Paint Prep – Preparing Walls for Painting

A good paint job starts with the prep work, and no matter how good a painter you are, whether with a spray system, a brush or a roller, you cannot get a quality job without a world class paint prep system.

Indigo has found that the best prep system for us it to create a checklist, in order, that fits most of our jobs. In commercial painting, there are almost always additional steps in the prep checklist, because many jobs have unique challenges to clean or to mask, or both.

The steps below are a checklist for getting a room ready, however this list is not the only way or to prepare a room for a new paint job, but it is the Indigo Way.

For a conference room in a plant, here are our steps.

  1. Get the room ready by removing as much furniture as possible from the room. Removal is preferred, if you cannot remove, move to center and cover it with drop cloths.  Take care in getting it fully covered, and that the cloths themselves don’t damage the items.
  2. Remove everything you can from the walls.  Electric plates and outlet covers, ceiling lights or shades, thermostats, air vents or returns, drapes and hardware, blinds and hardware.  If it can go, make it go.
  3. Next you need to protect the floor – we use heavy plastic and/or drop cloths.  It really depends on the floor, the size of the room and how slippery each option is.
  4. Check the walls for smoothness, for any contamination on the wall (grease, soot, dust), and cracks or nail holes.  Fill the holes with wall patch, any cracks the same way, and then if necessary sand the entire surface or just the rough area with fine grit sandpaper.  After, wipe walls with a tack cloth, or if they need it, a cleaning solution and a damp rag or sponge to remove the contaminations.  Tack cloth walls again after cleaning.
  5. Start taping.  Tape light plastic over baseboard, use care to align the edge for a straight line.  Tape outlets and light switches, ceiling lights, fans, anything that you want to protect from paint.  We use blue tape but sometimes other types, be careful and use only tape that won’t damage anything you’re taping.  Tape doors and windows, and the casing around them.
  6. We don’t tape off the ceiling.  We cut in the ceiling with a quality brush and if necessary a paint straight edge.  Ceilings often are poor surfaces for tape, or the tape damages them (think plaster and popcorn ceilings).
  7. Special items.  Built in shelves, radiators, bookcases, chandeliers, all need handled for prep a little differently, some you can tape, or use the tape with the plastic that unwraps from the tape.  Make sure you prep for three things:  Protection from paint, appearance (straight lines and clean edges) and protection from your protection from paint (tape damages sometimes!)

No painting starts until we are 100% satisfied that we have a clean, smooth and protected area to paint.  Follow these steps, and your job will be as professional as ours!

The larger the room, the longer the prep time!