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Prep Before You Paint

When the paint dries, these 10 steps will go unnoticed, but skipping one can blow a perfect finish

People often end up with less-than-satisfying results following a painting job because they failed to do the necessary prep work before they put brush to wall. Professional painter Jim Lacey notes the evidence of such jobs—peeling paint, mildew, and bleeding spots—and then lists 10 steps to take before starting to paint: Drop the entire room, organize and stage essential tools, light the space, remove wall and ceiling obstructions, wash down everything, assess the existing paint, repair any damage and fill any gaps, mask conservatively, prime walls but not ceilings, and give the wall a final sanding and cleaning. He also provides a list of 23 "must-have materials" for prepping a room to paint, from canvas drop cloths to auxiliary lighting.

Prep Before You Paint

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