Preparing to Paint Preparing to Paint

So, you've finally decided to bite the bullet and give your walls a new paint job. Now all that you need to do is go and get a few cans of paint, some brushes and rollers and get on with the upgrade. Well that may be all you need to do, but for most of us, getting ready to paint a room takes a little more preparation than that. Here's some ideas on preparing to paint:

Ensure you have the necessary tools and equipment. Of course you'll need brushes, rollers and paint but have you also considered that you'll need things such as:

  • 120 grit sandpaper to “rough up the walls” and some TSP (tri sodium phosphate) to clean them
  • An adjustable roller pole so you can easily reach the top of your walls (and the ceiling if that's part of your plan)
  • Drop cloths to protect your floors and furniture you can't move out of the room
  • A screwdriver to remove the covering plates from light switches and electrical outlets
  • Painters tape to protect your trim and allow you to do fine edging

It is also necessary to understand what type of paint is currently on your walls.

  • This is important because latex paint applied over alkyd (oil based) paint will likely peel off.
  • You can find out what kind of paint is on your walls by wetting a cloth with denatured or isopropyl alcohol and wiping a small wall section. If the paint comes off on the rag it's latex or acrylic; if it doesn't come off, the existing paint is oil based.
  • You can put latex paint over oil based paint if you apply a primer coat first.

How much paint do you need?

  • A gallon of paint covers approximately 350 sq. ft. on a smooth, previously painted wall, so you will need to calculate the square footage of your room.
  • Measure the height and length of each wall then multiply the two numbers together to calculate the square footage of each wall. Add the numbers for the four walls together to get the total square footage.
  • Next subtract 20 square feet for each door and 15 square feet for each average sized window from your total to get the actual square footage you need to cover.
  • Now divide the actual square footage of coverage by 350 to give you an estimate of the number of gallons of paint your paint job will require.
  • If your calculation says you need a part of a gallon round up to the higher number Buying a gallon of paint is usually less expensive than buying two quarts and it's always a good idea to have a quart or so leftover for touch ups.
  • Keep in mind covering a darker color with a lighter color will usually mean you will need multiple coats, so plan accordingly.

Learn How to Choose Interior Paint Colors >

Murray Anderson is a veteran freelance writer whose work has been appeared in books, newspapers and newsletters as well as on numerous web sites in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics including home, consumer, and personal subjects as well as general business and Marketing specific topics.

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