Tips to set up for an interior painting project

Tips to set up for an interior painting project

Before starting any interior painting project, be aware of potential dangers. If your home was built before 1978, scraping and sanding to prepare a wall’s surface may disturb existing lead-based paint and release hazardous lead dust. Be sure to consult with a highly rated contractor who is EPA certified to employ lead-safe work practices if this applies to you.

Once you’ve ruled out the threat of existing lead paint, it’s time to set the scene for the work. Proper preparation for painting a room reduces risk of making mistakes, cuts cleanup time and ensures that the work is both high-quality and long-lasting. Here’s an overview of easy steps to eliminate headaches and hassles down the road.

• Clear out and cover up.  Remove as many furniture and room fixtures as possible, and use masking or painters' tape around switches and outlets. If a fixture cannot be removed, it can be easily covered with a tape-secured plastic bag. Make sure you’re covered. A drop cloth or canvas cover should be placed on the floor.

• Address imperfections. Scrape off peeling or chipped paint before applying a new coat. Surface defects, like cracks and holes, should be repaired before painting.  Joint compound can be applied with either a finger or putty knife and scraped until flush with the wall. Follow directions on the compound’s label for drying time.

• Sand it down. Sanding, whether for newly patched holes or for woodwork, is necessary to create a smooth painting surface. It will help the paint adhere better.

• Clean the area. Vacuuming, especially if the room is carpeted, can prevent dust and carpet fibers from adhering to walls and floor runners while painting. A tack cloth or textured electrostatic dry cloth can be used to dust the surfaces of the room, not just the surfaces to be painted. Any spots of mold, mildew, soap scum or grease should be removed using cleaner or bleach. Rinse the area and allow it to fully dry before being painted.

• Get what you need. Assemble all the tools, brushes, and supplies needed to complete the project. This will reduce the likelihood of tracking paint outside of the area covered with the drop-cloth.

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22 painting tools and materials

Painting brushes.jpg

Here’s a list of essential tools and materials to help you get started on your next painting project. (Photo courtesy of
Here’s a list of essential tools and materials to help you get started on your next painting project. (Photo courtesy of

Here’s a list of essential tools and materials to help you get started on your next painting project.

Leave a Comment - 14




I have a century home. Most of the original woodwork is unpainted, except for the kitchen and bathrooms. I have found that paintable latex caulk does wonders to fill in gouges and smooth out nicks in painted wood and once painted, you can't tell the difference.



I haven't yet used it, but I've heard good things about the Frog Tape green masking tape being better than the blue tape.



Our house was a model home and the proper sealing of the walls was not done prior to wall paper applications. Any removal of paper, washing down the wall, priming, etc. after that never was enough to keep the new paint from peeling or cracking about 2-3 years later. Professional painters always assured me that they knew what to do, but it cracked, anyway. Is there any hope shy of replacing the wall board?



Shouldn't walls also be washed with a mild soap solution before painting to get rid of the five to ten years of dust and dirt?



Sand window sills before touching up?

Mary Furnish


What is the proper way to apply blue painter's tape to protect baseboards when painting walls? In one long piece the length of the wall, or in short overlapping pieces ?

James Robbins


I have to repaint woodwork. The door casings are badly nicked and dented with pealing paint. What is best way to fill nicks and depressions?



Moving into a house that has tons of holes in the walls, made giant screws... What's the best way to fix them before painting? Thanks!



Use an etching wash on enameled surfaces such as TSP on woodwork to provide a sustainable surface for the new paint.

C H Godon


When painting enameled surfaces use an etching wash like TSP to help provide a sustainable surface for any new coat of paint.



The answer varies with the project.
For floors, don't prime, as that paint is softer than what's needed for traffic. Choose a floor or deck paint for level surfaces outdoors, too.
Priming with a laquer-based formula (Behr for example) is needed if the base is darker than planned paint and when the base can be expected to bleed, as in deep stains. Most paints hold on better with a primed base, and it helps even out tiny imperfections. Use oil based outside when you can, as it resists water. Always remember to sand lightly before priming or painting to help paint stick. Also, oil primer will stick better than latex and even many acrylics.



2 Coats of Primer and a lot of joint compound to smooth the walls.

Janee Jarrell


Primer: some primers will actually cover and adhere to dirty walls, allowing you to omit the wall washing step, a must if there's grease or nicotine on the walls. If there is staining in the walls surface, from water damage, mold, etc., a primer/sealer needs to be used, once the cause of the damage and staining has been found and fixed. Also, new wallboard or fresh plaster need to be primed. Otherwise, primer, which gives the finish coat something to adhere easily to, is used mostly if you're going from a darker shade to a lighter one. There are now primer/finish coat paints. These are helpful. If using a standard primer, ask that it be tinted to as close to the finish color as possible. If it's close enough, and you've used the correct paint and roller, you might be able to get by with one finish coat. Also, any new woodwork must also be primed.

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