preparation for internal painting

How to Prepare Surfaces For Interior Painting 

Mastering Surface Preparation: Interior Painting Guide!

Hey there, all you aspiring interior decorators, before you use colour to enhance your walls, it’s imperative to ensure the surfaces are well-prepared. Your project will turn out poorly in case you ignore this step.

To have a paint job that looks professional and lasts, you must start from the beginning.

Cleaning, repairing, and priming set up a makeover for success even if they might not be the most glamorous steps. With a little effort and the right techniques, your walls will be prepared to be painted in no time.

Use these techniques to get your surfaces ready for a lovely finish.

The Importance of Proper Surface Preparation for Painting

Proper surface preparation is key to achieving a smooth, professional-looking paint finish that will last for years. If you skip this step, your new paint job simply won’t look as good or adhere as well.

First, thoroughly clean the walls to remove any dirt or grime. Vacuum the area and wipe down the walls with a degreaser or trisodium phosphate (TSP) and water. Rinse well with water and let dry completely.

Next, patch any cracks, holes, or imperfections in the walls with filler or spackle and let dry as directed. Then sand the patches smooth with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit). You’ll also want to sand any rough surfaces or areas where the old paint has chipped.

Fill any gaps between trim like baseboards, window sills, and door frames and the wall with caulk, silicone sealant, or wood filler. Smooth with a moistened finger or tool.

Patching and Filling Holes and Cracks

filling holes and cracks

The key to a smooth paint finish is preparing your surfaces. Patching and filling any cracks, holes, or imperfections is crucial. Here are the steps to get your walls and ceilings ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Clean the Walls

First, wipe down walls to remove any dirt or grease. Use a degreaser if needed, then rinse well with water. Allow walls to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Inspect for Damage

Examine walls and ceilings closely for any holes, cracks, dents or water damage that need repairing. Mark problem areas with painter’s tape so you don’t miss any spots.

Patch Medium to Large Holes

For holes larger than 1/4 inch in diameter, you’ll want to use a drywall patch and compound. Clean out any loose material from the hole, then apply mesh tape over the hole. Spread drywall compound over the tape with a putty knife or drywall knife, feathering out the edges. Let it dry, then sand smooth. You may need to apply a second coat for the best results.

Fill Small Holes and Cracks

Use a vinyl spackle, plaster of Paris, or lightweight spackle to fill in hairline cracks, small holes and any imperfections less than 1/4 inch wide. Apply with a putty knife and feather out well with fine-grit sandpaper once dry. For tiny pinholes, you can also use a white toothpaste – just make sure to wipe away any excess once the hole is filled.

Sand and Clean

Lightly sand any patched or repaired areas to provide “tooth” for the new paint to adhere to. Wipe away all dust with a tack cloth or damp rag. Your walls are now ready for priming and painting!

Sanding Surfaces Smooth

Sanding surfaces smoothly is a crucial step for ensuring an even, professional-looking paint finish. Rough, uneven walls will make your fresh paint job look sloppy, no matter how carefully you apply the paint. Take the time to thoroughly sand and smooth out your walls and trim before painting—your efforts will show in the final results.

Clean and Patch First

Wipe down walls to remove any dirt or grease. Then fill in any holes, cracks, or imperfections with spackle or wall filler and let dry as directed. Lightly sand patch areas smooth when dry.

Start with a Low Grit

For most interior walls, begin with 150-grit sandpaper. Gently sand in small circular motions, blending patch areas into the surrounding wall surface. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth as you go. Move on to 220-grit for final smoothing.

Focus on Trim and Corners

Pay extra attention to sanding trim, corners, and edges. Round or bevel the edges of the trim for an ultra-smooth finish. Fill any gaps between the trim and walls before sanding.

Consider Power Sanders

For large, open walls or rough surfaces, power sanders can save time. An orbital sander is versatile and easy to control. Start with 150-grit, then switch to 220-grit. Wear a dust mask and eye protection.

Priming Bare Wood and Drywall Before Painting

primering the bare wood wall

Priming bare wood and drywall before painting is crucial for getting a smooth finish that lasts. Without priming, the paint won’t adhere properly and you’ll likely need extra coats to get an even look.


Sand any rough areas of wood to provide a “tooth” for the primer and paint to grip onto. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth. For large knots or repairs, apply a wood filler or putty and sand smooth. Prime the wood with a primer designed for the specific type of wood you have – like pine, oak or mahogany.

Oil-based primers work well for wood as they seal the surface and prevent stains from bleeding through. Apply at least one coat, waiting 2-3 hours between applications.


Inspect the drywall for any cracks, dents or imperfections and repair as needed with drywall compound or spackle. Lightly sand any repairs to provide adhesion for the primer.

Clean the walls to remove any dust before priming. For the best results, use a drywall primer which helps seal the porous surface and prevents flashing. Roll on at least one coat of primer, waiting 2-3 hours before adding another coat.

How to Prepare Surfaces For Interior Painting – Conclusion

So there you have it, the key steps to getting your interior surfaces ready for a fresh coat of paint. While it may seem tedious, putting in the work upfront will ensure you end up with results that make you proud each time you walk into the room.

Take your time cleaning, fixing any damage, sanding down rough areas, and filling in gaps—your patience will pay off.

Once your surfaces are prepped and primed, you can start painting. And when that first splash of colour goes up on the wall, you’ll be glad you didn’t cut any corners. Happy painting! The end result will make all the effort worthwhile.

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Advanced Painters

Advanced Painters are professional painters and decorators in the Home Counties. From exterior painting and rendering, to uPVC window spray painting and interior decorating, we produce high quality finishes that will transform the appearance of your property.

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