Interior Prepping Guide

A properly prepped room is the foundation of a quality paint job and the key to Color Theory Success.

Tools and Sundry Check List:

  • Caulk and Caulking Gun 
  • Putty Knives (1in-6in)
  • 5 in 1 tool
  • Fast ’n’ Final
  • Joint Compound
  • Joint Tape
  • Drywall Screws
  • Sanding Block
  • Frog Tape
  • Screwdrivers
  • Large Zip Lock Bags
  • Pole Sander
  • Dust Mop
  • TSP Alternative
  • Sponge or Rags
  • Plastic

Prep Steps:

1) Caulking

You’ll need a bucket of water and a rag, a caulking gun and a tube of caulk.

2) Wall Repair

Use an appropriate sized scraping tool and putty knife, scrap drywall and drywall screws, fiberglass mesh tape and joint compound.

3) Fill Nail Holes

You’ll need an appropriate sized putty knife, usually 1”-3”, and Fast ’n’ Final.

4) Remove Face Plates 

You’ll use a swivel flat head screw driver and philips head screw drive to remove switch plates and place them in a sturdy bag and place the screws in sealable container.

5) Masking

Typically, we’ll use 1” Frog Tape for most surfaces although, wider tape or other types of tape may be used for certain areas.

6) Plastic and Paper

Use plastic and paper to cover furniture and protect large surfaces from getting paint spatter on them.

7) Pole Sand & Dust

Using a regular telescoping pole attach a pole sander with either sand paper or mesh paper.  Attach the Duster to the same pole.


Caulking has a few uses for interior prep that shouldn't be skipped. For the sake of time use a fast drying latex caulk. Load the tube into the caulking gun and snip the tip of the tube at an angle so that only a small hole is created. Carry with you a bucket of water with a rag for smoothing the caulk and keeping your fingers clean. Areas that need caulking include cracked seams between trim and walls, areas where previous paint has bled onto trim not being painted and small cracks in walls. To apply the caulk squeeze the trigger of the caulking gun and glide the device along the cracked area, working short sections at a time and applying an even bead. Then with a wet finger smooth the caulk down into the seam, then remove any excess with the rag. Then wipe of your finger and the tip of the caulking tube with the wet rag. Tip: use nitrile gloves to protect your finger from getting raw or blistering. 

Wall Repair

Wall repairs of different sizes and from different causes require slightly different methods of execution. When in doubt consult a supervisor or research methods online that may fit your scenario. In general, the first step is to scrape out the damaged area with a five in one tool or scraper. For severe damages cut out the drywall gypsum board with a drywall saw until the wall studs are visible. For smaller damages scrape away only loose pieces of paint and drywall. Then determine whether a scrap piece of drywall, metal mesh patch or joint compound will fill the hole. For large repairs cut the scrap piece of drywall to size, then screw it into the revealed studs. Tape the seams with self adhesive mesh drywall tape and cover it with two to three coats of joint compound allowing each coat to dry overnight. 

When using the metal mesh patch, hold the piece up to the wall and use a razor blade to cut an outline of the square. Peel off the paper layer of the drywall bored and stick the mesh patch to the area. Cover with one or two coats of joint compound. For smaller damages fill with two layers of joint compound, allowing 24 hours to dry and sand between coats or for plaster walls, use a coat of plaster of Paris followed by one or two coats of joint compound. In each case, wait 24 hours between coats and sand smooth between each coat until surface is smooth and uniform,   

Filling Nail holes

In most cases, filling small nail holes is the majority of wall damage we'll need to worry about. Using a flexible 1-3" putty knife and fast n final spackling meticulously survey each wall for small nail holes or remove any nails and screws existing in the wall. Using the back end of the putty knife, indent the wall where the small hole is. Apply a small amount of fast n final to your knife and spread the spackling over the hole. Wipe away excess with the putty knife leaving a smooth area where little to no sanding is required. For some holes you may need to apply an additional coat of fast n final to account for shrinking. 

Remove Faceplates

Using a swivel flat head screw driver or Phillips screw driver remove the faceplates from the switches and receptacles. Put them in a sturdy bag or bucket and put the screws in a sealable container. This prevents loss of the small screws. You may want to place tape over receptacles to prevent accidentally painting them. When putting them back on make sure the screw driver slot is vertical.  During this phase also remove window blinds and window treatments.


Taping or masking is the key to straight lines and protecting surfaces not to be painted. We use high quality frog tape for most of our taping applications or 3m blue painters tape for protecting surfaces. Before taping make sure the surface is dust and oil free in order to ensure proper adhesion. Make sure all caulking is dry. Working about two feet at a time stretch the tape across the trim. Adjust the tape to make it straight as necessary, then press your finger along the tape to secure. Try not to tear the tape until the end of a section. When you do need to break the tape line, begin again by over lapping by one inch. Common order of painting is either top to bottom: ceilings, walls, trim or; walls last: trim, ceilings, walls. Whichever order, make sure the entire team is on the same page. For the top to bottom method, paint the ceiling and walls without tape and the put the tape along the walls and floors. For the walls last method, tape along the floors and then paint the trim and ceilings. Then put tape on the trim after it's dried over night. Pull off tape as soon as the surface has gotten is second coat to prevent peeling. Use a razor to remove fragmented pieces. 

Plastic and Paper

Plastic and paper is used to cover and protect large items like furniture, hardwood floors and counter tops. In most cases reusable drop clothes are sufficient. However when painting a ceiling or when surfaces are especially new or expensive cover them with plastic. Use the 3M hand masker to run 12" paper along the baseboards to protect from spatter or when spraying. Use the 3M hand masker and plastic for windows or mirrors.

Pole Sand and Dust

The final step is to pole sand and dust. The pole sander attaches to the telescoping pole and is a efficient way of sanding down the wall in preparation to paint. The purpose is two-fold: smooth rough surfaces and de-gloss high sheen surfaces for better adhesion. When this step is skipped the walls are noticeably rough. Pole sanding may also need to be done between coats. Using the dusting attachment, dust the walls to ensure adhesion. For walls that are in poor condition and have dirt or grease on them it is important to wash them using a tsp or tsp alternate solution. Then allow to dry. 

You are now ready to paint!

Check your work
A paint job is really only as good as the prep work gone into it. Make sure to double check your work to see if you've missed anything because you won't want to go back and attend to any missed areas. Fixing is always harder than preventing. Let your supervisor know you are ready to begin the next task. 

Track your progress
Make sure that as you go from room to room or task to task that you are tracking your time in the time sheet application. This will ensure you are accurately paid for what you are doing and can help you to progress as a painter with greater earning potential.