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9 Things to Do Before You Paint a Room

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Laura
05.22.13

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a room. Better yet, the perfect paint color can enhance life altogether. Yes, painting can be a powerful ­­– if not somewhat intimidating­ – craft, but you should definitely still try it at home! The key to a happy ending is proper preparation. By covering all of your bases in advance, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Here are nine things to do before dipping your brush:

1. Clear Out the Room

The less stuff you have to navigate around while painting, the better. Not only will it make the process go faster, it will ensure your items remain splatter-free. If there are furniture pieces that are too large or heavy to remove, push them to the center of the room and cover with a plastic drop cloth.

2. Clean the Room 

Once it’s empty, give the room a good cleaning. Vacuum the carpet, wipe down woodwork and remove any dust or cobwebs.

3. Cover the Floor

Place a plastic drop cloth on the floor and use painter’s tape to secure it to the top edge of the wall baseboard. Smooth the tape down with your finger to ensure the drop cloth is held in place and the room’s baseboard is protected from paint.

4. Patch Holes 

Nicks, cracks and holes from hung pictures are common in most rooms. To fill them, first lightly brush the affected area to remove loose paint chips. Then, squeeze a small amount of spackle into the hole and smooth it over with a putty knife. One application should fix most small spots, but larger dings may require a second go-around.

5. Sand

This one can get a little labor intensive, but it’s worth it if you want a beautiful wall! Once all of the spackled spots have dried (usually about 2-4 hours), sand the walls of the room completely with sandpaper to ensure the new paint is applied to a smooth, even surface. Note: 120-150-grit sandpaper is best for standard drywall rooms.

6. Wipe

With a damp cloth, wipe the surface of the walls to remove any debris loosened by sanding. A mixture of warm water and a small amount of dish soap works best.

7. Remove Electrical Outlet Plates

Using a screwdriver, unscrew all of the electrical outlet plates in the room. Keep each one in its own bag (with its respective screws) to make replacement easier later.

8. Tape

Using painter’s tape, cover the exposed electrical outlets, doorknobs, light fixtures, windowsills and door frames of the room in addition to any other wood paneling or hardware that shouldn’t be painted.

9. Prime

If you are painting over a glossy surface (such as a wall previously covered in oil-based paint) or a dark color, it’s best to apply a coat of paint primer. It will make the difference between an even color and a cracked coat. Look for a primer tailored to your unique surface like Benjamin Moore’s “Fresh Start” collection. Note: Spackled holes will always need priming. 

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