Mastering The Art Of Touch-Up Painting Your WallsJeremy Holderness
Knowing that these little accidents are just part of the process, the best time to prepare for touch-up painting your walls is when you're planning your project.
The Kind of Paint You Buy Makes A Difference
As we've discussed in other blog posts, all paint is not created equal. Not only does paint come in many different colors but it also comes in many different levels of quality -- and price. Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to spend $80/gallon on your interior wall paint, however, you do tend to get what you pay for.
The best suggestion would be to buy the highest quality paint you can afford to purchase and still stay within the budget of your project. I recommend a minimum of a mid-grade paint as they tend to have better coverage per coat and even touch-up better than their less-expensive counterparts. Yes, that's right...some paints do touch-up better than others, so make sure you check with your contractor or the salesperson at your local paint store and request that you are getting a paint that will do the job well for you.
Box Your Paint
If it's going to take several gallons of the same color to paint an area in your home then it's always a good idea to 'box' your paint. Boxing your paint means to take your individual gallons and mix them together in a larger container -- like a 5 gallon bucket -- so that you eliminate the possibility of there being a variance from batch-to-batch or gallon-to-gallon.
That way, if you save a little leftover paint when the job's done you'll be sure to have some touch-up paint that is not only the same color but out of the exact same batch as the paint that's on any given area of your walls, which is key to getting it to blend in well.
Match The Texture or Use The Brush Technique
There seems to be a couple of different schools of thought among professional painters as to the best way to achieve a good touch-up. Some like to use the exact same type of applicator that was originally used to apply the paint to get a perfect match on the texture, while others claim that using the brush technique for touch-ups is best.
The easiest method is probably matching the texture that's already on the wall. Obviously, a paint brush will leave a different texture on your wall than a roller cover will, but did you know that different types and nap thicknesses of roller covers will also leave different textures on your wall?
It's best to have an extra roller cover handy after the project's over in case you need to break it out for just such an event. Just make sure it's the same exact type and nap thickness as the one(s) that were used on your walls.
One more point to mention about roller covers when you're trying to match texture. The nap on many covers is what you would call 'directional', just the same as the nap you will find on the wall-to-wall carpeting of most homes. If you take your hand along your carpet and brush it in one direction you will notice the fibers standing up, and if you brush it in the opposite direction the fibers will lay down. The same is true with directional roller covers -- and the direction you roll them on the final pass of your wall will affect the texture it leaves.
A technique that you will notice a lot of professional painters using when applying paint to the walls to maintain a consistent texture is called 'tipping-off'. Tipping-off is where they will apply the paint to the wall, roll it out evenly, then come over the area that was just applied and gently give it a final roll in one direction -- from ceiling to floor -- using just the weight of the roller frame without applying any additional pressure.
So when you do your touchup try tipping-off the area in one final direction as I described above. When you're done, wrap your roller cover up tight in a plastic grocery bag so it won't dry out on you. When the touch-up dries, if the texture matches then you're good to go. If not, try flipping the roller frame around so that the elbow is facing in the opposite direction as your last pass, and touch up the area again.
If you'd like to try the method that a lot of the pro's prefer, you'll need to get yourself a high-quality paint brush and load the tips of the bristles up with paint so there are no dry spots in the middle. Wipe off the excess paint and then apply to the area(s) in question.
In order to reduce the noticability of the brush strokes on the wall you'll need to lightly tip-off the touchup area in multiple directions, working from the center outward in each direction like you're painting rays from the sun.
One important tip in getting touchups to match is to thin-down your paint -- especially when using the brush method -- with 5%-10% water for latex paints, or 5%-10% mineral spirits for oil-based paints.
If your contractor or homebuilder painted your walls with an airless sprayer, make sure to ask them to spray some additional paint into a container that you can seal and save for your touch-ups. It may sound crazy but once paint has been atomized through the tip of an airless sprayer it changes the viscosity of the material, making it impossible to touch up unless you're using more of the same atomized paint to do so.
No matter which method you use, the goal is to keep the touch-up area as small and inconspicuous as possible, so don't get carried away with your brush or roller. However, old touch-up piant that's been in storage will lose moisture over time and may not match. In that case you'll need to have a new batch mixed-up and you will have to paint the entire wall from corner to corner.
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