How to Touch Up Paint Perfectly How to Touch Up Paint Perfectly

What You'll Need
mild detergent
rag, cleaning cloth, or sponge
drywall compound or spackling paste
fine grit sandpaper
wall repair patch (optional)
interior latex primer
small or medium sized paint brush

We all have that one wall that stands out in our home from wear and tear. Scratches and marks that have accumulated through the years on interior walls can make your home look shabby and unkept. Therefore, touching up the paint on your walls may be necessary from time to time to keep them looking fresh and to beautify your home. Careful attention must be taken to ensure you achieve the desired finish. Here are the steps you can take to perfectly touch up your paint job.

Step 1 - Start With a Clean Surface

Someone cleaning a wall with a pink glove and blue cloth.

Dust and dirt will accumulate on the wall over time and paint will not adhere well to a dusty, grimy surface. The area to be touched up must be cleaned before any repairs are made and also before painting. Use a sponge and a mild detergent mixed with warm water to clean the surface entirely. Dry the wall with a clean towel.

Prime and paint in a well-ventilated area. Before you begin work on the next step, open windows and/or doors to allow ventilation.

Step 2 - Repair Damage

Any wall marks or damage must be repaired before paint is applied. Use drywall compound or spackling paste to fill any nail holes and deep scratches. After patching, sand the area smooth with a fine-grit sandpaper. For holes that are two inches or larger in diameter, apply a wall repair patch prior to using joint compound or spackle. (For more information on that process, check out this article: How to Fix a Hole in the Wall.)

Step 3 - Prime the Area

For the paint to adhere and the color to blend the best, you must prime the area using a quality interior latex primer. Apply the primer using a small or medium-sized brush, depending on the size of the area to be covered. Allow the primer to dry according to manufacturer's directions.

Step 4 - Apply the Paint

A man touching up paint on a white wall.

When painting, it's best to u]se the original paint that the wall was painted with. (Always store leftover paint for this reason. Box any leftover paint after a project by taking individual gallons and mixing them together in a five-gallon bucket. This will eliminate variance of color from can to can and ensure you will have some for touch-ups down the road.)

If you have to purchase paint for a touch-up, keep in mind that not all paint is created with the same quality and some cheaper paints do not work well for touch-ups. Buy the best quality paint you can within your budget and check with a local contractor or paint salesman to find the right touch-up paint that will do the job well.

Be aware of the paint finish (i.e., eggshell, flat, gloss, semi-gloss). Use the same sheen as the existing paint. A slight difference in the sheen of paints can make the touch-up stand out. A gloss finish is the most difficult to touch-up.

Reducing the touch-up paint by 10 to 15 percent can help the paint blend in. Always follow the paint manufacturer's instructions when thinning the paint.

Apply the paint using the same method in which it was originally applied to the wall. If you are using a brush, begin at the inside of the area and move out toward the edges. Brush slightly past the area covered to blend in with the surrounding paint. This technique is called "feathering." Do the same if a roller was used.

Step 5 - Inspect the Touch-Up

After the paint is completely dry, look at the wall from different angles to see how visible the touch-ups are. Also, be sure to inspect it during different times of day to see its appearance in both artificial and natural light, and make adjustments from there.

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