How To Prep Drywall for Painting – Don’t mess up! (Key Steps)

How To Prep Drywall for Painting – Don’t mess up! (Key Steps)

The times where you have to paint bare drywall are usually pretty far and few in-between. But when you do have to, it’s pretty important to know how to prep drywall for painting, otherwise, you’re going to go through a ton of headaches.

Fresh drywall- Waiting to be prepped for painting

Either you just got new drywall installed, because you either just bought the house, had water damage, or did some renovations.

Or, you had to replace some areas of your drywall for whatever reason. Maybe someone accidentally buried their fist in the wall (Not judging).

Either way, I’m going to quickly run you through everything that you have to do to make sure that you can paint your drywall, and get the exact results that you’re looking for.

There are a few definite steps in painting your drywall. The process is extremely simple, so don’t worry.

The Bottom Line-

By itself, drywall isn’t great at adhering to paint. In fact, if you paint drywall without the right prep, you’re going to have a nightmare on your hands with peeling paint.

If you’re looking for a quick, straight-to-the-point answer. Here it is.

Key Prep Steps:

  1. Check the wall for any imperfections and make the proper repairs. Holes, bumps, mudding paper, etc.Make sure that the wall is as smooth as possible before painting.
  2. After you’ve smoothed out the wall with compound, you’re going to want to LIGHTLY sand it down. Any sanding paper above 200 grit should be fine, make sure to lightly pass over the wall to improve the porosity of the wall.
  3. After you’ve lightly sanded it down, you’re going to want to wipe the wall down with a slightly moist towel. Basically, your goal here is to get rid of any dust- paint does not appreciate dust.
  4. After that small prep work- everything is pretty straightforward. Use drywall primer, Sherwin Williams makes a pretty good drywall primer, but any primer should do. You just want to make sure that’s intended for bare primers. One coat of drywall primer will do.
  5. After the primer, give it a couple of hours to dry. Then, you should be good to go with paint, usually, two coats of paint will ensure a smooth, filled-out finish.

That’s it. You’re good to go, congrats!

Now I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty of the process. By the way, if you’re located In Miami, Florida and you’re looking for a painting contractor to take care of a painting job for you, feel free to reach out for a totally free quote.

Step One – Inspecting

The first step in preparing your drywall for painting is to inspect it. When you’re doing this you need to be very careful, because it determines the final outcome. So, what you’re looking for are imperfections. These imperfections can come in many different shapes and sizes but are often solved in similar ways.


The first type of imperfection that you will most likely come across is small particles that can get in the way of your primer. You’re looking for dirt, sand, shavings, and dust. They’re small, but they can have a tremendous impact on the longevity of your project.

Well, if you have identified any of the aforementioned particles on your drywall, don’t panic. The first thing you need to do is identify the cause. If you’re still sanding the drywall, compound, or any other imperfections, then wait.

If you’re finished with all of your preparations and there is plenty of dust on your drywall, find a broom, a brush, or a damp cloth and remove as much of the dust as possible. After, you’re going to want to vacuum all of the remaining dust off of the floor and clean up as much as possible. Getting rid of all the dust is virtually impossible, so we can only do our best.

Bigger Imperfections

Like we said before, imperfections come in all shapes and sizes. However, they are always more manageable than they seem. Along with dust and other shavings, other types of imperfections we see often scratches, small holes, and the peeling of the drywall paper.

Do you have any of these problems? No problem. Everyone has different ways of handling things, but we personally recommend that you use the compound to fill in the holes, scratches, and any other major imperfections.

Compound to fill in wall imperfections

For all our customers that aren’t willing to replace the drywall, then compound is a fantastic substitute. It hides all of those little imperfections that make the final product look ugly. Now, be careful to not abuse this privilege. We’ve seen this too many times. If you over-apply compound you can cost yourself a lot of time in sanding, reapplying, and cleaning the aftermath. Please be careful when applying the compound.

If there are any larger holes or imperfections, we recommend that you replace the drywall in that area.

Step Two – Prep Drywall For Painting

When it comes to prepping your drywall for painting, there are only two real things that you have to do. Obviously, we’ve already smoothed out the walls at this point, so that should already be done.

Just to be clear, you need to fill in the seams and joints between compounds with joint compounds, that won’t be filled in with paint. While this has much more to do with actually installing drywall than it does with painting, I just wanted to be clear for any DIYers.

With that being said, the only real prep work that you need to do before priming the wall is just sanding down the wall with some fine sandpaper. Anything above 200 grit should be fine.

Make sure to wipe down all the dust with a moist towel after!

Vacuuming drywall is another solid option

After you’ve sanded down the fresh drywall, and removed any dust, you’re ready to start priming the walls.

Step Three – Priming 

People always beg the question: Is priming really necessary? YES! Priming your drywall is an absolute necessity. Primer acts as an adhesive between the drywall and your paint. Without it, heat, moisture, and other elements can become a massive problem. The paint will not stick properly, bubble out, and in some cases, peel off. These are problems I think we all want to avoid.

Now that you have decided to prime your drywall, there are a few key pieces of information that you should know: there are different types of primer, the location matters, and the material of the wall matters.

Different types of primer

The three most common types of primer are latex, oil-based, and shellac. For the purposes of painting drywall, we recommend latex primers. It offers the best adhesion to the paints out of all the primers.

Like I mentioned earlier, just make sure that you’re buying primer that’s specifically designated for bare drywall. It’s built specifically to help the drywall adhere better to paint, as opposed to other primers which are built for painting above other layers of latex or oil-based paint.

Painting Location

Be cautious when purchasing primer, and where you are painting. Be sure to purchase indoor, exterior, and mold-free primers accordingly. Do not purchase mold-free primers unnecessarily, only purchase this type of primer when you are painting in a bathroom or a very humid environment.

The Material of the wall

Make sure that the primer you’re purchasing is made for drywall or any other material you happen to be using. Most often, the primer indicates the appropriate material on the label.

If you have the right primer and the area is clear of any imperfections you should be clear to start priming your drywall.

Step Four – Painting Drywall

If you’ve properly completed the previous two steps: removing imperfections and priming your drywall. You should be completely ready to paint. However, before painting, you should make sure that your primer is completely dry.

Painting onto a primer that isn’t completely dry can have disastrous results. So, make sure to wait the appropriate amount of time, which is usually around 2-3 hours.


Painting drywall is a multi-step process, but it is extremely simple. The first thing you need to do is make sure there are no imperfections. There are many ways that you can accomplish this, but we recommend that you finish all prior sanding and work in the room.

After this is done, inspect the room for any dust, shaving, scratches, or major imperfections. For any residual dust, we suggest that you find a broom, mop, or damp towel and remove as much dust as you can. If there are any major imperfections like holes, scratches, peeling drywall paper, or paint. Then, you should sand the affected area and apply the compound carefully.

If you have made sure that all imperfections and dust have been removed from the drywall. You can begin priming your drywall. If you are unsure what primer to purchase, please be wary of the painting environment, the type of primer, and the material of the wall you’re painting. Once the right primer has been purchased, feel free to prime your drywall. Lastly, after 2-3 hours, you can safely paint your drywall.

We can help you understand the oil paint drying process.

Oil paints dry more slowly than other types of paints because they dry from the outside in. A painting takes about a year to dry completely. This is because oil tends to spread as it dries, and so it needs a lot of time to form an even layer on the surface of the painting.

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