Home & Garden

Proper paint preparation

Proper painting projects need planning, preparation.

Spring is a great time to undertake a painting project, and one of the simplest ways to achieve dramatic changes in your living space. Not only is a paint project easy even for a novice, but it is also one of the most inexpensive ways to update a room. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when the job is complete. Once the hard part of picking the paint shade is over, the job will go a lot more smoothly if you are well prepared.

A few things to consider when choosing your color include:

What items are not being replaced? This includes furniture, carpeting, and drapes, which are larger investments. Unless you plan to replace these items, you’ll want to keep these in mind when choosing a color so it doesn’t clash.

What is the lighting like in the room? A room’s natural lighting will change throughout the day as the sun’s angle changes. Also, the direction of the room’s sun exposure will cause a paint color to appear differently. Artificial light will also affect the appearance of a color.

How is the space used? For example, if you are painting your bedroom, you might want to choose a calming color, such as blue. If you’re not a morning person, you may want to use a cheerful bright color for your kitchen to get your morning started on an energizing note.

What is the traffic like in the room? Paint comes in various sheens so you can choose the one that is right for you. A room with a lot of traffic, such as a hallway or child’s room, will require a finish that can be easily cleaned.

Flat is the least-reflective finish and provides excellent depth of color. It’s a great choice for hiding surface imperfections on walls. Matte is more reflective than flat and is also great for minimizing surface imperfections, while providing a durable finish. Eggshell imparts a softly polished glow and provides an easy-to-clean surface. It’s perfect for busy areas such as kitchens, dining rooms, and family rooms. Satin, or pearl, is a medium finish ideal for high-traffic areas like hallways when the full sheen of a semigloss is not desired. Semigloss creates a smooth, highly reflective finish that is durable and withstands repeated cleaning. It is used to highlight interior trim, doors, and window frames and is also popular for bathrooms.


This is the most important step — nearly all paint jobs that go awry are the result of a surface that wasn’t properly prepared. Here are the supplies to have on hand when you begin your paint project: drop cloth, blue painter’s tape, paint scraper, sanding sponge, spackle, putty knife, TSP wall cleaner, rags/sponges, and gloves.


No matter the size of the crack or hole, fill it with a surfacing compound. When dry, sand the filled-in spot to a smooth finish.


To ensure paint adhesion, be sure all rough spots are sanded down to a smooth finish. This includes any paint runs from prior paint jobs. A sandpaper grit of 80 or 100 will work best on walls and trim.


This is a crucial step that should not be skipped over. TSP is a heavy-duty surface cleaner that will remove grease, soot, and mildew on walls, woodwork, and painted surfaces. Rinse with clean water after applying.


It’s easy to want to skip this step, but your paint job will have a more professional look if you take the time to remove all light switch and electrical outlet cover plates before painting.


Using painter’s tape that is easily removed, tape all woodwork trim, baseboards, and window and door woodwork.


Apply primer to patched-over areas if needed. Many of the high-end paints on the market now do not require a primer.


Ensure excellent coverage by choosing the proper brush or roller. A good tip for even coverage is to roll a “W” in a three-by-three square, then fill in the square with consistent vertical rolls. Be prepared with these supplies when you begin the actual painting process: brush, roller, paint tray, disposable liners, painter’s pole, ladder, brush cleaner, and bucket.


To achieve the highest-quality results, keep in mind these general guidelines to ensure a fabulous finish:

  • Surfaces should be clean, dull, dry, sound, and smooth before recoating.
  • Previous peeling areas that are not stripped down to a bare surface will most likely continue to peel over time and require periodic touch-ups.
  • Chalky surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly or paint will fade.
  • Take proper lead-based paint precautions if your home was built before 1978.
  • Latex paints dry quickly to touch but take at least a week to cure (harden). The more colorant added, the longer the cure time.

Good luck on your paint project, and enjoy the results!

Send to a Friend Print
Julia Strzesieski is the marketing coordinator for Cole Hardware and can be reached at [email protected].