Preparing To Paint Your Home Interior

Preparing the wall before you paint your home interior

by Phi Dang - September 14, 2020

Wanting to paint your home interior? One of the most important steps for your house painting project is preparation. Before you start applying paint to walls, you will need a few simple preparations first.  Preparing before painting will give the paint a more polished and professional finish.  It will also help the paint lasts longer so it is well worth the effort.

Learn to paint your home interior like a pro with Newline Painting’s expert advice! 

Preparing to Paint Your Home Interior

Make sure you have all the right equipment and tools.

What you will need:

  • Filler and filling knife
  • Masking tape
  • Selley’s Sugar Soap
  • Sponge
  • Sandpaper
  • Scraper
  • Paintbrush (60mm)
  • Drop cloth

1. Clean the area before painting

Moving all your furniture and items to the centre of the room before you paint your home interior

For the best finish, you have to start with a smooth, clean surface.   Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean an area for painting:

  • Remove all furniture, curtains, and wall hangings
  • Cover large pieces of furniture (that you cannot move) with a drop cloth
  • Vacuum and dust the surfaces. Use a long-handled duster to reach ceilings and walls.  Use a step ladder if necessary
  • Wash surfaces with Selley’s Original Sugar Soap to remove stubborn dirt, grime, and grease marks

2. Get rid of mildew and mould before you paint your home interior

Do not paint over mildew and mould as it will grow back.  Mildew tends to be white, grey, or yellowish.  It has a powdery and fluffy texture.  Mould, on the other hand, tends to be black, brown, or green.  Its texture is slimy and fuzzy.  Both are harmful to your health and can significantly damage your property.   

When treating mould or mildew, protect yourself with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and make sure that there is adequate ventilation during and after the process.

Try our homemade removers that do not contain any harmful compounds (like bleach):

Mildew remover

Mix 2 tsp borax with ½ cup white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Spray liberally on affected surfaces.  Leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse with clean water.  Leave to dry completely.

Mould remover

Combine one-part water with an equal part white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Spray liberally on affected surfaces.  Leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse with clean water.  Leave to dry completely.

Tough black mould remover

Rub affected areas with baking soda paste (made from baking soda and white vinegar) Leave for 30 minutes.    Rinse with clean water.  Leave to dry completely.

3. Prepare glossy surfaces for painting

Paint cannot adhere to glossy, shiny surfaces.  You will have to sand it down first to remove its gloss.   Before you start sanding, always clean the surface first to remove any surface dirt and grime.  Sandpaper with fine-grit such as #180 or #220 is brilliant for sanding interior walls and surfaces

You can use a chemical de-glosser if you do not like sanding, but you must read the instructions carefully and conduct a spot test before you start.  When using chemical compounds, always ensure you have good ventilation and wear personal protective equipment.

4. Prepare bare timber for painting

Check for mildew and mould.  Clean the surfaces properly.  Fill in any holes or gaps with fillers (Read our section below on fillers).  If the wood surface is rough, you must sand it down first before you paint.  A medium grit sandpaper #100 or #200 is excellent for preparing bare timber.  To achieve a smoother appearance, sand it again with a fine-grit sandpaper.   Wipe away dust with a dry rag.

Prepare bare wood before you paint it

If the timber surfaces are not stained, you can try using the method below to achieve a smooth appearance:

  • Apply a thin film of water to the wood with a damp rag
  • Leave to dry for 30 minutes to raise the grain of the wood
  • Sand with a fine garnet sandpaper
  • Apply stain-blocking acrylic paint primer. Dry overnight
  • If staining is still evident, you can apply a second coat of primer
  • After the primer is dried, you can gently sand the surface with fine grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother surface
  • Always wear PPE and ensure adequate ventilation when using primers

5. Prepare unpainted surfaces for painting

All unpainted surfaces must be sanded smooth, dusted, and cleaned before you paint your home interior.  Apply an acrylic sealer or undercoat before painting.  Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before use.

New plaster

New plaster must be dried thoroughly before it can be painted.   Depending on the amount of patching done and the weather conditions, the area may take anything from one day to a week to dry.  Always clean the surfaces before you apply an oil-based undercoat or acrylic sealer.  Be sure to wear PPE when handling compounds.


