Preparing to Paint: Do-It-Yourself Guide for Preparing Your Walls

You have decided to paint. You have picked out and purchased your desired paint colors and the necessary tools to get the job done. The question now is how to get started. Preparation is the key to a successful paint job. Follow these simple steps and all you will have left to do is apply the paint.

First of all, make sure you are working in as bare of a room as possible. This will not only ease the job of the painting itself, but will also ensure that accidents do not occur that are hard or impossible to fix, such as broken items or paint drippings. Take everything out that you can, including rugs, paintings, knick-knacks, lamps, furniture, etc. Take racks, screws and nails, paintings, light switch plates, electrical outlets, etc. off of the walls and make sure that you keep the small pieces that go with them (such as fasteners) so they’re easy to find later when you need to reinstall them. A bare room is an easy room to paint.

Your next step is going to be to cover everything that must remain in the room with a disposable plastic drop cloth. No matter how careful you are, you are going to be working with paint and along with that comes mishaps, no matter how slight they are (paint dripping off a brush, a slight spill, etc.). You have to make sure to prepare for these mishaps by ensuring that every surface coverable is covered. It is as simple as that. Using a disposable cloth allows you to become as creative as you need to without worrying about the mess. If you have items that cannot be removed from the room (for example, a piece of furniture that now assembled is too large to move through a doorway), move items as far away from the area to be painted as possible and cover with a drop cloth.

After your room has been cleared and covered you are going to need to fix any blemishes that might exist along the surfaces to be painted. A simple spackle job will do wonders for providing a professional finished look in the room once it has been painted. Fill all nail and screw holes and any other area that may have chips or uneven prior paint. Sand down any uneven surfaces as necessary. Allow filling to dry completely before beginning a paint job. Once the spackled areas are dry you will need to run a sander over them lightly as well to create an even surface to work with.

After you have created a smooth working surface, and allowed it proper time to dry, it is time to clean the surface to be painted. A good scrub down with soap and water should be sufficient. Make sure that you allow time for the surface to dry completely before you begin your work. Be very careful in washing areas you may have just spackled because if they are not completely dry you could create more work for yourself in that you will have to wait for that area to dry again if it becomes wet before a proper drying. Usually 24 hours is sufficient time to allow a spackle job to dry. Make sure to use light layers of spackle, using only what is needed for repair, as the thicker the spackle, the longer it will take to dry.

Now it is time to prime the walls. Many times people would just as soon skip this step but it is necessary to follow through with it, most especially if you do not have an oil-based paint already on the walls or if you are trying to lighten the color of the room. Primer will ensure a smooth and professional look that will last for many years to come.

Once the primer has dried, take a roll of painter’s tape and apply it to areas that you do not wish paint to splash or drip on or areas where you need a clean, flush line that defines where one color stops and another area starts. For example, if you are not removing doors in the room that you are painting around, be sure to cover the outline of the door with a strip of painting tape. Also, make sure to run tape along baseboards and around the top of the room where the ceiling meets the wall. If you are using different colors on walls, make sure to put a strip of paint along the groove of the wall next to where you are painting. Use smaller paintbrushes for these areas to ensure your paint does not override your brush and end up on the area not being painted. If you have door stops, hinges, crown molding, air vents, etc. that you will not be removing in close proximity to the area being painted, be sure to sufficiently cover these areas with painting tape as well. You cannot go overboard with your taping process. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention being a pound of cure” really comes into play here. Do, however, be sure to fold those corner pieces just right. You want enough tape to cover the surface that should not be painted but you do not want the tape hanging over into other areas that will be painted, as it will hinder you from putting up an even application of paint and that will be noticeable when the job is finished.

Once you have completed these steps you have the hardest part of the paint job complete. Now it is time for the fun stuff: go get painting!

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