15 Painting Mistakes to Avoid

If you want your paint job to be flawless, avoid these amateur moves.

According to the experts at Behr and Benjamin Moore, these are the most common mistakes homeowners make when painting interior rooms.

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.

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.

Bold Orange Laundry Room

Bold Orange Laundry Room

Because they're already plumbed, bathrooms can be a great place to tuck in a washer and dryer. Natalie Sheedy of Natalie Sheedy Interiors took advantage of this long, narrow space, installing appliances at one end and screening them off with a pretty curtain. Extending the deep orange paint color into the laundry area makes it feel of a piece with the rest of the room.

Photo by: Natalie Sheedy; Natalie Sheedy Interiors

Natalie Sheedy; Natalie Sheedy Interiors

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.

Which Paint to Use in What Room 02:22

Learn what type of paint you should use in every room. 

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.

Bucket of Blue Paint

Bucket of Blue Paint

A paintbrush sits inside a bucket of blue paint.

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.

Green eyed mid-teen girl makes a face sticking her tongue out as holds a paint roller as she paints her room green facing the camera

Painting aimlessly

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.

Skipping cleanup

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.

Paintbrushes and Applicators 02:28

Before you start painting, learn what type of brushes and rollers you should use. 

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