How to Prepare a Room for Paint

Properly prepare your room before painting to ensure professional results

Painting a room requires more than just opening a can of your favorite color and grabbing a brush. Investing in some prep work before you start rolling on color will make sure that the process flows more smoothly and you’ll be happier with the end result.

What You Need

1
Clear the room
Woman removing rugs in preparation for painting.

• Remove all furniture and rugs from the room.  
• Any furniture too large to be removed should be covered thoroughly with drop cloths. If possible, place furniture sliders underneath the legs or base of the item to allow it to be easily moved around the room away from the area you are actively painting. 
• Remove all wall decor and hardware, including switch plates, vents and electrical outlet covers. To simplify replacement, you can place hardware in individual plastic sandwich bags and label them with the name of the piece they were removed with. Place all the bags of hardware in one spot outside of the room to be painted. 
• Spread out dropcloths to completely cover any exposed flooring areas.

2
Clean the Walls
Dusting top corners of room in preparation for painting.

• Using the duster, thoroughly clean the walls to remove any dust or cobwebs. Start in the upper corners of the wall near the ceiling and brush downward. 
• Run the duster along the all baseboards in the room. 
• If painting in a kitchen, some dust may have mixed with oils, making it harder to remove. Stubborn spots might need to be scrubbed by hand with a painter’s rag.

3
Repair Wall Surfaces
Spackling walls in preparation for painting.

• Locate any holes or cracks in the wall surface. 
• Use the putty knife with firm pressure to pack spackle into the fissures in the wall then let the layer dry a few minutes. You may still have a small indent. 
• Repeat twice more until you have built up the layers of repair compound so that the repair is flush with the surrounding wall when it has dried. 
• When the last layer of spackle is dry, use the sanding sponge to smooth out the repair so that it is blended with the surrounding wall. 
• For any hole larger than a fingertip, you will need to use a patch kit. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions in applying the adhesive patch. Then apply spackle as instructed and allow layers to dry. Sand to smooth.

4
Tape off the room
A woman taping off a room in preparation for painting.

• Apply painter’s tape in foot-long strips. This will keep the tape from stretching and allows it to protect the surface better. 
• Overlap each strip by a few inches to prevent paint bleed. 
• Apply tape over trim areas at the floor and ceiling, frames around windows and doors, and electrical boxes, door handles and other fixtures. 
• Apply tape flush with the painting surface, but be sure not to mask the surface itself. 
• Use a putty knife to press down on the tape as you apply it so that it seals to the surface. This prevents paint from seeping under the tape. 
• If you are painting multiple surfaces or in several colors, you must give the paint enough time to fully cure – usually around two to three days – before applying tape to the surface again.