March 19, 2011 Winter

Preparing Your Room for Residential Painting

Getting Set Up for Residential Painting

Residential PaintingMany home owners ask if they can prepare their rooms/walls for residential painting so that when we come in to paint, the prep work is already done.  We really try and discourage this because most people really don’t understand how much time and work it takes to prepare your room for residential painting.

If you are painting the room yourself, or if your painting contractor has said that you can or must prep the walls yourself, then here are the steps involved.

First, The Unpleasant News

You will probably spend more time preparing a room to be painted than you will actually painting. It is a time-consuming and monotonous process. It is also crucial to the finished product (your walls) looking professional and lasting for many years.

The Good News

Careful surface preparation can make the painting part of the process easier and less stressful. In short, this is quite possibly the most important part of the job. Success begins here. These steps are general preparation rules and they are standard steps for most jobs — whether it’s painting, wallpapering, faux finish, etc. Before and after preparation, reassess the space to see if something needs an extra bit of prep work. It’s really worth the extra time it takes.

Do you have wallpaper or a border to remove before you can paint? If so, we’ll be posting some instructions and tips soon (if we haven’t already).

Necessary Tools:

  • Roll of Painter’s Plastic
  •  Painter’s Tape (you should not substitute any other type of tape)
  •  A Latex Primer
  •  Interior Spackling Compound
  •  Broad Spackling Knife (Putty Knife)
  • 5-in-1 Tool: Useful for a multitude of jobs, from removing old caulk to cleaning rollers

If you need help in purchasing the right products for the job, please visit your local Sherwin Williams, Home Depot or Lowe’s.


Clearing the Room

Residential Painting Lehigh Valley PAAn empty room is the best type of room to paint. While it may not make every room a piece of cake to paint, it will make even a difficult job much simpler.

Begin your preparations by clearing the walls of pictures (their nails or hangers), window treatments (and the hardware), shelves, towel rods, outlet and light switch covers.  Remove anything that covers a section of the wall to be painted that can be removed.

Be sure to label any outlet covers and window treatments so they can find their proper home again. We recommend putting the mounting hardware in a ziplock baggie taped to each larger item and tucked away in a safe place.

Remove everything else that is possible from the room’s interior – large furniture, fabrics, home décor. Any large furniture that cannot be removed, move into the center of the room and cover with plastic sheeting. If necessary, lay a drop cloth or something similar over the plastic to hold it in place.



Cleaning the Room

Give the room a thorough cleaning. Vacuum or mop the floors. Wipe down baseboards and other woodwork with a damp cloth.

Once this stage of cleanup is completed, cover the floor completely with plastic sheeting. Secure the sheeting to the edges of the floor or baseboard with painter’s tape.

Tip: You should not use cloth to cover the floor or any furniture, as paint will soak into the fabric and stain whatever is underneath.


Washing the Walls

This is a very important step and should not be skipped. All walls (even if they look clean) collect dust and oily buildup. Fill a wash bucket with a fairly light mixture of dish-soap and warm water. Using a sponge mop, give all of the walls a vigorous wash, working in small sections so you can be sure you’ve covered the entire surface. Change the wash solution whenever it begins to look dirty. Lastly, give the walls a final wash with plain water to remove any soapy residue. The walls should dry for a full day before you begin any residential painting.


painting lehigh valley paPatching Holes

Note: We will only cover minor repairs here. Nail holes, drywall scratches, hairline cracks, etc. I urge you to contact a professional for any larger repairs, unless you have experience and you are confident in your ability to handle these repairs. Bear in mind that repairs done badly will show through the new paint and will also cost more to have a professional fix later on.

A smooth surface is very important to the finished look of the paint. Patch nail holes and other small surface holes or scratches with spackle. Smooth the spackle over each hole with a spackling knife (sometimes called a broad knife). Take care not to overfill the hole – that will create a bump that will need to be sanded. It is better to apply several thin coats than one very thick one.

Allow several hours to dry (per spackling manufacturer’s instructions). Sand the repairs flush with the wall. Apply a second coat of spackling if necessary. Sand flush.



Priming is a very important step.  Priming gives you a clean, paintable surface work on. If your walls are already covered with a latex (water-based) paint, or if your drywall has already been primed, priming the entire surface is probably unnecessary.

You will need to prime, however, if you are painting on one of the following:

  • New, unprimed drywall
  • Any glossy surface (including glossy finish paints)
  • If you are painting over oil-based paint
  • Unpainted Wood
  • Anytime you are covering dark or bright colors with a lighter paint

TIP:  Not sure if your walls have latex (water-based) or oil-based paint? Rub a small spot on the wall with a cotton ball soaked in ammonia. If the paint rubs off, the paint is latex (water-based). If it does not, it is oil-based.

Even if your walls are already covered with a low-gloss, latex paint and do not require priming, you should apply primer to any small areas that were patched with spackling. If these areas are not primed they will appear glossy even after being painted.


interior painting lehigh valley paSTEP 6


The final step in surface preparation is to tape off around the ceiling, windows, doors, floor trim and any other woodwork or trim that is present. Tape off using painters tape and not regular masking tape.  Painters tape stays on through out the job, prevents paint from seeping underneath, yet comes off easily without pulling off any paint along with it.


Congratulations! You are now ready to move on to the most rewarding part of the job.  Your surface preparation for residential painting is complete.

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