The Top 5 Mistakes Pro Painters Wish You’d Stop Making

updated Sep 11, 2020
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There are some household jobs you just know you’ll probably need a professional for, like replacing an old roof. But there are plenty of other things you might consider tackling yourself, like a simple paint refresh. Whether an entire room or a single piece of furniture, painting is one of those to-do list items that many homeowners decide to go weekend warrior-style on. For good reason, too: Doing a paint job yourself can save you a decent chunk of change. 

But there’s something you should know before you decide to wield the brush yourself: While the task is relatively easy compared to other projects, there are a handful of pitfalls inexperienced DIYers tend to fall prey to. And these relatively benign mistakes can cost both time and money, particularly if you need to hire a pro to remedy the situation. 

To save you the heartache and the hassle, pro painters share some of the most common mistakes novices make, so you’ll walk away with a project you’re proud of. 

1. Selecting the wrong paint for the surface.

It turns out you can botch a paint job before you even walk out of the store with a can of paint in hand. “Each surface, whether its wood, sheetrock, or brick, requires a different type of paint,” says Matt Kunz, President of Five Star Painting, a Neighborly company. When you select the wrong paint, you might not notice it right away, but chances are you’ll experience problems in the long run, he explains. “Painting with the wrong paint can cause problems like bubbling or peeling,” Kunz says.

2. Selecting the wrong paint for the space.

Similarly, paints come in many finishes, like satin, eggshell, and semigloss. When painting any room, it’s important to consider this, says Bobby Mikula, product manager in the consumer brands group for Sherwin-Williams and Valspar Paint.

This is particularly important in areas with inconsistent environmental conditions, like the bathroom. “When looking for bathroom paint, make sure the paint says mildew-resistant,” says Mikula. “Other than that, if you are painting a functional room like a kitchen, bathroom, or mudroom, using a premium paint in any sheen like eggshell or above works great.” But skip the higher sheens for any rough areas, like an old door, as a higher sheen can really highlight imperfections, says Mikula.

3. Failing to prepare the surfaces

Step away from the paint brush. “Preparation is the most important part of any painting project,” says Mikula. “Unfortunately, this step is often skipped and can lead to a number of failures, such as lack of adhesion, poor hiding, poor sheen uniformity, or an uneven surface appearance.” Before painting, remove wallpaper and loose, peeling paint. You also want to sand glossy surfaces dull and wipe clean, as well as patch any cracks and spot prime.

4. Putting too much paint on the brush or roller

This is a bit of a catch-22 — if you don’t load the brush or roller with enough paint, you’ll likely need another coat — but you don’t want to glop paint on, either. “Apply a generous amount of paint on your brush or roller, being careful not to load so much that it drips everywhere,” says Cindy Praesel, owner of Five Star Painting in Waco, a Neighborly Company. If you decide you need another coat, wait until the paint is dry to the touch before painting over it.

5. Leaving painter’s tape on for too long

Before you begin painting, you may want to tape off some edges to help protect items like windows and trim or to create straighter lines. But once you’ve painted, be sure to remove the tape before the paint dries, says Praesel. “Waiting too long can result in peeling up the paint when you pull the tape off.” That means all your care in painting a crisp line will be for nothing, since the edges will be rough.

Additionally, painter’s tape that’s left on too long can be difficult to remove and even damage the surface you’re trying to protect in the first place. For example, if you leave tape on hardwood floors for too long, it can easily remove the finish, says Kunz. Put it down just before you tape, and pull it up before your second coat dries—your home will look better for it.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 5 Mistakes Pro Painters Wish You’d Stop Making