Tiles have to inspected, repaired, and cleaned before painting.  Wash the tiles with washing detergent and warm water.  Treat and remove all mould and mildew.  Dry completely.  You can also lightly sand the tile surfaces with a fine aluminium oxide sandpaper #220 to achieve a smoother surface for painting.  Always clean the area before you apply any primer.  Wear appropriate PPE and make sure there is plenty of ventilation when you are preparing or painting surfaces.

6. Prepare previously painted surfaces for repainting

Inspect for cracks, peeling, flaking or loose paints.  Depending on the amount of damage, you can use any one of the following methods below:

Scraping – is a traditional method and is suitable for most flat surfaces from plaster to wallboard to wood and ferrous materials.  Use a triangle-shaped scraper for maximum results around corners and curves.  When scraping, take extreme care not to damage, gouge or score the surface.  Finish by sanding off with medium grit sandpaper.  Dust and clean the surface before painting.

Brushing – A wire or bristle brush can be used to loosen and remove old paint.  Take care not to damage the substrate when brushing.  We recommend using a stiff bristle brush rather than a wire brush for this purpose.  Always finish by sanding with medium grit sandpaper.  Dust and clean the surfaces before painting.

Filling – Refer to Section 8 below for full instructions

Sanding – is effective if the surface paint is already slightly flaky. Sand the papers with progressively finer grit sandpaper starting with coarse, then medium and finish with fine grit.

Chemical paint removers – You can use chemical paint removers to speed up the task.  Please read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before you attempt any chemical paint removers on surfaces.

7. Prepare wall-papered surfaces for painting

We recommend that you remove all traces of wallpaper and adhesives before you paint your home interior.  If you paint directly over old wallpaper, you may have curling, staining or uneven surface problems.

To remove wallpaper, soak, scrape or steam the wallpaper.  Scrub off any glue, rinse and dry thoroughly.  Repair all gouges, cracks, and uneven surfaces before painting.

Painting over wallpaper

If you absolutely must paint over wallpaper, here are some tips to help you:

  • Check for loose pieces of paper and open seams. Re-glue these problems.
  • Conduct a test on a small inconspicuous part of the room to see if the paint looks good over the wallpaper. Include a seam as your test area.
  • Apply an oil-based, stain-blocking primer. Use PPE and ensure adequate ventilation when handling primers
  • Leave to dry overnight
  • Inspect for staining or discolouration after drying
  • Apply a second coat if necessary
  • Apply a layer of test paint to a small area and allow it to dry completely
  • Inspect the test site. If you are happy with it then apply a second layer of paint and allow to dry again.
  • Only paint the entire room if you are completely satisfied with the final appearance.

8. Use filler to smoothen surfaces before painting

Remove flaky paint from surfaces before you paint your home interior

For a smoother, professional finish to your walls, use a filler.   Here are some simple tips about fillers

  • Clean and dry the surface. Scrape away loose paint or plaster before you paint your home interior.
  • If there are unstable edges in holes, or if the holes are large, use a self-adhesive patch to repair the damage before using filler
  • Apply a layer of filler over the area; making sure to cover all holes and cracks as you go
  • Spread the filler across the area in multiple directions. Once the entire area is covered, use a single downward stroke to remove access filler
  • A quick wipe with a damp sponge before the filler dries can smooth out the surfaces and you may not need to sand it after drying
  • When dried, inspect the surface. Sand to remove any unevenness.  Clean and dust before painting
  • Selleys Plastic Wood or Selleys No More Cracks Wood Filler is great for interior timber. Spakfilla Rapid is highly recommended for plasterboard and hard plaster.  No More Gaps Multipurpose is best for architraves and curves

9. Use masking tape to protect surfaces you don’t want to paint

Masking before you paint your home interior can make the job easier and faster.  Here are some useful tips on masking:

  • Cover any areas you don’t want to paint with masking tape (for example, light switches, window trims and so forth)
  • Push the edges of the masking tape down firmly to ensure even edges
  • Remove masking tape at a 45% angle before the paint dries completely
  • If the paint has dried before you can remove the masking tape, gently lift the tape with a fine blade

We use ScotchBlue TM Painters Tape.  Find the right tape for your surface on their website here.

The nine tips above are what professional painters do when they prepare your interior for painting.  Follow these steps to get the same polished appearance.  You will love the final results.

Need some expert advice you cannot find in our blogs for preparing to paint your home interior?  Drop us a line here and we will answer your questions.

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