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The Most Common DIY Painting Mistakes

When you’re painting your interior, you want the final result to be flawless—the perfect color, even coating, and a clean trim. But if you’re painting without the help of a certified contractor, simple mistakes are bound to happen. You might not buy enough paint, or forget important, but smaller details, like the finish or primer. By understanding the most common DIY painting mistakes and how to avoid them, you can make your next painting project faster and easier and achieve better results.

Picking Out Paint

Whether you’re painting yourself or hiring a professional, you’ll want to invest in good, high-quality paint. Paint that’s high quality is durable, goes on well, and requires fewer coats. There are different types of wall paints. You’ll want to pick the kind that’s best suited to your stylistic preferences and wall type. Matte paints are good for coverage but aren’t the best choice for high-traffic areas. Semi-gloss paints are durable and moisture-resistant, making them the perfect choice for rooms that experience a lot of wear and tear—kitchens, for example. Other types of paint and finishes include eggshell, satin, and high gloss.

The Right Color and Finish

A lot of DIYers struggle with choosing colors. When you’re painting your interior, it’s best to stick to three or fewer colors. Using color psychology and color theory can help you pick out ones that complement each other.

When it comes to finishes, flat is one of the most popular. It’s durable and has minimal sheen. Flat and matte are great options for a clean, non-shiny appearance. Some homeowners might want to use eggshell for high-moisture areas, like bathrooms.

Having Enough Paint

With paint, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate. Running out of paint can be a hassle. You must stop what you’re doing, rush to the store, and then rush back. If you bought paint that was custom mixed, you might have to wait for the same color to be mixed again and hope that it’s close enough to your original shade. If you’re changing the color of your walls, remember that you’ll need two coats. If you’re not sure how much to buy, toss an extra can into the mix. In a worst-case scenario, you can use it to paint a different room, or save it for when your walls need a touch-up.

The Perfect Brush

You don’t want to get the cheapest brush. You want to get the right brush. By using a good brush, you’ll make your next painting project easier and faster. If you’re using paint that can be cleaned up with water, stick to brushes with synthetic bristles. For oil-based paint, a natural bristle might be better. Look for a brush that’s good at cutting in, preferably with an angled tip. What about size? For DIYers, experts generally recommend a brush that’s 2-1/2-inch-wide.

The Necessary Prep Work

This is one of the most common DIY painting mistakes. Sometimes, people don’t realize that prep work is a necessity. Others lack the materials and knowledge to do it correctly, and some people think it’s too much of a hassle. But prepping your walls for painting can make a huge difference in the result.

You never want to paint a dirty wall. If the wall is covered with dust, dirt, or other grime, the paint won’t properly adhere. Before you start painting, dust the walls, scrape off any cracked or flaking paint with a paint scraper, and wash everything with a clean, damp cloth. Next, look for any cracks, gaps, or other imperfections in your wall. If they exist, smooth them out with compound and feather them out. If you have gaps around any of your molding or stair risers, apply caulk before you paint.

The Importance of Primer

If you’re painting on top of a dark, bright, or saturated color, you’ll need to use a primer. What if you’re painting on top of wood paneling, wood trim, glossy walls, or new drywall? You need primer for these situations, too. Primer seals the surface which helps paint adhere to it. Using primer will make your color look better and more vibrant, extend your coverage, and make the paint more durable.

Dipping the Brush

It’s tempting to dip the entire brush, but the more paint there is, the more it will drip. This can cause a mess. Instead, dip the brush to cover 1/3 of the bristles. Make sure to tap off any excess paint clinging to the side of the brush. Some people assume putting a thicker coat on the wall will eliminate the need for a second coat, but this isn’t the case. If you use too much paint, your walls won’t dry properly and the finished job can look messy.

Working on Your Trim

To avoid sloppy lines around the trim, use painter’s tape. This special tape separates the wall, floor, ceiling, and other parts of the room so you don’t accidentally paint something you weren’t intending to. When you’re using painter’s tape, keep these two important tips in mind:

Waiting for the Coat To Dry

Waiting for paint to dry isn’t exactly exciting, but it’s a necessary part of the process. To be safe, let your first coat dry overnight. If you apply a second coat too soon, your brush strokes will be prominent, and your paint will look gloppy.

Before you let your walls dry, remove the painter’s tape. If you wait too long to remove it, you might pull up some of the dried paint with it. If your wall is still wet, remove the painter’s tape at an angle. If it’s already dry, you can use a straight edge and a razor blade to score the paint and tape and then remove the painter’s tape.

Paint Samples and Testers

The way a color looks can vary depending on the lighting, type of wall, and time of day. So, what does that mean? A color won’t look the same in your home as it does in the store. By using paint samplers and testers, you can test out one color—or multiple—before making a final commitment.

Don’t want to risk a DIY gone wrong? If you’re looking for an interior painting contractor in Portland, Oregon, JK Paint & Contracting can help. We’re reliable, trustworthy, and dedicated to doing great work. Whether you’re planning a big project, small project, or something in between, contact us to discuss the details.

For beginners, painting isn't always an easy, straightforward process. Let's check out some of the most common DIY painting mistakes and how to avoid them.