Ready, Set, Paint! Room-by-Room Checklist for Paint Prep

Preparation is crucial before beginning any interior painting project. Proper prep work helps ensure the paint adheres properly for a smooth, durable finish. Skipping key painting prep steps can lead to problems like peeling or chipping paint.

In this article, we provide a detailed room-by-room checklist of tasks to complete before you dip those paint brushes. We also include some uncommon but valuable tips from Ibby, lead painter at Painters Parramatta, for getting your living spaces truly paint-ready.

Living Room Paint Prep

The living room is often one of the main rooms you want refreshed with a new coat of paint. Here’s how to prep your living space for flawless painting results:

  • Remove all furniture, artwork and objects from walls and floors. Cover larger furniture pieces that cannot be moved.
  • Take down curtains, blinds and window treatments. Remove switch plates, vents/registers, and lighting fixtures.
  • Fill any holes or imperfections with filler compound and sand smooth once dry.
  • Clean walls and trim thoroughly with TSP cleaner using a microfiber cloth. Rinse well.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off baseboards, crown moulding, door/window casings and any adjacent surfaces.
  • Cover floors with rosin paper, plastic sheets or tarps and tape down perimeter edges.
  • Patch test the new paint color in an inconspicuous spot before painting the entire room.

Ibby’s Pro Tip: “Don’t forget also to remove and thoroughly clean out existing vent and air return covers before painting a room.”

Kitchen Paint Prep

Painting the kitchen requires a bit more work to prep the space properly:

  • Empty all upper and lower cabinets completely and remove cabinet doors and drawers.
  • Take down pendant lights, under cabinet lighting, vent hood and backsplash tile if painted.
  • Clean inside and outside of all cabinet surfaces to remove grease and grime so new paint adheres.
  • Cover countertops, sinks and appliances with drop cloths or plastic sheeting. Mask off edges.
  • Fill any damaged drywall areas around sink cutouts or along soffits and sand.
  • Remove switch plates, outlet covers and window treatments. Clean walls and trim thoroughly.
  • Tape off cabinets, windows, doors and trim with painter’s tape for crisp paint lines.
  • Cover floors with rosin, plastic sheeting or tarps extending several feet from walls.

Ibby advises: “Degrease kitchen walls well with TSP or other degreasing cleaner and allow to dry before painting for best results fully.”

Bathroom Paint Prep

Painting your bathroom requires thorough prep, too due to the moisture and potential for mold and mildew issues:

  • Remove all towels and bathroom accessories like plungers, soap dishes, etc.
  • Take down the shower curtain and any window treatments. Remove all artwork.
  • Cover vanity tops, sinks and mirrors with plastic sheeting or rosin paper. Tape off the edges.
  • Empty all vanity cabinets and drawers. Remove cabinet doors/drawers and hardware.
  • Take down medicine cabinets. Patch any holes or imperfections in drywall and sand smooth.
  • Clean surfaces with mold killing cleaner like bleach solution or Concrobium. Allow to fully dry.
  • Remove outlet covers, switch plates, toilet paper holders and towel bars.
  • Tape off baseboards, mirrors, windows and trim. Cover floors and any remaining fixtures from paint splatter.

Ibby recommends: “Consider using mold-resistant bathroom paint for added protection from moisture and mildew issues.”

Bedroom Paint Prep

Prepping for a bedroom paint job involves many of the same steps as the main living areas:

  • Remove all furniture, artwork and accessories from walls and floors.
  • Take down curtains/blinds, ceiling fans and light fixtures. Patch any remaining holes.
  • Clean walls and trim well with TSP or other cleaner. Allow to fully dry.
  • Fill any imperfections in walls and sand smooth once dry.
  • Cover floors completely with tarps, rosin or plastic sheeting. Tape down perimeter edges.
  • Tape off baseboards, crown moulding, windows, doors and trim.
  • Inspect walls carefully and spot prime any stains before painting the entire room.

Ibby suggests: “Check walls carefully for lingering smoke odors and spot prime those areas twice with odor sealing primer before painting.”

Hallways & Ceilings

Hallways and ceilings both require prep too for the best painting results:


  • Remove wall hangings and artwork from hall walls and patch holes. Wipe down thermostat.
  • Clean walls and trim well using TSP or other cleaner with a microfiber cloth. Allow to fully dry.
  • Cover hard floors with rosin paper or plastic sheets. Use treads over carpet.
  • Tape off baseboards, door and window trim, ceiling line and any ventilation grilles.


  • Use a broom handle to push up tiles to check for loose areas and re-secure where needed.
  • Remove ceiling light fixtures and exhaust fans. Patch remaining holes.
  • Clean ceiling thoroughly – prime any stained areas. Allow primer and cleaner to dry fully.
  • Cover floors and tape off walls/trim to protect from paint drips and splatter.

Ibby recommends: “Most skip taping off ceilings, but it’s worth the extra protection to avoid the mess of paint splatters on walls and windows.”


Q: How should I prepare trim and molding before painting?

A: Clean thoroughly with TSP or other cleaner and sand lightly to rough up the finish. Use painter’s tape to mask off adjacent surfaces for crisp paint lines.

Q: What’s the best way to remove wallpaper before painting?

A: Use a wallpaper steamer to soften the adhesive, then gently scrape off paper with a putty knife. Clean off leftover adhesive residue with TSP and sand walls.

Q: Do freshly painted walls need to be primed first?

A: If painting a drastically different color, tint your primer to the new wall color for better coverage. For same or similar shade, you can probably skip priming.

Q: How long should I wait to paint after patching holes?

A: Follow product instructions, but typically filler compound takes 4-8 hours to dry fully before sanding smooth and painting.

Q: Can I paint over dirty walls or do they need washing first?

A: Always clean surfaces thoroughly before painting – wash walls with TSP, rinse and allow to fully dry for proper paint adhesion.

Q: What’s the easiest way to cover floors during painting?

A: Canvas drop cloths work well for covering large areas. Use plastic sheeting or rosin paper for protecting hard floors or border edges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *