersome, set up a fan to circulate the air in the meantime. Once the walls are dry, it is safe to move onto the next step.

Sand Surfaces

Although sanding the surfaces to be painted is not always necessary for every project, it can make a huge difference in the results. Sanding is only really necessary when replacing or repairing damaged drywall before painting. All repairs must be completed before sanding and the mud or Spackle should be left be long enough to fully dry.

After that, break out the palm sander and fit it with a sheet of 120-grit sandpaper. Wear a respirator and goggles to protect your eyes and lungs from dust and debris flying through the air. Even if the sander has a filter bag attachment, the dust will get everywhere, so be prepared to vacuum and shower after finishing this step.

To sand the walls before painting, simply:

  • Turn on the sander and gently press it against the wall
  • Slowly move the sander across the surface, focusing on smoothing everything out
  • Continue until the surface looks and feels completely even with the rest of the wall
  • Once the surface is sanded smooth, use a light to go over it once again, looking for imperfections. Repeat this process until the drywall is completely flat and smooth, which means it is ready for paint.
  • Consider sanding after applying primer as well. Use the process above but focus on sanding the entire wall surface until it is completely free of blemishes.

Estimating How Much Paint You’ll Need

With the paint type, finish, and colors selected, all that is left to do is estimate how much will be needed to do the interior space. To figure this out, measure all the interior walls, and then pick up about one gallon of paint for every 100 square feet. Rooms with a lot of windows will need less paint for the walls and more for the trim, so take that into account as well.

In addition to the paint in all the desired colors, pick up an equal amount of primer in either oil- or water-based formulas. Oil-based primers work best for heavily stained walls or when covering a dark paint color with a lighter one. Latex primers are adequate for all other projects.

Prime Walls

Although primer adds to the initial costs of the painting project, it can actually save money in the long run. By applying a coat of primer to the walls, it effectively seals the surface, keeping the paint from soaking into the surface. With that step, less paint will be needed to cover the walls, effectively reducing the cost of the project. Beyond that, primer helps to create a smooth, attractive surface and allows the vivid paint pigments to stand out.


  • The primer can be applied to the walls using brushes and rollers. Cut in with the brushes first, working carefully around the taped off edges of the room. Then, use the roller to apply primer to the rest of the room.
  • All surfaces that will be painted need to be covered in primer and allowed to dry completely. Only when it is dry to the touch can paint be applied over the top or the primer may come off while brushing or rolling the surface.
  • Latex primer will usually dry to the touch within three hours, while oil-based primer can take up to 48 hours. If temperatures inside the house are too cold or humidity is too high, then the primer will take much longer to dry.

Materials Needed for Interior Painting

Although it is possible to get by with fewer supplies, these items will streamline the painting process and provide the perfect finish. Gather everything up and have it on hand when it comes time to start the project.

Paint is only the start when it comes to the materials needed to transform the interior of the home. Other supplies needed for this project include:

Painter’s tape
Paint tray Kit – a metal roller pan, roller pan liners, roller, 2 roller covers, 2" sash brush, mini roller and cover
Extension pole
Cut bucket
Stir stick
Paint can opener
Painter’s plastic

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