Preparation tips before painting | Norton Abrasives

Decoration is preparation

Top 7 tips for preparing your paint job

Man and woman preparing to decorate room

You’ve decided to take the plunge and start decorating. You’ve chosen your colour, you’ve bought the paint, you’re ready to go right?

Not so fast, have you completed all of the prep work? After all, decoration is preparation. It’s a phrase you may want to live by when starting a painting project; the moment paint hits the wall, it has a tendency to highlight any imperfections – holes, uneven plaster etc. – and ruin your new look. Time spent preparing your surfaces before painting can lead to a professional looking and longer-lasting finish; it really is worth it.

So what do you need and what should you do? Here are our checklist and top tips for how to prepare when painting a room.


  • Drop cloths / plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • Safety equipment – safety glasses, gloves, dust mask
  • Paint scraper / hand pad
  • Sandpaper – 80, 100 & 120 grit
  • Sanding block
  • Bucket and sponge
  • Paint brushes and rollers
  • Roller extension poll
  • Primer
  • Paint


Top 7 tips for decoration preparation success


Man and woman protecting room to paint

1. Protect your area

Before you start anything else, you need to get the room ready. Remove any furniture, use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect any floors or woodwork and apply masking tape to skirting boards and cornices to ensure a clean edge. It’s also a good idea to add masking tape to light switches and plug sockets too so no paint ends up where it shouldn’t be. Norton Bear tape can help at this stage, with different widths available depending on what you’re covering.


2. Inspection time

Your area is clear, you now need to inspect the surfaces. Is there any peeling paint left on the walls? Has any new plaster work blistered? Are there any holes in the walls from picture hooks? These things need to be fixed, but as they can involve dust, make sure you wear safety glasses, work gloves and a dust mask before you start. Keep the room well ventilated too.

Man filling in hole


Sanding a wall

3. Smooth operator

Scrape off any leftover paint with a paint scraper or hand pad (careful not to apply too much pressure and damage the wall) and sand down any lumps or bumps. If there are any holes in the wall, these need to be filled in. Any excess filler can be sanded down once dry using 80 or 100 grit sandpaper, 120 grit anti-clogging screenbak abrasive or a medium grit sanding sponge to leave a smooth finish. Norton Expert  has a wide range of sanding sheets and rolls to help you get the job done. When hand sanding large flat areas, you may want to use a rubber sanding block to support the sandpaper to make sure the sanding surface is completely flat or you may even want a sanding machine. 


4. Keep it clean

Once this prep work has been completed, it’s time to wash the walls with detergent or sugar soap and then rinse with clean water, leaving a clean and dust-free surface – this will ensure that nothing can spoil the finish. Ensure your cloth is damp not wet through so it doesn’t soak through the walls and make sure you leave the walls to dry out completely before going any further as any water left on the wall could cause bubbling in the paint.

Cleaning a wall


Tools to decorate a room

5. Tools for the job

As everyone knows, a bad workman blames his tools, so you’ll want to make sure you get the right ones to make the job go smoothly. When it comes to rollers, let the tool do the work. If you’ve chosen the right one, you don’t need to apply too much pressure. Invest in an extension poll for your roller to reach the tops of the wall or ceilings without hurting yourself. You can read our guide on choosing the right paintbrush depending on what you’re trying to achieve 


6. Prime time

It’s a good idea to use primer – check which one you need depending on your surface. Paint-and-primer combinations can be used if you’ve got a really smooth surface. But if there are any imperfections on the wall or it’s been eight years or more since the last time it’s been painted, it could be worth using a primer on its own to give you the best surface to work from. It’ll improve the way the paint sticks to the wall so it’s longer-lasting. Just ensure the primer’s fully dry before moving on to the paint so you don’t ruin your hard work.  

Add primer to the wall before painting


Top techniques - paint from the top down

7. Top techniques

You’re now ready to start painting. It’s a good idea to paint from top to bottom – this means painting ceilings first, then walls and then woodwork. But it also applies to the walls themselves; start at the top and work your way down. This will allow you to paint over any dribbles or blobs of paint that come from your roller or paintbrush to give you an even coat over the whole wall. If you decide to apply an undercoat, make sure you sand it down with a 120 grit before continuing on to colour to get a smooth finish.


Follow these tips and you’re sure to achieve a professional paint job. If you’re looking for the right sanding tools, we have a range of solutions to help you get the perfect finish. Check out our distributor locator to see where you can buy our products.