Surface preparation techniques

Surface preparation techniques

How well your paint job looks and complements the house depends on several factors; these include the paint itself, appropriate application, the right temperature, and proper materials. Its durability is, however, chiefly contingent on the thorough and correct preparation of the surface to be painted.

It doesn’t matter how technologically advanced your techniques are or how expensive your coats are; if the surface preparation was done incorrectly, incompletely, or both, your paint job will fail. When done well, painting your house should be a one-time activity, but if you fumble the process, you’ll have to redo the project. This wastes time and money.

To get it right the first time around, consider utilizing some of the surface preparation techniques outlined.

Interior surface preparation

To make the interior of your house positively glow, you’ll need to prepare the interior surfaces adequately. This involves typically cleaning them, ensuring they are free of grease, oil, dirt, or grime of any kind. Furthermore, a well-prepared surface is also dry, solid and free of imperfections and cracks.

The various ways to remove contaminants will depend on the surface you want to paint. Below are a few techniques based on possible surfaces you have in your home.

Bare wood

The excellent topcoat choice when it comes to bare wood surfaces would be easy-to-clean latex gloss or semi-gloss. However, before we prepare the finished surface, let’s look at a couple of initial surface preparation must-dos. Ensure to sand down the surface, leaving it smooth to the touch and the eye. Remove the sanding dust using a tack cloth. All nail holes, joints, and cracks ought to be filled using a patching paste. Patched areas and the rest of the bare wood will need priming with a decent primer.

Fresh plaster walls

Latex would be the ideal choice for the finished coat as it is easy to work with. Before you even think of applying paint, make sure the new plaster walls are entirely cured and are clean. Swirl-type or textured new plaster walls and powdery porous plaster should be treated using a vinegar solution of one-pint vinegar in a gallon of water. Repeat this treatment until the surface hardens, rinse using plain water, let it dry, and lastly, apply primer.

Fresh drywall

The panels need to be firmly glued or nailed in place. The panel joints can then be taped and filed prior to painting. If it happens that the joint cement and patching materials are too dry, sand and then smoothen them. Next, wipe away the sanding dust and apply the primer. Latex is also another good option to use on the completed coat.


Before you begin painting, ensure to remove all the wallpaper beforehand. There are two ways to do this; you could rent a steamer to remove the wallpaper or utilize a chemical wallpaper remover. Wash off the dated adhesive once the wallpaper is removed. Rinse the wall thoroughly with water and let it dry completely before priming.

Surfaces previously painted

When painting on previously painted surfaces, you will need to ensure the surfaces are free of buildup and are clean before you can think of priming. You will need to clear away any loose paint and powdery material. Use an appropriate cleaner to wash off grease, dirt, oil, and stain buildup. Rinse the surface well.

Use patching or spackling compounds to patch up cracks and holes. After which, let the surfaces dry before smoothening. Nonporous or glossy surfaces will require stripping using an abrasive cleanser or light sanding to give it a duller finish. Always ensure you remove cleanser residue or sanding dust before priming.

Masonry, cement, or concrete

New cement, masonry, or concrete surfaces have to be cured in accordance with the supplier’s recommendations. This period is usually around 30 days. Clear the surface of curing agents and form release. Smoothen rough surfaces to make them paintable. However, if you’re pressed for time and can’t wait the standard 30 days, let the surface cure for a week, and then use masonry primer.

Exterior surface preparation

When it comes to painting exteriors, preparation is the name of the game. For long-lasting, good-looking results, the prepared surface ought to be clean, dry, and solid. After preparation, consider the ambient atmospheric conditions. Painting after it rains, when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or during foggy weather is a definite no-no.

Surfaces previously painted

When it comes to surfaces that have been painted before, ensure to remove any contaminants first. You do this by washing the walls or surfaces with a proper cleaner, rinse with clean water, and then allow the area to dry up completely. Remove all the old peeling paint, and then scrape and sand the surfaces to make them smooth. Make sure to sand glossy areas until they appear dull. Smoke, ink, grease, pencil, or water stains can be covered with a primer-sealer.

Surfaces not previously painted or exposed to the initial surface

Surfaces that have been exposed down to their original state or haven’t been previously painted can be prepared as follows:

Wood, composition board, or plywood

Sand exposed wood to achieve an even surface, and then patch all holes and cracks with putty or a wood filler. After it dries, sand until the surface achieves smoothness — prime all areas, including the patched ones.

Galvanized steel and aluminum

Wash these surfaces to get rid of grease, oil, or other forms of surface contamination. Any corrosion should be removed. You can do this using steel wool, sandpaper, or any other abrading techniques.


Remove mill scale or rust using steel wool, sandpaper, or any other abrading techniques. It is worth noting that bare steel should be primed on the same day as the cleaning.

Vinyl siding

Use a warm, soapy scrub to clean these surfaces. You’ll need to rinse the vinyl siding afterward. A massive pro-tip to follow when painting on vinyl siding is to ensure you use a lighter shade of color than the original. Using a darker shade may lead to warping of the siding.


Using the techniques discussed, you can prepare your interiors and exteriors appropriately to ensure the final product is a work of art; it doesn’t matter if you’re a DIYer. All the techniques use the same principles, even if the methodology can vary from substrate to substrate. If the whole process seems easier said than done, then, by all means, contact the professionals, contact Painter Bros for a free estimate.