15 Painting Mistakes to Avoid
If you want your paint job to be flawless, avoid these amateur moves.
Skipping prep time
“Lack of proper prep is usually the biggest difference between DIY and professional projects,” says Tom Lee, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing for Behr. “Homeowners understandably want to jump right into the project, because they’re excited to see their new color on their walls — it’s an emotional reaction. But keep in mind that professional painters spend the majority of their time on prep.” Make sure you’ve properly cleaned walls, scraped off peels and cracks, applied painter’s tape carefully, and allowed any patching compound to dry before you start.
Skimping on brushes and roller covers to save money
“You can have the best paint in the world and it won’t perform if you go cheap on the applicators,” Lee says. Good brushes and roller covers give better coverage and save you on paint in the long run — plus the brushes will last for years if you take care of them — so they’re worth the splurge. Learn which paint tools to use.
Using masking tape instead of real painter’s tape
Pros spend the money for high-quality tape, and you should, too. Use a putty knife or mini scraper — not your finger — to remove air bubbles and seal the edges to prevent drips and ensure sharp lines.
Going without primer
Primer covers flaws in the surface and gives you a smooth, long-lasting finish. It’s fine to use paint-and-primer-in-one mixes if the old surface was previously painted, is in good shape, and has a flat (non-glossy) finish. But if you’re painting over a more difficult surface such as plaster, wood, concrete, glossy paint, or stained/porous drywall, use a stand-alone primer or a premium all-in-one mix specifically designed to cover unpainted surfaces.
Using flat paint in a high-traffic area
Washable satins or semi-glosses are a better choice for rough-and-tumble places like closets and laundry rooms, but you can also choose a durable premium matte finish such as Benjamin Moore’s Regal Classic Premium Interior Paint or Behr Marquee Interior Paint & Primer.
Painting over high-gloss paint without sanding
New paint needs some texture to adhere to, so make sure to lightly scuff any shiny surfaces with sandpaper, followed by a rinse with clean water.
Plunging your brush too far into the paint
Dip it only a third of the way in — you’ll get enough paint on your brush without wasting or pushing the paint deep into the bristles, which is tough to clean.
Always start near the ceiling and work your way down for the smoothest finish; that way you can catch drips as you work.
Painting over wallpaper with water-based paint
You can paint over wallpaper, but be sure to use oil-based primer first. Water-based paints and primers can reactivate the wallpaper glue and cause unsightly peeling.
You’re tired at the end of the job, so you put the brushes in the garage and decide to deal with it later — bad idea! Protect your investment by washing those brushes thoroughly with water and dish detergent, wrapping them in airtight plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and storing them in their original packaging so that they hold their shape.