How to Prep Walls for Painting in 2022 (+Pro Tips for DIYers)

Updated 3/9/23


Image from Canva


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Another Google search. Another painting website. Or so you thought.

If you can get through all the banner ads and pop-ups, you may get lucky and actually find the information you’re looking for.

You just want to know how to prep walls for painting, but all you get is clutter, noise, and videos that have nothing to do with prepping walls.

You’re getting discouraged, wondering if you’ll find the right place to get what you need.

Congrats! You made it here! There’s no need to search any further.

I will teach you How to prep walls for painting in  + pro tips that will have your walls looking amazing!

Let’s jump right in!

Image from Canva 

What You Need to Prep Walls for Painting

No need to procrastinate; here’s what you need:

  • Sandpaper (150 grit + 220 grit)
  • Painters tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Spackle (more on that in a bit)
  • Latex Painter’s caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Spackling knife
  • Primer (more on that in a bit)
  • Latex Paint (color of your choosing)
  • Drop cloth (s) or old sheets
  • Plastic sheeting
  • 2 ½” Angle Sash Paint Brush (Nylon/Polyester Blend)
  • Roller tray (9-inch)
  • Roller handle (9-inch)
  • 2 Roller sleeves (⅜” or ½” nap)
  • Spotlight
  • Step stool or ladder

Prepping for the Prep

Image from Canva

Before you start, you need to give yourself enough room to work so you can do the best prep for the walls.

  1. Remove small furniture, electronics, and any objects next to the walls.
  2. Move remaining furniture towards the middle of the room and cover it with plastic or old sheets to protect things from dust and paint spatters.
  3. Give yourself at least 3 feet of space between the walls and the furniture left in the room.
  4. Remove hanging pictures or art from the walls. If they return to the same spot, leave the nails or tacks in place.
  5. Remove all switch plates and outlet covers.

(Pro Tip: Put the screws back in the slot, so you don’t lose them)

Image from Canva

6. Place drop cloths around the room’s perimeter and ensure that all the flooring is covered. Paint drips have a way of finding the gaps in the drop cloths, so make sure the floor is covered.

Here’s How to Prep Walls for Painting

  • Sand the walls with 150-grit sandpaper.

Fold the sandpaper in half and then again. Use the step stool to reach the top portion of the walls and sand in sections. After sanding everything, dust off the walls with a rag or brush.

  • Vacuum the room.

Use a shop vac or vacuum to clean around window and door casings and the top of the baseboards. Don’t skip this step!

  • Use the spotlight to inspect the walls.

You control the level of inspection you want. Use painter’s tape to mark the spots that need spackle. If you’re not looking for perfection, the process will go fast.

  • Caulk cracks between the trim and walls.

Caulk after sanding the walls and before spackling. Run your index finger along the thin bead of caulking to smooth it out into the crack, then wipe off the excess with a damp rag. That will give the caulk time to dry.

  • Dab some spackle onto the spackle knife and cover the holes.

Image from Canva

Apply the spackle to cover at least one inch past the hole on all sides, and make sure it’s not too thick.

If there are large stress cracks in the walls, then mesh joint tape is needed to repair the area. Spackle over the mesh tape in light coats, so it dries quickly.

Pro Tip: You can use lightweight spackle to repair drywall. You can use Joint Compound on drywall, but drying times are longer. If you are repairing plaster walls, a “setting type” compound is needed. Mix and apply according to instructions.

  • Sand the spackle

Image from Canva

First, sand the spackle with 150 grit sandpaper and then finish with 220 grit to remove scratches and lines — dust off the repair and the trim underneath.

Pro Tip: Place the spotlight along the wall at an angle to the spackle to show the edges of the repair, so you can sand it smooth.

  • Tape all the edges where the trim meets the walls.

Apply the tape in long strips (arm’s length) and run your finger across the top for a strong seal.

Image from Canva
  • Apply Primer to the spackle repairs.

A few words about primer.

A full prime is not necessary if your walls do not have any issues with cracking, peeling, or stains. You can use an oil-based primer, such as Kilz, on stains and ink marks, and it comes in a spray can.

Torn and damaged drywall and plaster need a problem-solving primer before repairing with spackle or setting compound. Gardz and AllPrime are excellent water-based primers for sealing and strengthening surfaces before patching.

If you’re unsure what paint is on your walls (oil or latex), play it safe and apply a full coat of primer, such as Bullseye 1 2 3.

A full coat of primer is needed when painting with dark and bright colors, such as reds and blues. You should tint the primer grey to provide better top coat coverage.


Image from Canva

The repair spots need a coat of primer before you paint the finish coat.

Now That You Know How to Prep Walls, It’s Time To Paint.

Now that you’re a Prep Ninja, You can confidently paint your walls.

  • Stir the paint thoroughly before application.

Pro Tip: If you’re painting a large room with multiple gallons of paint, pour the cans into a 5-gallon bucket and mix well.

If you use a different can of paint halfway through the process, the colors will not match.

  • Fill the roller tray halfway with paint.

Use the ½” roller sleeve on rough walls or the ⅜” roller on smoother surfaces. Dip the roller into the paint and “roll it out” on the grooved surface of the paint tray to remove excess product.

  • “Cut” in the perimeter of the walls with the 2 ½ “ brush.
Image from Canva


Ensure the cut is at least 6-inches wide to avoid hitting the ceiling when you roll the walls.

  • Start rolling the paint in narrow “W” patterns.

Begin at least one foot below the ceiling line or one foot above the trim in skinny patterns in the shape of a “W.”

Maintain a wet edge as you paint and roll from the line you just painted. Make sure the “rolled lanes” overlap by a few inches to ensure complete coverage.

Image from Canva

Pro Tip: Don’t push the roller too hard on the wall; you’ll get heavy lines. Let the roller do the work.

  • Lightly sand the walls with 220 grit in between coats.
  • Slowly remove the tape when the paint is fully dry.
  • Replace switch plate and outlet covers.
  • Clean your tools.
  • Wait a few days to return the hanging art and pictures.
  • Put the room back together.

Now You Know How to Prep Walls Like a Pro

You started a search to learn how to prep walls for painting.

You wanted to get past all the noise and distractions to find your answers.

You found your answers here! No noise. No distractions. Just pure knowledge.

Now you know how to prep walls for painting plus a few pro tips to make the job easier.

Take pictures and share them on social media.

You can be proud of what you’ve achieved.

Do you have more walls to paint? Bring it on!!

Image from Canva


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