How to Paint Drywall

Cover Your Bases: Drywall Prep

Your paint job starts with cleaning the surfaces to be painted, probably walls or a ceiling. It's not a sexy job, but every wall and ceiling has plenty of dust, cobwebs and other dirt particles on it, even if they're not visible, and you don't want to be painting over them. The drywall in kitchens and bathrooms is especially prone to collecting dirt: oil, grease and food particles in the kitchen; hairspray, cosmetics and airborne shampoo particles in the bathroom. New drywall is extra dusty. You can clean most drywall easily with a vacuum or microfiber tack cloth, but do wash areas in your kitchen and bathroom with a household cleaner to make sure you pick up any grease, oil and heavier dirt [source: Glave].

Next, run painter's tape around the edges of all trim, casings and baseboards, and cover furniture with plastic cloth. Make sure to tape the plastic together where there are gaps so your furniture is totally covered; paint drops can make their way into the tiniest openings. Protect your floors with a professional grade drop cloth. Don't use plastic; spilled paint will puddle on it, creating a slipping hazard. Plus, you'll likely step in some of the paint drops at some point, then inadvertently track paint all over your house [source: DrywallFlorida].

With everything secure, apply a coat of primer. People often omit this step to save time and money, but that's unwise. Primer helps conceal drywall mud and tape, so it's especially critical if you're painting new drywall. And since new drywall soaks up a lot of paint, applying primer may mean you only need two final coats, not three. Quality primer is also essential if you're trying to cover a glossy finish, prevent the old color from bleeding through or seal any stains on your wall, including mildew and water [source: Calfinder]. Tint your primer to match your final color, unless it's a deep tone. In that case, tint it gray. You can't match a deep-toned paint by tinting white primer, because dark colors are created from a clear base, not a white one [source: Painting and Decorating Concourse].

Next, find out how to do a killer paint job.

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