How To Prep Walls For Painting


How To Prep Walls For Painting

Are you eager to revitalize your living space? Whether you’re moving into a new place or simply giving your house a makeover, you can never go wrong with giving your interior walls a fresh coat of paint. But before that, it’s essential to take the proper steps to prepare your walls for painting. This ensures your paint job not only looks great, but also lasts.

Related Article: How Long Does Painting A Room Take?

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to prep walls for painting from start to finish. From the initial cleaning to the last coat of paint, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get into it!

Step 1: Prepare the area

a man and woman preparing to paint the wall by covering and moving a couch

Before picking up the paint roller and getting started with the actual painting, you should first prepare the room by moving aside furniture and decorations that might get in the way. Of course, don’t forget to cover your furniture and floors with plastic sheets or drop cloths to protect them from spills or stray drops of paint later on.

Step 2: Repair gaps, cracks, and other imperfections in the wall

a cracked wall in need of filling before painting

Then, look for any cracks, nail holes, or gaps in your walls. If you find any, use a clean putty knife or spatula to patch holes and gaps with sealants, putty, or fillers. For larger cracks, you may need to apply multiple layers of joint compound, waiting for each layer to dry before applying the next one. You want your walls to look as good as new, so make sure to touch up any imperfections you may find.

Step 3: Use fine grit sandpaper for a smooth surface

using fine grit sandpaper to smoothen wall's surface

Once the sealants, fillers, and joint compound dry, use fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding block to even out any bumps and inconsistencies in the old paint. You only need to lightly sand the wall for a smooth surface. Alternatively, you can use a pole sander to sand larger areas and create a seamless finish.

Step 4: Use a damp cloth to clean the wall

person holding a spray bottle and cloth

Applying a primer is the secret to a good paint job. It creates a surface that improves the adhesion of the paint by providing a strong base. Aside from that, primers cover various stains on your walls, like water stains or ink marks. It can also reduce the number of coats you need to fully cover the walls as it provides you with a clean and neutral canvas to work on.

If you’re painting over a dark paint color with a lighter color (and vice versa), you may need a tinted primer to help you transition between the two shades.

Step 6: Apply painter’s tape

applying primer to walls before painting

Now that you have smooth, clean walls that are free of dust and debris, you can start applying painter’s tape. This step is essential for aesthetic reasons as it can help create crisp lines between surfaces. It also protects specific parts and objects from paint. You want to mask off areas like baseboards, trim, ceiling edges, and window edges. If you have any fixtures like a built-in hanging bookshelf, you should also wrap its edges with painter’s tape to keep them clean.

You can run your finger or putty knife over the tape to ensure they’re firmly stuck and flat against the surface. When you’re done painting, it will be easy to peel the tape off, and you’ll be left with straight, clean lines that will surely improve the appearance of your walls and home.

Step 7: Mix paint

two people mixing paint

Finally, all the walls are ready for painting! Now, it’s time to prepare your paint. Stir the paint before usage to ensure an even consistency. Mixing the paint blends its components together, leaving you with paint that looks great and adheres well to the wall.

Step 8: Apply new paint to the wall

two people painting the wall with paint rollers

The prep work is done! You can finally start painting walls with your paint roller. Once you’ve painted the first layer, let it sit and dry first. Depending on the type of paint you’re using, the drying time can range from two hours (latex or water-based paint) to eight hours (oil-based paint).

Afterward, you can go ahead and apply the final coat. Generally, you need a minimum of two paint layers but feel free to add another layer if the coverage seems insufficient, or if the color isn’t coming out the way you want it to.


No, painting over wallpaper and textured walls isn’t advisable. It will be challenging to get the paint to adhere to the surface and you’ll likely end up with an uneven finish. The best approach is removing wallpaper and repairing textured walls before painting. This way, you can ensure that your paint job will last for a long time.

Prepare the following tools and materials for your wall prep:

  • Drop cloths or plastic sheets
  • Painter’s tape
  • Putty knife and utility knife
  • Putty, sealants, fillings, and joint compound
  • Gloves and cleaning supplies
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Ladder or step stool

To remove grime and dirt on your walls, many professional painters recommend using a mixture of mild soap and warm water. Other options include a mixture of white vinegar and plain water, commercial wall cleaners, and all-purpose cleaners.

If this all seems a bit much… call KDP paintings to get all your interior painting done right… the first time!