DIY Network

How to Prep Walls and Trim

Learn skills for prepping a wall before painting to give an interior paint job a professional look.

More in Painting

prep wall before painting for professional look
  • Time

    Two Days

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Remove all Obstacles in the Work Area

If possible, move all the furniture out of the room. If there are items that can't be moved out of the room, push them to the center of the room and cover them with a tarp or drop cloth in order to protect them from paint.

Step 2: Remove Hardware

Next, remove hardware such as faceplates on electrical sockets and light switches using a screwdriver. It is possible to tape these off and paint around them, but the quality of the paint job will suffer. Depending on the area to be painted it may also be a good idea to remove doorknobs, hinges, and handles.

remove hardware to prepare for painting

Step 3: Identify Areas of Damage

Survey the room. Look at the walls and identify areas of damage or dirt. A clean, well-repaired surface provides the best foundation for a good paint job (Image 1) . Louis removes lead lugs left over from an old shelving unit from the wall, using a putty knife to pry them out.

Use painter’s caulk to fill the holes (Image 2) and a putty knife to smooth over the caulk and create a smooth, flat wall surface (Image 3).

Step 4: Mask off the Room

Once the obstacles are removed and the walls are clean and smooth, the room is ready to be masked. Use low-tack masking tape to tape around fixtures that can’t be removed like wall sconces and phone jacks. If the floors are to be painted as well, you will not need to lay down a drop cloth or mask off the floor.

mask room before painting

Step 5: Paint the Wall

In many cases it takes a full day or more to adequately prepare an area to paint. Pour the paint into a tray (Image 1) and roll with a sheepskin roller several times in order to soak up an ample amount of paint (Image 2). Roll the paint slowly onto the wall; the roller will apply more paint in one coat than if you quickly run the roller up and down the wall. If the walls have texture, it is important to run the roller in a "W" pattern in order to make sure all sides of the texture receive paint.
Using the big roller, cover the major area of the walls and ceilings fairly quickly (Image 3). Then, go back with the small roller to paint the hard-to-reach areas (Image 4). Let the paint dry before going back to apply a second coat.

Step 6: Mask off Around the Trim

Once the main color is complete, prep work begins again. Mask off all the areas that touch the trim to protect them from the paint. It is imperative to watch carefully while taping to make sure the paint line will be straight and crisp. A utility knife can be useful to cut the tape so that it fits tightly around trim obstacles.

mask off all areas that touch trim

Step 7: Paint the Trim

Once everything is taped off, paint the trim. A small roller can be used to paint most of the trim (image 1) while a small trim brush can be used to paint the tight spots. (image 2).

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