How to Prepare Your Home for Painting

How to Prepare Your Home for Painting

Are you planning to revitalise your living spaces with a fresh coat of paint? Before you embark on your project, knowing how to prepare your home for painting is important. Doing so will help you achieve a flawless and long-lasting paint job.

From prepping up the surfaces to time and weather considerations, this step-by-step walkthrough will equip you with essential techniques and insights to ensure a smooth and professional-looking finish. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Gather Necessary Supplies

You’ll need various essential tools and supplies to paint your home successfully. Here’s a comprehensive list to help you prepare:

  • Paint Brushes. Various sizes for different surfaces and precision work.
  • Rollers and Roller Covers. For faster and more efficient paint application.
  • Paint Trays. To hold and distribute paint during rolling.
  • Painter’s Tape. For clean lines and protecting trim and edges.
  • Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheets. To cover and protect floors and furniture.
  • Sandpaper or Sanding Blocks. For smoothing surfaces and removing old paint.
  • Spackling Paste. To fill in holes and damages in walls.
  • Putty Knife. For applying spackling paste and scraping loose paint.
  • Paint Scraper. To remove stubborn paint and peeling areas.
  • Cleaning Supplies. Rags, sponges, and cleaning solutions for surface preparation.
  • Primer. To ensure proper paint adhesion and coverage, if needed.
  • High-quality Paint. Choose the right type and colour for your project.
  • Paint Stirrer. For thoroughly mixing paint before use.
  • Painters’ Extension Pole. To reach high or difficult-to-access areas.
  • Paint Tray Liners. For easy cleanup and reuse of paint trays.
  • Caulk and Caulking Gun. To seal gaps and cracks in walls and trim.
  • Bucket and Paint Grid. For more extensive paint projects and easy paint loading.
  • Ladder or Step Stool. For safe access to higher areas.
  • Paint Edger Tool. To achieve clean edges along ceilings and corners.
  • Dust Masks and Safety Glasses. For personal protection during sanding and painting.

Step 2: Assess the Condition of Your Home’s Surfaces

Next, you need to check the condition of your home’s surfaces. By identifying any issues beforehand, you can address them appropriately and ensure a smooth painting job. Here are some of the best tips to help you assess the condition of your home’s surfaces:

  • Thorough Inspection. Look closely at walls, ceilings, and woodwork for any visible damage, such as cracks, holes, or water stains. Addressing these issues early on will prevent them from showing through the new paint.
  • Check for Moisture and Mould. Look for signs of moisture, such as bubbling paint or mildew growth, especially in damp areas like bathrooms and basements. Address any moisture issues and treat mould before proceeding with painting. For example, black mould usually thrives in areas that enjoy little natural light and should be cleaned with bleach or cleaning vinegar.
  • Test Paint Adhesion. Conduct an adhesion test by applying a strip of painter’s tape to various surfaces and removing it. If the tape lifts paint, it indicates poor adhesion, and those areas might need additional surface preparation.
  • Assess the Existing Paint. Determine the condition of the current paint. Peeling, chipping, or flaking paint requires removal or sanding to create a smooth base for the new paint.
  • Evaluate the Surface Texture. Uneven or rough surfaces might need sanding to ensure a uniform finish. Smoothing out imperfections will lead to a more polished result.
  • Consider the Age of the Paint. Check for lead-based paint if your home has older paint layers, especially in houses built before 1978. If detected, follow proper safety protocols or seek professional assistance for removal.
  • Analyse the Lighting. Different lighting conditions can affect how paint colours appear. Observe the surfaces at various times of the day to better gauge the paint’s potential visual impact.



How Clean Should a House Be Before Painting?

A house should be thoroughly cleaned before painting. Remove dust, grease, and grime from surfaces to ensure proper paint adhesion. Additionally, clear the area of furniture and decorations, covering floors with drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect them during the painting process.

How Do You Prep a House Before Painting?

Before painting a house, prep work involves assessing surface conditions, repairing imperfections, and clearing the work area. This includes sanding rough surfaces, scraping off loose paint, applying primer if needed, and protecting furniture and fixtures with drop cloths.

Step 3: Prepare the Surface

According to Sherwin Williams, inadequate surface preparation affects coating adhesion, accounting for up to 80% of failures. So before embarking on your painting project, make sure you have a clean and organised work area. Below is a series of steps to help you out:

Cleaning the Walls

  1. Use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt and dust from the walls.
  2. Mix a mild detergent and water solution in a bucket.
  3. Dip a sponge or cloth into the solution, and gently scrub the walls in circular motions.
  4. Pay extra attention to grease or grime-prone areas, like the kitchen or bathroom walls.
  5. Rinse the walls with clean water and allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Filling in Cracks and Holes

  1. Start by assessing the severity of the damage. Small nail holes can be filled with a quick-drying spackle, while larger cracks may require a more substantial filler.
  2. Choose the appropriate filler based on the depth and type of damage. Standard options include spackle, joint compound, or putty.
  3. Apply the filler using a putty knife or a filling blade. Ensure it’s evenly spread and slightly overfilled to account for shrinkage during drying.
  4. Give the filler a quick wipe using a damp sponge to smooth out any small ridges and save time on sanding. Then allow it to dry completely as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Once dry, sand it smooth using fine-grit sandpaper. This ensures a seamless transition between the patched area and the wall surface.
  6. After sanding, wipe away any dust using a clean cloth or sponge.

