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15 Mistakes People Make When Painting Their Homes, According To An Expert

Stay away from that two-in-one paint primer...

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Painting is one of the easiest ways to drastically change a room.

But if you've never done it before, it can feel pretty daunting. So, I spoke to Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun, to get some helpful expert tips.
@topcomphomes / Via instagram.com

But if you've never done it before, it can feel pretty daunting. So, I spoke to Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun, to get some helpful expert tips.

Here are a few common mistakes people make when painting a room:

Along with expert advice on how to do things the right way!

1. You aren't properly repairing your walls before painting.

Doing wall repairs can be an aggravating project, but making sure that you're working on a smooth surface that doesn't have any cracks, holes, or nail pops is 100% necessary. If you have holes in your walls, sand away any flaking paint, then use your finger to apply a tiny drop of spackle paint. Once it dries, sand it again, then prime and paint. If you're trying to cover up water damage, make sure to find and cure the source of the issue first or the problem will just return, and you'll have wasted all that hard work.
@cornerstonefarmhouse / Via instagram.com

Doing wall repairs can be an aggravating project, but making sure that you're working on a smooth surface that doesn't have any cracks, holes, or nail pops is 100% necessary. If you have holes in your walls, sand away any flaking paint, then use your finger to apply a tiny drop of spackle paint. Once it dries, sand it again, then prime and paint. If you're trying to cover up water damage, make sure to find and cure the source of the issue first or the problem will just return, and you'll have wasted all that hard work.

2. You're not cleaning your surfaces before painting.

Cleaning your walls is another essential step in the painting process. Dirt, grease, and even crayon can cause bubbling or an uneven coat, so dust or vacuum, then use a damp wash cloth to rub off any marks. "When painting greasy kitchen cabinets, we’ll use trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is a tougher cleaner meant for painting prep," says Nokes. "If I'm cleaning the exterior of the home, I might do some hand-cleaning with TSP before power-washing."Get a pound of TSP from Amazon for $3.96.
Fotoduets / Getty Images

Cleaning your walls is another essential step in the painting process. Dirt, grease, and even crayon can cause bubbling or an uneven coat, so dust or vacuum, then use a damp wash cloth to rub off any marks. "When painting greasy kitchen cabinets, we’ll use trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is a tougher cleaner meant for painting prep," says Nokes. "If I'm cleaning the exterior of the home, I might do some hand-cleaning with TSP before power-washing."

Get a pound of TSP from Amazon for $3.96.

3. Or you're using a Magic Eraser, or other strong cleaning product, to clean the walls before you paint.

Anything stronger than multipurpose cleaner — especially something like Magic Erasers — can rub paint off the walls. If a damp wash cloth isn't gonna cut it, Nokes suggests sticking to diluted dish soap.
amazon.com

Anything stronger than multipurpose cleaner — especially something like Magic Erasers — can rub paint off the walls. If a damp wash cloth isn't gonna cut it, Nokes suggests sticking to diluted dish soap.

4. You're skipping the primer.

Primer will make your paint job more durable, helps the paint adhere to the wall, and covers up darker colors. "If you're painting drywall or painting over deep colors like cranberry, hunter green, neon, and some yellows, you'll need to use a primer," says Nokes. You'll also need to use primer to cover glossy finishes or spackled holes. However, if you're just doing a refresh coat with the original color, this step is unnecessary.
Madamlead / Getty Images

Primer will make your paint job more durable, helps the paint adhere to the wall, and covers up darker colors. "If you're painting drywall or painting over deep colors like cranberry, hunter green, neon, and some yellows, you'll need to use a primer," says Nokes. You'll also need to use primer to cover glossy finishes or spackled holes. However, if you're just doing a refresh coat with the original color, this step is unnecessary.

5. Or you're using a "self-priming" paint to save on time.

While there is primer in this kind of paint, the combo isn't effective enough to fully replace the extra step. "It'll work if it's the exact same color," says Nokes. "But if you're changing colors, you still need to prime and then paint."
@scrapwoodandstilllife / Via instagram.com

While there is primer in this kind of paint, the combo isn't effective enough to fully replace the extra step. "It'll work if it's the exact same color," says Nokes. "But if you're changing colors, you still need to prime and then paint."

6. You're covering everything in painter's tape.

Covering all of your trim with tape is pretty time consuming and, at the end of the day, probably won't give you perfectly straight lines. Instead, most painters use an angled brush to get around the ceiling, baseboards, and corners of a room. "A good quality brush like a Wooster or Purdy brush goes a long way," says Nokes. Get a Wooster angle brush from Amazon for $6.17 or a Purdy brush for $12.49.
@frogtape / Via instagram.com

Covering all of your trim with tape is pretty time consuming and, at the end of the day, probably won't give you perfectly straight lines. Instead, most painters use an angled brush to get around the ceiling, baseboards, and corners of a room. "A good quality brush like a Wooster or Purdy brush goes a long way," says Nokes.

Get a Wooster angle brush from Amazon for $6.17 or a Purdy brush for $12.49.

