how to6 min read

How to prep a room for painting

Woman is painting a wall with paint roller using Lick paint

WordsMaha Elley


As they say: fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. When it comes to painting walls, this couldn’t be any truer. Learn how to prep a room for painting and you’re guaranteed a much smoother finish. Investing a little more time and care at the start is more than worth it.

Get one step closer in your quest to paint like a pro by getting to grips with how to prepare a room for painting, and the prep required for painting different internal surfaces. Read on for our guide on how to do it and what to watch out for.

What you'll need to prep your walls for painting

First, get your preparation tools together. You’ll need: 

  • Soap 
  • Sponge, gloves, and a bucket 
  • Stripping knife 
  • Filler and filling knife
  • Protective sheets 
  • Sandpaper

How to prepare a room for painting

Got everything you need? Get started with the following steps: 

1. Make space

Remove as much of your furniture as you can. If it’s too heavy to lug too far, move it to the center of the room and cover it up with our protective and eco-friendly sheets so you can focus on transforming your space.

2. Inspect your walls for any damage

Start by inspecting your walls carefully. Spot any holes and cracks? You'll want to fill those in to ensure the wall has an even surface. Get a smoother finish by prepping your walls with our 3-piece wall repair kit.

3. If there is damage, repair it

Clean any gaps with soapy water (and rinse) before filling them in carefully. Push filler in carefully using your filling knife until you’re satisfied with the evenness.

Leave to dry before smoothing down with sandpaper.

4. Sand

Tackle any flaky plaster or peeling paint by sanding with fine sandpaper. For the most beautiful finish, you want your paint surface to be as smooth and even as possible.

5. Clean your walls

Make sure your walls are clean before paint application. Pop your gloves on and clean surfaces using soap and water.

Note: do not use sugar soap

6. Let the walls dry

Give the walls a final wipe down with a damp sponge to get rid of any traces of soap and leave to dry (thoroughly).

7. Clean up any mess

Created a bit of a mess during all your prep work? It happens. Clean it all up to give yourselves ample working space. 

8. You're ready to paint!

You're all prepped. Time for the fun part! Learn how to paint a wall by reading our how-to guide.

Watch our tutorial below

Top tips for prepping different wall surfaces for painting

How to prepare new plaster for painting

  • Fresh plaster is porous. Porous surfaces are thirsty surfaces, and if you paint onto porous surfaces without any prior treatment, then the first coat of paint will get heavily absorbed (potentially unevenly), requiring more paint and more work to get a consistent finish.
  • For fresh plaster, we always recommend that you use a primer before you start your paint job. Alternatively, you can use a “mist coat” as the first coat for your wall.
  • A mist coat can be prepared by taking Lick paint and diluting it by 30% (so for every 700ml of Lick paint, you would add 300ml of water). The mist coat can then be applied and left to dry over a couple of hours, after which you'll be ready to crack on with painting your walls with 2 coats of undiluted paint.

How to prepare a gloss/ high sheen surface for painting

As gloss/ sheen can be a really difficult surface for a multi-surface paint like ours to adhere to, we’d recommend:

  • A really thorough sand so that none of the sheen/ gloss is left
  • Clear away any dust with a warm, wet cloth and let this dry
  • As our paint is self-priming, you can then paint over

How to prepare walls after removing wallpaper

  • Working on a previously wallpapered surface? Peel-able wallpaper is easy to get rid off (the hint is in the name), but wallpaper hung with paste can be slightly trickier to remove. Take it off carefully using a stripping knife, taking extra care not to damage the plaster behind.
  • If a few scraps of wallpaper are holding on for dear life, soak with a sponge and hot water to soften before stripping. Finish off by sanding lightly with a fresh piece of sandpaper.

Read our article on how to paint over wallpaper for more information.

How to prepare a brick wall surface for painting

  • You can use either our Interior or Exterior paint for a brick surface. We suggest our Interior paint, as it has a faster drying time.
  • Just like freshly plastered walls, masonry can be porous and therefore will soak up paint on the first application and could lead to an uneven finish and peeling if not sealed.
  • You'll need to apply a mist coat by thinning some of the paint with 70% water (i.e. 7 part water for every 3 parts paint).
  • Do one coat in the mist coat and allow it to dry before painting two coats with the rest of the undiluted paint.
  • If you would prefer to use a primer paint rather than a mist coat, we recommend using Zinsser 1-2-3 Bulls Eye Primer Sealer as a high-quality primer.