As Benjamin Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This is a wise quote that no painter can ignore. As tempting as it is to jump into a painting project, proper preparation is a priority if you want to achieve maximum results. This means that dirty, dinged and damaged walls must be repaired before you even start. Take the time to repair each crack, tear and nail hole.


Once that’s done, or if your walls are in good shape with no visible damage, you can prepare your room for painting in 7 easy steps.

  1. Dust and clean the walls. An inexpensive but efficient mixture of water and any light cleaning solution will do the job nicely. We suggest Dirtex, because it doesn’t leave any residue.  (Dirtex is also gentle on fresh paint, so you can use it after painting, too.) Dip a large sponge in your mixture and squeeze out the excess moisture. Then begin the walls, ceiling and baseboards, working in sections beginning at the top of the wall. Be aware of drips and wipe away excess water, if necessary. Be sure that the surface is dry before you paint it.
  2. Highlight wall flaws with light. Have you ever noticed that in the afternoon light the wall flaws are easy to spot? It’s embarrassing, isn’t it? To mark the spots, turn off the lights and close the drapes. Hold a bright light near the wall and move it across the surface in a raking motion. When you find an imperfection, mark it with a piece of tape. (Tape is better than pen or pencil, which can bleed through paint.) Then, repair each flaw using the following tips.
  3. Repair nail pops. The expansion and contraction of studs can push nails out of drywall. If you just resink the nail and add joint compound on top, the nail will eventually pop back out. To repair the problem forever, drive a 1-1/4 inch drywall screw about 2 inches above or below the popped nail. Once that is done, you can pull out the popped nail with a wide putty knife. Tap the empty nail hole with the putty knife handle to knock leftover drywall fragments into the wall. Cover the screw head and fill the nail hole with three coats of joint compound (more on this in Step 6).
  4. Repair and seal torn drywall paper. Accidents happen – the kids throw toys, chairs bump into walls and aggressive behavior can tear the paper on drywall. But simply adding joint compound will create a fuzzy texture. Begin by cutting away torn paper then seal the drywall with a stain-blocking primer. After it dries, sand the exposed drywall edges to remove paper nubs. Cover the damaged area with a thin layer of joint compound, feathering it out along the wall. If necessary, apply a second coat, feathering it as well. Wait for it to completely dry, then sand it smooth. Prime the area before applying paint.
  5. Cut out old glue strips. If you’ve ever glued anything to your walls like a mirror or paneling, you will find that the hardened glue strip damages your walls. If you try to pull it off, it will tear the drywall face and damage a larger area. Instead, score the paper around the glue strips with a utility knife, then scrape off the glue with a putty knife. The drywall paper will still tear but only on the area you scored. If there are areas where the glue is still stuck, use sandpaper to remove it. (Continue to Step 10 to finish.)
  6. Cut out wall cracks. As a home settles, cracks often appear around the door and window frames. Simply covering them with joint compound won’t repair them long term, but using a combination of joint compound and mesh tape will provide excellent coverage. To do this, protect door and window frames with painter’s tape. Using a utility knife, cut a V-shaped groove around the crack. Remove everything that is loose. Fill the groove with joint compound and let it dry completely. Sand it flush with the wall. Place mesh tape over the crack. Apply joint compound over the tape and feather it out 2 to 4 inches beyond each side of the tape. Let the compound dry and apply a second and third coat, feathering it out to 8 to 10 inches from the tape. (Continue to Step 10 to finish.)
  7. Replace lifted drywall tape. When an adequate amount of joint compound isn’t used on drywall finishing, it’s not uncommon for the tape to “lift”. Cut away the lifted area using a utility knife, going beyond the actual lifted area. Peel away the tape until you see the inner layers of the drywall. Fill the area with joint compound and let it harden. Embed mesh or paper tape to the area, going 2 to 3 inches beyond the damaged area on each side. Once it’s dry, apply a second coat of joint compound feathering beyond the repaired area. Lightly sand. (Continue to Step 10 to finish.)
  8. Fill holes, cracks, and gouges three times. Use spackling compound for small holes. For larger holes, use joint compound instead. Using a putty knife, fill the holes with a thin layer of the appropriate compound and allow to dry. To minimize sanding, avoid overfilling. Compound shrinks as it dries so apply two additional coats, letting it dry between applications. Consult the directions for actual drying time. Regardless of what the label says, you will have to sand between coats. A light sanding is all you need if you’ve followed the directions and applied only a thin layer. After the final application, use a fine grit sandpaper to finish. (Continue to Step 10 to finish.)
  9. Block stains with special primer. Stubborn stains like crayons and markers don’t wash off easily. You can try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser dipped in water to remove the stain. If that doesn’t work, we recommend a special stain blocking primer Zinser All Prime stain kill primer.  Apply the primer with a roller so that the texture matches the rest of the wall.
  10. Prime all repaired areas before applying paint. Now that you have repaired the gouges, cracks and nail holes, use a roller to apply Motor City Paint’s Pro V8000 primer/sealer.  Primer seals the repair work and prepares the walls for a seamless coverage of paint.

Preparing your walls prior to painting is essential. For long-lasting results, it pays to invest the time, money and effort.

When you have questions about painting or preparations, visit any one of our three stores in Rochester Hills, Grosse Point or Shelby Township and speak to anyone of our highly-trained designers. We are open 7 days a week to serve you.

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