Five Common Painting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Painting the interior of your home can keep your home feeling fresh and inviting, but painting can often be an intimidating task to homeowners who decide to take it on themselves. This is because there are plenty of potential mistakes DIY painters can make. We're going to look at five of the most common mistakes and explain how to avoid painting mistakes so you're pleased with the finish you achieve.

1. Choosing the Wrong Color

One of the most common painting mistakes occurs at the very first stage of the process — when you're choosing a paint color. Looking at a giant display of paint sample strips at the store can be overwhelming, so it's no wonder that many homeowners have trouble choosing the right color for their walls. You may like the look of a certain color when you're looking at it on the sample card, but when you cover your walls in the color, you wonder why you ever picked it.

One of the most common reasons is that the paint color you chose has undertones that don't match the rest of your decor. This problem is especially common when choosing a white paint color. White comes in an endless number of shades, all of which will have undertones of colors like blue, green or pink.

To avoid covering your walls in a color you regret, don't depend on the sample card. Instead, purchase an 8-ounce or quart-sized container of the paint you're considering and paint a large section of your wall. If you plan to paint multiple rooms with the color, paint a swatch in each room. After the paint has dried, take note of what it looks like in daytime and evening lighting. Do you still love it, or did you just avert an ugly color crisis?

2. Getting Paint on the Ceiling

Most DIY painters know exactly what it feels like to glide a paint roller up the wall and go just a bit too far. You've been so careful to keep everything tidy, but now you have a large swatch of paint on the ceiling. This can happen easily when you're working quickly or are momentarily distracted.

Especially if you're working with a dark color, trying to cover up a spot on the ceiling can be difficult if not impossible. You can try to wipe off as much of the paint as possible, but you'll need to paint over it with ceiling paint, probably multiple coats. If you want this patch to match the rest of the ceiling, you might have to paint the entire ceiling, all because of one small slip-up.

A great way to avoid this mistake is to start your paint job by rolling a horizontal strip along the top of the wall, where it meets the ceiling. Once you have this strip painted, you can roll the paint roller vertically along the wall, stopping when you get to the painted strip at the top of the wall. This way, you have a buffer to keep you from getting too close to the ceiling so you can get into a good groove without worrying about making a mistake.

3. Leaving Brush Strokes

When you're working with a brush instead of a roller, it's easy to over brush, leading to pronounced brush strokes. While many DIY painters prefer to use a roller on walls, you'll need to wield a brush to paint woodwork like wainscoting or baseboards. Unless you're going for a textured effect, you want to achieve a smooth finish on woodwork and any surfaces where you're using a brush.

To avoid leaving brush strokes, be sure to use a quality brush and load it up with plenty of paint — but not so much that it causes drips. Tapping the paintbrush on the edge of the paint can will help you get rid of excess paint that could drip. Once you've loaded the brush, work quickly to cover the area you're working on with paint. Then use the unloaded brush to smooth over the paint with just one or two strokes.

This smoothing over, known as tipping, should happen quickly after you apply the paint so it doesn't have a chance to dry. Trying to smooth over paint that is already drying will result in unsightly brush strokes. If you end up with some brush strokes you want to smooth over, lightly sand the dried paint.

4. Painting Without Primer

Some DIY painters are confused about whether they need to use a primer before they paint their walls. The answer is almost always yes. You may not think you need primer if the existing color on the wall is light, but primer isn't just made to help you cover over darker paint colors — it's designed to prepare the surface so you can get a smoother and more durable finish.

You'll find some paint products that claim to be an all-in-one option for both priming and painting the wall. These can work in some scenarios but not all. Combined primer and paint options work when the surface you're painting was previously painted and has a smooth, flat finish.

If you're painting an unpainted surface, then a coat of primer is an absolute must. It will help to fill in pores and create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. You may be able to find premium primer and paint combinations that will work, but only if they say they are designed specifically for unpainted surfaces. You'll also need a coat of primer if your walls were previously painted with a glossy finish paint.

5. Storing Paint In Extreme Temperatures

When you finish painting and have some paint left over, that's great. Now you'll have some backup paint you can get out in the future if you need to do some touch-ups. But what if you get out that backup paint only to find it's unusable? This can happen when paint isn't stored properly.

Paint should be kept in an environment where it stays in the range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing paint in the shed or garage may seem like the thing to do, but if you do this, you can bet your paint will be exposed to extreme temperatures outside of this ideal range. When paint gets too cold or too hot, it can affect the consistency. If it's exposed to extremely cold or hot temperatures, it will be ruined completely.

The good news is that properly stored paint can last three to five years. To store your paint properly, first, label the paint can so you remember when you got it and which room or rooms it was used for in your home. Then, find a spot somewhere inside your home, such as in a closet or cabinet, where your paint won't be exposed to harsh temperatures.

Leave It to the Professionals for a Flawless Finish

From prep work to clean up to running into mess-ups that affect your finish, DIY painting can be a real hassle. The best way to get a professional finish is to leave the job to the professionals. If you live in the greater Atlanta area and need your home painted, you can trust Alpha Superior Home Improvements to give you the beautiful results you want. A fresh coat of paint with a flawless, professional finish can elevate your home's appearance considerably. Book an appointment to get a quote for your paint job today.

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