How to Prepare a Room for Painting

It's all in the preparation. Take the time (probably more time than the actual painting will take) and you'll get the best result possible.

Prepare a Room for Painting
  1. Remove what furniture you can; move what's left into the center of the room and cover with drop cloths. Use removable (usually blue) 'safety' masking tape around moldings, 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, fill all nail and screw holes with spackling compound; fill cracks with caulk.
  5. For more serious repairs, use drywall-taping techniques (see "eHow to Patch a Hole in Drywall'). On woodwork, use epoxy filler (like that used on car bodies). Whatever you use, sand it down until it matches the area around it.
  6. Wash all surfaces with TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove grease and dirt. Use paint deglosser on glossy surfaces such as trim.
  7. Rinse everything well with water to remove the TSP. Allow surfaces to dry thoroughly, and then dust and vacuum as needed.
  8. Turn off the power to the room, then remove the cover plates from all electrical fixtures, 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.
  9. Loosen or remove cover plates from light fixtures; cover what remains with plastic bags. Remember not to turn on the lights - melting plastic really stinks. 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.
  10. Remove heating and air-conditioning vent covers.

Things You Will Need

  • Caulking Guns
  • blue safety masking tape
  • Putty
  • Plastic Bags
  • Plastic bags
  • Spackle
  • Paint Scrapers
  • Trisodium Phosphate
  • Ladders
  • Caulks
  • Drop Cloths
  • Putty Knives
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver Sets
  • Epoxy


  • Tools you'll need include: putty knives, paint scrapers, sanding blocks and electric sanders, and even 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.)


  • Determine whether your home was built before 1980. If it was, it may contain lead paint, which is especially toxic to children and pregnant women. If you're going to sand, scrape or otherwise expose this paint, contact the National Safety Council's Lead Information Center at (800) LEADFYI for information on how to do so safely.

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