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How to Prep the Surface for Painting


If paint doesn’t have a smooth, clean surface to adhere to, it simply won’t look as good or last as long. Painters often spend as much time on surface prep as they do painting. You’ll notice that most of the steps are the same indoors and out, the few differences have been noted below.
  1. Inside: Remove outlet covers, wall heating vents, light fixtures, and other hardware.  Outside: If you’re not pressure washing, scrub the surface with a good detergent solution and a quality brush. Rinse the surface with clean water and allow it to dry.
  2. Next, remove any remaining flaking paint or rust with a hand scraper or wire brush.
  3. If you’re repainting over a semigloss or gloss paint, remove the gloss by sanding or the new coating may not adhere properly. The AeroSander™ works well to speed up this crucial step.
  4. Inside: Fill any cracks, chips, splinters, and nail holes with patching plaster, spackling compound, or wood putty, whichever is appropriate.  Outside: Fill any gaps or cracks with elastomeric caulk. Repair splinters in wood with putty. For stucco, use patching material.
  5. When dry, sand the patch lightly and feather any rough areas so they’re level with the rest of the surface. Spot prime to seal those areas. If you’re working on metal, sand the entire object.
  6. Wash with a good detergent solution to get rid of dirt and dust. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow the surface to dry completely. Using the Dust Eater™ is another way to be sure the surface is free of dust prior to painting.
  7. Tape off window frames or any areas that you don’t want painted or coated with a stain. (Note: Tape will help to avoid accidental messes, but it does not guarantee a sharp edge. Paint carefully; try not to touch the tape.)  Inside: When painting ceilings, cover the entire floor (and furniture) with drop cloths; for walls, cover the floor in front of where you’ll be painting.
  8. Use the proper primer on the entire surface if it is newly constructed, stained by water or smoke, prone to mildew, rusted, or aged. Your local paint store can recommend one. Primer helps paint go on smoother, adhere better, and last longer.