Most Common Mistakes in Painting

Painting mistakes

This article covers the most common mistakes homeowners make when approaching a painting project, whether on a DIY basis or with the help of professionals. We'll also give you some tips on when a professional touch is needed, as well as help you find the best painting pros in your area.

Painting is one of the most popular home improvement projects out there, and with good reason. There are few projects which can so dramatically change the appearance of your home, and when compared to most other projects, painting is relatively inexpensive. Even better, paint can be changed whenever you want to redecorate!

While it's obvious why painting is so popular, it's important to remember that even the simplest-sounding projects can turn into nightmares if done improperly. Painting isn't just about loading a brush or roller...many details must be taken into account if you want your new paint job to look good.

Painting Mistake #1 - Blindly Following Trends

Looking through the latest home decorating magazines, it's easy to become inspired. Some of today's dècor trends are so eye-catching that you can't help but be intrigued. However, before you run out and purchase the supplies to redo your living room in purple and silver, stop a moment and think about it.

Far too many homeowners make the mistake of taking up each trend they see in magazines or on television. While magazines and home decorating shows are great places to find inspiration, it's important not to be a slave to trends. Just like in fashion, painting trends come and go very quickly. The unique look that's hot right now will likely be replaced in just a few years (if that), giving your home an outdated look. In addition, many of the trendiest color schemes require matching accessories, raising the price of your paint job.

Trendy colors on home exteriors are almost always mistakes. While it's great to show off your unique style, a vibrant pink home on a street full of beige ones may be a bit much. In fact, depending on where you live, it could lead to fines and having to repaint in an approved hue. Check with the appropriate community organizations, such as homeowner's associations, to find out if which colors are approved...and if any are your neighborhood. A much safer way to show your style is with dramatically colored trim on a neutral house. Not only is it less likely to anger your neighbors, but it's also a snap to redo when the next inspiration strikes!

Finding inspiration is great. Just make sure that the trend you spy in a magazine will work with your home's overall dècor, your budget and your lifestyle. Bright metallics, deep dramatic colors and shockingly bright shades look great on television, but living with them day after day is another story.

If you truly love one of the current trendy shades, consider painting just one wall. This is known as an accent wall, and it's a great way to try out the latest trends without committing an entire room.

Another way to stay current without going too far is to take a trendy hue and tone it down a bit. Love purple? Try lilac or lavender, and start small. Mix the trendy hue with timeless neutrals to make it even more livable.

Stopping to consider how a trendy paint color will look in your home long-term will help you avoid this common painting mistake.

Painting Mistake #2 - Failure to Buy Enough Paint

You may be thinking that if you run out of paint, it's no big deal. After all, you can just return to the store and have them mix another gallon, right?

Wrong. Even when paint is mixed to exacting specifications, the shades can easily vary slightly from gallon to gallon. If you're painting an entire room, this can quickly become a big problem if one wall suddenly looks “off.” Even worse, you might end up with a single wall which is slightly darker or lighter on one side!

When purchasing your paint, buy more than you think you'll need. It's always a good idea to have some left over, in case you need to touch up your trim or walls. Even if you never need the excess, you'll avoid this common mistake and the headaches that come with it.

Painting Mistake #3 - Buying the Cheapest Paint Available

Painting is a great, budget-friendly way to change the look of your home. However, purchasing the cheapest paint you can find is likely to actually cost you more money in the long run. Extremely cheap paint is more likely to require multiple coats in order to achieve the color you want. It's also harder to work with, and often dries unevenly. Many homeowners have made this mistake, only to return to the store and purchase a higher grade of paint, significantly raising the price of their paint job.

There's no need to purchase the most expensive paint on the market; these paints aren't necessarily the best. Ask your contractor which brands he or she likes. If your paint job is a DIY project, ask a knowledgeable employee at the store which brands they've heard the best comments about. You'll probably be directed to a mid-range product.

Painting Mistake #4 - Hiring Inexperienced Workers

If you decide to hire workers for your painting project, remember that painting is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes practice to get it down perfectly.

If you're hiring workers, you've probably already decided that your own painting skills aren't up to the task. It makes no sense to pay an amateur for the work, when they're likely to have the same skill level you have.

If you want your painting job to have a professional look, play it safe and hire actual professionals. Home improvement websites can help you find the best and most experienced in your area.

Painting Mistake #5 - Using the Wrong Paint

This mistake sounds extremely obvious, but many homeowners have planned a beautiful exterior paint job, purchased paint, brought it home and applied it...only to realize that they used interior paint.

If you're working with professionals, this mistake isn't a concern for you. However, if you're tackling painting on your own, make sure you're using the proper formulation.

A less obvious variation of this mistake is using the wrong finish. Interior paint can be found in gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, and matte or flat finishes. There are specific uses for each finish.

Gloss is just what the name implies. These paints dry to a very shiny finish, almost like plastic. They can add exciting visual interest when used on trim or accents. Don't make the mistake of painting an entire wall with gloss-finish paint; the end result is too dramatic for most homes is also best in bathrooms, since it can withstand splashes and humidity better than any other finish. Glossy paint enhances imperfections, so make sure that any surface is perfectly finished and sanded before painting.

Semi-gloss gives a shiny appearance without looking like plastic, and is much more popular than true gloss. Trim work, doors, cabinet fronts and accent pieces are all great applications for semi-gloss paint.

Satin is the next step down in terms of shine. A satin finish is perfect for most rooms in your home, and is often recommended for areas where you have to wash the walls more often than usual, like the kitchen or a children's' play area.

Eggshell finishes are, like gloss, exactly what their name implies. Also great in areas where frequent washing is expected, eggshell paint is not shiny, but not quite matte.

Flat and matte finishes are completely without shine. These finishes are very popular for walls, but most formulas and brands are not washable. A common mistake when dealing with matte paint is failing to keep some extra on hand for touch-ups. Often, after removing a spot from a matte wall, a faded area is visible. Extra paint in the proper shade lets you fix these spots immediately. Flat or matte paint is great on walls which have a number of surface imperfections. They don't reflect any light, so the imperfections are much less noticeable.

To avoid making a finish mistake during a DIY project (contractors know which finishes are best in which areas), ask a knowledgeable salesperson when you purchase your paint.

Hiring the Best Professionals

Hiring painters can be complicated, simply because painting isn't a licensed or certified skill. A handyman can be a truly outstanding house painter with absolutely no formal training. There isn't formal training for painting; every contractor and professional has learned on the job.

Since you can't rely on licensing or other certifications when searching for a reputable painting contractor, home improvement websites are a truly wonderful resource. These sites allow you to see how long a painter has been in the business. In many cases, you can read reviews from former clients, giving you valuable insight.

Once you start making phone calls, ask each painter for pictures of their finished work. Due to the non-licensed nature of the industry, nearly every professional painter takes these pictures to document their talents. By reading reviews, asking about how long the painter has been in the business and viewing pictures of past projects, you can make an informed hiring decision.

Posted by: Diane Sheppard
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