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5 Costly Painting Mistakes Homeowners Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Khoa Le
May 23 6 minutes read

Painting your home can be a rewarding DIY project, but it's also one that can easily go wrong if you're not careful. Many homeowners make costly mistakes that end up costing them more time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Here are 5 common painting mistakes to avoid:

1. Skipping Prep Work

The temptation to jump straight into painting is strong, but the truth is, proper preparation is the key to a successful paint job. Skipping this step can lead to a host of problems, including:

Peeling and Chipping: If you don't properly clean and prepare your surfaces, the paint won't adhere properly, leading to peeling and chipping.

Uneven Finish: Dirt, grease, and other debris on your walls will show through the paint, leaving an uneven and unprofessional finish.

Wasted Time and Money: You'll end up having to redo the job, costing you more time and money than if you had done it right the first time.

What to do:

Clean your walls thoroughly: Use a damp cloth to remove dirt, dust, and cobwebs.

Patch any holes or cracks: Use spackle or patching compound to fill in any imperfections.

Sand down any rough spots: This will create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.

Prime your walls: A primer will help the paint adhere better and create a more even finish.

2. Choosing the Wrong Paint Sheen

Paint sheen refers to how shiny or matte the paint is. There are several different sheens available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the wrong sheen can make a big difference in the look and feel of your room.

Matte: Matte sheens are flat and non-reflective, making them a good choice for living rooms and bedrooms where you want a more relaxed vibe.

Eggshell: Eggshell sheens have a slightly sheen and are more durable than matte sheens, making them a good choice for walls that get a lot of traffic.

Satin: Satin sheens have a more pronounced sheen and are even more durable than eggshell sheens, making them a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Semi-gloss: Semi-gloss sheens are the most durable and reflective, making them a good choice for trim, doors, and cabinets.

What to do:

Consider the room's function: High-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms will benefit from a more durable sheen, while living rooms and bedrooms can handle a more relaxed matte finish.

Test paint samples: Before you commit to a sheen, test out a few samples on your walls to see how they look in different lighting conditions.

3. Not Accounting for Lighting

Lighting can have a dramatic impact on how paint colors appear. What looks like a warm, inviting gray in the showroom might read as cold and uninviting in your dimly-lit hallway.

What to do:

Test paint samples in the space: Don't rely on paint chips alone. Always test out paint samples on your walls in different lighting conditions to see how they look throughout the day.

Consider the direction of natural light: If your room gets a lot of natural light, you'll want to choose a color that won't be overwhelmed by the sunlight.

4. Painting Over Problem Areas

Trying to simply paint over cracks, holes, or stains is a recipe for disaster. These problems will only become more obvious once you've painted over them, and the paint won't adhere properly.

What to do:

Address any underlying issues: Before you start painting, fix any cracks, holes, or stains.

Use a patching compound: Use a spackle or patching compound to fill in any imperfections.

Sand down the patched areas: This will create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.

5. Not Using the Right Tools

Having the right tools for the job makes a huge difference. Investing in quality brushes, rollers, and painter's tape will help you achieve a professional-looking finish.

What to do:

Invest in quality brushes and rollers: Cheap brushes and rollers will leave streaks and uneven coverage.

Use painter's tape: Painter's tape will help you create crisp lines and prevent paint from bleeding onto other surfaces.

Protect your floors: Use a drop cloth to protect your floors from paint splatters.

These five common painting mistakes can be easily avoided with the right preparation, tools, and techniques. By taking the time to properly prepare surfaces, choosing the right paint sheen, accounting for lighting, addressing underlying issues, and using the right tools, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that you'll be proud of.

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