6 Steps to Prepare Your Walls For Painting

6 Steps to Prepare Your Walls For Painting

. 3 min read

By now DIY painting is a project that nearly every homeowner has looked in to. Many property owners think they can simply grab a brush, dip it in some paint, and then become their own Picasso's on the homestead...that's not true.

Any great paint job, as unsexy as it sounds, starts with the prep work and requires a few essential painting tools. A great paint job involves a combination of quality of paint and integrity of surface – the only way you get that surface integrity is with these prep work steps:

A Good Cleaning

A wall that needs to be painted isn't exactly a blank slate. Professionals have seen cobwebs, dust, holes, blood splatter, etc. as they enter a painting job site. What we're trying to say is that you never know what you'll find deep in your walls even if you've lived in the house 30+ years.

Don't overlook your walls more than you would your dishes. Warm water and a sponge should get most of the surface “crud” off your walls. When you're trying to get mildew off the walls of your home prior to painting experts recommend a 3-to-4 parts water to bleach solution. For the most part though warm water and a sponge is enough to get your slate clean....don't forget to dry before painting though.

Fixing the Damage

Whether it's an errant punch or a rodent hole that causes it, there are times when you'll have to actually do some repairs to your interior walls before painting. This sounds intimidating, but isn't.

Many painters consider drywall compound (Spackle, joint compound) and the subsequent tools involved in the process as a regular part of their arsenal. This process simply involves mixing up the compound, applying it evenly, and then sanding it down to normality.

“Spackle” is generally used for smaller drywall repair jobs. It's often compared to a toothpaste-like texture whereas joint compound (mud) is more often associated with big drywall seams. Either way it's important to get the drywall as smooth as possible before applying even the first layer of new coating.


It never, ever hurts to sandpaper the surface before painting it. Sanding a wall knocks down all the 'nubs' that will catch on your brush, roller, etc and make a bunch of imperfections on the painting surface. Sanding also 'roughs up' the area that needs to be painted and as a result the area accepts paint better.

You can make a wall ready to receive paint by using the very fine 220 grit. When resurfacing some older cabin walls an 8-grit paper is probably suffice though.

Taping & Masking

It's not necessarily about prepping the wall for paint as much as making sure the surrounding area is safe from paint debris. Even the smallest paint jobs involve taping the crown molding near the top of the wall as well as the trim near windows/doors and also the baseboard.

Any prepping of a wall involves taping off the accessories of that wall. To ensure the best quality door trim, window trim, baseboard, molding, and any other area where a roller or sprayer cannot efficiently perform should be taped.
Taping may seem like an extraneous process but it's a must when painting by anyone except the utmost professionals.

The Ins and Outs of Primer

To primer paint or not to primer, that is the question before you start painting a wall in your home. Interestingly enough the answer to that inquiry relies on what is on the surface of your existing paint. If your current paint is water-based, simply apply a layer of new paint overtop. However primer is recommended if glazing over semi-gloss, oil-based, or gloss.

The main job of primer is to disguise imperfections, create a surface to lock on to, and ensure just a solid, uniform finish. Therefore priming a surface pre-paint would never do any harm.

If you are going to primer a wall before painting make sure to cover every area you would with paint. Many homeowners make the mistake of failing to 'cut' with primer which gives them a noticeably fainter area after the paint dries.

Final Tips on Wall Prep

The first thing to note if painting your home is that it's not recommended to brush overtop of wallpaper. Basically create a clean surface before you apply the new coating whether that involves removing wallpaper or just washing down the existing wall with soap and heat. Primer if you want to – but primer everything if you do. Otherwise sand down imperfections and make the new coat perfect.


Part of the expertEasy team in Melbourne. Mark is a keen gardener, a DIY addict and a father of two beautiful girls. He is originally from Perth and is a true Eagles fan.

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