5 Painting Mistakes…You Don’t want to Make

Mistake #1  Not taking the time to cover your furniture or flooring

This is the most expensive mistake of all (painters included) according to paint related insurance claims. Making sure the floor and your belongings are protected is the wisest element of preparing for any paint job. The best way to protect a room is to cover your furnishings with a layer of plastic making sure you tape any overlapping seams together: you’d be surprised at what angle and speed paint drops fly through the room to land on your new couch or carpet. These ‘accidents’ stem from tapping the inside of a paint can with your brush as you take it out of the can with a load of paint on it, rolling the ceiling and walls, just plain sloppiness with an overloaded brush or having a paint can tip over while on a ladder.

You can use drop sheets but these will allow any dust created from sanding to reach and settle on the furniture. Once you have the furniture covered with plastic, you’ll want to cover the floor using drop sheets since these have pores and are thick enough to hold any spilled paint until it is wiped up and will allow smaller paint drops to dry. Using plastic to protect the floor/carpet means there is nothing to absorb the paint spills/drops leaving you subject to tracking paint onto uncovered areas of the house while creating a work hazard because of its slippery surface. Drop sheets work best on floors. You can always vacuum the dust off the floor once the drop sheet is removed.

Mistake #2  Buying the least expensive paint

For many people, one of the first considerations when purchasing paint is the cost. All too often the cost of the paint is the deciding factor in selecting it. People often forget about paint quality. The expense of buying cheap paint comes in the form of having to deal with the paint fading or yellowing over time. And then there’s the question of washing your surfaces later. Cheaper paints simply aren’t nearly as washable as other higher quality paints. They will often leave a washed area looking like it was rubbed with a fine meshed scrub pad. Good quality paints will leave little if any evidence that it’s been washed. Better quality paints also provide better adhesion and longer term protection of the surface being painted.

Cheaper brands most often provide less opacity which translates into less cover up over surfaces being repainted and more coats of paint required to hide the older surface. A good hint of whether paint is of good quality is its thickness. If the paint ‘swirls’ in a can when moving the can in a light circular motion as though it has more liquid in it than the others, then it probably does. Sticking with brand name paint manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore, Sico and others who specialize in the manufacturing of paints is a good place to start. Generic ‘Walmart’ and ‘Zellers’ branded paints usuallly fall into the ‘other’ category of paints.

Mistake #3  Painting a latex product over an oil-based product

This is a mistake which many painters have had nightmares over because once latex paint has dried over oil based paint; the only way to get it off is to sand/scrape it off. Painting with an oil based paint over latex is OK but doing the reverse will cause you grief for many years to come since any further coats of paints applied will stick to the latex only. Up until recent years, painting latex over oil was taboo since it had no adhesion properties designed to make it stick to oil surfaces, which meant that you could literally take it off using a fingernail or even just attempting to wash the wall. If you must use latex over oil, buy 100% acrylic latex and if the walls are glossy at all, you are best advised to sand them prior to applying the acrylic paint.

Sanding the walls will improve adhesion which is the only sticking point to consider when applying latex over oil. While this is a good way to improve adhesion of latex paint to an oil based paint, the best method to eliminate problems related to adhesion all together is to first apply one coat of latex ‘conversion’ primer paint prior to applying your finish coat of paint. This will create a strong ‘binding’ or ‘tie’ coat of paint to allow your latex finish paint to adhere without further concerns and without having to sand any walls.

Mistake #4  Using tape on door hardware, floors and smothering paint onto baseboards

There is a common myth that the best way to avoid getting paint on different colored trim or a varnished floor is to tape it with masking tape first. This is another time waster that will cause you grief. The worse part if that you won’t notice anything until you pull the tape off, which is when most people have completed the paint job and simply want to throw their paint brush as far as they can fling it. The tape almost never provides a good seal to keep paint colors separate.

The best way is having a good old fashioned human hand that can glide a paint brush in a straight line along the trim. Most people are surprised to know they can indeed create a nice straight line without making a mess of the trim. Especially when cutting in baseboards, since they are not as visible from eye level and are less likely to jump out at anyone inspecting the quality of your work.

Using a thin cloth around a putty knife to wipe any paint off the trim or floor as you paint actually is much less time consuming and does a cleaner and more professional looking job. The only areas you should have to use tape on are things like handrails, plastic baseboards or special situations such as tiled baseboards that have grout along the wall. As far as door handles and door frame strike-plates go, these should be removed all together and re-installed once the paint has had time to dry.

Mistake #5  Buying an extra can of paint of the same color and expecting it to match perfectly.

Just because you get the same type of paint using the same color formula does not guarantee the color will match exactly. The best way to get around this is to mix all the paint that is supposed to be the same color in a 5 gallon pail and stir it. This is the only way to ensure you will have color consistency throughout. This is especially true with darker colors so make sure you mix those paints before you start painting. There is nothing worse than checking your paint job the next day and realizing the colors at the top and side of your walls (where you used a brush) are a different shade than the paint that was applied with a paint roller.

If it looks like you are running out of paint and you don’t think you will have enough to finish the room, you should get an extra can of paint and combine it/them with the existing paint before starting your next wall. When you start the next wall with your new paint, treat it like it was a different color. This will ensure you have color consistency on all your walls and prevent the frustration of having to do it over.