Sanding Rough Surfaces

  1. Start by identifying areas with roughness or uneven texture on the walls.
  2. Choose the appropriate sandpaper grit based on the severity of the roughness. Coarse grits, such as 80 or 100, are suitable for heavy sanding, while finer grits like 180 or 220 are ideal for final smoothing.
  3. Wrap the sandpaper around a sanding block or use a sanding sponge for better control.
  4. Using light pressure, sand the rough areas in a circular motion or back and forth. Be careful not to over sand or create grooves in the wall.
  5. After sanding, wipe away any dust using a clean cloth or sponge.

Removing Loose Paint or Wallpaper

  1. Use a paint scraper or putty knife to scrape off the peeling or flaking paint gently. Always work in the direction of the grain to prevent damaging the wall surface.
  2. If you have a wallpaper that needs to be removed, start by scoring the surface using a wallpaper scorer or a scoring tool. This allows the wallpaper removal solution to penetrate and loosen the adhesive.
  3. Apply a wallpaper removal solution or a mixture of warm water and fabric softener to the scored wallpaper. This helps dissolve the glue and makes it easier to remove.
  4. Using a wallpaper scraper or putty knife, gently scrape off the wallpaper from the walls, starting from the bottom and working your way up.
  5. Be cautious while removing paint or wallpaper to avoid damaging the underlying surface.

Step 4: Clear and Cover the Room

Additionally, you must prepare the room to ensure you don’t get paint on the floor, windows, or any of your belongings. To that end, here are another series of steps to follow:

Removing Furniture, Decorations, and Fixtures from the Area

  1. Begin by decluttering the room and removing small items like decorations, picture frames, carpets, and accessories from shelves and tables.
  2. Shift larger furniture pieces to the centre of the room, leaving enough space to easily access the walls and corners.
  3. Cover any unmovable furniture with drop cloths or plastic sheets to shield them from accidental paint splatters or spills.
  4. Take down light fixtures, curtain rods, and any other removable hardware that could hinder the painting process.
  5. Relocate the removed items to another room for the duration of the painting project. Or store them in a safe and protected area within the same space.

Covering Floors with Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheets

  1. Choose between drop cloths or plastic sheets based on your preference and the level of protection needed for your flooring.
  2. Lay out the drop cloths or plastic sheets along the perimeter of the walls, overlapping them slightly to ensure complete floor coverage.
  3. Use painter’s or masking tape to secure the edges of the drop cloths or plastic sheets to the baseboards or walls, preventing them from shifting during the painting process.
  4. Consider using additional coverings or runners for areas with heavy foot traffic to provide extra protection.

Shielding Doors, Windows and Fixtures

  1. Measure the dimensions of the door, windows and fixtures, then cut appropriate-sized pieces of plastic sheets or painter’s tape for temporary protection.
  2. Use painter’s tape to secure plastic sheets over windows, creating a barrier against paint splatters. Ensure that the sheets are tightly attached to prevent paint from seeping through.
  3. Apply painter’s tape along the edges of window frames and sills to safeguard them from accidental paint contact.
  4. Use plastic sheets or painter’s tape to cover light fixtures and electrical outlets. Make sure the fixtures are turned off and cool before wrapping them.
  5. Unscrew and remove switch plates and outlet covers to facilitate easier and more thorough painting around electrical fixtures.

Step 5: Choose the Right Type of Paint

When choosing the right paint for your home, it’s essential to consider the different types of paint available in the market. There are three common types to choose from:

  • Latex Paint. Also known as water-based paint, this is the most popular choice due to its easy application, fast drying time, and low odour.
  • Oil-based Paint. This type of paint provides a more durable finish and is highly recommended for high-traffic areas.
  • Specialty Paint. This variant includes textured or magnetic colours, which offer unique effects for specific surfaces.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Different Surfaces

  • Surface Material. Different surfaces, such as wood, drywall, metal, or masonry, require specific types of paint formulated to adhere correctly to their unique textures and properties.
  • Interior vs. Exterior Use. Make your selection based on where you’re painting. Paints are designed for interior or exterior applications, with the latter formulated to withstand harsh weather conditions.
  • Sheen or Finish. Decide on the desired sheen or finish, such as matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, or high-gloss, based on the surface’s location and the durability and reflectivity needed.
  • Paint Base. Choose between water-based (latex) and oil-based (alkyd) paints, considering factors like ease of application, drying time, and environmental impact.
  • Primer Requirements. Assess whether the surface requires a separate primer before applying the paint, as some materials may benefit from improved adhesion and coverage.
  • Room Traffic and Use. Consider the activity level and wear and tear the painted surface will endure, opting for more durable and washable paints for high-traffic areas.
  • Colour and Aesthetics. Select colours that complement the overall aesthetics of the space and create the desired ambience.
  • Environmental Impact. Look for paints with low volatile organic compound (VOC) content to minimise harmful emissions and promote a healthier indoor environment.

