The Importance of Proper Prep Work for Painting

Aug 5, 2023 | Home Improvement

The Importance of Proper Prep Work for Painting: With the explosion in self-help construction blogs and how-to videos, there has been a renaissance in DIY home renovation in recent years. From siding replacements to flooring upgrades, there is no limit on what homeowners are attempting on their own these days. To this effect, painting is one of the most common projects homeowners feel comfortable trying their hand at. Whether or not a DIY paint job is advisable depends greatly on the preparation. For a more detailed look at this topic, keep reading for a detailed breakdown of the importance of proper prep work for painting!

Prep Work Promotes Worker Safety and Efficiency

The Importance of Proper Prep Work for Painting - Safety

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The most important factor in prep work before painting is how it can positively impact workers.

By having all brushes, rollers, hand tools, paint removers, ladders, buckets, PPE, tape, drop cloth, and anything else necessary to complete the job organized and readily at hand, workers can focus on painting. They won’t have to run back and forth trying to locate items or perform emergent tasks part-way through the job. Site preparation is also critical to accounting for and removing any hazards that could put workers’ safety at risk during the job. 

Preparation Protects Items and Surrounding Areas

Although the potential of paint to positively transform an area is undeniable, it has a way of getting places it shouldn’t. Whether it is residual from a sprayer or droplets off the end of a brush, expect some paint to end up in unexpected places. 

Therefore, it is crucial to prepare the area to avoid any issues fully. Clear the area of any furniture or other portable items. Remove all photographs, posters, or other items hanging on the walls. Tape off the corners between the walls and ceilings or between any interior stone veneer facades and the area to be painted. 

It is also important to discuss the drop fabric’s role in this area. Although it is critical to cover the floor as part of the preparation process, be careful of the material selected. Plastic is a popular material due to its durability and affordability. Still, it can create disposal issues and is difficult to reuse. 

As such, many people like using old cardboard boxes. This is a more environmentally friendly option, as it repurposes cardboard. The cardboard is also recyclable if it is not too badly stained with paint. However, cardboard is easily damaged by ladders and foot traffic and can slide around during use. It is also not a good choice for large exterior projects. 

Canvas drop cloths balance the concerns of both options, but they can allow some paint to get through to the floor if heavily soaked. As such, many professionals choose a canvas-backed plastic liner, but you should determine which material is best for you, given the size and scope of your project.

Paint Prep Reveals Underlying Structural Issues

Painting should never be used as a masking agent. It should only be applied to good-conditioned surfaces and well-prepared to receive a fresh coat. 

As such, surface preparation is critical in helping reveal any underlying structural issues that the previous layer of paint may have been concealing. For example, some drywall corner bead types, such as metal, can become dented and cause a wavy, distorted appearance when painted over. Properly scraping and stripping the old paint from the surface will help reveal these issues and allow for the proper renovation before applying the new paint.

Prepping the Area Provides a Smooth, Professional Finish

Surfaces have a way of acquiring debris over time. Whether it’s mud or bird excrement on exterior walls, food, and grease in the kitchen, or any other type of particle that adheres to the surface, you don’t want to try and paint over them. Even if the area looks clean, there are probably small droplets that the untrained eye cannot see. If painted over, these particles will cause an eyesore if they ever break away on their own.

Therefore, cleaning the surface before painting is important to achieve a smooth, professional finish. Power washing exterior walls is a great idea, while scraping or gently scrubbing interior surfaces is the way to go. 

Ensures Better Adhesion

The paint does not adhere to all surfaces equally. It will bond differently to wood than it will masonry. Likewise, it will bond differently to the surface substrate than to old paint.

As a result, it is vital to properly prepare the surface to guarantee that the new paint adheres to the surface at its fullest capacity. In addition, it helps ensure that the fresh coat of paint ages consistently and will not be undermined by old paint that cracks and peels before the rest of the painted area. 

Helps Achieve the Desired Color

Without the proper preparation, the color on the can is not always the color you will get when applied. For example, it is common knowledge that you should never try to paint a dark wall a light color without removing the old paint. Even then, the new wall will probably require multiple coats to achieve the desired effect.

In addition, the difference between some paint colors is extremely subtle.* For example, those looking for an off-white wall may choose between a white dove or Swiss coffee paint color. While they look similar at first glance, the former will be the better choice for reflecting natural light to create a bright interior. At the same time, the latter will provide a bit more of an earthy feel that gives an interior a more homey vibe. Without proper preparation, capturing the subtle differences between the colors can be very difficult, if not impossible. 

Start Prepping Today To Ensure a Successful Paint Job

Proper preparation can differentiate between a first-class outcome and a failed painting project. Sometimes, homeowners simply don’t have the resources to perform the proper preparation independently. Therefore, if you are in the Rocky Mountain region and need some paintwork on your house, contact Robinson Painting of Colorado for a consultation today!

Andrew Wesley is a freelance writer that loves sharing his knowledge and expertise on roofing projects and materials. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he enjoys spending time with his wife and working on projects in his spare time. Andrew’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a new construction industry resource site. 

* Regarding Paint Colors (White Dove vs. Swiss Coffee): While there can be subtle differences between similar paint colors and how they reflect light or convey mood, this is subjective. Different brands may have slightly different tints and shades named “White Dove” or “Swiss Coffee.” The described attributes (bright interior vs. a more homey vibe) might vary based on brand and specific setting.


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