Below is a step by step guide to preparing your ceiling, walls and woodwork. For the below method, you will need various items of equipment depending on what you are doing. These are suggestions to help with your preparation works but the list isn’t exhaustive. The majority of preparation is the same irrespective of whether it is the ceiling, walls and woodwork. More detail for woodwork may be in the ‘How to paint woodwork blog’.
If you are planning on painting an area that has grease or has previous nicotine damage, you will need to wash the area with sugar soap.
If the areas are clean, you will need to sand them. This will provide a key to help the paint stick to the surface easier.
Prior to you being ready to paint, you will need to fill any holes and caulk any gaps.
As a professional company we use powder filler that needs water adding to it but you can buy it ready mixed. Put some filler on a filling knife and scrape it over the hole/indentation. Try not to leave excess on the wall as this will be more to sand off when dry. Once dry, sand off to a smooth finish. If the filler sinks, you might have to repeat the process. Once ready, touch up the filler prior to painting, this will hopefully prevent any ‘flashing’.
If you have surface cracks, you may need to make the cracks bigger so the filler has more area to stick to.
Where there are gaps, it is easy enough to use flexible caulk to fill in the gaps. Once applied, use your finger to remove the excess. This can be painted over with ease once dried whereas silicone cannot.
For bare surfaces, especially for wood it is best to apply a coat of paint before you carry out any preparation.
If you have painted an area and there are stains coming through, although expensive, we always use a shellac based primer. For example, Zinssar BIN 123 (red tin).
The above product can be used on any surface without needing to provide a key. In the past, we have used it on glass, pre-finished cupboard doors, tiles etc.

Just remember that these are our personal views based on previous knowledge and experiences and is in no way the definitive method to carry out the works. Other decorators may have a different method, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one way is right or wrong.