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The Most Common Painting Mistakes to Avoid When Painting Inside Your Home


Main Painting Wall around crown moulding.

Painting a room seems like a simple task, but it's easy to make mistakes if you're not careful. These mistakes can cost you time and money, and leave you with a result you're not happy with. This article is here to help you avoid those common errors. We'll talk about the mistakes many people make when painting inside their homes, from not preparing the wall properly to using the wrong kind of paint or tools. Whether you're painting a room yourself or hiring someone to do it, knowing what to avoid can make the whole process go more smoothly. So, keep reading to learn how to make your next painting project a success.


Mistake 1: Failing to Prepare the Surface


Description of the Mistake

Many enthusiastic DIYers dive right into painting their walls without giving proper attention to the condition of the surface they're about to coat. Whether it's a chipped layer of old paint or minor holes and cracks, ignoring these imperfections can sabotage your final results.

Why it's Problematic

Paint adheres poorly to dirty or uneven surfaces, leading to an unsatisfactory and patchy finish. Over time, the paint may peel, requiring touch-ups or a total redo, thus wasting your time, energy, and money.

How to Avoid It

Before painting, assess the condition of your walls. Use spackling paste to fill holes and cracks, and sand the surface to remove any old, chipped paint. Afterward, clean the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or grime. Allow the surface to dry completely before applying any paint.

Pro Tip

Sanding an entire wall with a small piece of sandpaper is a time consuming task. When we tackle walls at Zajec Painting, we use Pole Sanders to make it easier to reach the whole wall faster and easier.


Mistake 2: Skipping Primer


Description of the Mistake

Some painters skip priming, believing that modern paints with built-in primers are sufficient, or that a layer of primer is unnecessary on a pre-painted wall.

Why it's Problematic

Without primer, the paint may not adhere properly to the surface, leading to uneven absorption and a splotchy finish. Primer also blocks stains and dark colors from showing through the new coat of paint. Additionally, paint & primer options available on the market offer versatility but lack in terms of quality on the priming that it offers. Instead of leveraging the qualities of great primers, they typically make the paint slightly thicker to help cover up old paint jobs as opposed to actually priming the surface.

How to Avoid It

Always apply at least one coat of primer, especially on porous surfaces, when changing finish styles, or when you're making a dramatic color change. This provides a base for the paint to adhere to and can even save you money by reducing the number of paint coats you'll need.


Pro Tip

The quality of the primer you choose can make a huge difference in the end result of your paint job. We typically use Zinsser Primers to prime surfaces before applying a coat of paint when it is necessary.


Mistake 3: Using the Wrong Type of Paint


Description of the Mistake

Choosing the wrong type of paint—like using exterior paint indoors or vice versa—is a common mistake. Another issue is choosing the wrong finish, such as using a high-gloss finish in a bedroom.

Why it's Problematic

Different types of paint are formulated for specific applications and surfaces. Using the wrong one can result in poor coverage, slow drying times, and an undesirable finish that may not withstand the conditions it's subjected to.

How to Avoid It

Always read the label and consult with experts to ensure you're using the right type of paint for your specific needs. Also, consider the area you're painting. Kitchens and bathrooms often need a moisture-resistant finish, while bedrooms usually work best with a matte or eggshell finish.

Pro Tip

If you aren’t 100% sure what paint or finish to use, talk with a professional. You can always contact us and have us come out to do an evaluation of the project or go to your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams and ask one of their professionals how they would approach the project as well.


Mistake 4: Ignoring Paint Curing Time


Description of the Mistake

Once the paint looks dry, many people assume the job is done and start moving furniture back in or even hanging artwork. However, paint needs time to cure, not just dry. The difference between a dry coat of paint and a cured coat of paint is how hardened the paint becomes, with a dry coat still being slightly soft and easily scuffed and scratched.


Why it's Problematic

Ignoring curing time can result in dents, smudges, or scratches on your freshly painted walls. Additionally, the lack of adequate curing time could affect the paint's durability and longevity.


How to Avoid It

Always refer to the paint can instructions for curing times, which can range from a few days to even a month. Resist the urge to "complete" your room until this period has passed, and keep traffic low in the freshly painted area.


Pro Tip

Paint finishes that are lower sheen (flat, satin, eggshell) tend to show less imperfections and typically don’t show small scuffs and scratches when moving furniture back. These paints are typically used on walls and ceilings and that is why you’ll be able to paint a room and put furniture back in a single day. High sheen finishes used on trim, doors, and cabinets can take up to 28 days to properly cure. While you don’t have to avoid touching them after the first 24-48 hours of drying, you’ll want to be very careful around them for the first month after painting so they can properly cure and harden, protecting the paint finish.


