7 Things You Should Do Before You Start Any Paint Project

How to Prep Walls for Painting
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When it comes to paint projects, the prep work is as important—maybe more important—than the actual paint application. If you don't patch and sand the surface properly, you can end up with visible holes and rough spots. And if you don't tape off the trim, you can wind up with giant paint splotches that need to be scraped away or painted over.

For smooth walls with a streak-free coat of paint, here's how to prep walls for painting—the right way. Spend the time on painting prep now to avoid painter's remorse later.

01 of 07

Patch any holes.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Spackle
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A fresh coat of paint can magnify even tiny holes on an unpainted wall. To avoid regret down the line, take the time to patch any holes now. Once the spackle is dry, sand it lightly until the surface is smooth. Remember to use a damp cloth to remove any dust before painting, otherwise the debris will get caught in the wet paint; which brings us to our next point...

02 of 07

Clean the walls.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Clean
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You're eager to jump into the fun part—painting! And it's tempting to skip the wall-cleaning task. But if you haven't dusted your walls in a while, you'd be surprised how much debris has likely collected on the surface.

Start by vacuuming to suck up dust or pet hair along the baseboards, trim, and molding. Then, working from the top down, dust the wall with a barely damp cloth. Make sure the surface is dry before you begin taping or painting.

03 of 07

Don't forget the painter's tape.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Tape
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Unless you're a pro at cutting in, painter's tape is your best friend. Use it to tape off the trim, molding, floor, and other surfaces you don't want painted. Bonus: The work goes faster when you don't have to worry about painting a perfect line.

It's best to remove the tape while the paint is slightly tacky. This way, you avoid ripping off dried paint later.

04 of 07

Start with primer.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Primer
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You probably know that primer is helpful when painting a light color over a dark one, but it also helps to hide unevenness and imperfections on the wall. Plus, if you're painting over a smooth or shiny surface such as kitchen cabinets, primer helps the paint adhere better.

05 of 07

Consider caulking.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Caulk

Notice any visible gaps between the wall and trim? Then it's a good idea to apply paintable caulk. Once dry and painted, the caulk creates a seamless look, while eliminating likely hiding spots for bugs.

06 of 07

Set out tarps.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Supplies
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It's best to remove furniture from any room to be painted, but if that's not feasible, play it safe by covering furniture (and floors) with tarps to protect them from paint splatter. Also, roll up rugs and clear anything else you can from the area.

07 of 07

Gather your supplies.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Gather Supplies
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Once you start painting, you don't want to stop to search for that extra tarp you didn't think you needed; or worse, drive to the store for the right-sized brush. Before rolling and brushing, take stock of your supplies on hand. Assemble your assorted brushes, paint rollers and trays, stirrers, a can opener or screwdriver, painter's tape, tarps, and a rag to wipe away spills or splatters.

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