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How To Prepare a Room for Painting

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Tools you'll need include:

  • putty knives
  • paint scrapers
  • sanding blocks and electric sanders
  • screwdrivers or dull knives

You may also need heat guns, paint-stripping chemicals and various kinds of discs that attach to electric drills. (Be careful - these can put deep gouges into wood).


  1. Remove furniture from the room you wish to paint; move what's left into the centre of the room and cover with a drop cloth. Use removable masking tape around skirting, architraves, doors and windows, and drop cloths to protect floors and furnishings.
  2. Cover the smoke detector with a plastic bag and turn off air conditioning or heating while sanding or painting.
  3. Sand or scrape loose and flaky paint with sandpaper and paint scrapers - down to bare surfaces if necessary.
  4. Using a putty knife, patch and fill all nail and screw holes with spackling compound; fill cracks with caulk.
  5. Let any wet spots dry completely before painting or you'll be plagued with moisture problems.
  6. On woodwork, use epoxy filler (like that used on car bodies). Whatever you use, sand it down until it matches the area around it.
  7. Prime the wall with an alkali-resistant primer if the paint is oil-base
  8. Wash all surfaces with TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove grease and dirt. On drywall wash any wall that already has paint on it. Go over it with medium-grit sandpaper to rough it up a bit and then apply a coat of regular paint primer
  9. Rinse everything well with water to remove the TSP. Allow surfaces to dry thoroughly, and then dust and vacuum as needed.
  10. Turn off the power to the room, and then remove the cover plates from all electrical fixtures, or place masking tape over outlets and switches. Place small bits of masking tape over switch handles and outlets to protect them from paint. It's safest to leave the power off as you paint the room - if you decide to turn the power back on, work carefully around electrical areas.
  11. Remove heating and air-conditioning vent covers.
  12. Loosen or remove cover plates from light fixtures; cover what remains with plastic bags. Remember not to turn on the lights. Paint during the day to get maximum lighting in the room, or use an extension cord to bring in a light source from another room.

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