What to Do if Your Touchup Paint is Lighter

paintbrush applying lighter paint to darker background
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-150
What You'll Need
What You'll Need

Whether you're looking to touch up a wall in a home you've lived in for twenty years, or you're new to a space where the walls need a little TLC, chances are, you're going to need touch-up paint at some point.

And while using touchup paint should be fairly straightforward, sometimes the paint doesn't match perfectly, and there are a few ways to troubleshoot that problem.

Paint Matching

If you're new to a space and don't know which paint colors are on your wall, there's a pretty simple solution. Carefully scrape a bit of the existing paint off of the wall and take it to a good paint store where they can color match it.

You need a large enough sample that the paint store can get a good idea of the color, but you definitely don't need to take in a large chunk. We recommend purchasing a small, sample size of the touch-up paint to start, in case you need color adjustments.

Once you have your touch-up paint made up, go home and test a very small piece of it in a discreet spot. We recommend right next to the floor or baseboard. Let the paint dry completely before determining if it's a good match or not. If the match isn't great, take a picture of the paint on the wall to take to the paint store.

They will be able to use this to help them adjust the paint formula. To take an accurate picture, turn off all overhead lights and open the window. Use as much natural light as possible but don't let the paint spots be in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight or room lights can change the color of the paint in a picture.

light blue paint on roller

If Paint is Too Light

If your paint is too light, there are a few things you can do without going to the paint store to have them mix a new color.

You can try to color the paint a little darker yourself. This is tedious and a little risky, but we've seen it done. Use other paints of the same brand, type, and sheen to darken the paint. Start really slow and mix well between each addition of darker paint.

Sometimes the way the paint is applied changes the way the light hits the paint and makes it appear lighter. Make sure to use the same application method to apply touch-up paint as was used for the original paint job. Try to stick to just the spot that needs the touch-up paint so as not to draw more attention to the patch job.

Another solution to paint being too light might simply be another coat of paint. Sometimes, to get the coverage you want, you will need to add two or three coats of paint. If your first round of touchup paint doesn't work great, give it another coat in twenty-four hours and see if that darkens it up.

Sometimes, cheaper paint changes color over time and if that's the case, your touch-up job may need to turn into a whole new paint job. Refreshing all of the paint on your walls can be a pain, but it makes your home look instantly newer, cleaner, and fresher—so it's not all bad.

hand with brush painting second coat

Touch-up Paint for New Builds

And if you're lucky enough to be in a new build, don't hold your breath because unscathed walls won't last long. Make sure to ask your builder for exact paint colors and finishes so that you can always find the right paint color.

Most builders are willing to leave you a can of touch-up paint for your walls and baseboards. If your builder isn't willing to leave behind touch-up paint, ask for the color name and code so that you have both on file for later on.

Often times in a new build that isn't completely custom, builders will use inexpensive, builder-grade paint. If you find your walls are scuffing easily, are hard to clean, and need regular touch-ups, consider repainting your walls the same color of paint in a higher-quality paint.

No matter what you're trying to paint or touch up, be patient with the process. It can be frustrating at times but the end result is always worth it.