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Avoiding and fixing common painting mistakes

Doing your own painting is fun, but mistakes are inevitable. Here’s how to avoid them so that you can paint like a pro or fix the mistakes if they’ve already been made… oops! Don’t despair, most painting mistakes are fairly easily avoided and fixed.

Common painting mistakes

Paint dripping

Of all the painting mistakes, paint dripping is one of the most common. Everyone wants a smooth finish when they paint their walls so paint dripping down your walls is not ideal.

Avoid: Don’t dip your paintbrush too deep into the paint otherwise your it will have too much paint on it. This will result in the excess paint dripping down your walls.
Fix: Use a scraper to carefully scrape away the dry paint drips then sand the area until it is smooth and repaint the area.

Alligatoring

If you wanted a pattern on your wall then you probably would have gone with wallpaper instead of a coat of paint. Alligatoring is when a patterned cracking, resembling alligator scales, occurs on your painted wall.

Avoid: Don’t apply a hard or rigid coating instead of a more flexible coating. It’s also important not to apply a top coat before your undercoat has dried properly.
Fix: Remove old paint by scraping it away and sanding the surface down. Prime the surface with high-quality primer and paint with an appropriate top quality paint.

Brush marks

A good painter should leave no evidence of his brush strokes. Unless it’s an effect you’re going for, getting your walls as smooth as possible is always the aim.

Avoid: Don’t overload your paintbrush or use poor painting techniques.
Fix: Sand the area down (a machine sander will be quickest) and then repaint the area.

Blistering

Blistering occurs when bubbles (from localised loss of adhesion) lift the paint film from underneath the surface.

Avoid: Don’t paint a warm surface in direct sunlight or apply an oil-based or alkyd paint over a damp/wet surface. If possible, prevent your paint from being exposed to high humidity or rain shortly after the paint has dried.
Fix: If the blisters go down then try to remove the source of moisture (e.g. install vents or exhaust fans). If the blisters don’t go down to the substrate then scrape them away, sand the surface, use primer and repaint with high-quality paint.

Stains

Stains don’t go unnoticed. And unfortunately, there are no quick solutions to paint stains like there are when it comes to clothing stains.

Avoid: If you properly prime areas before painting them then you can avoid stains from showing through.
Fix: Thoroughly clean the area, let it dry, apply an undercoat over the stain, let it dry and paint over the stained area.

Cracking

Cracking is the splitting of a dry paint film. It usually starts as hairline cracks and gets worse over time.

Avoid: Don’t use a low-quality paint that doesn’t have good adhesion and flexibility properties, don’t thin out the paint too much, make sure you adequately prepare the surface and don’t paint in cool or windy conditions that will result in the paint drying too fast.
Fix: Scrape off the loose paint with a scraper or wire brush, sand the area down until it is smooth once again (this may take a long time), apply primer and repaint.

Fading

Your wall may look bright for a moment, but then prematurely lighten. This is usually the result of being exposed to too much sun or chalking of the paint coat.

Avoid: Don’t use interior paint for exterior application, don’t use low-quality paint, try not to paint with colours that are particularly vulnerable to UV radiation and don’t over tint an already light or medium paint base.
Fix: Repainting is the best way to fix the problem, but remove any chalking first. Make sure you use high-quality paint and colours appropriate for the area.

Peeling

Peeling paint occurs when there is poor adhesion.

Avoid: Try not to paint surfaces which have moisture issues and don’t use poor quality paint.
Fix: Identify and remove the source of moisture first. Then prepare the surface for repainting by removing loose paint, sanding the area down and priming it. Repaint with a high-quality water-resistant paint.

Which painting mistakes have you encountered and how do you avoid and/or fix them?

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