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5 Interior Painting Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Painting the inside of your home is one of the least expensive and fastest ways to improve the value and look of your home. Repainting a few rooms shouldn’t be too hard, right? I mean, a paint job is straightforward- you just put some paint on a paintbrush and spread it on the wall.

Well, not quite.

Over the past 10 years as a professional painter, I have completed paint jobs for clients and family members alike. Each time I take on a job, I see countless painting mistakes that people overlook or simply don’t know how to prevent when putting on a fresh coat of paint.

It’s important to know before you take on a DIY interior painting project that a home improvement job like painting a room is a balance of skill, endurance, and attention to detail.

The good news is that DIY paint jobs can save you hundreds of dollars compared to hiring a professional, and you should be able to complete most paint jobs over a weekend.

Well, let’s look at the most common painting mistakes homeowners make so you can avoid painting mistakes that can hurt the overall look of your home.

How To Prevent & Fix 5 Common Painting Mistakes

One of the most frequent paint problems that people make when painting their walls is failing to fix uneven areas before beginning the project.

Unevenness can be caused by everything from holes and cracks to dents and gouges, and it can result in an unsightly finish.

Here are 5 of the most common interior painting mistakes many homeowners make when doing a DIY home improvement project so you can have a great-looking home without having to worry about lots of touch-ups along the way.

1. Not Washing & Prepping First

Many homeowners think that a paint job starts when you start applying the first coat of paint to a wall. However, the truth is that a DIY paint job starts with prep work.

Paint needs to adhere to the surface of your walls and trim work if you want your rooms to look amazing for years to come. This means that you need to remove any dust, dirt, and debris from the surface.

If you fail to adequately prep and wash the surfaces, you could find yourself with paint that peels off after a few months of dents, bumps, and dings.

You also need to pay special attention to areas around your house like kitchens and bathrooms since these areas tend to be high-traffic areas with lots of moisture. I recommend using a light detergent to wash away any grease and oil that could be on the walls in the kitchen and bathroom.

If you notice that your paint is peeling or cracking within a few months of repainting a room, then you can assume that you did not prep the area properly. In this case, you will need to take a paint scraper to remove the peeling paint, prep the area, and then repaint accordingly.

2. Skipping The Primer

Paint is not able to adhere to bare surfaces like metal, wood, or drywall. Instead, you need to apply a layer of primer that is specially made for the specific surface that you want to cover before you apply the first coat of paint.

You will also need to use a primer if you are repainting an area with a lighter color than the base coat. In addition, a coat of primer is needed when you want to paint over vibrant colors like yellow, red, or orange.

This is because these colors are difficult to cover with any color of paint, and primer is specially made to help mute the base coat so you can have improved coverage once you start painting.

No one likes doing extra work, but applying primer to a surface is an essential part of the painting process. You can save time by buying paint that has primer mixed in. I recommend using this type of paint for all projects since it cuts down the amount of time painting, and reduces the chances that you can make mistakes since you are touching the wall fewer times.

If your DIY paint job begins to peel or crack soon after completion then you likely didn’t use the correct primer (or any primer) before painting. In this case, you will need to use a paint tool to scrape the peeling paint off of the wall then prep and prime the area before repainting.

3. Painting A Second Coat Before The First Coat Has Dried

Painting is a home improvement job that requires patience and good timing. This is because you need to wait for the first coat of paint (and primer) to fully dry before applying the second coat of paint. Rushing the second coat of paint can cause streaks, uneven drying, and even change the color of the paint once it has dried.

I recommend waiting at least 60 minutes before applying the second coat of paint to any surface. This time will vary based on factors like the temperature and humidity of a room since high temperature and humidity will cause each coat of paint to dry slower.

In severe cases, you can cause paint drips, wrinkles, and uneven paint to form in the second coat of paint if you apply the second coat of paint too soon. This is because the paint doesn’t have enough time to adhere to the surface that you’re painting.

If you notice the paint color changes as the paint dries then you likely applied the second coat of paint too soon. In addition, if you notice roller marks, brush marks, and other issues on dried paint then you may need to repaint the area.

In these cases, you will need to prep the area with sandpaper or a sanding block to remove the drips, wrinkles, or brush marks. Once they are smoothed out you will be able to repaint the area. Just be sure to wait an appropriate amount of time before applying the paint, and try to feather out the areas as best you can to make the entire surface look professional.

4. Not Taking Off Painter’s Tape Correctly

Painter’s tape is one of the best tools that you can use for any DIY painting project since it can deliver clean lines to give your rooms a professional look. However, you need to think ahead and remove the painter’s tape at the right time to avoid having to fix painting mistakes.

Like anything else with painting, you need to have patience and time each action correctly to get a great result. I recommend removing painter’s tape 20 minutes after you apply the last coat of paint to a surface. This will ensure the paint has enough time to adhere to the surface and won’t drip, while also preventing the paint from drying to the painter’s tape and tearing.

If you notice latex paint starts to rip as you remove the painter’s tape then you likely waited too long to remove it. This is not a big deal, because you can use a razor blade to score the paint at the edge of the painter’s tape. This will prevent the tape from sticking to the paint and ripping as you remove it.

A great painting tip that I picked up over the years is that you can use a hairdryer when removing painter’s tape that has been on the wall for too long. This hack will warm up the paint so it won’t adhere to the painter’s tape and prevent the paint from ripping off the rest of the wall.

5. Not Using Drop Cloths

Let’s face it- painting your own home can be a lot of work and you might be tempted to skip basic steps before you start painting so you can get right to the project at hand. One step that many homeowners skip is laying down drop cloths around the area where they will be working.

Even as a professional painter, I know that I will make unintended mistakes during a DIY painting project. It’s just a fact of life- the paint roller might spray some paint as it rolls on the wall, or I could accidentally drip some paint when moving the paintbrush.

There is nothing worse than getting paint drips on a piece of antique furniture, carpet, or rug. In most cases you can get latex paint off of these areas with hot water and a little elbow grease, but why risk it?

It’s always a good idea to lay down several drop cloths around the area that you are painting to catch any drip and spills before they happen. You can have the best paint job in the neighborhood, but if you have lots of drips and paint splatters then the final project will look like a bad paint job.

Plus, these splatters and drips can lead to lots of clean-up, which will cost you valuable time in the long run. So for your own sake, lay down some drop cloths to help save yourself lots of time and energy in the long run!

Avoid common interior painting mistakes for a great-looking home!

By following these simple painting tips, you can avoid making common painting mistakes and have a beautiful finished project that you can be proud of.

Are you ready to get started on your next interior painting project? We are here to help!


Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a professional painter with over 10 years of experience. I want to show homeowners tips, guides, and advice to save them time and money when painting their own home. I know it can be daunting to take on a painting project yourself, but it doesn't have to be. With the right information and some guidance, you can easily paint your home and save money in the process.


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