Removing a light switch cover from a wall.

So, you’ve got a room and you want to paint it. The more prep work you put in, the faster the job goes.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  1. Putty knives
  2. Sanding sponge (medium grit)
  3. 220-grit sandpaper
  4. Pole sander
  5. Spackling for nail holes
  6. Vinyl spackling for larger holes
  7. Fiberglass mesh tape

You’ll also want to clear away anything that gets in the way of your painting:

What to Remove:

  • Switch plate covers
  • Window treatments
  • Light fixtures
  • Small electronics, plug-in appliances and easy-to-move furniture.

Now you’re ready to prep. Think of the room as your canvas—you want to keep things as smooth and clean as possible. To do that, you can follow these steps to make it a little easier.

Step One: CLEAN

1. Clean the walls with a sponge and mild detergent from the bottom up.

2. Rinse the sponge frequently as you clean.

3. Make sure all walls and surfaces are completely dry before you paint.

Person washing wall with sponge.

Step Two: SMOOTH

  1. Lightly sand the walls
  2. Fill in any imperfection you can see from 5 feet away in normal lighting
  3. Sand all your repairs for a smooth finish.
  4. Finally, vacuum up any dust and debris.
Sanding a wall before painting.

Step Three: PROTECT

Cover floors and any furniture in the room with drop cloths.

A bucket of white paint and a paint brush on a drop cloth.

Another step to consider is adding a coat of primer to act like a stain barrier—so your old paint doesn’t show through. In most cases, primer makes it possible to finish the job with just one coat of paint.

Your prep work is done! It might seem like extra work, but it’s worth the effort to get the best results.