Step 3: Prime

Priming before painting a room
Photo: David Carmack
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If walls and ceilings are bare plaster, coat with oil-based or all-purpose acrylic primer. Then prime bare, sanded woodwork to ensure good adhesion of the finish coats. It's not necessary to prime previously painted surfaces if they're in good condition.

Follow the basic application, distribution, and tipping steps outlined in "Technique." On doors and windows, follow the sequence detailed in "Paint by Number."

Allow primer to dry overnight, then sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. Clean up the dust with vacuum and tack cloth before applying final coats.

TIP: Before using a brush, saturate it with water (for latex paint) or paint thinner (for oil-based paint). Flex the bristles so the fluid can reach up into the brush's ferrule. Spin or tap the brush dry; it will be easier to clean, thereby extending its life.

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    Tools List

    • drill
      Cordless drill, for removing and replacing door and window hardware
    • paintroller
      Paint roller for painting walls and ceilings
    • paint pan
      Paint pan, for loading roller with paint
    • telescoping extension pole
      Telescoping extension pole with pole sanding head for reaching ceilings and the tops of walls without using a ladder
    • caulk gun
      Caulking gun, for filling gaps between the woodwork and wall
    • wire brush
      Brush, roller spinner, and wire brush, for cleaning brushes
    • nailset
      Hammer and nail set, for recessing nail heads
    • synthetic brush
      Synthetic-bristle brushes (2 ½-inch blunt, 1 ½-inch angled sash, "throwaways" for touch-ups), for painting molding, doors, and windows
    • putty knife
      Putty knife for applying spackling compound
    • five-in-one tool
      5-in-1 pinter's tool for cleaning roller covers
    • utility knife
      Utility knife,
      for cutting tip of caulk gun
    • window scraper
      Window scraper and razor blades, for removing paint from window glass
    • drywall sander
      Drywall sander, attaches to shop vacuum for sanding joint-compound patches
    • paint strainer
      Paint strainer, for removing impurities when paint is poured from can into pot
    • bucket
      Bucket, to fit with liners and hold paint
    • wetdry vac
      Wet/Dry Vaccum with broom attachment

    Shopping List

    1. PAINT

    one gallon typically covers about 350 square feet



    2. MASKING TAPE (1 1/2-INCH WIDE)

    for securing rosin paper to floor and protecting baseboard



    3. SILICON-CARBIDE SANDPAPER

    120-grit for bare wood or old paint; 220-grit for primer or between-coat smoothing



    4. LIGHTWEIGHT SPACKLING COMPOUND

    for filling holes and cracks in drywall and plaster



    5. DUST MASK

    for protecting lungs when sanding