Decorative Paint Techniques: Wall Preparation Instructions

From our online exclusive Decorative Paint Techniques with Danielle Hirsch of Color Splash. These simple wall-preparation tips will help ensure professional results.


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Materials and Tools:

TSP (optional)
liquid soap
spackling compound
5-in-1 tool or wide blade
latex caulk
220-grit sandpaper
latex primer
drop cloths (plastic and cloth) or sheets
blue painter's tape (with and without paper attached)
old paintbrushes or china bristle brushes
latex paint, eggshell sheen (Linen White) – Benjamin Moore
paint tray
paint roller and 3/8" roller cover


1. Remove all the accessories, artwork and furniture you can from the room. Move the rest to the middle, and cover it with plastic tarps for protection. Don't cover the floors with plastic as it can be very slippery. Use drop cloths or old sheets to protect them from splatters and drips.

2. There's a misconception that decorative paint finishes cover imperfections. While that's somewhat true, paint doesn't stick very well to dirty walls, so clean them with soap and water (or TSP) and rinse with water once done. Let dry overnight.

3. Fill holes with spackle using a five-in-one tool or wide blade and caulk where necessary. Sand dry spackle smooth, and prime each spot.

4. Removing outlet covers makes for a much neater paint job. Tape the screws to the cover, and tape over the outlet or light switch to keep paint from getting on them.

5. Use an old paintbrush or china bristle brush to dust baseboards, trim and crown molding before taping them off (use painter's tape with paper attached to protect the baseboards). Overlap seams by at least an inch to avoid seepage between pieces, and then seal the tape to the surface with your fingers or a rag.

6. Base-coat the walls. Let dry, and you're ready to start any painting project.

These simple tips will help ensure professional results, whether you're simply adding a new color to the wall or trying a cool decorative paint technique.

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