7. Or you're not using your tape the right way.

If you don't totally trust yourself to get a straight edge with a brush (hey, we're not all professionals!), Nokes says it's totally fine to use tape, as long as you do it properly. She suggests pulling the tape away before the paint fully dries, so it doesn't get stuck, and always using FrogTape, which is gentle and won't lift your base paint off the walls.Get FrogTape from Amazon for $9.04.
@frogtape / Via instagram.com

If you don't totally trust yourself to get a straight edge with a brush (hey, we're not all professionals!), Nokes says it's totally fine to use tape, as long as you do it properly. She suggests pulling the tape away before the paint fully dries, so it doesn't get stuck, and always using FrogTape, which is gentle and won't lift your base paint off the walls.

Get FrogTape from Amazon for $9.04.

8. You picked out a gloss paint for your walls.

Stick to a matte, flat, or satin paint for walls and ceilings, so they don't end up too shiny. "We save the semi-gloss for baseboards, doors, and crown moulding because those areas need cleaning the most," says Nokes.
@wherethelordingslive / Via instagram.com

Stick to a matte, flat, or satin paint for walls and ceilings, so they don't end up too shiny. "We save the semi-gloss for baseboards, doors, and crown moulding because those areas need cleaning the most," says Nokes.

9. You're only doing one coat of paint.

According to Nokes, you almost always need to do two coats — unless you're painting with the same color and finish — or the color underneath will bleed through. The paint job will also last longer, the color will look richer, and your walls will be slightly easier to clean with a double coat.
@j_davisx / Via Instagram: @j_davisx

According to Nokes, you almost always need to do two coats — unless you're painting with the same color and finish — or the color underneath will bleed through. The paint job will also last longer, the color will look richer, and your walls will be slightly easier to clean with a double coat.

10. You're not using the right brush for the job.

"I would suggest using a roller instead of a brush, because the bristles on a brush can leave lines," says Nokes. The type of nap [the fuzzy cover you put on your roller] you should choose for your roller depends on what type of paint you’re using, but typically, the smoother the surface you’re working on, the thinner the nap should be. Learn more here.
demaerre / Getty Images

"I would suggest using a roller instead of a brush, because the bristles on a brush can leave lines," says Nokes. The type of nap [the fuzzy cover you put on your roller] you should choose for your roller depends on what type of paint you’re using, but typically, the smoother the surface you’re working on, the thinner the nap should be. Learn more here.

11. You're painting right out of the can.

Pour the paint out into a bucket or a paint tray, so you don't spill or contaminate the whole can with dirt or dust. If you didn't have a chance to finish the job in one go, you can tie a plastic bag around the bucket, tray, and even your brush or roller, and they should keep overnight.
-lvinst- / Getty Images

Pour the paint out into a bucket or a paint tray, so you don't spill or contaminate the whole can with dirt or dust. If you didn't have a chance to finish the job in one go, you can tie a plastic bag around the bucket, tray, and even your brush or roller, and they should keep overnight.

12. You're putting too much paint on the roller.

You'd think that the more paint you put on the brush the easier the job will be, but too much paint on the roller will drip and spread unevenly. Instead, just lightly dip your roller in the paint, then spread it around by rolling it up and down the tray or roller screen until the nap is saturated but not dripping.
Duh84 / Getty Images

You'd think that the more paint you put on the brush the easier the job will be, but too much paint on the roller will drip and spread unevenly. Instead, just lightly dip your roller in the paint, then spread it around by rolling it up and down the tray or roller screen until the nap is saturated but not dripping.

13. You're moving the roller around in any random direction.

Don't complicate it! Just pull the roller from the ceiling to the floor, in straight vertical lines. If you're having to push your roller with a lot of force, you need more paint.
Ronstik / Getty Images

Don't complicate it! Just pull the roller from the ceiling to the floor, in straight vertical lines. If you're having to push your roller with a lot of force, you need more paint.

14. You're painting your exterior when it's below 35 degrees.

"Once those winter months hit, you don’t want to be painting your exterior," says Nokes. If it gets below 35 degrees within the first 24 hours of painting, it won't dry properly and will remain tacky. Plus, any moisture (whether it's rain or snow) will cause the ice to bubble and peel. The same applies to painting with the windows open: If you're letting in cold or humid air, the paint will have a tougher time settling correctly. Because most new paints are made with little to no chemicals that used to let off dangerous fumes (which are called VOCs, just FYI), you don't really need to open the windows, anyway.
@yambapaintplace / Via instagram.com

"Once those winter months hit, you don’t want to be painting your exterior," says Nokes. If it gets below 35 degrees within the first 24 hours of painting, it won't dry properly and will remain tacky. Plus, any moisture (whether it's rain or snow) will cause the ice to bubble and peel. The same applies to painting with the windows open: If you're letting in cold or humid air, the paint will have a tougher time settling correctly. Because most new paints are made with little to no chemicals that used to let off dangerous fumes (which are called VOCs, just FYI), you don't really need to open the windows, anyway.

15. You're storing leftover paint in the garage.

"If it's exposed to heat in the summer or freezes in the winter, it's ruined," says Nokes. She recommends sticking it in a hall closet or the basement — anywhere that has temperature control. As long as you do that and make sure it's properly sealed, it should last for well over two years.
Artem Podporin / Getty Images

"If it's exposed to heat in the summer or freezes in the winter, it's ruined," says Nokes. She recommends sticking it in a hall closet or the basement — anywhere that has temperature control. As long as you do that and make sure it's properly sealed, it should last for well over two years.