How to Prepare Your Walls for Painting

by Nicole Balch on January 31st, 2012


I love painting. I do! I find it to be a very soothing, Zen activity. I’m often eager to jump straight in and get some paint on the wall, but years of experience have confirmed for me that good prep is essential. So how do you prep for painting?


First, assess your walls. Is there any cracking or peeling? If so, you’ll need to fix those issues before going any further. Cracks can be repaired with Spackle, followed by a good sanding with fine grit sandpaper. Peeling paint must be scraped off, then sanded smooth.


Next, the walls need a good cleaning. Dust first with a towel, or vacuum with a brush attachment to remove any loose dust or debris before washing. You can use a very diluted solution of baking soda and vinegar to clean most walls, or even just very watered down dishwashing liquid. You may have heard that you should use TSP to clean especially greasy or glossy surfaces, but it’s being phased out and there are many safer alternatives.


Get ready. Go ahead and take off the outlet covers and switch plates so you don’t have to worry about being neat and avoid getting paint on them. If you want to tape off the edges of the room with painter’s tape, now’s the time to do it! Be sure to press down firmly to get a nice, crisp line.



OK, you’re just about ready to start painting. (Yay!) But wait. What about primer? Do you need it? If you’re painting over walls in good condition with a similar color, no. Otherwise? Yes, break out the primer. Or save a step and use paint with primer built-in! Thank you, modern paint science, for that time-saver.


Happy painting!

Categories: Getting Started, How to Paint, Painting Tips


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