Step 6: Select the Right Paint Colours

Choosing the perfect paint colour for your home can be exciting yet overwhelming. The right colour can completely transform a room and set the desired ambience. Here are some helpful tips to consider when selecting paint colours:

Tips for Choosing Complementary Colours

  • Check a Colour Wheel. Use a colour wheel to identify complementary colours located opposite each other on the wheel. Combining colours from different wheel sections creates a harmonious and balanced look.
  • Consider the 60-30-10 Rule. Apply the 60-30-10 Rule to distribute colours in your space. The dominant colour covers about 60% of the room (walls), the secondary colour takes up 30% (furniture, drapes), and the accent colour accounts for 10% (accessories, artwork).
  • Opt for Harmonious Neutrals. If unsure about bold colour combinations, opt for harmonious neutral tones. Pair warm neutrals with similar undertones, such as beige with cream, or cool neutrals like grey with soft blue accents.
  • Analyse the Room’s Lighting. Consider the natural and artificial lighting in the room. Some colours may appear differently under various light conditions, so test samples before finalising your choices.
  • Create Flow Between Spaces. Choose shades that create a cohesive flow between adjacent rooms, ensuring a unified and inviting atmosphere throughout your home.
  • Use Colour Swatches and Samples. Before committing to a colour, obtain colour swatches or samples and view them in the actual space. Lighting and existing decor can influence how the colours appear in your home.
  • Explore Your Personal Preferences. Take into account your personal style and preferences. Your home should reflect your taste and make you feel comfortable and happy.
  • Go for Complementary Accents. If you prefer a more neutral or monochromatic colour scheme, use complementary colours as accents through decorative items like pillows, artwork, or rugs.

Step 7: Pick the Best Time and Weather Conditions

Lastly, timing is everything when it comes to painting your home. The success of your paint job greatly depends on weather conditions and the schedule you choose to tackle the project. Here’s what you need to consider:

How Weather Conditions Affect Drying Time

The weather can significantly impact the drying time of paint and the overall finish of your project. It’s vital to take into account the following factors:

  • Temperature. Extreme temperatures can affect how paint adheres to surfaces. It’s best to avoid painting when it’s too hot or too cold outside.
  • Humidity. High humidity levels can cause paint to dry slower, leading to a longer wait time between coats. On the other hand, low humidity can cause paint to dry too quickly, resulting in a poor finish.
  • Wind. Windy conditions can cause dust and debris to stick to wet paint, ruining the smoothness of the finish. It’s advisable to paint on calmer days.

Tips to Plan and Schedule Your Painting Job

Organising your painting job with weather conditions in mind is crucial to achieving the best possible results. Here are some valuable tips to help you navigate weather-related challenges:

  • Check the Weather Forecast. Monitor weather forecasts regularly leading up to your painting project. Look for days with mild temperatures, low humidity, and no rain or extreme weather predicted.
  • Choose the Right Season. Select the appropriate season for your painting job. Spring and fall often offer ideal weather conditions for painting, with moderate temperatures and lower humidity levels.
  • Prioritise Interior Painting. If the weather is unpredictable or unsuitable for outdoor painting, focus on indoor projects during adverse conditions. This way, you can still make progress while waiting for better weather.
  • Create a Flexible Schedule. Plan your painting project with flexibility in mind. Have alternative dates in case of unexpected weather changes or delays.
  • Allow Extra Drying Time. In humid or cold conditions, paint drying times may be prolonged. Factor in additional drying time between coats to avoid potential issues.
  • Protect Painted Surfaces. If rain or adverse weather is forecasted, take precautions to protect freshly painted surfaces. Use tarps or plastic sheets to cover outdoor areas until the paint is fully cured.
  • Painting Before or After Renovations: If you are renovating your house, it is generally recommended to paint AFTER your renovations are completed.
  • Seek Professional Advice. If you need more clarification about the impact of specific weather conditions on your painting project, consult the service of a professional painter who can offer valuable insights and recommendations.


From assessing surface conditions to selecting the right tools and materials, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills to achieve a flawless and professional-looking finish. So before you embark on any painting project, best read our guide to gain invaluable insights and instructions to ensure your success.

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