How to Prep Drywall for Paint – 7 Easy Steps to Follow

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Whether you are planning to remodel, moving to a new place, or are just curious about home interiors, you have come to the right place. Before painting any room, you’ll want to know the different methods that the pros use to prep drywall. 

While there are various things involved in home improvement and interior design, in this article, you will learn how to prep drywall for paint.

how to prep drywall for paint

What is Drywall?

First, let’s understand what drywall is and where it finds its uses before diving into the details of how to get drywall ready for paint.

Drywall was first invented in 1916 by the U.S. Gypsum Company (USG). Before the use of drywall, home interiors such as walls and ceilings were typically made of plaster. Layers of wet plaster would be placed over laths.

Though walls made of plaster were strong and hard, it was quite labor-intensive and time-consuming to construct them. It called for long weeks of waiting before each layer of wet plaster could dry and the next layer could be applied.

Drywall, on the other hand, is a construction material that requires no waiting period, is easier to install, and enables the completion of a structure much faster when compared to the wet construction method.

Drywall is made of gypsum plaster sandwiched between two layers of thick paper. It is used as an alternative to traditional brick or concrete interiors in both residential and commercial structures.

It took a few years for drywall to be adopted among builders. Drywall initially came across as an inexpensive and inefficient alternative to plaster.

It is seen today very frequently in restaurants, modern houses, workplaces, and other commercial buildings. It also facilitates the construction of interesting designs such as arches, eaves, and other intricate architectural innovations.

How to Prep Drywall for Paint – 7 Simple Steps

Step 1: Inspecting

First, inspect your drywall for any grooves or cuts. If there are any, you must fill them with a drywall or joint compound, which you can buy online or at any hardware store.

Alternatively, you can make your own DIY drywall paste for smaller dents. All you need for this is 3 parts baking soda and 1 part white glue.

Apply this paste on the drywall where you see cracks or holes to even out the surface. This is very important to ensure before you can prime the wall.

Step 2: Sanding

Once you have filled holes and cracks, the next step is to sand the wall. You want a smooth, even surface for painting. Any rough spots or small projections or particles on the wall will make the surface uneven and be obviously visible when you paint.

Use a pole sander and sand the wall in small circular motions until you see a smooth and even surface.

Alternatively, if you have a shop vacuum, you can use a drywall vacuum hand sander. Not only is this a cheaper, easy-to-use option, but it also immediately removes most dust.

Step 3: Dusting

Drywall is prone to easily gathering dust particles and it’s important to get rid of it before you paint the wall. You do not want dust particles sitting under the primer. So you may either clear the dust with a broom or vacuum cleaner.

Work your way from the top of the wall to the bottom in small circular motions. Once you are done, run a black or any dark-colored rug over the surface. If you see white dust, then run the vacuum cleaner again until you are sure the wall’s free of dust.

Step 4: Washing

For a good paint job, it’s important that the drywall is really dry, smooth, and clean. Once you have gotten rid of dust, the next step is to wash the wall to get rid of finer dust particles and wipe it clean.

For this, it is recommended that you fill a bucket with a mixture of water and vinegar. Then dip a sponge in it and clean the wall from top to bottom.

As you work your way through the wall and dip the used sponge back into the bucket a couple of times, you might see that the water has turned nearly black with all the dust.

At this point, empty the bucket, refill it with vinegar and water, and get back to cleaning the wall.

Step 5: Drying

You want the drywall to be literally bone dry before using the primer on it, so if required direct a fan at it or leave it overnight — whatever works to dry the wall and get rid of any moisture whatsoever.

Painting on drywall when there’s still water on it could result in the growth of mold and mildew under the primer, so you must make sure it’s completely dry.

Step 6: Primer

Once the wall is dry, run your hand over it to feel the even, smooth, and clean surface. When you take back your finger, if you don’t end up with a coat of dust sticking to it, you know that it is ready for the primer.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to how to prep drywall for paint is the primer. A primer ensures that the paint sticks to the wall and doesn’t peel off in a few years.

You must apply the primer exactly like the paint— cut in from the ceiling, floor, and edges of the wall using a brush and fill up the wall with a roller. The drywall may absorb the primer very quickly, and this is normal.

Step 7: Finishing

Once the primer has been applied and the wall has dried, you may sand the wall again just to make sure you have an even surface right before painting.

Run a clean cloth over the wall again and that’s the final step on how to prep drywall for paint.

FAQs on How to Prep Drywall for Paint

Can you paint drywall directly?

No. For best results, it’s recommended that you follow a few preparatory steps before you paint your drywall. First, fill any grooves or gouges with drywall compound. Then sand the wall to smoothen the rough surface. Clean and wash it dry. After making sure it’s clean, dust-free, and smooth, apply the primer before you paint.

What happens if you don’t prime drywall before painting?

If you do not prime the drywall before painting, you might end up with a situation in which you see the paint peeling off the wall during humid conditions or when you try to clean the wall after the paint has dried. Primer has an adhesive-like base that ensures that the paint sticks to the wall, and this is why it is recommended that you prime the wall before painting.


If you are wondering how to prep drywall for paint, there are simple DIY methods to get it done. Firstly, inspect the wall for any cracks or grooves. If you find any, fill them with drywall compound. Then sand the wall, brush it clean with a broom or vacuum it to get rid of dust.

Wash it clean with a sponge dipped in a vinegar-water solution and let it dry completely. Once it’s dried well, apply the primer exactly the way you’d apply paint. Sand the wall again and run a dry clean cloth over it to clean it one final time before painting the wall.

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