Prepping the Room

This story points out all of the things that can be moved, covered or masked in order to prepare for painting a room.

If you really want to make your paint job easy, empty the room. This, however, is often easier said than done. Many pieces of furniture are unwieldy and may be difficult to move without hiring help. And you have to find a place to put it. You may not have room elsewhere in the house. The best solution often is to move it to the center of the room and cover it with plastic or tarps.

Make any repairs necessary, especially those, like sanding damaged areas and sawing replacement trim, that will raise dust. Thoroughly vacuum or mop the floor and wipe the baseboards and woodwork clean. Cover the floor with plastic sheeting, and fasten the edges to the floor with duct tape. Lay cloth tarps over the plastic.

Turn off the power to any outlets or fixtures. Remove all light fixtures, switch and outlet plates, heat registers, towel rods -- anything that you would have to paint around. Tag each item with its location and tape screws and mounting hardware to the mounting plates so all the pieces are in one place. That way you won't have to hunt for them or buy replacements when you go to reinstall them. Stuff electric wiring into the boxes to get it out of the way.

Before you take down window treatments, make sure you know how they are attached to the wall. Draw a diagram, if necessary, then put the parts in a plastic bag. As you remove small items, put them into plastic bags and label the bags by room. Tape the bags to a windowpane with masking tape -- this keeps the bags off the floor and prevents the small parts from getting lost or broken.

In some cases, you can loosen the canopy of a ceiling fixture and slide it down from the ceiling and still leave the fixture in place. You can then tape the fixture with plastic trash bags for protection. Never unscrew a fixture from its box and allow it to hang by its wires.

Ceiling fans must come down. Cover outlets and switches with duct tape to shield them from paint and moisture.

Make your cleanup easier by lining a trash can with several bags. When one bag is full, remove it, and you have another ready and waiting. Then, when you've finished painting the room, toss the disposable drop cloths, disposable brushes, steel wool, and all other debris onto the plastic sheeting on the floor and roll it into a ball for easy disposal.

Masking light fixtures and outlet plates often won't keep paint off them and painting around fixtures leaves brush marks on the wall. So turn the power off and remove the fixtures. Tape the mounting screws to the back and stuff the wires into the box. You can then paint across the area without interruption.

Safety First: Turn off the power

Before you remove light fixtures and other electrical devices from the room, turn off the power at the breaker. Put a piece of tape over the breaker so someone else in the family doesn't inadvertently turn it back on.

Create a Doorway

Preparing for a paint job can create a lot of dust, and you'll want to keep it from migrating into other areas of the house. Even with a closed door, dust can escape. To help keep the dust contained, attach plastic sheeting over the doorway to act as a seal. Cut an opening in the sheet for exit and access.

  1. Tape the plastic over the door, leaving a 12- to 18-inch fold in the center of the sheet. Slit the sheet vertically to make two flaps. Seal the flaps with spring clamps.
  2. Set a small rug or carpet sample on the floor outside the room. It will help keep you from tracking dust with your shoes.

Protect switches and outlets

Protect switches and outlets by masking them with blue painter's tape.

Move it or cover it

"Move it" or "cover it" are the key words in preparing a room for paint. If you can't get the furniture conveniently into another room, put it in the center and cover it with plastic. This will leave you with a clear passageway along the walls.

Deal with dust

Blow it out: If the room has a window, open it and prop a box fan in place so it blows out. This will evacuate a lot of the airborne dust. Remove the screen or it will act as a barrier and send the dust back to the room.

Wrap the registers: Prevent the spread of dust by removing any heating, cooling, or ventilation registers in the demolition room. Wrap them in plastic wrap and replace them.

Don't hide the hardware holes

It doesn't take much paint to cover the holes made by mounting screws for curtain hardware, and if you hide the holes, you may have to go through all the original steps of locating and hanging the hardware. To eliminate this annoyance, stick matches into the holes so they stick out. Paint around them, and when you get ready to remount the screws, snap them off even with the wall. The matchsticks will keep the screws tight.


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