Avoid these common painting pitfalls with these expert painting tips, and everyone will think you hired a professional. 

By Marla Christiansen
Updated August 22, 2018
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There’s nothing like a brand new coat of paint to completely transform a room. But with an overwhelming selection of paint options out there and so many ways to make a little misstep, even the most prepared painter is bound to make a mistake. Thankfully, we’ve found some simple solutions to common painting mistakes so you can learn to paint like a pro.

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1
Using the Wrong Brush

If you ever find yourself struggling with a paint job, check to see if you’re using the right type of brush. Applying water-based latex paint with a natural-bristle brush will result in bristles that are limp from absorbing the water in the paint, making the paint nearly impossible to spread. While using a quality brush will get you far, achieving a smooth, professional finish begins with determining the proper applicator for the job. Natural-bristle brushes work best with oil-based paints. Synthetic brushes, made from nylon and polyester, are the perfect match for water-based latex paint.

2
Leaving Painter's Tape Up Too Long

For clean lines and crisp edges, painter’s tape is a must. Taping ensures professional-looking results, but when left on for an extended amount of time, can cause peeling paint upon removal. Ideally, tape should be removed about an hour after you’ve finished painting. But if you’ve let it sit for too long and the paint starts coming up, you’re not out of luck. Use a razor blade to gently score along the edge of the tape as you peel it back. You can also try using a blow dryer to heat up and loosen the adhesive, using your fingers to roll it away from the wall.

3
Disregarding the Weather

Paint doesn’t handle extreme temperatures very well, so if you’re beginning a paint project make sure you’re mindful of the weather. High levels of humidity will slow down the drying time for water-based paints. Freezing temperatures prevent paint from drying evenly, causing cracking and peeling. Extreme heat will make paint bubble or will dry paint too quickly, leaving you with an uneven finish. If your paint isn’t applying properly, check with the manufacturer to see what the optimal temperature is for the paint. You may have to make adjustments, like using a space heater or portable air conditioner, or reschedule your project for another day.

4
Forgetting the Importance of Primer

When going from a dark paint color to a lighter one, primer becomes invaluable in preventing the old color from bleeding through. Just as bleed through occurs with drastic color changes, it can also happen when painting wood. Wood naturally contains tannins, which can migrate to the surface when wet, causing staining and discoloration. You can fix this problem by sealing the wood with a tannin-blocking primer before painting. If there is significant bleed through, consider using two coats of primer before applying the new color.

5
Getting Roller Marks on the Ceiling

The space where the wall meets the ceiling doesn’t leave much room for imprecision. When tackling this tight space, it’s easy to bump the ceiling with the roller, creating a tricky touch-up job. If the paint is still wet, immediately spray some window cleaner on the spot and wipe away. The best way to prevent this issue is by taping off the ceiling and brushing on a horizontal strip of paint to cover the top five or so inches of the wall. This will give you a generous buffer zone, allowing you to steer clear of the ceiling.

6
Not Preparing a Glossy Surface

Often chosen for its durability, glossy paint has excellent resistance to dirt and grease. The same thing that protects glossy surfaces from smudges and fingerprints also keeps new paint from adhering properly to them. This can be easily fixed by sanding the glossy finish to give the paint something to grab onto. Sanding should be followed by a thorough cleaning to get rid of any remaining particles. Alternatively, liquid deglossers can be simply wiped onto the finish to create a paint-ready surface.

7
Using Water-Based Paint on Top of Wallpaper

Painting over wallpaper is no more difficult than painting any other wall, but there is one caveat. Water-based paints and primers might reactivate wallpaper glue, causing it to bubble up or peel off. Instead, use an oil-based primer to prevent any problems with proper adhesion.