Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Prep is everything and the key to a fine finish. Many times when we go in to paint a customers home they aren't expecting us to do as much prep as we do. They are expecting us to take care of a few popped nails or backed out screws and patch a few dings and dents in the dry wall. The reality is that our customers are usually amazed at all of the places we end up finding and repairing.
For the best quality prep, it is recommended to go through and inspect the dry wall, whether it be ceilings or walls, with an inspection light. The best method to inspect the dry wall is to move the light vertically and horizontally along side of the dry wall marking undesired imperfections as you go with a pencil but never a pen or marker. Using a pen or marker can add a headache to your prep process because the pen and marker will bleed through the finish coat of paint. To eliminate bleed through you will need to use an oil or shellac based primer before painting, preferably a spray can of kilz, coverstain or bin.
Our next step in the process would be to go through and either lightly hammer in our popped nails or screw in our backed out screws. The key to this is to not over hammer causing a major dent and to not over screw pushing the screw all the way through the backing of the dry wall. After all nails and screws are secured we will begin patching our marked areas. We typically use pre mixed drywall mud or powdered fast setting 45 or 20 minute mud. We use a metal or plastic dry wall mud pan and typically a 4 inch and 6 inch drywall knife for patching our holes, dings, dents and cracks. For tighter areas we will use smaller drywall knives.
Most blades will hive a slight curve in them. Look down the blade to see the curve. when applying the mud to the dry wall you will want the curve to face the dry wall and then wiping the excess mud off with the opposite side. For bigger dents and dings work the mud in multiple directions and pulling the mud smooth and flush with the dry wall. you may have to do this several times, allowing the mud to dry between coats to get the proper fill. Note that by applying the mud to thick, it can create air bubbles in the mud causing the finish to look porous. After the mud dries thoroughly sand your patches with a fine/medium or fine sanding sponge ensuring they are flush to the surface and also feathering out the edges of the patch. It's also a good idea to lightly sand the entire wall if you have a sanding pole but if not then no worries.
The final steps will be to wipe the patches with a dry or damp microfiber rag or large sponge to remove any dust left on the areas from sanding. Then we spot prime these patches with a water based primer such as kilz 2 or any water based primer that you can buy at Home Depot, Lowes, Sherwin Williams, PPG or Benjamin Moore. After the primer is dry you're ready to paint. Always apply two coats of paint for best uniformity, sheen and to get the true look of the color.