Remove furniture from the room in which you’re working or place it in the center of the room and cover it with drop cloths. Remove fixtures, window coverings, switch plates and outlet covers, or cover them with painter’s tape. Also use painter’s tape to protect windowsills, baseboards, door hinges, the ceiling perimeter and anything else that you don’t want to get paint on.
Properly cleaning and repairing surfaces is extremely important when painting since paint doesn’t adhere to dirty or damaged areas. Clean the walls with warm, soapy water and a sponge or cloth. Let the surface dry for at least an hour before painting.
If walls have cracks, holes or other damages, apply spackling compound with a putty knife. Once it dries, sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper. For extensive drywall damage, see Patch Drywall Holes to see how to make larger drywall repairs. Consider adding an extra day to your project plans in order to give the compound adequate time to dry.
Lay canvas drop cloths below the walls you’re painting. Canvas cloths stay in place better than plastic ones. Use painter’s tape to attach the cloths to the baseboard or bottom of the wall so that they don’t shift around while you’re painting—this reduces the chance of getting paint on your floor.
Be sure you will be painting in a well-ventilated area. Open windows or use a box fan to make sure you’ll have proper ventilation. For additional painting tips, see Painting Safety.