Three Common Paint Mistakes You’re Making (And How to Fix Them)

February 01, 2018

With snow days adding up, there’s no doubt the stir-crazy bug is setting in and you and the kids are itching for something to do. Seize this opportunity to take on that paint project you’ve kept on the back burner. While these dry, frigid temperatures are actually ideal for curing paint, pulling off the perfect paint job is easier said than done. Here are three solutions for mistakes that even the most experienced DIYers run into.

Painting tools start to finish

Mistake #1: Improper Prep

Solution: Start with a shopping list—and don’t skimp on the essentials

Without the right gear, a simple paint project quickly turns into multiple trips to the store. It’s easy to forget everything you might need, so head to the store with a clear shopping list in hand. Start with these essentials:

Paint shopping checklist

Sandpaper and patch material such as drywall mud come in handy if your paint surface has dents, dings or other damage. Cover up those spots and sand them down to achieve proper coverage before you start your first coat. Meanwhile, caulking is useful around tile or windows as well.

Not all brushes are created equal either. Chris Richter, Home Depot Senior Paint Merchant, notes that many customers are choosing higher quality paint, but “they might not always pick a high-quality applicator,” he says. “Those higher quality paints need them for a professional look and finish. Without them, you risk lint being left on brushes and bristles on the wall.”

Keep an eye out for the simple label of “Best” on brushes and “Shedless” on rollers. Nicer fibers apply paint smoother and ensure that no unwanted threads are left behind.

To pair with better brushes and rollers, invest in some quality painter’s tape. 3M Painter's Tape is perfect for both indoor and outdoor projects and leaves no sticky residue. 3M also offers options that work on delicate surfaces like trim or hardwood floors to avoid do-overs and unnecessary cleanup, while leaving behind crisp lines.

But don’t leave the tape on too long before removing. “That’s a no-no,” Chris says. “If the paint dries, the tape will rip. The film becomes connected to the paint and you’ll rip the paint and tape together. It’s best to rip it off when the paint is still slightly wet.”

Woman painting wall

Mistake #2: Picking the Wrong Paint

Solution: Know your needs—so you can cut down on coats and cost

Different scenarios require different paint. For years, the recipe for a successful paint job has been three coats: primer and two coats of paint. Laying down primer can be vital, but it’s also expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, Home Depot offers the latest in paint technology, like the exclusive paint + primer formulas from BEHR Marquee.

“When you go from three coats down to one, it’s more expensive on the shelf, but you’re saving time and money in most cases,” Chris says. “They’re also more durable and washable, making them harder to stain and easier to clean if you have kids around.”

Still, there are situations where a coat of primer will ensure the best results, such as surfaces with smoke or water damage, mold stains, new drywall or outdoor pieces such as your shutters or front door, where exposure to the elements leads to cracking, peeling and fading. “We make primers for those specific issues,” Chris says. “You don’t want to use high quality paint there instead of a less expensive primer.”

Woman testing paint colors

Mistake #3: Committing to the Wrong Color

Solution: Try some samples—and test drive them at home

With your tools in tow, you can stroll through the paint section and walk out with a couple gallons, right? Not quite. Color, whether it’s inside or outside your home can be a very personal choice. Many times, people end up committing to a color too quickly. The best way to find the right color is by test-driving a few samples at home. “A lot more people are starting their selection process online,” Chris says. “But if you come into the store and haven’t thought about the color, it often takes 3-5 visits to make the decision.”

One thing people often forget is the sheen of a paint and the lighting. “As paint goes up in sheen, it can affect how it looks,” Chris says. “With lighting—not just from the switch, but from the sun—there are a lot of variables to consider.”

For just $5, you can see how each color looks and samples ship for free from Homedepot.com. Color chips are great, but nothing will provide the true look and feel like the sample on the wall.

With these tips in your back pocket, your home can get the quick makeover it needs before the holidays. whether it’s a great-looking room, fresh front door or an accent wall that makes an impact.

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