Prepping for Your Paint Job

This guide will help you do a professional job prepping and painting!

Painting a room feels like a new beginning. Rethinking the color scheme, layout, theme or purpose of a room that you’ve become so used to is a terrific way to shake things up, stay creative or keep developing the home you have into the home of your dreams. There’s almost nothing more satisfying than a well-done paint job, but here’s a little something you should know: it’s not all in the technique.


The right approach to prepping for your paint job could save you time and stress while helping you to avoid costly errors. Here are some suggestions for your project preparations. Have any crucial preparation tips of your own? Join the conversation in the comments section below!


The Day Before

Here’s a recommendation that you may not have encountered before – set aside a day for preparations to minimize stress. Trying to tackle everything in a single day could be overwhelming, and even if you manage to avoid hitting a mental wall, it may cause you to run out of time, pushing your project into the following day. Especially if you don’t paint too often, setting aside more than enough time to prepare the day before is a great way to keep your mind and approach fresh while making sure you can complete the project within the planned timeframe.


Brush and samples of paint colors


Gather Your Materials

Applicators – Rollers are going to cover the majority of the job, but they aren’t all that you need. You’ll need trim brushes to cut in, namely a 2” angled trim brush for baseboards and a 1” trim brush for door and window trim. An optional tool that you might consider is a trim edger, although touching up by hand will still probably be necessary. You also need a paint pan and a screen.


Renovation set. Brush blue tape and ruler over plywood


Paint – It’s not worth skimping on paint in quality or quantity. Plan on applying two coats, and purchase with one gallon per 400 square feet of space in mind. If you are going from a darker color to a lighter one, a primer coat will probably be necessary, but not if you’re going the other way.


You’re also going to want a stirrer, some painter’s blue tape, something to pry the paint open with, a mask, some spackle and abrasive, drop cloths and junk clothes.


Home renovation in room full of painting tools


Strip the Room

If you have reasonable space outside of the room you’re painting, moving everything out is ideal. But if you need to keep things in the room, gathering your lamps and furniture in the middle and covering it up with drop cloths could be acceptable. Just leave yourself ample space to move around, and be sure to tape down the drop and cover it all with a second layer like a sheet or another drop cloth.


You should remove everything that you can from the walls as well – cabinet knobs and hinges, light switch and outlet covers, light fixtures, door knobs, and anything else you can get out of the way. Odds are that you’re going to drip or slip at some point, so lower your risk while you can. If you're going to coat the ceiling, be sure to cover or remove your light fixtures as well (a trash bag will do the trick).


Change light switch connect the wires from house wiring


Tape It Up

Start off by cleaning all surfaces that you’re going to tape. This will help the adhesive to take. While you’re taping, just pull off a few feet at a time, laying it onto the surface depressions and sliding your other hand behind to press it down as you move along. Don’t stretch the tape too much, and once you’ve placed and pressed it, go back over it with a putty knife, 5-in-1 or credit card to smooth it down again.


Preparation of walls for painting


Grab Your Spackle

The last thing you really need to do on your prep day is to fix any small holes or cracks with spackle. If you paint over these problems, they’ll just show through your new paint job. If these issues are larger, consult personnel at your local store to find out how you can address them before proceeding. Can you imagine trying to do all of that on the same day that you paint? Save yourself the headache and prep in advance. You’ll be glad you did.


Man on a ladder spackles with a spatula cracks

DISCLAIMER: Readers should keep in mind that any accounts of renovation presented in this article are written accounts of events taking place at individual homes, and are not necessarily endorsements of do-it-yourself home improvement. You proceed at your own risk if you attempt to replicate any activities described here

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

Next: Your Home Office: How to Organize the Workspace Workflow