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Prepping My Dining Room For Painting

My toddler eating dinner in a partially completed dining room.
My toddler eating dinner in a partially completed dining room.


At the beginning of November, I realized that if I didn’t put my nose to the grindstone, I would be sitting down to a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner in my living room because I hated my partially completed dining room. So I got to work.

Since I had already pulled off the wallpaper, glue, and base moulding that had come with the house last winter, I finished prepping my dining room the first weekend of November to prime it the next weekend.

The materials I used to prep my dining room include:

Screw drivers (phillips and flathead)
Spackle paste
Sheetrock joint compound
Spackle knife
Plastic spoon
Old newspapers
Paper towels and/or rags
Bucket of warm soapy water
Sand paper
Painter’s tape (2 rolls)
Painter’s drop cloths (3 rolls)

Most of the materials came from either Home Depot or Walmart.

Remove everything from the room.
Removing everything from the room.

1) Remove everything from the room that isn’t nailed down or too heavy. That includes furniture, shelves, paintings, pictures, plants, nails, screws and their anchors (actually, I couldn’t remove two anchors so I left them in rather than gounging the wall), curtains, curtain rods, any hardware for the curtains, etc. I also removed the moulding (last winter) since I planned on replacing them anyway. I left the outlets, switches, and vent covers on until I was further along in the process, for safety reasons. I didn’t want to find my toddler poking at an uncovered outlet.

2) Scrape off any loose paint, and fill in any holes, cracks, or small imperfections in the walls with spackle. I used spackle paste from Home Depot. Remember to read all directions, instructions, and warnings. Use the plastic spoon to mix the spackle and scoop it onto the wall. Smooth it with the spackle knife until the area is even with the wall. Wipe off any excess spackle with a wet paper towel or rag. If multiple layers of spackle are needed, remember to let the previous layer completely dry before applying the next layer.

When I pulled off the moulding around the door to the side porch, I accidently tore out a little bit of the sheetrock lining the door. I used sheetrock joint compound, the plastic spoon, and the spackle knife to fill the gap. I wasn’t as careful about smoothing out the sheetrock since new door trim will be nailed over the sheetrock. I just wanted something that the nails could grip when I nail in the trim.

3) Once all the holes are filled, sand any rough areas of the walls, including the spackled areas (not the sheetrock). Last winter, I sanded anywhere there had been wallpaper, as well. Don’t be tempted to skip this step. It is important to make sure the walls are free of any imperfections, which will show through paint if they are not smoothed. I would hate to spend all that time and effort prepping and painting my dining room, only to have it look like crap because I was too lazy to sand. I used sand paper from Walmart.

Cleaning everything with rag and soapy water.
Cleaning everything with rag and soapy water.

4) Once all the walls are sanded, clean all the walls, corners, and edges (and ceiling, if you’re going to paint it), with a rag and soapy water. I poured a little Dawn into a bucket of warm water. This step is also very important. You need a clean working area to get the best results. I finally removed the outlet and switch covers at this point. I left the vent covers on, since I planned on using the same vents covers anyway.

Putting painter's tape on the window sills.
Putting painter’s tape on the window sills.

5) After all the walls (and ceiling) are dry, cover any areas that are not to be painted, with painter’s tape and/or painter’s drop cloths. That includes the window sills, doors, doorways, door knobs, outlets, vents, light switches, floors, ceiling, etc. I taped an old newspaper over the the door knob of the door to my side porch. If you question whether it should be covered, cover it. I also hung a drop cloth between the dining room and the living room, to catch any flying paint.

Putting on painter's tape around window sills and ceiling
Painter’s tape around window sills and ceiling

Now I’m ready to paint! My next post will cover priming the dining room.


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