7 Painting Mistakes You May Be Making And How To Fix Them

What you need to know before you crack open a paint can.

The more time you spend at home, the more you might be looking to hit the refresh button on your space. So why not add a fresh coat to your walls? Not only is it a low-effort way to make a huge statement, but you can also do it on the cheap. While some people might want to enlist a professional, it's incredibly easy (and oftentimes relaxing) to do it yourself.

"Big brush strokes of paint on large canvases give an enormous sense of well-being," explains Annie Sloan, a paint and color expert as well as the creator of Chalk Paint. "You can feel your anxiety dissipate with each movement," she says. "[There's also the] feeling of satisfaction when you're finished—[especially at] a time when it feels like our to-do lists are growing out of control."

Gray Painted Walls Pink Dining Table
Courtesy Annie Sloan

The downside? If you're new to painting walls, you might be making some crucial mistakes without even realizing it. To help, here are the seven biggest mistakes people make when painting their homes—along with how to fix the faux pas.

01 of 07

The Power of Procrastination

Painted Upholstered Chair
Courtesy Annie Sloan

Whoever came up with the phrase "watching paint dry" really wasn't kidding. As easy as it is, painting your walls can be tedious and time-consuming. Instead of committing a weekend to your walls, most people are prone to putting it off, again and again. But think of painting your walls as a more stylish version of ripping off a bandage. The sooner you do it, the happier you'll be—and the better your space will look.

"The first mistake is being frightened of the commitment and therefore repeatedly putting it off," Sloan shares. "People overestimate how onerous a task painting can be, but the process can be profoundly therapeutic."

Find a way to bring some fun into this task.

"Choose a good podcast or an energizing radio station to keep you company," she recommends.

02 of 07

Forgetting to Swatch

Blue Painted Sideboard
Courtesy Annie Sloan

Contrary to popular belief, liking a paint chip doesn't mean the color in question will be the perfect match for your space. Before you commit to a particular shade, test it out on your walls.

"The light in each room of each house is totally unique and you'll notice nuance in color in some spaces which you don't in others," Sloan says.

But what are you supposed to do if a color isn't love at first sight? Stop painting and pause.

"Wait until it's dried because during the drying process colors will look very different to how they end up," she says. "Walk away, fix a cup of tea, and return with fresh eyes."

More times than not, you'll be happy with how it looks. And, if you're still not crazy about the color, you'll have less repainting to do than if you'd barreled onwards regardless. It's a win-win.

03 of 07

Skimping On Supplies

Orange Painted Walls
Courtesy Annie Sloan

When it comes to paint, Sloan says you get what you pay for.

"Invest in the right paint," she says. "A higher quality paint will give a higher quality finish. Don't expect a 'color-matched' paint to achieve the same depth, complexity, finish, pigment integrity, and coverage as a more expensive alternative."

Ultimately, paint will be a permanent fixture in your home. So, why cut corners only for it to chip or fade a few months later? Instead, invest in your primer, paint, and brushes. The upgrade might cause a little bit of sticker shock, but it'll pay off in the long run.

"You wouldn't use tomato ketchup instead of fresh tomatoes in a salad and expect the same result," she explains. "Give yourself the best tools to complete the job so you won't be disappointed in the end result."

If you're looking for inspiration, take a look at these designer-approved shades.

04 of 07

Skipping Prep

Powder Bath with Simple Stone Paint Walls
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kendra Surface

Before you do any painting, there is some basic prep work to get ready. Even if your walls look clean, you don't want to skip this step. There's nothing worse than seeing the rippled lines of the dirt you've just painted over. Use a soft rag or vacuum attachment to remove any dirt and dust. If there's grime, clean walls with a diluted solution of a multi-surface cleaner, such as Pine-Sol, and water (see product label for instructions).

Cover any furniture and remove outlet covers, fixtures, and doorknobs. Apply filler to dings or holes, sand rough areas, and use primer on any stains so they don't resurface later. The effort will show in your finished work.

05 of 07

Piling On the Paint

Navy Painted Walls
Courtesy Annie Sloan

Once it's finally time to apply your first coat, remember that less is more.

"Don't overload brushes and rollers thinking it'll somehow help you paint faster," Sloan says. "You're more likely to get runs, bubbling, or to simply spray paint droplets all over the place. The clean-up will end up taking much longer than if you'd been more patient and methodical with paint application."

If you want to minimize the time you spend cleaning up even more, lay down dust sheets before you get started. Thought it may feel like it takes a long time, Sloan says it's much quicker and less annoying than cleaning paint out of carpet. (The mere thought of that makes us cringe!)

Speaking of applying paint, Sloan recommends using paint brushes instead of a typical roller.

"I find the finish to be more luxurious," she explains. "Plus, I hate washing up rollers!"

06 of 07

Not Enough Drying Time

Coral Paint
Anntua/Getty Images

After the first coat of paint is done, let it dry for a few hours before starting on the second coat. The paint needs plenty of time to dry between coats or it may end up looking streaky or uneven or bubbling. The surface of the paint may feel dry to the touch, but what's underneath may still be wet. Give your first coat about three hours to dry before you start your second coat. Water-based paints dry faster than oil-based paints.

07 of 07

Ignoring Your Furniture

Green Painted Dresser
Courtesy Annie Sloan

Admittedly, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing the perfect shade. How does the color make you feel? How does it look in your space? How does the color work with your furniture? Sloan says it's important to find a shade that works with your decor, not against it.

"My favorite tip is to start with your accent color," she shares. "Perhaps there's a cushion, painting, or view from the window with a certain bold color that you'd love to emphasize. Then, work backwards. Choose a neutral that complements that color; you want an opposite."

Looking for a shade of paint to go with your blue sofa? Opt for a hue with warm undertones. If your accent shade is a burnt orange, terra-cotta, or saffron, contrast it with a cool-toned white.

"[By doing so,] the space feels directional rather than frumpy and overly warm," Sloan adds.

That said, just because a shade doesn't initially go with your furniture doesn't mean it deserves an immediate veto. If you want to breathe a new life into your furniture, you can always add a fresh coat of paint to your favorite pieces.

"It can be the finishing touch which ties everything together," she says. "With Chalk Paint, you can freshen up flooring, radiators and even decorative objects to give a very pulled-together look."

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