Prepping for a Professional Paint Finish

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Painting

Long-Lasting Paint Begins in the Prep Phase.

A professional paint finish starts in the prep phase — and it involves much more than tarps and tape. Painting over rough, damaged, corroded, or weathered surfaces is a quick fix that can end in less-than-desirable results including cracking, peeling, bubbling, and even rot. Not only does proper prep mean a better-looking paint job, but a longer-lasting finish as well. Meaning you won’t need to worry about it again for years to come. 

Why it’s important to Prep

Painting over existing damage in an attempt to cover it up won’t result in anything but a headache…and really awful looking paint. It can even make things worse. Taking the time to remove blistered, cracking, peeling, and corroded paint or other damaged finishes will save you money, frustration, and disappointment in the long run. Even just taking a few extra hours to clean the surface you want to paint will provide much more professional-looking results than you would get otherwise.

What To Look For And How To Fix It

Some paint imperfections can’t be helped — like that inevitable first ding — but many can be avoided by simply taking the time to prep before you paint. In fact, there are a few common issues most people will come across when it comes to repainting. Here’s what damage to look for and fix ahead of time to ensure a long-lasting and quality finish:

Cracking, Flaking, Peeling, and Lumping

Whether dealing with interior or exterior, plaster, wood, or siding, cracking and peeling can be common issues. This is due to poor preparation, thin application, thick application, and even fluctuations in humidity and temperature. But there are ways to repair existing damage and ensure better results for your new coat of paint:

  • Remove all cracked and peeling paint using a scraper, heat gun, wire brush, or chemical remover. 
  • Sand the newly scraped area, paying particular attention to edges that meet undamaged paint. 
  • Clean and prime the surface before painting. You don’t want all your previous work to go to waste by painting over dust or dirt. 
  • Let the paint dry completely before adding additional coats.  



Blistering (or bubbling) happens due to heat and moisture and can happen on a variety of surfaces, from metal to wood. Painting on an overly heated surface, right before rain, on moisture-affected interior walls, or over dirt and debris, can cause your paint to blister and make a fresh paint job look decades old. Avoid blistering by prepping appropriately.

  • Pop the bubbles! This will help you determine what your culprit is. If you pop a blister and see clean substrate underneath, you are dealing with a moisture problem. If you see there are layers of paint underneath, undisturbed, you are dealing with heat. 
  • Scrape, sand, clean, and prime the area you are going to paint. If you are dealing with heat, be sure your surface is below 90 degrees before you begin. 
  • Use latex paint – oil based paint is more prone to blistering.



With San Diego weather often spiking into the hot and dry category, chalking can be a common problem, particularly in eastern areas of the county. Chalking is when a white powdery substance forms on paint and looks like chalk. Unlike other issues, chalking mostly takes a good cleaning before repainting.

  • Powerwash your surface using a gas-powered 3500 PSI or higher machine (rent one if you do not own).
  • Pre-soak the exterior using an Environmentally Safe Cleaning Solution for tougher stains or mold.
  • Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly before applying your new paint.



Alligatoring is something you’ve probably seen on old oil paintings and looks exactly how it sounds — like reptile skin. This usually starts as wrinkles and evolves to cracking due to temperature fluctuations, painting over a glossy finish, or not allowing for proper dry time between coats. Here’s how to tackle Alligatoring for a longer-lasting finish:

  • Just like cracking, alligatoring needs removal via scraping, dry brush, sanding, wire brush, or chemical remover (depending on surfaces).
  • Follow removal with a good rinse to get rid of lingering dust and debris.
  • Prime and paint (inquire into the best primer/paint at a pro paint store).

Interior Prep

Much like the above, damage to interior paint can take scraping, sanding, cleaning, and priming. But there are other challenges to interior paint you’ll want to prep for in order to accomplish lasting results. Two common issues are Mildew and Wallpaper.

Remove Mildew

Mildew is not something you can simply paint over. It grows through your paint making things even more difficult for you in the future. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to eliminate. Start by mixing one part water with 3 parts bleach. Apply the solution to your mildewing areas (with gloves and goggles, of course) and let it sit for several minutes. Follow by scrubbing the area with a soft brush until mildew is lifted. Rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. Once your surface is completely dry, you are ready to paint!

Remove Wallpaper

Some sources will tell you painting over wallpaper is fine, but we recommend not doing it. Wallpaper can peel, cause lumping, bubbling, and result in more trouble than it takes to remove it. 


When to Get Professional Help

Not everyone has the time to prep for a paint job. That’s when hiring a professional painting service comes in handy. While doing it yourself might seem like a money saver in the short term, it can end up costing you much more in the long run. Not to mention the tools, products, and cleaning supplies needed for a professional quality prep job. At Double G, we take pride in our work and can tackle any preparation work needed for a smooth and lasting finish. Our team is well experienced in both interior and exterior paint prep as well as general contracting knowledge – meaning we can handle any situation needed to ensure your paint job lasts for years to come. 

Contact Us for a Free estimate today!