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Proper preparation of a paint job is just as important, if not more, than the actual painting itself. In fact, the preparation of the paint job can be up to 75% of the work of the entire project. Being lazy in your preparation can not only damage and ruin your furniture or other belongings, it can also cause your paint job to be completely worthless. If you don't do things right, your paint will start to peel and crack before you know it and you'll have to do everything over again. Be sure to go through the following steps to ensure that your paint job is a successful one.

1.) Remove all outlet and light switch covers. Once you remove the cover, screw the screws back into place to ensure they don't get misplaced. Place tape over the exposed area of the outlet.

2.) Remove all pictures, paintings, etc. from the walls. You probably don't have to worry about removing the fixtures that hold the frames up since they will be covered again once you put the pictures back up. If you aren't putting the pictures and paintings back up, you will need to remove the fixtures and spackle the resulting holes before you start to paint.

3.) Pull all furniture away from the walls and into the middle of the room. If you are painting the ceiling, sanding any surface of the room, or if you have furniture that cannot be moved, cover the furniture with a light plastic covering to protect it.

4.) Cover every inch of the floor next to the walls with drop cloths. If you aren't going to be painting the baseboard, or if you want to be extra protective of your floor, cover the baseboard with taping paper.

5.) Look for cracked edges around windows, where the trim and baseboard meets the wall, or any other corners in the room. Caulk any cracks.

6.) Spackle cracks or holes on walls. When the spackle dries, sand it till it's smooth.

7.) Use a putty knife to chip off any loose paint, with an emphasis on the word "loose." You could probably get the whole wall off if you put enough muscle into it, but this isn't necessary. Once it becomes hard to chip off without some effort, replace your putty knife with sandpaper and sand the area down.

8.) If the walls are dirty, wash with a mild soap and water. If they are too dirty or stained to wash off, cover them with a stain-blocking primer. You may also need to use a primer if the surface is in overall bad condition, or if the paint you plan to use is incompatible with the paint already on the walls. How do you know if they are incompatible? Well, acrylic/latex paints can be applied over an acrylic/latex surface but not over an alkyd/oil based surface. Alkyd/oil based paints can be applied over either kind of surface. To determine what kind of paint is already on the walls, use the following painter's trick. Apply denatured alcohol to a clean cloth and gently rub the wall. If any paint comes off, then the finish is acrylic/latex. If no paint comes off and the finish is unaffected, then it is alkyd/oil based.

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