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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prepping Your Paint Job

7:24 AM

No matter how easy or hard the task, preparation is the key to a successful remodeling job or outdoor project, which is why I try to encourage consultation with and hiring of home improvement professionals while also embracing DIY. In the future, we’ll discuss plenty of jobs that need to be well thought out but let’s start with an easy one: Painting your interior walls.

There is the temptation to just hire a crew and have it done during the day when you’re at work, but then there’s that nostalgic image of you and your partner in your own home, painting the walls together. In the latter case, you should take the steps suggested below as a way to ensure your paint job, certainly the most aesthetically noticeable facet of your interior, is done in a professional manner.




  • ·      Strip, Scrape, Remove: Any and all left over wallpaper and/or peeling and cracked paint should be removed. Use a scraper gently to get rid of the old paint, wallpaper and adhesive resin. If you’re dealing with old woodwork with bad finish, you’ll have to get some paint-stripping gel to remove paint and other debris.

  • ·      Repair and Patch: Unless your home is brand new, you will likely have a few cracks and holes that should be rectified. It’s worth it to get a quick consultation from a contractor to see if there are any foundation problems or if you’ll need professional help dealing with a bigger crack. Otherwise, clean and dampen the spot before using a putty knife to fill in any holes and cracks; if working with wood, use wood filler instead of joint compound. On bigger holes, cover the hole with two small pieces of joint tape before covering it with joint compound.  

  • ·      Sandpaper: Get yourself some fine-grade sandpaper and sand the entire area that you will be painting. This not only helps smooth down rough, incongruous areas but also boosts adherence for the overall paint job. For glossy areas, use a light-duty liquid de-glosser or TSP powder mixed into some hot/warm water. Rinse the wall and let it sit for a day before moving forward.  

  • ·      Clear Out: Take any easily moveable objects (lamps, end tables, coffee tables, small chairs, etc.) and put them in another room. Anything too big or too inconvenient to move, gather into a huddled mass in the middle of the room and cover with a tarp or an ample length of plastic sheathing. Tape it down. Finally, cover the floors as best as possible with plastic sheathing or plenty of newspaper.

  • ·      Tape Up: Buy yourself two rolls of painter’s tape from a local handyman or home improvement store – trust me, it comes in handy. Cover up your light switches, doorknobs, handles, locks, and any other minor thing that would be a pain to remove and you don’t want to have splatter marks on. The tape will also be needed when you paint the trim.

  • ·      Last Clean: Do one more full clean before getting to the fun (and exhausting) part. Vacuum the entire room and dust off every area that will be painted. If your room happens to be a kitchen or bathroom, you should do one more wash with TSP mix. If you encounter mildewed areas, mix the TSP (about three ounces) with hot water (no less than three quarts), chlorine (one quart) and detergent (one ounce). Let it all dry for at least 12 hours or, to be double sure, a full 24.


Sit down and think about exactly what you want out of the look of your room. Consult with your partner and/or family and talk with the employees at your local home improvement supplies store about what brand of paint and/or primer to purchase. For my nephew’s room, for instance, I recently used forest green and had a close artist friend come in and paint a mural over it about a month afterwards. As tiresome as it can be, these are the jobs that I have the most fun with, usually enlisting at least one close friend, a good radio station and a few refreshments for the day. Not all of these projects have to feel like work. 

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