Is there prep work needed before I paint my walls?

If you want to rejuvenate a room with a fresh coat of paint, you may want to consider how much preparation is required before you begin. Remember you must start with perfectly smooth surfaces to end up with perfectly painted walls, so there may be some prep work and repairs prior to opening your first can of paint.


In most cases, you will need to remove the furniture from the room, or at least, place the furniture in the middle of the room, cover and wrap it with plastic sheets that are taped at the bottom. This will not only protect your furniture from paint drips and splatters, but also from the dust if any sanding is required.

At minimum, your walls should be dusted and cleaned with a towel or vacuum cleaner to remove any small particles or cob webs that may have gathered on the surface. Greasy or dirty surfaces should be cleaned - kitchen and bathroom walls, mudrooms where kids kick off their muddy boots and scuff the walls, or the areas around light switches that show signs of discoloration from hands, all need to be washed down before starting your painting job to insure the paint spreads evenly.

Once you have a clean surface, inspect the entire wall surface by holding a utility light close to the wall. The light will highlight flaws that aren't obvious to the naked eye. This can provide a clearer picture of how much work will be required prior to painting.

As your home ages and settles, surface cracks, nail pops and taping imperfections may have surfaced, making your walls appear damaged. Or, there may be holes from doorknobs, dents from furniture, holes from shelving and picture hangers which may need to be repaired prior to beginning the paint job. These imperfections should be repaired but may require the skills of a professional who knows how to correctly fix the imperfections, utilizing the right tools and materials.

If your walls are in decent shape, at minimum sand the walls from the baseboard to the ceiling with fine-grit sanding paper on a sanding pole. Then sand horizontally along the baseboard and ceiling. Don't put a lot of pressure on the sanding pole or the head can flip over and damage the wall. This will smooth out any minor imperfections and prep the wall to receive the primer.

Once your walls are prepped, protect lighting fixtures and trim with painter’s tape. Instead of laboriously taping or cutting around your switch plates, grab your screwdriver and take them off. Then you'll have perfect coverage around the plate without any mess.

Make sure you have the right materials on hand; primer, paint-can opener, stir sticks, roller covers, paintbrushes (make sure you use the correct type as each type of paint requires different types of brushes and roller sleeves), paint tray, gloves, drop cloth and an extension pole for the roller.

When covering your floors don't use bedsheets as drop cloths. Thin sheets will not stop splatters and spills from seeping through to your flooring. While plastic drop cloths can contain spills, they can be slippery. Use what the pros use—canvas drop cloths. They're not slippery and they absorb splatters.

Whether you buy cheap or expensive roller covers, removing the loose fuzzy fibers is a must. Wrap some tape around your fingers and pat the sleeve. The fibers will stick to the tape. Continue this process until there are no fibers that appear on the tape.

A high-quality primer will help to hide any small imperfections. If you have taped or compounded any areas of your walls, applying a primer first will ensure that the finish of your paint job is even, and does not appear blotchy. It is a good idea to consult with your local paint supplier to determine which supplies and materials will work best for your project, especially if you are taking it on yourself.

Buying the right paint color can be challenging as color swatches are not always exact. The best way to overcome this is to try a few colors first. Many paint suppliers offer smaller cans of paint samples to allow consumers to see what it may look like in their space and with the room's lighting. You can test a few colors of paint on plaster board or oaktag and place it against the wall. It is a good idea to position these sample boards next to trim to make sure the colors blend well together.

Don't cheap out on paint, rollers and brushes. A $3 plastic brush is going make it look like you smeared paint on the wall with a rake, and the bristles will fall out. Also, don’t skimp on less expensive paint. Better paints will go on easy and offer the best coverage – and will last a long time. You'll be able to wash fingerprints off the wall without taking the paint with it. And your whole job will just go quicker and easier.

For more specific information about your painting project, speak with a professional. They can help you select the right materials, offer advice and identify a reputable professional to assist with your project. It is always a good idea to seek expert advice to ensure your project comes out picture perfect.

Peter & Julie Monzi, Owners – Shamrock Paints & Decorating Center

(718) 981-1616 (North Shore) * (718) 966-9500 (South Shore) www.shamrockpaints.com

Valpak Digital