How To

How to Prepare Walls for Paint

January 3, 2013

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time picking out paint colors and preparing walls for paint lately, so I thought maybe I should share a few tips I’ve learned along the way. To ensure paint properly adheres to walls, follow the simple steps below:

  1. Remove light switch plates and outlet covers. All you’ll need is a simple screwdriver to remove the small screws used to hold the covers in place. Just make sure you put them in a place where they won’t become easily lost, since you won’t be able to replace them until the paint fully cures. Curing times are located on the paint cans and vary from brand to brand.
  2. Fill those holes. If there are any holes in the wall, fill them with spackle (or “mud,” if you prefer). If there is anything on the walls that you will not be using, remove the nails and fill the holes.
  3. Sand, sand, sand. After the spackle completely dries, use a fine grit sandpaper on a sanding block to knock down the “mud.” You want a perfectly smooth surface. Depending on the size of the holes, you may have to repeat these first two steps a couple of times. Also, wear a mask.
  4. Vacuum the walls. Yes, I said vacuum the walls. Use a vacuum with a long handle and upholstery attachment (or something similar that will not damage the walls) to thoroughly vacuum all the wall space.
  5. Dust the walls. I like to use a Swiffer duster to go over all the walls to ensure all the dust is removed. You could also use a damp rag, but then you’d have to wait for the wall to dry. Do not skip this step. It’s amazing how much dust the vacuum misses. But don’t think you can skip using the vacuum either.
  6. Clean the baseboards. Use a Magic Eraser (or a rag with a cleaning solution) to wipe down all the baseboards and trim. Be sure to let the baseboards dry before painting or applying tape.
  7. Tape it off. Tape of any surfaces that are not being painted. For instance, if you’re painting the walls first, tape off the trim.

That’s it! I’m not much of a painter, so I can’t offer any advice there. If you follow the few steps above, whoever is the painter in your family will have a much easier time applying the paint properly.

If your walls are particularly filthy, you’ll want to be sure to wash them before you do any of the above. In our last house, we used Swiffer mops on the walls to remove the grime. It worked surprisingly well.


Above is a sneak peek of our dining room. I can’t wait to show you more of our new home. We’re already completely in love with it, even if we are spending every waking minute renovating.

All comments are encouraged and appreciated!