painting, Interior or exterior painting

The Most Common Painting Mistakes

1. No Prep
Do a little prep work. It can save you a lot of headache and cleanup in the end. To avoid drips and splatters, cover the floors and furniture with drop cloths. Wrap doorknobs with plastic and tape around the edges of the trim. Remove outlet and switch covers. See Prep for Paint for more tips.

2. Not Using Painter’s Tape
Taping ensures that you’ll have clean edges and a polished finish. Make sure that you seal the tape tightly around baseboards and windows to prevent bleeding. Remove the tape before the paint dries completely. If you wait, the dried paint might peel off.

3. Not Cleaning the Walls
Have you ever finished painting and noticed dust particles or hair stuck to the walls? Or you find areas that look rippled? You can prevent this from happening by cleaning the walls before you start painting. First, run a vacuum over the walls. Then mix together one gallon of warm water with two cups of vinegar and wash them with a rag. Remember the corners and baseboards.

4. Not Buying Enough Paint
You’ve just finished painting the third wall and you’re on the home stretch, but the paint can is running on empty. No one wants to run to the store mid-project and covered in paint. Take measurements and estimate correctly. A gallon of paint typically covers 400 square feet. Then add extra to your estimate for future touchups. Use our Paint Calculator to estimate how much paint and primer you’ll need for your paint project.
Note: It’s also a good idea to get all the paint on your first trip because the color can differ slightly if it’s mixed at different times.

5. Using the Wrong Paintbrush
Use the right brush for your project. With latex paint, you’ll need a brush with synthetic (nylon/polyester) bristles. For oil-based paint, use a natural-bristle brush. Quality is also the key to the good application. You buy good paint so spend a bit extra for good brushes. Check out our Paint Tools Buying Guide to help you chose the correct brush.

6. Ignoring the Weather
If you’re doing an exterior paint project, make sure you check the humidity levels before you get started. High humidity can slow down drying time for water-based paints. If it’s going to be really humid, consider waiting a day or two.

7. Using the Wrong Paint
You’re ready to restore your grandmother’s antique armoire. You need to know what you’re working with. Has the armoire been treated with an oil-based formula? If you try to apply a latex paint over it, the paint will crack and peel. If this is the case, you have to sand down the oil-based formula before applying your new paint. If you’re unsure, take a sample of the paint (in this case, a drawer or shelf) to the store and ask someone in the paint department.

8. Skipping Primer
Don’t skip the primer. The primer provides a good surface for the paint to adhere, creating a beautiful finish. It will also help to bring out the actual color you’ve selected. And now that paint and primer are combined into one can, there’s really no excuse for skipping this step.
Note: Paint and primer in one work best on surfaces that have already been painted. If you’re working with brand new drywall or wood, use a traditional primer and then paint over it.

9. Dunking Your Brush
Don’t dunk your paintbrush completely into the can. Just dip the brush in a third of the way. You’ll avoid dripping and wasting a lot of paint.

10. Not Waiting for the Second Coat
If you paint your second coat too quickly, it could result in peeling paint or visible brush strokes, ruining all of your hard work. Follow the instructions on your paint can regarding drying time between coats. If you’re unsure of drying times, wait 24 hours.

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