Last night I spent the evening painting the bedroom of my new apartment. I’m no pro painter, but in my humble opinion it turned out pretty awesome. I found out that the key to a good paint job is not so much in the painting itself, but in the prep work. Here are five items to make sure you complete before you even start to paint.
1. Remove everything but the wall
I’m not assuming that you forgot to take your picture frames off the wall (but if you did, you’re welcome for the reminder). I’m talking about the little things on the wall that you might not notice until it’s already dripping with wet paint. For example, be sure to unscrew and take off the electrical wall plates or the light switch plates. Again, not making any assumptions here, but you can’t paint over wallpaper, so be sure to remove that too. If you aren’t paying attention, you may miss that nail you left in the wall last winter. Just take it all off the wall, this way you won’t run in to any surprises as you paint.
2. Patch up the holes
You want to have a smooth surface to paint on. This will help the paint go on smoothly and evenly. Remember the time you flung the door open so fast the lock on the doorknob left a small hole in the dry wall? You’re going to want to fix that. Painting over it won’t make it go away! Even small holes like those from a thumbtack should be filled. The good news is these are a really easy fix. For larger holes you might want to consider purchasing a drywall repair kit, but for smaller ones, you may just need a putty knife and some drywall-patching compound. In college, I used toothpaste to fill the holes…but I’m not sure if I would recommend that.
3. Clean the walls
Prepare the surface of your walls by cleaning them. Unless you’re painting over that Sharpie masterpiece on your wall, try to get your walls as clean as possible. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is great for getting pretty much everything off. Try to remove all dirt, grime and scuff marks. The paint color could react differently on these soiled surfaces so it is important to have clean walls.
My dad always tells me that this is the most important part of paint preparation. The best paint job in the world can be ruined by a streak of stray paint on the white ceiling. Take some painter’s masking tape and tape around all of the edges of the trim, ceiling and doorframe. This will help paint to stay within the lines. Even those individuals with the steadiest hand in the world should tape up. You won’t be sorry when you have a perfectly crisp paint edge.
5. Cover the floors
Enough talk about the walls. If you’re spending the time and money to paint, you probably don’t want to be forced to replace your carpet too… so protect it! Lay down a tarp, some plastic wrap, a canvas or even a blanket so that drips and splatters don’t end up on the floor. Another thing to be aware of is your feet. Let’s say you diligently cover your floor and a little drip falls on the cover (whew, close call!) well then you step in it without noticing and walk the paint all over the rest of the house. Not so good. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a foot check before you walk out of the paint zone.
Once you’ve completed these five steps on the paint preparation checklist, you’ll be ready to begin!