Mistake 5: Using Poor-Quality Tools


Description of the Mistake

Many people opt for cheaper brushes and rollers to save money, but these subpar tools can make your job more difficult and yield less-than-ideal results.


Why it's Problematic

Poor-quality brushes can leave streaks, lint, or even bristles on the painted surface. This can ruin the smooth finish you were hoping to achieve and may require extra coats to cover the imperfections, costing you more in the long run.


How to Avoid It

Invest in high-quality painting tools. The price tag on the higher quality tools may be 2 to 3 times higher than their cheaper alternative, but the amount you spend will save you a significant amount of time and headache later. Look for brushes with synthetic bristles for water-based paints or natural bristles for oil-based paints. A good roller cover is equally important for achieving an even, lint-free finish.


Pro Tip

Purdy Brushes, Rollers, and Paint Tools provide amazing results without breaking the bank. Our painters typically use the same brushes throughout the interior season, with proper cleaning, and then transition those indoor brushes to exteriors through the summer. That’s 5 days of painting for an entire year before it is retired. One Purdy brush, properly maintained, can last a homeowner or DIY enthusiates a lifetime.


Mistake 6: Inconsistent Coats


Description of the Mistake

When painting, some people go over the same area multiple times to get "better coverage," leading to uneven layers of paint.


Why it's Problematic

Inconsistent coats result in visible roller marks or streaks, creating an unprofessional and patchy appearance. This can be particularly noticeable when the paint catches the light from certain angles.


How to Avoid It

Use a consistent technique and pressure when painting. Follow the "W" or "N" pattern for rolling, making sure you evenly distribute the paint. If a second coat is needed, wait for the first coat to dry fully before reapplying.


Pro Tip

No matter what, always plan for two coats. The first coat of paint will never fully cover and pressing hard on your roller will only leave marks where the paint is pushed to the sides. Don’t just slop on paint either! Fully saturate your roller, roll out the excess in the pan, then paint the wall with what is on the roller and repeat. There are no shortcuts to make this part faster or easier if you want a great looking finish.


Mistake 7: Painting in the Wrong Order


Description of the Mistake

Many novices start painting without considering the optimal order for different parts of the room. They may start with the walls and then proceed to the trim, or vice versa.


Why it's Problematic

Painting in the wrong order can lead to overspray, uneven lines, or the need for additional touch-ups. This adds extra time to the project and may result in a less-than-perfect finish.


How to Avoid It

Generally, the best order is to start with the ceiling, followed by the walls, and then the trim. This allows you to deal with any potential overspray or errors in a more controlled manner. Use painter’s tape where necessary to create clean lines between different areas.


Pro Tip

Working from the top down allows you to make small mistakes that are easier to cover up. Accidentally getting wall paint on a finished ceiling is easy to remove with a wet rag and can usually dab off the paint as soon as 20 minutes after putting on a coat of ceiling paint due to the flat finish drying quickly and curing fast. Sheen increases from the top down with the ceiling usually being flat, walls typically being matte or eggshell, and trim going for semi-gloss. It is easier to cover up lower sheen, meaning mistakes made from the ceiling covers easily on walls, and mistakes on walls covers easily on trim.


Mistake 8: Ignoring Safety Measures


Description of the Mistake

Some people underestimate the safety risks involved in painting, such as the fumes emitted by certain types of paint or the dangers of working on a ladder.


Why it's Problematic

Ignoring safety precautions can result in health issues, from inhaling toxic fumes to physical injuries from falls or accidents. Moreover, paint spills or splatters can be hazardous if they come into contact with your eyes or skin.


How to Avoid It

Always read the safety instructions on the paint can. Use proper ventilation, especially when painting indoors. Wear safety goggles and gloves, and make sure your ladder is stable and appropriately positioned before you climb it.


Pro Tip

In the event you can’t properly vent a room while painting, use a respirator to protect yourself. Always have one on hand!


Conclusion

A successful painting project is more than just choosing a color and slapping it on the walls. It involves careful planning, preparation, and execution to avoid common mistakes that can compromise the quality of your work. By being mindful of these eight common mistakes and learning how to avoid them, you'll be well on your way to achieving a beautifully painted space that you can be proud of.


Have any questions? Feel free to contact us to help answer any questions or for a no-cost estimate for your project.


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