Preparing Walls for Painting

When it comes to painting, we all want to
jump in and just start rolling that beautiful new color on the wall. But spending a few
extra minutes on prep work will give you much better results and help you avoid problems
along the way. Start by clearing the room, OR moving furniture
to the center and covering with plastic. For the floor, use canvas drop cloths since plastic
can get slippery. Shut off the circuit breakers to the room
you’re painting. Then remove cover plates from switches and outlets, and protect with
tape. If you’re painting the ceiling, pop off the blades of your ceiling fan, slide
the cover plate down, and wrap with plastic. Doorknobs can be wrapped with a plastic bag. Once you’ve got the place covered you can
start making repairs. Strip old wallpaper with a paper remover and removal tools. For
flaking paint, use a putty knife to scrape it off. No need for elbow grease, just remove
the loose stuff. Now if you’re like the rest of us, you probably
have a few dings in your walls. But no worries, they’re an easy fix. First clean the hole
with a brush, then apply some spackle—or wood filler for trimwork. Let it dry, sand
smooth, and prime. A patch kit works great for large holes. To
fix serious damage, watch our How to Repair Drywall video. A clean wall is essential for a quality paint
job. Vacuum dust and do a quick wipe down with a damp rag. If your walls have oil or
other residue on them, wash with trisodium phosphate—TSP for short—for a more thorough
cleaning. Then rinse with water and let dry. The next step is priming. Priming is needed
when painting over bare drywall, stained or repaired areas, high-gloss finishes, and drastic
color changes. There are many paint-and-primer-in-one products available that can save time on this
step. One more thing. Some surfaces, like trimwork,
might’ve been painted with oil-based paint, which can’t be painted over with latex. Here’s
how to check. Wet a cotton swab with alcohol and rub the surface. If the paint comes off,
it’s latex. If not, it’s oil. In that case, lightly sand the surface and cover with a
bonding primer. And that’s a wrap on the prep. Want more great ideas and how-to’s? Just click
to subscribe. Next up, it’s time to paint.

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